Well, this is certainly a surprise, especially after reading Joe Van Cleave’s blog post where he discusses his reasons for liking his old Alphasmart Neo. I’ve had a pair of Alphasmart Danas for a few years and have liked them quite a lot, but they tend to eat through batteries faster than I’d like when I go for a week or more between sessions. I wanted to try out the more power-thrifty Neo after having read good reviews from Neo-using Typospherians in the past. However, it was today’s post by Joe that got me thinking about actually pulling the trigger on a Neo2 on Ebay. The Neo2 was the last incarnation of the Alphasmart ever, and they were selling just as cheap on Ebay as the Danas, $27 each shipped. That’s down from the average of $50 each they were going for a couple years ago, the last time I checked. That’s cheap enough to just buy one to review on the blog, so I did. Then I went off to hit a couple of thrifts, looking for typewriters.
South Goodwill and the Deseret were a bust, nothing really interesting in either except a weatherworn 1950’s Underwood standard for too high a price in the glass “Collectibles” case at Deseret. I left that old soldier behind and moved on to the Mesa Thrift, and as I passed, the Thrift Gods started to sing that silver thrill down my spine – the one that tells me that a nice score awaits inside those plate glass doors. What I didn’t yet know was that it was silly for me to have resorted to Ebay to secure a Neo, because the Thrift Gods had me covered on that score, for same-day delivery.
However, that was the *other* thing. As serendipitous as it was to find a thrift store Neo within an hour of having read Joe’s post and snagging one on ebay, that was the least interesting thing I found today. I found something else first.
You know how I am about those 99 cent plastic bags of thrift store pens, right? I always scan the bags for signs of an especially interesting pen or pencil, or more unusually, a fountain pen. If something intrigues me, I buy the whole bag and see what surprises are inside. It is only very rarely that I find a nice vintage fountain pen, and almost never do I find multiples. To discover three in a single bag packed full of cheap ballpoints is… well, a bit of a thrill. Well worth the buck!
Here’s the first one, a 1948-1965 Parker “21”. This is the one I actually saw through the mess of pens in the bag, and was the reason I dropped the dollah. The next two were a complete surprise, found only after I had bought the bag and busted it open.
A black 1948-1949 Parker “51”. Both Parkers are extremely fine-point and the bladders in both are intact. The black “51” writes wonderfully, but the burgundy “21” doesn’t flow well yet. I’ll have to soak it in distilled water to clean it out.
The last one is perhaps the most exciting: a pre-1956 dark burgundy Sheaffer Snorkel Statesman. I have another Sheaffer Snorkel in black, a family heirloom, but it has a busted pumper that is beyond my ability to repair. This one has an excellent pumper, and filled and flowed fine right out of the bag. The extravagantly complex filling system on a Sheaffer Snorkel is a delight to use if it’s working right, so I’m especially pleased that this one is.