Friday, September 4, 2020

Back to the Future with the Esterbrook J.R.

Esterbrook J.R.

Color: Capri


  • Description: A compact revival of one of Esterbrook's most important designs
  • Nib: Stainless Steel
  • Material: Turned Acrylic 
  • Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / Converter
  • Weight: 20 grams posted, 11 grams un-posted
  • Measurements: 5 inches capped, 4.62 inches uncapped, 6 inches posted


Esterbrook is truly an American original when it comes to the world of pens. Originally established in 1858, at the brand's height it was the biggest pen company in the United States, producing around 216,000,000 pens a year. Esterbrook is not only an "American" pen brand but also a brand deep rooted in American history with presidents like Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson all signing legislation with Esterbrook pens. Just recently in 2018 Kenro Industries acquired the brand allowing for a revival of classic designs as well as some new imaginative writing tools. This particular pen is actually a nod to a pen very important in the brand's history, the Esterbrook J. The J was a pocket pen that was sleek in nature and appealed to the practical values of the time, the J.R. builds upon this and offers a pen from the past for the consumers of today.

Appearance & Packaging:

The pen comes in a standard Esterbrook cloth gift box which is quite nice and sturdy, lined with a soft material to protect the pen from any scratches. The first thing to note about the look of this pen is the beautiful turned acrylics that are used for the body and cap. The capri color I was able to test had quite a bit of depth and some lovely chatoyance in the material that was very appealing at first glance. 
This color comes with gold trim which I feel complements the deep blue acrylic quite nicely, making it look very classic with a hint of understated luxury. One thing to note is that this pen is quite small, however another thing to note is that my hands are quite big so I may be a little biased in my pen size preference. The pen is a manageable length when posted however is still a bit skinny for my tastes, despite the lightweight and skinny design it does have a nice high quality feel to it. 

Nib & Performance:

In the spirit of this pen being a revival of a classic model, Esterbrook is working on an adapter to make the nibs from the original J compatible with this brand new model. A bit of a disclaimer, on my initial fill of this pen it had some issues with hard starting, skipping and a general lack of ink flow but was fixed with a complete disassembly and deep clean. The problem was most likely a fluke issue that was caused by a little piston grease blocking something because now it's actually quite a pleasant writer. The Jowo steel nib is on the stiff side which is to be expected but writes decently with a medium to light ink flow. 
The nib is not silky smooth and has a tiny bit of feedback but not enough to make it noticeably unpleasant, almost like writing with a pencil. Esterbrook also did a good job using all of the space on the inside of the barrel allowing them to use a bigger converter compared to other pens of this form factor. 


  • Beautiful turned acrylic
  • Nice to see a brand revive an important model from it's past
  • Nice build quality with a high quality feel


  • Section is pretty short
  • Lightweight for a pocket pen when compared to an Alsport which is less expensive
  • The price point is on the higher side in my opinion but is still in the realm of reasonable when you take everything about this pen into account.

Price & Conclusion:

The Suggested retail on this pen is $175 but at Pen Boutique we offer it for $140 which I feel is on the high side but not out of the realm of possibility when all things are considered. The turned acrylic is really the draw of this pen for me simply because of the beauty and depth it provides, the nib is a steel Jowo which makes replacement really easy. All you have to do to clean the section is screw out the nib unit, this makes the nibs easily replaceable as well. This is a pretty interesting pen however I don't think I'll be picking one up for my personal collection just due to there being other more durable and substantial feeling pocket pens like an Alsport or Pocket 6 from Schon DSGN but this is just my personal preference. I definitely understand the draw of this pen and its a strong new competitor in the Esterbrook line up. I especially like seeing a brand recognize and revitalize it's history. Whatever pocket pen you decide to go with, enjoy it & keep writing. 
-Kyle Skowronski

1 comment:

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