Fountain Pen Restoration

Indian Fountain Pen

This week, I worked on a pen/pencil combo from the Indian Pen Company.  I have seen these around before, and had always been interested in their origin and drawn by their very colorful (by vintage fountain pen standards) patterns.

You can see the component parts below, along with a badly stained barrel and cap.  Structurally, it is in decent shape, as there are no cracks or chips.  These were colorful, but the the furniture is just gold plated.   This includes the nib and pencil point, which have both discolored.

I first spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the barrel and cap, removing ink stains from the barrel.  As I have mentioned in the past, I first use INK NIX cleaner and a toothbrush to remove most of the ink in the threads.  The inside of the cap needs to be cleaned completely as well as this is where the ink on the barrel originates.

Cleaning the clip, lever, nib and pencil was fairly easy, as the gold plating had already worn off all but the nib.  I polished them and placed the nib in an ultrasonic cleaner for a short bath of 60 seconds.  Most of the gold plate remains on the nib, but even that short cleaning, removed some.  You can see from the photo below that the portion of the nib that was in the section had already worn off completely.

I scraped the section clean of the old sac remnants.  Be careful of these as the section as the nipple is very thin and gentle removal of the sac should be practiced here so you don’t harm the nipple.

The next problem encountered was the that the old jbar needed to be replaced as it was very brittle.  The two sizes of  jbars that I have are both too big for this combo as the pencil mechanism uses up some of the barrel internal area.   As I was experimenting with a trimmed jbar, I disengaged the internal snap ring, used to secure the lever.   When this happens, you need to pull the snap ring and lever out of the barrel.  Reattach them and slide the ring and lever back into the barrel and get the ring to snap back into its track – aligning the lever back into its slot.  This can be a tedious tasl and is the reason I usually do not remove the ring and lever to clean them with lever filler repairs.  This went well an I was once again able to insert a trimmed jbar back in to the barrel.

After cleaning the feed, section and then reinserting the nib, I attached a size 14 sac to the section nipple and inserted the assembly into the barrel.  Then the pencil mechanism was also placed back into the barrel.  (note – these take a 1.18mm lead).

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So, how did these pens get the Name “Indian”?   I am not certain, but from what I have read, they resemble Native American blanket patterns.  A quick Google search for these blankets revealed a myriad of patterns and I have printed out a couple below.  It is easy to see the resemblance.

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The complete pen / pencil combination can be seen below.  It measures 5 1/2 inches capped and 5 7/8 inches posted.

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Note the worn condition of the clip and nib as the thin gold plate has completely worn off.

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I will share what little I know about these pens and it is all speculative from various conversations and reading ~

Many think that the Indian Pen brand was a sub brand of the Arnold Pen Company in Petersburg, VA.  The dates of this pen type appear to be from the 1930s.  Without going into a long discussion of Arnold, they were a huge pen Company in Virginia, founded by Remmie Arnold after he purchased the remains of the Edison Pen Company.  Indian Pens seem to fit here somewhere and I am quite confident that there was a relationship to Arnold Pens or its preceding companies, which are also known for very colorful low priced combos.   I have actually seen one of these patterned pens with an Arnold clip, so there must have been some crossover at times.

My example is not a pristine one, though the barrel and cap are clean.  I have also seen these in green and blue patterns and with clean gold nibs and clips.  When in excellent condition, these relatively cheaply made combos sell for quite high prices.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Arnold Pen Company, Indian Pen Company, Southern Pen Company | , , | 3 Comments

   

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