Fountain Pen Restoration

This One Is For You, Dennis

I just received sad news that a friend and fellow collector Dennis Bowden passed away yesterday.  Dennis was a wonderful man, deeply interested in fountain pens, their preservation, and their history.  We traded information regularly and shared a keen interest in Kraker pens and their sometimes mysterious past.  Dennis was always willing to answer a question or trade theories, without ever getting involved in arguments or conflicts that other collectors generated.  He was always the voice of steady reason and just wanted to search out historical information, with the understanding that even if we never find all the facts, the hunt is the fun.  His passing has saddened me, and maybe another collector had it right when he said ~ “these are just pens”.

I looked through my repair queue today and found the perfect pen to restore today – a pen that Dennis would have liked – an early 20s Minnesota Pen Company – Winter Robbins.   George M. Kraker and his Minnesota Pen Company produced these pens, presumably for the Winter – Robbins Stores.  I recently ran into a Minneapolis / St. Paul pen expert who confirmed to me that Winter Robbins was a Twin Cities store.  I have collected several of their pens over the years and I know that Dennis had a few as well.   So Dennis, this one is for you.

Here is a photo of the pen after I took it apart.  It is a lever filler, using the distinctive Lotz lever, common to his early pens.  As you can see, the old sac came out in just a few large pieces.

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As this is a BCHR (Black Chased Hard Rubber) pen, I kept all of the pieces away from its enemy – water.  I scraped the section to remove all remnants of the old sac and adhesive.  I also cleaned the feed gently with water and scraped the channels clear with an x-acto knife.  I used metal polish on the Warranted No. 3 nib and it looks as good as new.  Many of Kraker’s early Minnesota pens have cheap furniture, but the Winter Robbins pens often can be found with gold bands.  This one has a very wide gold band that is clear, presumably engraving could have been included.

The completed pen is below.  It measures a long 5 9/16 inches capped and 6 3/4 inches posted and is quite wide as well.

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Below is the logo on the Hard Rubber, reading

MINNESOTA

WINTER ROBBINS CO.

ST. PAUL,  —-  PAT’D

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An additional photo of a Winter Robbins pen can be seen in my post dated December 7, 2007 – Hard Rubber Midwest Style.  Several other posts relate to George Kraker and his pens and can be referenced by clicking on Kraker links in the Blogroll to the right of this post.

The only blemishes on this pen are the fact that the barrel has started to turn brown as these old hard rubber pens are prone to do, and there is a small chip on the reverse side of the cap, near the cap band.  I filled the pen up with Sheaffer  Peacock Blue and the pen writes well.  I will use it for this week in memory of my friend.

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Dennis Bowden, George M. Kraker, Hard Rubber Pen, Kraker, Minnesota Pens, Winter - Robbins | , , , | 3 Comments

A Yankee in Minnesota

In my post of January 27, 2007, titled A Yankee in Michigan, I repaired and discussed a Yankee Pen made by a George Kraker pen company in Grand Haven, Michigan. In that post, I mentioned that I had a Yankee Pen from Minnesota. Well, two weeks ago, I came across another Yankee Pen, from the Minneapolis Pen Company. The clip on this one is the same as the clip used by Kraker in Michigan and on the Monogram Pen discussed on February 7. Having read several expert opinions, I am quite confident that the Minneapolis Pen Company and the Yankee Pen that I am restoring here is another Kraker product. I would place the date in the early 1920s after he left Kansas City and prior to Grand Haven, MI.

The picture below is of the pen after being taken apart. The sac had reduced to a fine dust. As you can see, the hard rubber chasing is in excellent shape, as is the color and imprint. the nib and feed were very dirty and needed to be scraped (feed) and cleaned. The nib is a nice Warranted 14K with no size number. The section needed to be scraped to remove all signs of the previous sac.

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I installed a size 16 sac and the pen works fine. Below are pictures of the restored pen closed and posted.

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I want to point out the unique lever. This lever is one that appears on many Kraker pens of the period. The first photo below is the lever of this pen. You can also see the same lever on a Winter Robbins pen, featured in my post of December 7 of last year, titled Hard Rubber Midwest Style.

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Finally, here is another pen, a Drew Pen Company (St. Paul, MN) with the same lever again. It would lead me to believe that Kraker may have been involved in some way with the manufacture of several of these pens.

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May 15, 2008 Posted by | Drew Pen Company, Hard Rubber Pen, Kraker, Minneapolis Pen, Minnesota Pens, Monogram Fountain Pens, Winter - Robbins, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

Hard Rubber Midwest Style

Last night I restored a two vintage Minnesota Pens. I suspect both were manufactured in the 1920s. Who manufactured them is an interesting topic for discussion. A link to further discussion and speculation can be found here -

Kraker Discussion

The discussion takes many twists and turns and a few pictures of my pens appear.

First, I restored a Brown and Bigelow Ringtop lever-filler. The material is a mottled hard rubber. As with most of these, all that was required was removal of the old sac remains, a check of the lever – pressure bar mechanism and a replacement sac. I also cleaned up the Redipoint nib and feed. The result is pictured below.

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I used some white crayon to highlight the imprint for photo purposes.

The next pen was a BHR (black hard rubber) Winter-Robbins Minnesota Pen. This is the second one of these in my collection of Minnesota Pens. The restoration process was the same as the above pen and no problems were encountered. The discoloration of the Black Hard Rubber is very slight. This can be a big problem for many of these old BHR and BCHR pens. A larger discussion within the hobby is whether or not to attempt to reverse this process. There are a few products out there and the results can be stunning. I tend to think that these pens should be left in the condition they are found in terms of hard rubber, but I am not as militant in my stance as many. It is an issue that can be quite polarizing, to experts in the fountain pen community.

Here is a picture of the finished product.

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The lever on this pen is interesting. It is a lever attributable to a patent issued to R. W. Lotz, a Chicago Attorney in 1918. This lever appears on Kraker pens, Drew(MN) pens, and several others that lead one to believe that George Kraker may have been involved in the manufacture of these. Much more information can be found in the link at the top of this post. I have a notebook filled with notes on these connections. When I get some time, I would like to learn more about Minnesota Corporate records and where to gather more information. But for now, two restored hard rubber ringtops are back in action., and at close to the condition they were in 80 years ago.

December 7, 2007 Posted by | Brown & Bigelow, Kraker, Minnesota Pens, Winter - Robbins | , , , | 2 Comments

   

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