Fountain Pen Restoration

Henry Dreyfuss and the 20th Century Limited

I love trains, especially old ones and there is a nice tie-in to fountain pens. Henry Dreyfuss, a noted industrial designer of the 20th century, actually assisted in the design of the Wahl / Eversharp Skyline. The Skyline was produced by Wahl in Chicago, IL. during the period 1941-1948. In 1945, it was the best selling pen in the US. Mr. Dreyfuss designed the 20th Century Ltd (shown below) in the late 1930s, prior to the 1940 design of the Skyline. More information can be found on him by clicking on his name above.

New York Central – 20th Century Limited

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Now, let’s take a look at his pen design. I have posted a picture of the clip and bonnet of the pen next to the front of the train and you can see the similarity. Below is a picture of three burgundy Skylines that I have restored over the last couple of years. They are lever fillers and very easy to restore, except for two things. The barrels tend to be quite brittle and are notorious for cracking if care is not taken when separating the section from the barrel. Gentle heat is recommended and I use my heat gun carefully. Also, the later Skylines had breather tubes which can be tricky to restore as they also tend to be brittle and care needs to be taken here as well.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Eversharp Skylines were produced in numerous colors, designs and caps over the 7 years of their production. Three sizes were available: Executive, Standard, and Demi. Most of these pens found today are of the standard size. The Eversharp nibs I have found in these pens have been in quite good condition, and some can be found with a bit of flexibility.


December 14, 2007 Posted by | Henry Dreyfuss, Skyline, Wahl Eversharp | , , | 2 Comments

Who is Lois A. Kuester?

That is a good question, and if anyone knows, please forward the information on to me. A quick Google Search led me to a Lois Kuester of Williston, ND who celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary in 2005. Why am I interested in her? Well, I am not really interested in her, just in her pen. My latest restoration project was over the past two days, as time permitted, and I finished up late last night. It is a pen that belonged to Ms. Kuester, as her name was stamped right on the side of the barrel, as you can see in this shot.


Occasionally, you will run across a vintage fountain pen that has a name on it. Often pens that were given as gifts were imprinted at the retail location to give the pen special meaning. Collectors are often split as to their feelings on imprints. A collector of mint (or close to mint) condition pens would shy away from such an imprint. Others, who simply like to collect and restore good pens do not object to these imprints. Personally, I enjoy the history of pens as much as the pens themselves, and an imprint gives a sort of link to that history. Is Lois Kuester of Williston, ND the former owner of this pen. Well, I will never know…but it is possible. I obtained the pen from a seller in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Not nearby, but in the same part of the country. The pen, a Sheaffer Lady Balance in Golden Brown Striated, was produced in Fort Madison, Iowa near the late 1930s to early 1940s. If we guess that Lois of ND was 25 when married, that would place her near 77 years of age now. In 1940 she would have been 10 years of age, give or take a few years. It is not inconceivable that she would have been gifted a pen while in school. Granted, the internet is very weak when it comes to searching for records before 2000, so this is not probable…but fun to guess at.

On to the restoration. This is a lever filler, so very straightforward. I was able to get the section off quite easily. Once opened up, I fished the old hardened and broken sac out with a dental pick. After it was all out, I inspected the internal pressure bar which was still usable. I have a nice supply of these on my workbench but it is nice when I can still use the original. I carefully removed the nib and breather tube from the section and cleaned both with q-tips and an ultrasonic cleaner. The nib was very tarnished, but the picture below shows it now looks as good as the day it was given to Lois. I installed a new sac to the section, put the pen back together, and polished it to the point where the “Golden Brown” striations are visible again. Here is Lois’ fountain pen, back in a condition similar to when she was using it – whomever she was.


If you look at the clear portion of the pen, between the threads and the section, you can see the breather tube, which is a small tube which extends from the nib into the sac to provide for a better fill of ink, in theory. I think it adds to the look of these pens – kind of a peek at the inner workings. In fountain pens, this is called a visualated section. These striped pens were produced in four other colors and in varying sizes. The striped, or striated, were also produced in Marine Green, Grey Pearl, Carmine Red, and Roseglow (more rare).

December 14, 2007 Posted by | Sheaffer | | 3 Comments


%d bloggers like this: