Fountain Pen Restoration

A Dixie In Illinois

In my post of August 1, 2008, A Dixie in Michigan, I discussed the repair of a very clean green marble Dixie Pen, made by George Kraker in Grand Haven, Michigan.   Kraker, whose pens I have covered from Minneapolis to Grand Haven, Michigan, and to Libertyville, IL in the following posts,

Hard Rubber Midwest Style December 7, 2007
A Yankee In Michigan January 27, 2008
Rexall Monogram February 7, 2008
A Yankee In Minnesota May 15, 2008
Belmont/Rexall And Yankee Cousins May 22, 2008
Pencraft June 1, 2008
A Dixie In Michigan August 1, 2008
Drew Pen Company October 3, 2008

was certainly a busy and transient pen maker. I even have a pen of his made in Kansas City prior to his stint in Minnesota. But that is for another time.

This pen, made in Libertyville, dates to sometime in or after 1929, the year Kraker moved there. This would seem to coincide with the marketplace. This pen is similar in color and design to the popular Mandarin Parker Duofold, which was first produced in 1927.

As you can see, the pen was a stained mess when I received it.  This is very typical of vintage yellow pens as they show all of the old ink and scratches very well.

Two things stood out with this pen.  First, the nib was not a Dixie No. 8 or a Warranted No. 8 as I have seen with these pens, but a Parker Vacuum Fill nib.  The Vacuum Fill was the pen produced by Parker around 1933 between the Parker Golden Arrow and eventually the Vacumatic.  Thus the nib is a bit rare and unusual .  I don’t know when it was put on the pen, but it was not recently.  The entire pen was caked inside and out with greenish ink residue, which also is found all over the nib.  Also, the nib and Parker feed are perfect matches for the section and fit snugly, exposing just the right amount of nib.  Resale on the Vacuum Fill nib would be attractive, but for now I think I will keep it with the pen.


Another piece of evidence that the nib / feed / section have been on the pen for a while was the fact that when I eventually got the section out of the barrel, the sac and pressure bar were still inside and both came out with quite a bit of work and were completely shot.  The sac was very hard and in may pieces and the bar was corroded and brittle.

Below, is a photograph of the pen after I was able to take the section out.  One should always be careful in removing the section with pens, but yellow pens seem to be very brittle and certainly will show any stress cracks that might develop during this process, if care is not taken.


I spent several days working on the inside and outside of this pen, attempting to remove all of the old scratches and stains.  It was quite a challenge.  I used my ultrasonic cleaner and then many qtips, towels, dental picks, and polishes to attempt to clean it up.  The threads were particularly difficult, but I was able to get them completely clean using Ink Nix and a toothbrush.

I installed a new j-bar and a size 18 sac and reinstalled the Vacuum Fill Nib.  Tested with water, it performs well.

Here are pictures of the pen after completed.  It measures 5 1/2 inches capped.



The imprint reads:





Finally, here is a picture of two of my Dixie Pens, one from Michigan and one from Illinois.  Both are in less common finishes.  Considered third-tier imitation pens, they perform well and are all part of the pen trail of George Kraker.



November 26, 2008 Posted by | Dixie Fountain Pens, Kraker, Parker Vacuum Fill | , | 2 Comments

Wahl Oxford Fountain Pen

This week brought a dark red (burgundy?) marbled Wahl Oxford pen to be restored.  It is a lever filler, though the Oxford brand was also made in a twist filler.

The barrel was quite scratched from years of use and the sac was shot, though it did come out in one hard piece.  It is always nice when this happens, as it prevents the need for extensive scraping.


I cleaned the pen thoroughly, including light buffing to remove some of the scratches.  After completely removing remnants of the old sac from the section, cleaning the nib and feed, I attached a new size 16 sac to the section.  I was able to use the old j-bar in the barrel, and after fitting the section/feed/nib back into the barrel, a water test was successful and the pen filling system works like new.

I then polished the outside of the barrel.  The clip, which reads “Wahl Oxford”, has a light gold wash on it. so I was very careful to gently clean this so as to preserve any remaining gold to match the lever and nib.

This pen comes with a Warranted Number 3 14K nib, as do all of the Wahl Oxford Lever fillers I have worked on.

The pen measures 5 1/4 inches capped and 6 1/2 inches posted.


I have know of no way to pinpoint the date of manufacture, but Wahl Oxfords were produced by Wahl Eversharp in Chicago around time period of 1931-1940.

They were a lower price point pen produced by Eversharp to provide a cheaper alternative to the higher priced Doric line of the same period.  Wahl Dorics are a very desirable collectible today and highly sought after in good conditions.  The Oxford provides a more affordable entry into Wahl Eversharp pens of the period, as it did in the 1930s.

I have highlighted the imprint with white crayon.





I currently own two other Wahl Oxfords:  a brown marble, and green marble.  Here are all three, with an original box.


November 19, 2008 Posted by | Wahl Eversharp, Wahl Oxford Pens | , | 6 Comments

1941 Blue Striped Duofold

In my post of September 10, Striped Duofold, I restored a 1942 Dusty Red Striped Duofold.  It was a single jewel Junior, measuring in at 5 1/16 inches capped. I mentioned at the end of that post that I would be on the lookout for a blue striped model.  Well, I found one!  This is a 1941 Blue Striped Duofold Debutante Double Jewel at 4 5/8 inches.

As you can see from the picture below, this model still has the metal speedline filler and came in fairly good shape except that the filling system was shot and the nib quite dirty.


I won’t go into great detail on the restore of this as a review of several previous vacumatic repairs in earlier posts covers the details.  There was nothing exceptional about this process.  The diaphragm is a debutante size and the nib required a bit of work on both sides.


A couple of items stand out on this pen.  First, the double jewels are more attractive to me.  I think they make the Parker 51, Vacumatic, and Striped Duofolds look much better than the single jewel models and the prices usually reflect this.

Secondly, the cap band is a bit different than the standard Striped Duofold.  I have posted  a close up of the cap band in the final photo below.

Striped Duofolds were produced from 1940 through 1948.  World War II caused the filling units to be switched to plastic.  Button fillers are also found, though not as plentiful as vacumatics.



I have mentioned this in the past, but it bears repeating.  The Striped Duofolds present a nice opportunity to restore vacumatic filling systems and are often found at reasonable prices when compared to Vacumatics.

Good Luck in your searches!

November 11, 2008 Posted by | Duofold, Parker Pen Company, Striped Duofold | , | 1 Comment

Fountain Pen Ink Tablets

I like to mix up my posts to include non – pen items from time to time. I have covered advertising, tools, and inks and here is an interesting Ink topic with historical significance – INK TABLETS.

In my June 8, 2008 post titled Stylographic Pens I discussed the restoration of a cool JUCO (Jacob Ullrich Company) Stylographic Pen.  His Company was in the New York City / New Jersey area from the late 1800s until the 1920s.

I recently came across this tin of Violet Vulcan Ink Tablets. The pictures below show the top and bottom panels as well as the inside and tablets.  You can see from the bottom of the tin that at the time of manufacture Ullrich was at 27 Thames Street in New York City (currently home to the Five Star Shoe Repair Corporation!).


Ink Tablets are an interesting historical fountain pen – related niche.  During World War I (1914-1918), soldiers could not carry ink bottles to refill their pens, so pen companies developed the idea of powder or tablets, which could be combined with water inside the fountain pen to produce ink.

As eyedroppers were a common pen of the day, this was a good solution for the soldiers.

Many companies made the tablets and a noteworthy pen that was produced to store these was the Parker Trench Pen.  An interesting thread at Lion and Pen regarding the Parker Trench pen can be found here. (thank you to all who contributed to this lengthy and informative discussion on Trench pens)



I mixed one of the tablets with water and here is a sample using a Waterman 12 Eyedropper (I can only dream of finding a Trench Pen….)  One tablet provided more than enough ink supply to fill the Waterman 12, which is not a particularly large pen.  Here is a sample:


So, the next time you are in an antique store lamenting the lack of vintage pens for sale, don’t forget to check the cases and shelves for ink tins – you might just get lucky.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | Ink Tablets, Jacob Ullrich, JUCO Pens, Parker Trench Pen | , , , , | 5 Comments


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