Fountain Pen Restoration

Made in Japan

Note: (3-4-2011) An ebay sales page has linked to this article without my knowledge.  I am in no way associated with this ebay sale or item – Phil

Frank Spors, of Spors and Company of Le Center, MN (formerly called Le Sueur Center) was the owner of Spors and Company, a marketing company that sold many items through mail order, to drug stores, to salesmen, and to the public. One such successful item was a crescent-fill, glass nibbed fountain pen. This pen was made in Japan and shipped to Spors for distribution from the Post Office in Le Center. An advertisement from a 1926 catalog can be seen below.

Several of these pens can be found today. They came in many colors and finishes through the years until the Japanese supply connection stopped as World War II approached.

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One of the main problems encountered in restoring a Spors Pen is referred to in the diagram below. It shows that the section is glued into the barrel so that the user will not “be so apt to take it apart, twist the ink container (sac) all out of shape and then finally blame the pen.” I have seen these in solid colors and also colorful celluloid. The sections can be very difficult to remove from the barrel, due to the referred glue.

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Above photo from George Kovalenko and Lion and Pen Discussion here: http://kamakurapens.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=87

The pen I am restoring is a brown marble Spors. I have seen this particular model in many colors – green, blue, and red come to mind. I started out very carefully to remove the section from the barrel. Patience was the key. I applied gentle heat from a heat gun in small doses. After each time of rotating the barrel about 10 inches above the gun, I gently rocked the section using my rubber ended section pliers. The first several times produced nothing, but after a few rest breaks, I finally heard a small click and noticed that the section had moved a bit. A few more doses of heat and more gentle rocking and the glued section was out. Here is a picture of the pen broken down.

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As you can see, the nib is glass as opposed to gold or steel. It is a pressure fit into the section. The sac was hardened in one piece which made removal very easy. You can see the crescent fill bar in the center of the picture. Here is a close up of the imprint.

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After scraping the section clean and removing the remnants of the old sac, I polished up the crescent bar and clip and cleaned the outside of the barrel and cap, being careful not to touch the original price sticker. The sticker reads: Guaranteed - F. Spors and Co. – Lesueur Center, Minn. – Price $1.25. I placed a size 14 sac on the section and inserted the crescent into the barrel using a pair of needle nose pliers. After slipping it through the slot, I locked it, allowing the sac and section to be inserted into the barrel. Testing with water shows that the pen works and is ready to use. Here is a picture of the completed Japanese Made – Minnesota Marketed – Glass Nibbed – Crescent Filler.

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Thank you Frank Spors, for this fountain pen curiosity.

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February 13, 2008 - Posted by | Spors |

18 Comments »

  1. [...] Made In Japan February 13, 2008 [...]

    Pingback by Spors Fountain Pen Advertising In 1927 : Penpedia | April 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi Phil,

    I am from the FPN website. Thank you again for your very informative articles.

    I wanted to ask you whether you have used any glue to affix the sac on the section and which glue you used.

    I am asking this question looking for a safe glue to attach a little rubber sac on a bulb-filler. Would ELMER’s non-acidic rubber cement work fine?

    Thank you for your help

    Denis

    Comment by Denis | July 16, 2009 | Reply

    • No, do not use any glue to affix the sac. I would recommend sac cement made specifically for this purpose. See Tryphon or Woodbin links under Blogroll at right. Some have used nail polish or orange shellac, but if you are going to do some more repairs and sac replacements, get a bottle of sac cement which comes with an applicator too.

      Good Luck.

      Phil

      Comment by all of us | July 16, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hello,

    This was very interesting to me. My father just gave my son a Spors pen that was owned by my grandfather many years ago. I had not known about the dice inside, and it brought a smile to my face when I opened it and saw those tiny little things sitting in there! I have no idea what this pen may be worth, but it is definitely fun to look at.

    Comment by Richard | February 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Richard,

      Thank you for the comments. Yes, they are fun pens. There is probably little current value, but they are an interesting glimpse into Fountain Pen History. Thank you for reading….

      Phil

      munsonpens.wordpress.com

      Comment by all of us | February 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. Excellent and most informative review/tutorial on the Spors glass-nib Crescent-Filler pen. Having you find and share all this information compiled so well, that the sections are actually glued in, is extremely educational and likely to save me from possible heartbreak once I begin restorations on a pen exactly like this one I’m getting soon. Much appreciated! I see this article has been here a couple of years [to the month, dated Feb. 13 2008, Happy 2nd Anniversary!]. I’m curious if you might know, if there were two versions of this pen [like ladies or gents, not just lever or crescent fill] along with different color options [purple sounds interesting!]. I see in the one ad [Figure 291. 1926, bottom-right] where it says “ladies’ or men’s style”, was wondering if you might know if they just mean the overall style was designed for both ladies’ and mens’ use? I’ve learned so much from you already, that I feel humbled and somewhat embarrassed asking anything more of you. Thank you, Phil!

    Comment by Scottie | February 26, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for the kind words regarding my articles. It is nice to hear. Yes, these did come in various sizes and the smaller ones were called ladies pens in some advertisements. Spors Pens really are fun to look for as they come in what seems to be an endless range of designs. colors, and gimmicks.

      The one downside, as you point out, is the glued section. They were never designed to be restored. Given the price point and bulk sales – the feeling was probably that one would just buy another…they never anticipated geeks like us trying to resurrect these pens 70 years later!

      Enjoy the hunt!

      Regards,

      Phil Munson munsonpens.wordpress.com

      Comment by all of us | February 26, 2010 | Reply

  5. Hi again, Phil:
    My Spors pen arrived today, was wondering what method you’d used to break the glue free on the section to restore your pen. Typically I can use hot water to @ 160 degrees F to break shellac or thread sealant but this puppy isn’t budging. Is it actual glue, or a solvent weld, used on these pens? It is a nice looking pen, unfortunately the glass nib tip has some micro-damage to the tip and may need help. The trick above all else seems to be getting the section out and I could use your help. Thanks; Scottie

    Comment by Scottie | March 4, 2010 | Reply

  6. Never mind, I r-read your thread and see you’d used a heat gun with LOTS of patience. I will try doing the same, remembering that old celluloid and plastics are very heat sensitive, usually cannot tolerate temps above 165 F. I’ll keep you posted. ;-) Scottie

    Comment by Scottie | March 4, 2010 | Reply

  7. UPDATE: I got it out, no breakage, thanks to your article on restoring this pen! THANK YOU, PHIL, you’re a pen-saver, big-time!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

    Comment by Scottie | March 4, 2010 | Reply

  8. I have an old fountain pen which I found in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s in the pocket of a World War I uniform in an old abandoned house.
    It may be made of hard rubber? celluloid?
    Marks – Numeral 2 in a circle on tip of barrel. Nib is marked Century Pen 2. Nib ink hole is a perfectly shaped heart. The nib is gold.
    Size – 4 3/8” long x 3/8” diam at top of cap (add approx 3/16” to length for small gold ring attached to top of gold cap.
    Barrel/cap are dark brown w/darker (black?) inverted “V” or scalloped ?? design around barrel/cap.
    Metal trim – 9/16″ wide gold band on cap w/3/8″ round gold ring on top. 1/16″ wide x 15/16″ gold filler lever.
    The gold nib as described above, has black plastic/hard rubber on back.
    Shape – Cylindrical. Cap 3/8 “ diam. Barrel at threads, about 5/16”, tapering below fill lever to about ¼”.
    This may not be up your alley, but I have been unable to find anything definitive or even similar on the web. If you have an idea or know someone who might, please share this info with them.
    Many thanks….

    Comment by Louis Houck | June 15, 2010 | Reply

    • I have responded directly, but this seems to be a Century Pen from Whitewater or Neenah, Wisconsin.

      Comment by all of us | June 15, 2010 | Reply

  9. Frank Spors is my grandma’s uncle. She recently gave me several of these pens and tells me stories about the Spors Company.

    Comment by Bob | June 13, 2011 | Reply

  10. Phil,
    I just wanted to say thank you for all of the information you have listed above. About a year ago I picked one up fairly cheaply, and it has been in the repair pile. It is a swirled black and white similar to the brown pen shown above, albiet missing it’s clip.

    Tonight I thought I would take a look at it. I was lucky – it appears the glue on mine has given way over time and a slight wiggle started the separation (although I would have sworn that last year I couldn’t get the section to budge no matter what). I also really appreciate the diagrams, and sac size information. There was a small section at the back that survived and looked to be about a #18, but the nipple on the section sure isn’t. I can see by the diagram above the original sac tapred. I will dig out a #14 and complete the resac.

    Many thanks.

    Comment by pmorin | June 21, 2011 | Reply

  11. Hello–My mother Mimi Foss (Otting) worked for The Spors Co. in the 50’s. She lived in Le Center, and my father Ron Otting lived in Le Sueur.

    Any other news about the Spors family would be great!

    Comment by Steve Otting | May 6, 2012 | Reply

    • Steve,

      The only information that I have is in the few posts on Spors that I have written over the past several years. Click on the Spors link in the blogroll to the right on my blog and several articles come up.

      Regards,

      Phil Munson

      Comment by PKM | May 7, 2012 | Reply

  12. My Mom passed last year, it has taken some time to comfortably go through her things. We discovered a Spors pen – Lady-Spors is on the box – complete with instructions on filling with ink and a paper stating gauranteed to 1930! Is there a market for this cute little pen? It is in the original box, Burgandy and black swirl color. I doubt it works, but is beautiful.
    Many thanks,
    Jules

    Comment by Jules Berig | November 29, 2012 | Reply

  13. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I hope to give something back and help others like you aided
    me.

    Comment by financial domination | September 27, 2013 | Reply


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