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.

 photo Lipic1_zpspuboswjo.jpg

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

17 Comments »

  1. That is one nice pen. I think you’re right about radium being a marketing term. In the early 1900s, radium had just been recently discovered and its properties were just starting to be understood. I believe that exposure to radium’s radiation was thought to be beneficial to one’s health at the time. So, the pen probably has nothing to do with radium, unless it glows in the dark. It’s probably similar to the way the word “atomic” was used in the 50s.

    The clip and other parts that you mentioned do look similar to those other pens. I wonder if there was a third-party fabricator that sold these pieces to lots of small manufacturers, perhaps changing the color to give each manufacturer a unique look. At any rate, congratulations on another nice find.

    Comment by Jon | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. If you are interested in more about Lipic, I have posted copies of a 14 page company history. Lipic published it as a PR piece quite a few years ago. Lipic is still in business here in St. Louis, though that business has changed quite a lot over the years; it is primarily a supplier of promotions and awards to businesses. http://www.lipic.com

    Comment by L. Allin | January 25, 2009 | Reply

    • I am looking to purchase a vintage Lipic pen. Anyone know where I might find one???

      Comment by Leo Overmann | July 2, 2011 | Reply

      • They periodically show up on eBay. If you’ll send a message with more information about what you’d like to have, I’ll inquire within the St. Louis Pen Community to see if it is available.

        mailto:slapu-owner@yahoogroups.com
        http://groups.yahoo.com/group/slapu/

        Comment by L. Allin | July 3, 2011

      • Larry, thank you for helping Leo out. Leo, if anyone can help you it is Mr. Allin, who is an expert on all things St. Louis and Lipic!

        Comment by PKM | July 3, 2011

  3. The images are on flickr at:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/20493029@N03/sets/72157603608406045/detail/

    Double-click on the thumbnail image then choose show all sizes to see larger image.

    Comment by L. Allin | January 25, 2009 | Reply

  4. Do you happen to know if all Lipic pens were under the Radium Point Pen name. I presume that this is not the case. As a result, I am also wondering how to identify a Lipic pen (other than by the nib) if it is not a Radium Point Pen.

    Thank you in advance.

    Leo Overmann
    leovermann@yahoo.com

    Comment by Leo Overmann | July 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Leo,

      I do know that most Lipic Pens were not Radium Point labeled. Larry A has answered your question in the comment below, and he is an expert. I thank him, as always, for his knowledgeable contribution.

      Phil

      Comment by PKM | July 29, 2011 | Reply

  5. The dozen or so that I hold in my collection are branded simply as Lipic. As a member, feel free to ask this question on the SLAPU site. I’m not sure if any of the Lipic family members read and respond there; but, some of our members may have turned up other Lipic brands.

    The nib is not a good indicator of a Lipic pen; Lipic did a tremendous amount of repair work, both for themselves and as under contract for large department stores. I have seen Lipic nibs on everything from no-name to top-tier pens. When a nib was damaged, or simply didn’t appeal, the owner could have a quality Lipic nib installed quickly, at modest expense.

    Comment by L. Allin | July 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks very much for the response. May I ask a bit about the branding of the Lipic pens in your collection – is the barrel stamped or does the branding take another form?

      Are any of the Lipic pens in your collection for sale?

      Being from St. Louis (although no longer living there), I am very interested in the Lipic brand and history – however I am just getting started with it (I tried once contacting the Lipic family, as they are still in business – no response).

      Comment by Leo Overmann | July 30, 2011 | Reply

  6. All my Lipic pens are identified as Lipic in some manner; none in my possesion have stamped barrels. Lipic got into promotional items a long time ago and many of their pens are logo’d items and many of those are desksets. The deskset pens in my collection are noname pens, most with Lipic nibs, some with Pocket Pal nibs; nearly all deskset bases carry a Lipic identification. Most of my desksets were made for Southwestern Bell; many other companies, bank, railroads, etc. purchased their logo’d pens from Lipic and may be different. I also have a couple of pens whose connection to Lipic is their boxes, which carry stickers for The Pen House, a Lipic retail store.

    Lipic’s business has been promotional items for many years and the current generation running the company may have little interest or knowledge of the earlier days. We have been fortunate to have two members of the Lipic family attend our meetings in the past; they were the previous generation who ran the company and shared many memories of those days.

    Lipic closed its last retail operation many years ago (very early 70s, IIRC); at that time they were selling and servicing any and all brands.

    None of my Lipics are for sale; though not the focus of my collection, I continue to buy them when they cross my path. I am less interested in the run-of-the-mill Lipic and most interested in the ones that are associated with past Fortune 500 companies headquarted in St. Louis.

    Comment by L. Allin | July 31, 2011 | Reply

    • Thank you very much for the detailed response. I find the information quite interesting.

      Regards,

      Leo Overmann

      Comment by Leo Overmann | July 31, 2011 | Reply

  7. I was researching Lipic pens online and found this old post. I have a beautiful mandarin yellow (black at both ends) Lipic Radium Point pen which is in excellent to near mint condition (not for sale, sorry). The nib is marked “14KT, JOS.LIPIC, 4, ST.LOUIS, U.S.A.” and the barrel is stamped “Radium Point Pen, ST.LOUIS, MO.U.S.A.”. The clip has an “R” in a circle. Given the prior questions about branding, I thought this information might be helpful to someone. Unfortunately, I’m not skilled enough to post photos on this forum.

    Marc

    Comment by MRP | March 19, 2015 | Reply

    • Thank you! If you email me the photo at phil.munson@gmail.com, I will include it in the article. Thanks!

      Comment by PKM | March 19, 2015 | Reply

  8. Just curious, where did you find this pen? I’ve been searching for some time for one.

    Comment by Joe | May 15, 2016 | Reply

    • It was quite some time ago and I honestly cant remember, but my guess would be a Midwest antique shop as I stop in these in my travels and many pens that date back at that time may have come through that method. But where, I can not remember.

      Comment by PKM | May 16, 2016 | Reply

  9. I worked at Joseph Lipic Pen Company for a number of years right up until it’s closing. I’d be happy to help answer any questions folks might have regarding their products and history.

    Comment by RafeDavid | July 12, 2016 | Reply


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