Monday, January 18, 2021

Fountain Pen Review: Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen Tuxedo Black

When I was new to fountain pen collecting, I ventured into vintage Esterbrooks and had close to ten pieces at one time. Difficulty in maintenance and sourcing replacement parts made me let go of some of the pens, keeping only the ones in better condition. I still have four Esties and though I want to have more, my previous concerns keep me from adding another Estie to my collection. But I got one more! This time it's a modern Esterbrook pen.

The JR Pocket Pen, inspired by the classic and vintage "J" fountain pen was launched by the Esterbrook Pen Company in September 2020. The JR Pocket Pen is a revival of the 1940s and 50s pocket pen and comes in the compact size that most of us loved with the vintage J Esties.
The Estie J that we all love is now truly reborn in the Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen.

The JR, short for "J Reborn," is an excellent "heritage" pen, built and designed well for a comfortable writing experience. It's a slimmer pen than the Estie J, and it fills with ink through cartridges or converters, but it feels almost the same as holding an original J fountain pen. The clip and accents are plated to match the nib and cap ring.

This new version of the Esterbrook J is offered in three colors, Capri Blue, Carmine Red, and Tuxedo Black. Tuxedo and Carmine are available in palladium trim and Capri in gold. The JR's JoWo nib and finial are engraved with the Esterbrook Eternity symbol. 

Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen Tuxedo Black

The Esterbrook JR fountain pen has the following measurements and specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5 in | 12.7 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 4.6 in | 11.7 cm
  • Length, cap posted: 6 in | 15.2 cm
  • Length, barrel only: 3.1 in | 7.9 cm
  • Length, section to nib: 1.4 in | 3.6 cm
  • Length, cap: 2.5 inches | 6.4 cm
  • Full pen weight: 19.8 g | 0.7 oz
  • Body material: Resin
  • Trim: Chrome/Palladium
  • Cap: Screw on, postable
  • Clip material: Palladium plated metal 
  • Nib: Stainless steel nib in rhodium plating in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or Stub (1.1mm)
  • Filling mechanism: Cartridge or converter (both included with purchase)
The JR Pocket Pen has a screw-on cap.

Esterbrook JR fountain pen can be filled with ink using international cartridges or an Esterbrook converter, both included with each purchase. Unlike other pocket pens, the JR takes on a full ink converter which makes it easier to fill from ink bottles. 

This pen's section has an ergonomic grip that ensures comfortable writing, and the body is long enough to use for writing without the need to post the cap. I do not usually use my fountain pens posted because they become uncomfortably long and top-heavy.  

The JR's barrel, section + converter, and screw-on cap.

The JR's cap looks very similar to the vintage J fountain pen's cap. However, Esterbrook has included some changes into the new pen. The cap finial (and barrel end) is now a flat chrome-plated metal instead of the black button jewels found in the earlier J pens. The JR pen's ribbed clip is also longer and does not have the Esterbrook logo, which is now etched in the JR's smooth cap ring. (Comparison photos below.)

The JR's cap ring bears the Esterbrook logo.
The JR's finial is a flat metal engraved with the Esterbrook Eternity logo.
The JR's section has metal threading, which prevents loosening and breakage, and ensures a more secure fit into the pen's barrel.

The Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen is fitted with a #5 steel JoWo nib from Germany. It is available in various nib sizes: extra fine, fine, medium, broad, and stub 1.1. The markings on the nib include the Esterbrook Eternity logo and "1.1" (nid width).

The 1.1 nib on the JR Pocket Pen wrote well out of the box, smooth and wet to my liking. I can use it for regular writing for my notes, lists, and journaling, but I can also use it to do some beautiful italic calligraphy.

The Esterbrook Eternity symbol/logo is made up of two connected "E's," with no beginning or ending representing a timeline of perpetuity, linking tradition to modernity. It is a reminder of founder Richard Esterbrook's spirit and hard work, so the two connected E's is also translated to "Esterbrook Endures." The symbol/logo made its first appearance on the red polishing cloth that was included with the Estie Lilac. As new Esterbrook pen models are released, the Eternity symbol/logo is included in finials. 

The JR's stub 1.1 nib is smooth and wet, perfect for regular writing and italic calligraphy.

The J series was Esterbrook's most popular and best-selling pens when they were introduced in the 1940s. The classic double jewel J in the image below is the full-sized pen. The series has two more sizes, LJ (slender/slim), and SJ (demi, or the equivalent of the pocket pen back then).

Overall, the JR pen looks similar to the J, but it is slimmer than its vintage cousin. The barrel obviously does not have the lever anymore, but it has an extra ring towards the end. The barrel is also missing the Esterbrook imprint found in the vintage pen. The materials for the two pens are also different, but I like the turned acrylic that Esterbrook used in the JR. It has depth and unique marbling, and exceptional gloss. This JR is a neat, black pocket pen.

Top: Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen; bottom: Esterbrook Double Jewel J.
The JR has a longer section with an ergonomic design for comfortable writing.

The JR Pocket Pen shares the same length as a Pelikan Souveran M400, slightly shorter than Otto Hutt design04, but longer than a Kaweco Sport. The Lamy Safari is the only full-length pen here and it provides a good size comparison. Uncapped, it's the smallest and slimmest pen in this lot of pocket/short pens. Despite that, the JR is a well-designed pen that looks classy and elegant, and comfortable to use.

To test how this pocket fountain pen writes, I filled it Bleu Calanque, a J. Herbin ink with an average flow. The JR wrote so well out of the box, and the #5 JoWo steel 1.1 nib wrote wet and smooth. I did not experience any scratchiness, hard starts, or ink skipping. I had no trouble writing at all. 

I'm so happy that I can use this pen for regular writing for my notes, lists, and journaling, and also for italic calligraphy and ink art. The Esterbrook JR 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 JR is perfect for regular writing - notes, lists, journaling.
The 1.1 JoWo nib is also perfect for italic calligraphy!

The Esterbrook Pen Company has a long history of pen making. At its peak in the 1940s and 1950s, 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 J has been reborn, more people will be able to enjoy the brand and continue the history of one of America's iconic pen brands.

Each purchase of the Esterbrook JR includes a polishing cloth, a small fabric bag, and this lovely vintage-themed stamp.

As with the Estie Lilac I reviewed in September last year, I am very happy with the JR Pocket Pen, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to have a similar experience of using the Esterbrook J fountain pen or explore the brand. The JR Pocket Pen is a neat, lovely fountain pen designed for long term use. Get one for your collection!

Rants of The Archer thanks the Esterbrook Pen Company and Kenro Industries for providing the Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen for review purposes. The JR fountain pen and the entire Esterbrook collection is available at where it retails for around US$175. Aside from the JR Pocket Pen collection,  the following collections are also available: CamdenEstie, Estie Peacock, Estie Rocky TopSparkle, Phaeton, Popeye, and Navy Nook

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:

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