Fountain Pen Restoration

Kraker Civil War

This pen came exactly as shown, without two very important parts, the feed and a nib. As you can see, it is very dirty and I have no idea how long the nib and feed have been missing. It is a yellow Kraker Yankee, produced in Grand Haven, Michigan. I keep finding new colors of these pens, produced in the short time Kraker was in Grand Haven in the mid to late 1920s.  My Title ” Kraker Civil War” is simply a play on George Kraker’s use of Dixie and Yankee Pens as two of his brands and my curiosity as to why.  I have not been able to come up with any reason for this.  Some have speculated that it was a marketing issue, but there is no hard evidence that one brand was targeted at a specific area of the Country (North vs. South).   As you will note if you link to Yankee and Dixie Pen Articles in the Blogroll to the right, both pens were produced in various of Kraker (Michael George Company) locations, though I have not seen a Dixie made in Minnesota or Chicago, or a Yankee in Libertyville, IL.  That does not mean they were not, I just have not seen one.

On to the restoration.  My biggest problem, aside from the dirt and grime on the yellow barrel and cap, was the missing feed and nib.

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I searched through my parts bins and though I had a few nibs that may have solved the nib problem, I had no feed that fit the section well with these nibs.  So, I started to sift through my collection looking for a section that was similar in size to the Yankee section and came across this candidate below.  It is a pen I have had for probably ten years and seldom use due to its very large size of 5 7/8 inches closed.  It has no markings on it but my guess has always been that it is a National Pen Products (Chicago) pen due to the markings on the lever.  I also suspect that someone had replaced the clip at one time.

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I removed the section/feed/nib from the barrel and the sac was in good shape.  I checked my records and I had put a size 20 sac on this one in 2004.  It still seemed good to me and I tested it with water to be certain.  The fit into the Yellow Yankee barrel was perfect and now all I had to do was work on the appearance of the barrel and cap of the pen to produce a nicely restored pen.  Now I have a missing feed and nib on this pen, but Warranted 8 nibs are relatively easy to find and I will keep and eye out for the correct feed.

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I first checked the hanging pressure bar of the pen with the sac inserted and it was fully functional.  That was good enough for me, as these are difficult to get back to their proper position once removed.  If it fails to function in the future, it will be simple to remove it and replace with a long j bar.

I cleaned the outside of both the barrel and cap with Pentiques scratch remover and a dremel.  As you can see, this did the job.  I then used polish and wax to complete the job.  I also gently cleaned the nib, clip, lever, and cap band with a jewelers cloth.  The completed pen is below, measuring 5 1/2 inches capped and 6 3/4 inches posted.

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Here is the Civil War angle.  Below is this pen and below it is a Dixie that was produced a few years later in Libertyville, IL by Kraker (see this link for more information on the Dixie).  As I mentioned above, I do not have any information as to why Kraker used the Yankee and Dixie names, though it appears that the Dixie name appears later in his pen producing life.  Here is an example of two virtually identical pens, produced 104 miles apart that carried different names.  Libertyville was Southwest of Grand Haven, but certainly not in the heart of Dixie.  There is a series of articles appearing in the fine magazine produced by the The Pen Collectors of America – The Pennant – that is written by two very knowledgeable Kraker collectors, which may shed more light on the naming of his pens.  Until then, it is fun to see the variations.

The two photos below show the Yankee / Grand Haven, MI and Dixie / Libertyville, IL pens next to each other.  They are unmistakeably Michael – George (Kraker) pens, with the differently colored cap and barrel ends, single cap bands, and distinctive clip.

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Here is a closeup of the clean imprint, with the typical large first and last letters.

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Finally, the replacement Warranted No. 8 large nib, taken from the blue marbled National Pen shown above.

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Kraker pens in the late 1920s presented a large number of variations, and pens that are colorful and well made.

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August 4, 2010 - Posted by | Dixie Fountain Pens, Kraker, Yankee Pen | , ,

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