Monday, September 28, 2020

Fountain Pen Review: Esterbrook Estie Lilac

I'm a fan of modern fountain pens. I like their contemporary designs, and I love that most of these pens are available in a variety of materials, colors, and nibs. I like vintage fountain pens, too, and I love my Esties (our nickname for Esterbrook fountain pens) and their colors and interchangeable nibs. I rarely use them, though, because I don't want to break them, and their filling mechanism intimidates me. However, in 2018, Kenro Industries gave the Esterbrook Pen Company its rebirth, and Esterbrook fans their new Esties. I knew then that I can write with Esties again without the fear of breaking them. 

The Esterbrook Pen Company has now introduced a number of new pen models, and one of them is the Estie, a beloved nickname for Esterbrook and a fitting tribute to the brand and its history. The Estie model is available in stunning vintage-style acrylics. One of the modern Esties, the Lilac was launched in mid-2020, inspired by large lilac blooms that scent the air with trailing waves of lingering fragrance. The Estie Lilac is a well-crafted and fountain pen, and just like my vintage Esties, it's made to last for a long time.

New Esterbrook box. The makers retained the look of the red Esterbrook presentation box from the old design. The new one is bigger, though.

Esterbrook has a long history. At its peak, the company was the largest pen manufacturer in the United States. US presidents signed legislation with their Esterbrook pens. Donald Duck was brought to life with an Esterbrook, and Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz used an Estie for all his comics. It was one of the most famous pen brands in America for a long time. The brand was revived in 2014, but many Esterbrook fans were unhappy about the pens from this period, and the revival was unsuccessful. In 2018, the Esterbrook Pen Company was given its rebirth led by Joel Blumberg, Kenro's founder and president, and all became well again. Fans love the new pens!

Esterbrook Estie Lilac

The Estie follows the traditional cigar-shaped design. The pens are made from stunning acrylics including the purple Lilac, the most recently launched Maraschino (red), Ebony (black), Tortoise (brown), Honeycomb (orange), Cobalt (blue), and Evergreen (green). The pens are available in either gold or silver trims. Three models, Lilac, Honeycomb, and Ebony are also offered as an oversized pen, but only the Lilac is offered in slim size with silver trim.

The Estie Lilac is made from blended and turned acrylic made with a mix of colors and a highly polished finish. The cracked ice design/pattern is stunning and the gloss is amazing. 

The Esterbrook Estie Lilac fountain pen has the following measurements:
  • Length, capped: 5.9 in | 15 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5.5 in | 13.9 cm
  • Length, cap posted: 6.7 in | 17 cm
  • Length, barrel only: 3.4 in | 8.6 cm
  • Length, section to nib: 2.2 in | 5.6 cm 
  • Length, cap: 2.75 inches | 6.9 cm
  • Diameter, barrel: 0.5 in | 1.27 cm
  • Diameter, section: 0.4 in | 1 cm
  • Weight, capped: 24 g | 0.85 oz

The Estie is a light pen even with a full converter. It's easy and comfortable to use even for long periods of writing. While some pens need their caps posted for comfortable writing, the Estie can be used without the cap posted. I do not usually post my pens because this practice makes writing uncomfortable—the pens become too long and top-heavy. Thankfully, the Estie can be used comfortably without the need to post the cap. 

The new Esterbrook fountain pens also have the cushion cap closure feature that prevents the nib from drying. The cushion cap closure provides a secondary seal that ensures the nib does not dry while the cap is on. 

The Estie's barrel, section + converter, and cap.
The Estie can be filled with ink using cartridges or converters. A short international cartridge and a converter are included in the box with each pen purchase, and it's a nice touch that Esterbrook's logo is printed on the converter. This prevents any mix-up and helps me use the correct converter for each fountain pen.
The Estie's cap has a cushion cap closure to prevent the nib from drying out when closed. The sleek clip slides easily to a shirt pocket, or pen holder. 
The Esterbrook logo is engraved on the cap and filled with gold. I'm glad that Kenro retained the original Esterbook logo design.
The Estie Lilac's barrel is just stunning. The acrylic's translucence reflects light beautifully and has exceptional gloss and shine.
Metal threads in the section and barrel are another very thoughtful addition to this pen's design. This ensures durability and prevents any loosening and breakage.

The Esterbrook Estie Lilac is fitted with a #6 nib specially manufactured by Jowo in Germany. It is available in various nib sizes: extra fine, fine, medium, and broad. The markings on the nib include the Esterbrook logo, "1858," and "1.1" (nid width). 

Why 1858? Even in its rebirth, the Esterbrook Pen Company holds dear the history and story of how the iconic company started. 1858 was the year that entrepreneur Richard Esterbrook established his pen company under the trademark Esterbrook Pen Company, which became one of the biggest and most beloved pen makers in the world. 

The No. 6 Jowo stub nib on the Estie Lilac wrote smoothly out of the box.

The Estie Lilac is a full-length fountain pen, sharing almost the same length as the Laban 325 Wisteria, though it is lighter. It's also longer than a TWSBI ECO or a Lamy Safari. It's a well-balanced pen that is comfortable to use.

The Estie Lilac shares the same length as the Laban Wisteria, and is longer than a TWSBI ECO and Lamy Safari.
Uncapped, all pens have the same length.

To test how this beautiful purple fountain pen writes, I filled it with an old favorite, J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune, a matching purple ink. The pen wrote smoothly out of the box. The #6 stub nib wrote smoothly, there were no hard starts or writing skips, no inky blobs, and I had no trouble writing at all. I'm so happy that I can use this pen for regular writing, italic calligraphy, and ink art, too! The Estie Lilac is such an enjoyable pen. It's elegant, classy, versatile, and one that can be used for long periods of writing without any discomfort.

The Estie Lilac's wet and smooth stub (1.1) nib is such a joy to write with. I'm glad that I can use it for regular writing and some italic calligraphy.
This pen can do ink art, too!

As I mentioned above, the Esterbrook Pen Company has a long history. At its peak, the company was the largest pen manufacturer in the United States. US presidents signed legislation with their Esterbrook pens. Donald Duck was brought to life with an Esterbrook, and Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz used an Estie for all his comics. Millions of students grew up learning how to write using Esterbrook pens. Now that the Esterbrook Pen Company is reborn, more people will be able to enjoy the brand and continue the history of one of America's most iconic pen brand.

I am very happy with the Estie Lilac fountain pen, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to explore and know this excellent brand. It's a beautiful pen and well-built for long-term use. Get one for your collection.

Rants of The Archer thanks the Esterbrook Pen Company and Kenro Industries for providing the Estie Lilac for review purposes. The Estie Lilac fountain pen and the entire Esterbrook collection is available at where it retails for around US$195. Aside from the Estie collection, the following collections are also available: JR Pocket Pen, Camden, Sparkle, Phaeton, and Popeye

To learn more about the Esterbrook Pen Company, where to buy their pens, and for other details on purchasing their pens, visit their website at or follow them on social media:


  1. Wow thank you so much. You brought out the beauty of this pen. And the beautiful art created by you. Now im considering this for my purple pens family . Already got the TWSBI & Lamy. Not bad indeed. Take care & God bless! Birthday month excuse.

    1. If you get this pen, you won't regret it! Hope you get one soon!

  2. Such a beautiful review. You gave the pen "life and substance"