Fountain Pen Restoration

Universal Fountain Pen

This morning I avoided a snow storm and worked on a pen that I had sitting on my workbench for quite some time. It was very dirty and I think I purchased it about six months ago for a couple of dollars. The trim, which I suspected was gold filled was very tarnished and I really thought that if I was to try and clean it up, I would take off the gold plate.

I decided to try and use my dremel to take a few black spots off one of the cap bands and as I did so, I realized that the bands were actually gold as a vigorous buff with Simichrome and the dremel revealed a nice gold shine. So, I worked on both cap bands, the clip, and the lever. All cleaned up to a bright gold shine.

Opening the pen up revealed the need for a new sac. Being a large pen, it took a size 20. I had never tested the Warranted No. 4 nib, but after I knocked it out and cleaned the section, feed and nib, I encountered a problem. The section had a built in ridge inside which prevents the feed from backing up too far into the barrel of the pen. This is fine, however the Warranted No. 4 nib would not seat against this ridge. I tried several times to make this work, but the nib was not long enough and when writing pressure was placed on it, it would eventually begin to turn against the feed.

Here is where a well stocked tool box of spare parts from pens that could not be repaired or were picked up for spare parts comes in handy. I do not have an extensive parts box, but enough parts to help out on occasion. What I needed here was a nib that is longer that the No. 4 nib to rest against the section ridge, and the same width to fit snugly against the feed and into the circular section. The nib that fit perfectly was a Parker Lady Duofold nib from an old discolored black Lady Duofold that had already donated a clip and button to other pens.

After the nib change, I spent quite a bit of time cleaning and polishing the faux woodgrain finish. This pen is reminiscent of several pen company offerings of the 1930s and 40s. These were large flat-top pens, resembling the Parker Duofold. They were often colorful, though of lower quality. I suspect the Warranted No. 4 nib (now available for another pen restoration) was a substitute nib placed in the pen for resale purposes. It was not a nib that would have allowed for use.

Here are a couple of pictures of the Universal Pen. It is now ready for use and testing reveals that it writes a firm fine line.

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I have very little information on the Universal Pen Company other than that there was a company with that name located in New York City at 146 West 26th Street in the mid 1930s. If anyone has any further information on this pen, I would appreciate a comment.

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December 23, 2007 - Posted by | Universal Fountain Pens |

14 Comments »

  1. I don’t know anything about the company, but I have a Universal pen, and it’s just about the best-writing fountain pen I own.

    (really crappy picture, sorry)

    Comment by Ian | June 5, 2009 | Reply

    • Thank you for the comment and photo. Yours looks a bit newer, but it may be the same Company. I am glad it is a good writer. If you find any information on the Company, please let me know.

      Comment by all of us | June 5, 2009 | Reply

      • It’s definitely the same company – the engraving on the clip is identical to yours. Never found any info on them, unfortunately.

        Comment by Ian | October 8, 2010

  2. I think I have a pen like yours. It says “Univer” on the pocket clip. I think it needs a new sac but I do not know how to open the pen. Can you tell me please ? My email is seelevel@earthlink.net.

    Thanks Bill

    Comment by Bill | December 21, 2009 | Reply

    • A detailed description of section removal and sac replacement was emailed backchannel. As for Univer Pens, they are not the same family as this pen. Univer was actually a Sheaffer sub brand. Phil

      Comment by all of us | December 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi Phil,

    Another Universal to this thread, suppose from late 30’s/early 40’s:

    Marta

    Comment by Rka | January 19, 2010 | Reply

    • Marta, thank you for the photos of this pen. The pen reminds me of Striped Duofolds with slightly narrower stripes.

      Comment by all of us | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. Thank you for the information. I too have 3 universal pens that i have been able to rehabilitate and I agree that the pens are robust and great pens. Am curious to know more about the history of the manufacturer as well.

    Comment by tatofaust | October 8, 2010 | Reply

  5. Came into a Universal Stylographic pen today. Bladder looks okay. Needle appears intact. Bladder plunger needs repair. Marbled green apparance. Good exterior condition. Needs minor repair. Anyone have an estimated value? Will consider selling it. Photo will be made available. hjmclean@comcast.net

    Comment by Haydn McLean | February 10, 2011 | Reply

  6. I found a listing for a Universal Pen & Pencil Co. in Sinking Spring, PA (now DBA OK Automation), so I called their number and spoke with a guy who knew all about their pen manufacturing history. They moved from NYC to New Jersey and then to Sinking Spring, and stopped making fountain pens in 1982 due to declining demand. They ceased production of writing instruments in 2007 (unless you’re making high-end boutique items, it’s pretty much impossible to compete with China these days). He thought my pen might be a Universal Debonair; I’ll send him some better pictures of it this weekend and see what he can tell about it.

    Comment by Ian | February 11, 2011 | Reply

    • Hayden,

      Did you ever get any more information on the Universal fountain pen? I got one recently in a lot I purchased and inked it up for the first time last night. It is a model D-50 with grey plastic barrel and a goldtone cap section, which has lost a good deal of the plating. It is the best fountain pen I have ever written with. Admittedly I have no pens costing thousands or doallrs , or even hundreds for that matter, but I do have some decent Parkers and Sheaffers and a few Pelikans, but this has them all beat. I love it.

      Michael Little
      Phoenix, Arizona

      Comment by Michael Little | August 8, 2011 | Reply

      • Hayden,

        I never did receive any further information on Universal, other than what I posted here. I am glad you are enjoying your pen. It sounds like a fantastic writer. I have seen photos of pens similar to the one you describe and would think they are a later product of Universal. If you ever uncover any further information on them, let me know. Thank you. Phil

        Comment by PKM | August 9, 2011

      • Mike,

        I have received little more information on my Universal scriptographic pen, except they used to be used in some school for drafting. I had mine repaired by a fella in Tenn or KY and he did a noce job. Writes well and is smooth. I undertand they arent worth but a few dollars.

        Comment by Haydn McLean | December 26, 2011

  7. I sent a picture, but didn’t get a reply back. They did make some great-writing pens, at least based on the one I have. I don’t have any super-high-end pens either, but I do have a few nice ones (couple Parker 51s, a number of inexpensive but nice modern pens), and that Universal is the best writer of the bunch.

    Comment by Ian | August 8, 2011 | Reply


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