Fountain Pen Restoration

Keene Fountain Pens

This week’s pen is one that is very typical of one found in the back of a display, or in a large can, at an antique store. I think that is where I found this one – in with bunch of pencils and ballpoints and capless no name pens.  I think that the previous owner had given up this one for dead.  Several problems existed.  First, the wide cap band was loose and slid right off.  A larger problem was the clip.  There was a thick layer of dried material (ink, mildew?) under the clip and it was very loose.  I could see that any amount of cleaning would cause it to fall off, so I carefully pulled it off myself.  The rest of the pen was in decent shape, with some barrel stains, but the nib, section, feed, and lever were in working order.

This pen is made of hard rubber, which presents its own cleaning problem, as cleaners and water do more harm than good, so I could only clean the barrel and cap with a clean cloth.  I did scrub the clip area with a brush and even used some fine sandpaper to remove the grimy build up under where the clip had been.  Removing the clip had left the remaining anchors in the cap, so I would have to figure out a way to get the cap back in place.  Option were to remove the inner cap and clip anchors, and look for a new clip.  Unfortunately, this clip is a proprietary one, and Keene clips are not easy to find.  My only option, aside from making a new one, was to glue the clip back to the barrel where the anchor sections broke off.  I did this, and the photo is the second below.

The cap insides and the barrel threads also were cleaned of all old ink stains.  A new j bar was needed as well.   The section was cleaned on the inside with water and the feed grooves were cleared.  The nib is a nice large Warranted No. 8 with plenty of tipping material.  Finally, the cap band and lever were polished gently as I suspect that they are a gold wash.

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As mentioned, here is the cap, with clip after being attached with glue to the four contact points and after cleaning.

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I installed a large size 18 sac to the section/feed/nib and the completed pen can be seen below.  It measures 5  1/4 inches closed and a large 6 7/8 inches posted.

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As often is seen with old lever fillers, the clip box has expanded unevenly over time and pressure.  This one is not too bad, but detracts from the pens overall look.  You can see the imprint – Keene New York, with a K in the lever end circle.

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And the cursive Keene on the repaired clip.   This is a nice touch.

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From what little information I have been able to gather, I believe that Keene was a Jeweler in New York that contracted with Eclipse to brand pens for them.  I have no hard evidence of this, but it makes some sense as the pen resembles the large Eclipse pens of the period.  Charles A. Keene is listed as a NY Pen Company in 1920 and 1925 at 180 and 189 Broadway (source – Manhattan Pen Makers Project).  Though he may not have been a manufacturer, he did have a line of pens.  An interesting side note is this pen knife (photo from web) that has an imprint ~ Keene 180 Broadway New York M.I. Germany.

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In summary, this Keene pen seems to have originated in New York in the 1920s from a jeweler that also marketed pen knives.  Keep an eye open for these pens.  If you can find one in good condition they almost rival the Duofolds of their time.  As always, I welcome additional information that sheds more light on the history of these pens.

Note:  Check out this article written by friend Luiz. on Keene Pens!   Amazing photos and history.  Thank you Luiz.

http://www.oldfountainpensjustforfun.blogspot.com/2011/02/keene-pens-eclipse-sub-brand-with-nice.html

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February 21, 2011 - Posted by | Keene Fountain Pens |

7 Comments »

  1. Actually, I think Keene was made in Toronto, as it is a sub-brand of Eclipse. It was produced for a jeweler in New York City, named Keene. If it has that 2-vertical-pronged clip design that grabs around the cap about 1/4-way down from the top, then it’s definitely made by Eclipse. Not a very good clip mount design, I think. I have an Eclipse pen with the exact same look. Nice pen, by the way. –Wayne

    Comment by ToasterPastry | February 21, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hi dear friend:
    Another excellent post as usual. I invite you to give a look to my post about KEEN pens in my blog:
    http://www.oldfountainpensjustforfun.blogspot.com
    Have a nice day:
    Luiz

    Comment by Luiz Leite | February 22, 2011 | Reply

  3. My humble apology…After my initial comment regarding Keene and Eclipse pens, I found a couple of sources that corrected my statement above. Essentially Keene was an American company, purchsed by Eclipse, whose operations were later moved to Toronto…

    According to a history of the company written by Stephen Overbury, published in the British “Journal of the Writing Equipment Society” in 1989, issue No. 24.

    Eclipse Fountain Pen Co. (1903-1962), started by Marx Finstone in San Francisco, Calif., 1903, Joseph P. Tully, salesman in Chicago, Ill., 1915-25, bought out Keene Pen Co., ca.1915-20, 161 Grand St., New York, N. Y., 1922, patents received between 1917-27, “Safety” trademark used since 1919 and issued in 1922, gen. office at 42-44 E. Houston St., export department at 200 Fifth Ave., factories in New York and Arlington, N. J. in 1925, also offices at 31 State St., Chicago, 57 Post St., San Francisco, and 21 Dundas Square, Toronto, Ont., Canada, 1925, Marx Finstone dies in 1929, office in the Chrysler Bldg., cor 405 Lexington Avenue at 42nd Street, 1933, Dave Klein & Joseph Tully become co-owners of both the US and Canadian operations in 1933, the US company is bought out by the Canadian company in 1962.

    Comment by ToasterPastry | March 19, 2011 | Reply

  4. hi i’ve a keene fountain pen, working.
    only a problem…. the clip is broken…..
    have you some link where i can buy ? or you know some one who can help me?

    tanks

    marco barone mail to: info@baronearchitetto.it

    Comment by marco barone | July 7, 2011 | Reply

  5. I have the exact Keene pen knife pictured at the end of this article about Keene fountain pens – it is in excellent condition except some minor spots of corrosion on both blades – blades still very sharp. Handle with gold plating is perfect with simulated engraving of floral design. Overall length with both blades closed is 73mm and with long blade open, length is about 116 mm. Knife stamped “KEENE 180 Broadway, New-York, M.I. Germany” (MI stands for Made in …). I inherited this pen from my father who was born in 1911 in Chicago and Keene knife dates to1920-1925 Is anyone interested in it? What is its collector value? (I don”t have the pen, just the knife.)

    Comment by Arthur Blessing | July 20, 2011 | Reply

  6. I have a letter signed by Charles A. Keene dated 2 April 1931 and his letterhead address is 180 Broadway, New York at that time.

    Comment by Sue | July 21, 2011 | Reply

  7. I have one of the pen knives. It’s the sameone that is pictured on your site. It belonged to my mom. It is in mint condition.

    Comment by Kathy Jensen | August 16, 2014 | Reply


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