Fountain Pen Restoration

Lipic Pens ~ The Radium Point Pen

It is always fun to find a fountain pen from another geographical location.  Lipic Pens were produced in St. Louis, Missouri by the Joseph Lipic Pen Company.  More on Lipic later, after we cover the restoration of this Oversize Flat Top.  First, I will apologize for the shoddy photographs.  My camera had a tough time picking up the dark forest green of this pen.  I would say that the photo that closely matches the color of this pen is the photo of the clip and the dark green in the background.

You can see by the photo directly below that this is a standard lever filler.  The sac came out in several large pieces and the pressure bar was attached to a metal clasp at the top of the inner-cap.  When I scraped out the old sac, the bar came out and the clip on the top had rusted off.  I decided to leave the clasp at the top of the cap inside the pen as insertion of a new long j-bar was not hindered by its presence.

The nib is a nice large Warranted No. 8 in 14K gold and polished up well.  The biggest job was cleaning the section as it had a large glob of the old sac attached, as you can see from the picture below.  It is important to completely remove this to assure a tight fit to the new sac when it is cemented to the section with sac cement.  I scrape it first with and x-acto knife and then use fine sand paper to remove any small pieces and assure a smooth fit with no bumps for air holes.

I used a large size 20 sac and trimmed it to fit the barrel, secured it to the section after refitting the nib and feed.

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The key to these large pens is to really make them shine.  Fortunately, this pen was in fairly good exterior shape when I found it and after polishing it and applying carnuba wax it looks great.  The band, clip, and lever were all 14K also, as they survived vigorous polishing.   After the sac cement had a chance to dry, I reinserted the section into the barrel and the completed pen is below.

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Here is a close up of the imprint showing the Radium Point Brand and St. Louis, MO, the location of the Lipic Pen Company.

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The Clip and the Capital R, for Radium.

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To me the name “Radium Point” is a little ominous as radium is a highly radioactive element and if exposed to radium it could lead to all sorts of health problems.  In fact, radium was used in many applications until its deadly qualities became more understood.  It wasn’t used in these pens though ( I hope ), but must have either been a catchy “new science” kind of name, or had some significance to the St. Louis area.  If anyone know the origin of this Radium Point brand name, drop me a note please.

The following information on the Joseph Lipic Pen Company comes from an excellent book, The Write Stuff, Collectors Guide to Inkwells, Fountain Pens, and Desk Accessories, by Ray and Bevy Jaegers.  It has excellent information on the hobby of writing instruments and great photos of pens, desk sets, advertising, letter openers, and inkwells.

George Berg founded the Berg Company in St. Louis in 1853.  In 1904, his son-in-law Joseph Lipic joined the firm and eventually took over in the Company.  In 1910 he patented a successful self filling pen, called the Radium Point Pen.

Here is the Patent as shown in the above referenced book for this 1910 pen.   This is not the same pen as the one I have restored, but rather an interesting hard rubber pen called the Radium Point.

Soon the company expanded from the general St. Louis area to a national market.  They were quite successful for a small pen company in the following years, and have survived to today.

One of my favorite patents of theirs is this pencil / thermometer.

I really do not have an exact date for the production of this pen, though I believe it to be near the late 1920s.  Lipic was going strong at that time and I have a bit of a clue in the photo below.  The plastic translucent jewels on the ends of the barrel and cap are very similar to those of Yankee and Belmont pens previously discussed in these past posts:

A Yankee In Michigan ~ January 27, 2008

Belmont / Rexall and Yankee Cousins ~ May 22, 2008

Clicking on these links will lead to information that these Belmont and Yankee pens were produced in the mid to late 1920s.  So, I would place the timeline on these pens in the same ballpark.

The next question would be — were the parts for these Kraker (Belmont and Yankee) and Lipic (Radium) made in the same place?  If so, where?  Another question for another day.

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The good news is that even though I now have more questions to work on, at least I have a nice large pen to use in the solving process.  Keep finding those pens….

Edit, 3-28-15: A fellow pen collector, Marc Packer, sent me the photo of this stunning twin to the Green Lipic above. It seems to be almost identical and it is nice to see another example of this well made pen. Thank you, Marc, for sharing and allowing me to show your photo.

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January 22, 2009 Posted by | Lipic Fountain Pens, Radium Point Pen | , | 17 Comments

Final Year for Parker 51 Vacumatics – 1948

The most recent pen I worked on is this 1948 Parker 51 Vacumatic.  It is a single jewel ( I am still looking for the elusive double jewel – maybe later this year) with a Heritage Sterling Silver Cap.  As you can see by the photograph below, the pen came with all of it’s parts included, but it was not without major blemishes.

First, the cap jumps out as being very dirty and with minor dents.  Second, the hood came with several deep scratches that I suspect came from someone trying to twist it off with some pliers or similar tool.   The hood did come off, but with doses of heat from a heat gun and my padded section pliers.

I attacked the severely gouged hood with 1500 grit paper and worked it for several 10 minute sessions until all traces of the scratches and cuts were gone.  This did not damage the hood and after polishing the hood with scratch removing liquid, then polish and wax, it looks as good as new.

I cleaned the nib with polish and cleaned the feed, collector and breather tube in an ultrasonic cleaner.

As with all vac repairs the inside of the barrel needs to be completely cleaned out of all old diaphragm remnants in order for it to function properly.  Having done this, I polished the barrel outside using the same process as the hood.

I fitted a new debutante size diaphragm to the plastic speedline filler unit and reinstalled it to the barrel using my vacumatic tool.  Before inserting in the barrel, I made a change to my usual procedure.  I have moved along and am no longer spitting on my vacs!  In the past, I have mentioned that prior to installing the filling unit. I would coat the diaphragm with my saliva to help ease it into the barrel as it is twisted back in.  Well, a product has emerged that replaces this saliva, and is probably a lot more sanitary.

Richardspens.com  now sells a Vacumatic Lubricant that I would recommend.  It will save you the embarrassment of having people walk by your workbench and seeing you with vintage pen parts in your mouth, and I am sure it is more effective.

Next the cap – as you can see, it was a mess.  I spent several hours over a few days, polishing this with metal cleaner, a dremel, and then a jewelers cloth.  Both the cap and clip now glisten.  The Blue Parker Diamond is absent of blue, however.  I prefer to leave my Parker Blue Diamonds empty if they have worn, but if you want to fill them in, the correct hobby paint is Testors 1110 or 1111.

As with all vacs, make sure the breather tube is clear and has no holes or dents.  This one is fine, but if you do need new tubing, you can purchase additional from Woodbin, who I have linked on my blogroll at the right.

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The completed pen is shown below – a Cedar Blue Parker 51 (Vacumatic) from 1948, the last year that 51s formally used the vac filling system.  In 1949 Parker began to market the Aero-metric Filling System.

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The Parker Vacs came in four standard colors:  Cedar Blue, India Black, Dove Grey, and Cordovan Brown.  Less common vac colors were Nassau Green, Tan and Mustard.

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This pen also has another nice surprise -a rather broad medium nib.  More often than not, fine nibs are found on these pens, and it is a treat to get a bigger nib on occasion.

January 15, 2009 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen Company | | 2 Comments

Sheaffer “Rejected” 350/250 Set

This was a fun project – mostly due to the paperwork that accompanied the pen and pencil set.

I came across this late 30s “350” Balance style pen set that was enclosed in the following envelope. The message on the one side is the disappointing ” This pen has NOT been serviced”

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On the reverse is the date of December 22, 1952 and the detailed message stating that the pen can not be repaired due to lack of parts.  As I document in my repair below, the only new parts needed were a size 16 sac and j bar.  They did, however, offer a gold allowance to the owner towards the purchase of new black pen.  Obviously, this was not accepted as I acquired this 56 years later with the un-returned envelope.

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The repair was very simple.  You can see below the pen after I took the section and nib unit out of the barrel.  The old sac and j bar crumbled out of the pen.  I cleaned the section and nib unit in an ultrasonic cleaner.  As is typical, the cap was filled with old dry ink and I had to clean this up with a qtips and water.  The barrel and cap were buffed out with polish and carnuba wax.  The pencil presented no problems other than the eraser is missing.  I placed a 0.9 mm lead in the tip and reversed it until if held in the pencil.  The “valuable”  gold parts also cleaned up easily, and this is a nice set.

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The imprint on the pen is that it was made in Fort Madison, Iowa and is a 350. This apparently referred to the fact that the pen sold for $3.50. The pencil has the same imprint but the number 250. I have seen other 350 Sheaffers that come in a set and the pencil is also marked 250, so I will assume this was sold as a set and that the pencil was sold for $2.50. Maybe Sheaffer gave a discount for both?

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The pen measures 4 7/8″ closed and the pencil just a bit shorter at 4 13/16″. I do not know the exact date of production (ah for the Parker dating system), but these were produced from the mid 30s to mid 40s. We can see that Sheaffer was not interested, or unable to repair them by late 1952.

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January 6, 2009 Posted by | Sheaffer | | 2 Comments

Eclipse Gold Filigree Fountain Pen

This past weekend I decided to visit a local antique mall with one of my daughters. It is near where I work and several visits over the past several years have netted little of interest to the pen collector other than a stray ink bottle or blotter.

We were lucky and found the items pictured below. A New Years Post Card, Parker Jotter, Scripto cartridge pen and the find of the day, a Gold Filigree Eclipse Fountain Pen. The grand total for the four items was $11.50, with the Eclipse ringing in at $3.50. The post card was more expensive!  (The actual cost of the pen was $7.00, but they had a 50% off sale.)

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Here is a photo of the pen after I got it home and took it apart.  I was a little worried about the gold and if it was a cheap gold plating, but a trip to the internet and test of a small corner revealed that I would be able to polish it to my heart’s content, with no worry of ruining the finish.

The first thing I tackled was polishing the gold.  It came out very well and it really shines.  I removed all of the old sac and cleaned out the cap, section, and feed.  The nib on the pen was a “Durium” gold plated nib, that would lose it’s gold color with any attempts to clean it.  A pen this beautiful on the outside deserves better, so I searched my parts bins for a suitable replacement.  Using the old nib as a size model, I determined that a Waterman No. 2 nib was the same size and the fit was perfect.  So I replaced the nib and fitted the nib/feed back into the section.  After sanding all of the old sac off of the section I was able to fit a size 16 sac firmly to the end.  The old j-bar needed to be replaced as well, and after fitting a new one in I fit the section back into the barrel.

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Here is the finished product, water tested and ready to write.

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The Eclipse Pen Company was founded by Marx Finstone and had offices in New York and Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the 1920s. I estimate this pen was manufactured in the 20s in the New York location.

There are two excellent references for Eclipse Pens that I have found

Eclipse Information at Fountain Pen Network
Eclipse Pens at Pensandwatches.com

In summary, Eclipse Pen made their name line and a few lower priced lines, including Marxton and Park Row. Their higher line pen was the Monroe.  I have seen a few of these and they are known for their interesting styling and stepped caps.

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The information also refers to the Klein Clip. Here is a close up.

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These pens typically came with Eclipse or Warranted nibs.  As I mentioned above, I had a Waterman from an old Waterman 52 parts pen, and here is a close up of that nib, which fit perfectly into the section.  It was the same size as the cheap gold plated nib that came on the pen.  Here is a picture of the Waterman Ideal New York No. 2.

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Finally, a nice close up of a crisp lever imprint and some detail of the flowery etchings on the filigree.

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So, if there is a moral to this pen restoration it is to keep up the hunt for nice vintage pens.  You never know when you might stumble into a gem.  Oh, and as the timely postcard states:  HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!

January 1, 2009 Posted by | Eclipse Pen Company | | 2 Comments

   

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