Fountain Pen Restoration

Houston Pen Company – Tracy, Minnesota – My Holy Grail

Occasionally you hear collectors of various items, including fountain pens, speak of “holy grails”. These are items that they seek and are at the top of their lists of desired items. For several years I have collected Houston Pens and their offspring (Jiffy and Snapfil). I have covered a Houston Pen, made in Sioux City, IA in my post of April 10 – Houston Pen Company.

I finally had a chance to acquire a Houston Pen made here in my home State – Minnesota. The Houston Pen Company was started in Tracy, Minnesota in 1908 by W. A. Houston and moved to Iowa near 1912. So the Houston Pens made in Iowa are much more plentiful.

I have posted a few photos of the materials that arrived with the pen; an outer box which shows the manufacturing location of Tracy and the direction sheet and drawings of the pen.

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This is obviously an eyedropper, so there were few repairs to be done. I did polish the gold parts, remove the feed and nib, and thoroughly clean the section. You can see that the gold decorative bands have held up very well over time. The double threaded section is quite unique and I have shown a couple of close-ups of it below.

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The pen measures a long 6 15/16 inches long (capped) and has a Warranted No. 4 nib. I feel very good about finally finding one of these. I hope that you all get the opportunity to find that one pen you have been spending time trying to locate. After several years I have finally found my “holy grail”.

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August 26, 2008 Posted by | Houston Pen Company, Tracy MN | , , | 6 Comments

Belmont Pens at the Rexall Store

This post’s restoration brings us back to the Rexall Store of yesteryear. If you check back to my post of February 7, 2008 (Rexall Monogram), I discussed Monogram pens, made by Kraker for Rexall Stores. Over the years, Rexall used several manufacturers to produce their pen and pencil lines. Three major pen lines for Rexall were Monogram, Signet, and Belmont. Belmont pens were named for Belmont, Massachusetts, the home of Rexall head Louis Liggett.(1)

Sometime in the mid 1930s the contract for fountain pens was moved from Kraker to the Moore Pen Company of Boston. The pen discussed in this restoration is probably an example of one of these Moore products.

As you can see this was a distressed pen when it arrived. Priced accordingly at only a few dollars, it was going to require some patience and scrubbing. The j-bar was shot, as was the the clip, lever and two cap bands (located at the top and bottom). The nib, feed, and section were all usable and cleaned up quite quickly. In fact, you can barely see the cap bands in the photo below, they are so blackened.

I used a dremel carefully on all of the gold parts to remove as much of the black as possible and then a q-tips, and tooth picks with Simichrome to touch up. After scraping the old sac material from the section I placed a size 18 sac on the section and placed a new j-bar in the barrel.
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Below is a photo of the finished pen. I would say that I probably spent at least 2 hours cleaning this pen. But, as you can see, the end results were worth it. All of the gold parts now shine as they did when they sat on the Rexall shelves.

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Below is a photo of a Moore lever filler from the same time period and the celluloid is the same material. This would seem to back up the statement that this is a Moore product, after the mid 1930s. Moore continued to make pens for Rexall until the early 1950s. I suspect that they also made pencils as well, but that is for another post.

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Finally, here is a photo of the Belmont 14K No. 4 nib. It was very scratchy and I spent time smoothing the tip with very fine smoothing sheets.

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(1) This information provided by Rob Astyk in a thread at Lion and Pen. (website link provided in Blogroll)

August 18, 2008 Posted by | Belmont Pens, Moore Pen, Rexall | , | 2 Comments

There Is A Woman In My Fountain Pen !

Who is this and why is her photo inlaid into this Good Service pen? I threw this question out to several people and the responses were varied. They ranged from the pen was given to loved ones at the time of this woman’s death, marriage, birthday or anniversary. The inlay is very smooth and not just a photo glued on to the pen. It is inlaid and quite well done.

What I do know is that this is a pen manufactured by either National Pen Products , probably using parts produced by C. E. Barrett, also of Chicago, or by Parker, who also made some Good Service Pens. Good Service was a Sears Brand, sold in their stores and through mail order. I would only be guessing, but I might lean toward this being a Parker product due to the green marble, and feed/section which look similar to several of the Parker Challengers and Parkettes that I have.

Anyway, back to the lovely woman in my pen. If anyone has seen other examples of these types of pens from this time period (30s – 40s), I would love to see them and hear what they were used for or why they were produced.

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As for the restoration, it was a straight forward lever filler repair. However, as you can see the section and feed were brittle and came apart when I attempted to knock out the feed. This was easily fixed as I had a spare Challenger feed and section that fit the barrel and nib ( a Warranted 14k ).

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I thoroughly cleaned the inside of the barrel and cap which were caked with blue ink, replaced the feed and section and refitted the nib. A size 16 latex sac was used to complete the filling system. The gold parts polished up nicely and the pen (and picture ) were polished and buffed.

Here is the end result. I like to think that the woman on my pen is much happier with her new surroundings.

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For good measure, here is a photo of the imprint. I believe the faded logo in the middle is the Sears and Roebuck logo.

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11-30-2012 Edit: David Nishamura has written an excellent web article on Doric Inlays in which he publishes Wahl Eversharp brochure that details that they will do similar inlay work to their Doric pens. Interesting reading and a glimpse into what was done to this pen, perhaps. Both Companies were in Chicago…..

A link to David’s excellent post is here.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | C. E. Barrett, Good Service Pen Company, National Pen Products, Parker Pen Company, Sears | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Dixie in Michigan

In previous posts – A Yankee in Minnesota and A Yankee in Michigan, I have discussed the restoration of two George Kraker pens. Here is another one, a DixiE, made in Grand Haven, Michigan. This is the location that Kraker moved to after Minnesota and prior to his move to Libertyville, IL.

I wonder if he had a thing for the Civil War…Yankee Pens and then Dixie Pens.

Here is a picture of the Dixie after I have taken it apart. There was no j – bar inside the pen which leads me to believe that it had been taken apart at some point, though the sac remains were inside the barrel, as you can see. This remains a mystery. You can also see that the jade green color has held up quite well over the years.

I knocked the nib and feed out of the section thoroughly cleaned them. The nib and feed went in the ultrasonic cleaner and the section was cleaned with a qtip and water. The cap had some ink residue in it and I also cleaned this with water and qtips. A new j-bar was installed (large size) and a size 18 sac fit nicely on to the section/feed/nib and into the barrel. Remember to put a bit of pure talc on the sac for good measure.

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Here is a picture of the completed pen, which measures 5 3/8 inches closed. It is roughly the same size as several similar pens of the period. I have a Diamond Medal and Blue Ribbon which are very similar in size and color.

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The nib is a large Dixie Number 8. I like the fact that this pen has a proprietary nib and not just a Warranted 14K Number 8.

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The imprint is also very well preserved. This is a nice example of a relatively rare Dixie made in Grand Haven, Michigan.

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Keeping an eye open for some of these Kraker Pens (Pencraft, Dixie, Yankee..) can yield some very nice pens at reasonable prices.

August 1, 2008 Posted by | Dixie Fountain Pens, Kraker, Yankee Pen | , | 3 Comments

   

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