Fountain Pen Restoration

Classic Waterman 52

Most vintage fountain pen collections should include a Waterman Fountain pen.  The L.E. Waterman Fountain Pen Company started in New York in the 1880s and was a stalwart in the Fountain Pen business during the production dates of the 52.   Lewis Edson Waterman was the founder of the company in the late 1800s and credited with its successful start.

The Waterman 52 was produced during the 1915 to 1930 time period.  This period marked a high water mark for Waterman as they produced a large number of varieties of hard rubber pens.  The 52 was one of the most common and survives in large numbers today.  Relatively simple to restore (provided all of the parts are in good condition), it often has large flexy nibs which several collectors enjoy using.

You can see below that the pen that I found has survived well and would be quite easy to restore.  I have worked on several 52 varieties before and if (and when) the lever box is bent or broken, the restoration requires much more time and effort.

The nib is a Waterman No. 2 ~ the 52 model refers to a #5 for lever filler, and a #2 for the nib size.  You might recall that I salvaged a Waterman #2 nib off of a parts 52 (the lever box was gone and there was no cap) and used it successfully on an Eclipse Gold Filigree Fountain Pen, from the same time period, in this post:

Eclipse Gold Filigree

I began by cleaning all of the gold gently at first to make sure that there would not be any gold loss.  Perhaps I am a little paranoid on this, but I always wonder if I am going to run into some substandard gold or plating.  Fortunately none was encountered here and the furniture polished well.  The nib was polished and took a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner.  I installed a new silicone sac to protect against future discoloration of the barrel and this pen is ready to go.

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Here is the finished product.  The pen measures  5 1/4″ capped and 6 1/2″ posted.

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Waterman 52s came in many varieties.  I won’t attempt to discuss the Waterman numbering systems, which would be enough to confuse anyone, but in summary the 52 came in several different colors, textures, and with add-ons.

Some of the more common are~

Black Hard Rubber / Black Chased Hard Rubber / Red Hard Rubber (Cardinal) / Woodgrain / Rippled (black and red) / Filigree Overlay / Gold Banded

The black hard rubber versions came with both silver and gold furniture.  As you can see, the 52 line has enough varieties to keep a collector busy for years.  This pen falls into the banded (or repousse) category.  The cap band is very ornate and has an empty spot for engraved initials or name.

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Here is a photo with the other two 52s in my collection, restored in past years.  The top pen is a Rippled 52 and the other is a BCHR with silver furniture and a gold nib.

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Interestingly, the popularity of the Waterman line ended shortly after the production of these (and all other Waterman Hard Rubber Pens) in the late 20s.  Waterman did not react as quickly to the emergence and popularity of celluloid pens (Parker, Wahl, Sheaffer) in the late 20s and early 30s.  They continued to produce pens, and evolved to the competition, but never retained the market share that they had during the glory days of the 52 and other hard rubber pens.

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March 10, 2009 - Posted by | L. E. Waterman Pen Company, Waterman 52 | ,

2 Comments »

  1. [...] Classic Waterman 52 [...]

    Pingback by Classic Waterman 52 : Penpedia | March 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. I have a Waterman 52v ripple pen which I love writing with, and which is in pretty good condition for the age. The touble is that the lever action is becoming a little stiff, which I suspect means that the bladder might be slightly perished allowing a little ink to leak out.

    I’ve searched high and low for informaiton on how to replace the bladder as I don’t want to damage the pen, but can’t find anything. I know you’re not a professional restorer, but is there any chance you could give a hint to someone who really appreciates the pleasure of writing with this pen and tell me how to get access to the bladder? I presume it’s a case of unscrewing the top half of the pen, but that seems mighty stiff and I really don’t want to damage a lovely vintage pen like this.

    Many thanks in advance :-)

    Comment by Craig Brown | April 17, 2009 | Reply


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