To Type, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth...

A man of the cloth and the steel he wields

Neo Inevitability and a great 99 Cent Bag-o-Pens

IMAG0099Well, 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.

Note on the Neo: you never see this in pics for some reason, but the Alphasmart Neo is tinted a strangely military olive green. I waited to post this until I could get good pics, because every other pic of the Neo I've ever seen looks black. The Dana is a very dark blue that usually looks black enough in normal light that you never notice that it's blue. The Neo in real life always looks green or greenish-grey. I'll let you know what color the Neo2 is when I get mine and get a pic of all of them together.

Note on the Neo: you never see this in pics for some reason, but the Alphasmart Neo is tinted a strangely military olive green. I waited to post this until I could get good pics, because every other pic of the Neo I’ve ever seen looks black. The Dana is a very dark blue that usually looks black enough in normal light that you never notice that it’s blue. The Neo in real life always looks green or greenish-grey. I’ll let you know what color the Neo2 is when I get mine and get a pic of all of them together.

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.

IMAG0102However, 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!

IMAG0105Here’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.

IMAG0106A 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.

IMAG0108The 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.

Posted

Posted

The Snorkel, shown here with the snorkel and pump extended for filling.

The Snorkel, shown here with the snorkel and pump extended for filling.

Updated: January 13, 2016 — 6:31 pm

17 Comments

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  1. Fountain pens!? I love fountain pens. So elegant. So smooth. Very economical. Wonderful finds for a buck!

  2. Three Classic fp’s for a dollar? Score!

  3. Nice score! Fountain pens are one of those collectibles that can get addicting.

    The CD ROM that came with the Neo has a detailed instruction book document with much more info than the brief paper booklet. I’m thinking about posting a blog article about all the shortcut commands available for the Neo.

    ~Joe

    1. That would be awesome! I managed to google up a manual for it, but I’m unsure if it’s the same as the one on the CDROM.

  4. Reverend, you have the ‘ask and ye shall receive’ thing down pat. Good things come to good people. I love your fountain pens. I got a new-fangled fountain pen for Christmas and I have been practicing my cursive.

    1. Oh yes, the Thrift Gods are very generous to me. It’s when my faith falters and I resort to Ebay that I end up having two of things. I think it’s a sort of punishment, but it is at least a light punishment. :D

  5. 99 cents and they didn’t even come with ink? Tough luck!

  6. I like to put just a wee bit of dish detergent in my cleaning water. Maybe one drop in an 8 oz glass of water, then throw out half, and refill with plain water. It seems to help the flow of ink when you refill the pen.

    1. actually, all I had to do was leave the “21” inked overnight. In the morning it was flowing fine. It turned out to be a marvelously wet nib to write with, for which I am glad, as these are a bit harder to fix than the lever-fillers I’ve tinkered with so far.

  7. Congratulations, great score. Here’s a good resource:
    https://www.flickr.com/groups/alphasmart/discuss/

  8. By chance, you wouldn’t happen to have a fully functional blue fountain pen from the 1920s era with a long elegant nib that you would also be willing to sell, would you? I have a modern parker thats quite nice, but its got a small nib on it and doesn’t exude the class that an original does.

    1. Nope. For some reason the thrift gods have decided on a burgundy and black-only color palette for my finds.

  9. Goodness! I got chills just reading about your finds! What great mojo. It was a good day to buy!

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