Fountain Pen Restoration

Put Your Loose Change Here

Today’s restoration was a Bankers Coin Filler Pen. I found this one about two years ago on eBay and left it in its original condition. I recently decided to finish the restoration and take a few interesting pictures. When I first came upon the pen, the coin fill feature was the main attraction. These pens are filled by taking a coin and pressing it into the slot in the barrel. This depresses a bar which presses against the sac, compressing it. When the coin is released, the sac fills and the ink releases up into the sac from the bottled ink. In a future post, I will show a matchstick fill pen that simply replaces the coin slot with a round hole into which a hard wooden matchstick fits.

This pen is also interesting in that it took me a little time and some outside help to determine a little history behind the pen. When I began researching and asking questions, I received a few pieces of interesting information. First, the address on the pen is One Madison Avenue, New York. A quick search reveals that tis location was built by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1909 and remained the tallest building in the world until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building. Further information can be found in a New York Times Article here.

Back to the pen. I went to Lion and Pen, on the web, which is a website that specializes in fountain pens and their history and asked if anyone had additional information on this pen. Several responses came back and were extremely helpful to me in determining who might have made this pen and at what point in time.

The feed gives a very large clue. Julius Schnell was a pen barrel maker that made barrels for many pen companies, including Sheaffer and Conklin. During testimony in a trial as a witness, he divulged much information about his business, and one such morsel was that he made parts for Bankers near 1911 and forward. The patent for the feed that is pictured below can be found here.

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So, I feel comfortable in stating that this pen was made with parts provided by Julius Schnell sometime after 1910 in New York. I do not know who made the nib, but as you can see, it is a Bankers No. 2 14K Gold, with a distinctive “heart” hole.

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The pressure bars for these pens were most probably made by Duryea of Hackensack, New Jersey. Bankers assembled all of these pieces together and sold them under the Bankers name that appears on the pen. This was not unusual at the time, especially for many of the smaller pen companies.

Restoration was easy. I heated the section and removed it from the barrel. I then knocked out the feed (Schnell) and nib and cleaned them off – the feed with water and a good scrub as well as cleaning the channels with a dental pick to clean out any residual ink. The section was cleaned of ink using water and a q-tip. The pressure bar on the inside of the barrel was in good shape and did not need to be replaced. If it had, I would have used a standard size j-bar. A size 16 sac was secured to the section with sac cement and the section/feed/nib assembly was inserted back into the barrel.

As you can see from the pictures, the cap and barrel have turned brown from age. This happens to Black Hard Rubber (BHR). The chasing is still quite distinct, but the discoloration is very evident when the cap is removed and the hard rubber that was protected by the cap shows its original black color. There is disagreement in the fountain pen collecting community over whether this discoloration should be reversed when a pen is restored. I chose not to do so with my old hard rubber pens. It should be noted that there are products available and restoration professionals that do provide this service. I feel it is a personal decision and the examples I have seen of reblackened pens are stunning. My only concern would be that any reblackened pens should be disclosed as having had this treatment.

Here are a few before and after pictures.

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The nib has quite a bit of flex to it and I find that the coin that works the best in the slot is a dime. Just always remember to have a few handy. Just a few years short of a century old, this pen is back in “circulation” (I couldn’t resist the coin pun).

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January 8, 2008 - Posted by | Bankers, Bankers Pen Company, Hard Rubber Pen, Schnell Pens | ,

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