Fountain Pen Restoration

National Geographic and Your Fountain Pens

Over the past holiday season, one of my daughters became interested in reading some old Life magazines that were at her grandparents home.  Given her interest, we headed out this past weekend to an old book store to see if we could find a few for her to have at home.  We found no Life Magazines, but did find several National Geographics.

What a great source of pen history can be found in these magazines, as well as many old magazines.  A quick scan of ebay will show a large amount of sellers of pages cut out of old magazines for vintage fountain pens.  As we scanned the magazines I noted that there were many advertisements in the pre-depression years and post WWII years, which would make sense from an historical perspective.  As an aside, the auto ads of the late 1920s are very cool.  Just like pens, there were many auto manufacturers that did not make it through the depression years.

The most accurate way to date our vintage pen collections is from Pen Company literature such as catalogs and production records.  Of course, not all of us have direct access to these and have relied on the kindness and hard work of past collectors who have shared this information with us all.  Another way is to look at old advertisements such as these to confirm the historical place of our collections.

Below are two photographs that I took of pages from the National Geographics, which have images of pens in my collection ~ both have been in my collection for quite some time and not covered by previous posts as they were restored prior to 2007.

The first is from a March 1944 issue and it promotes the Sheaffer Triumph ($12.50) pen.  I have a brown and a red one of these models.  They are great pens, as they hold a lot of ink.  I do not own a pencil as shown, however.  Pictures of the red plunger fill and both the red and brown pens follow the advertisement.

Of particular interest in the ad is the statement that “much of Sheaffer’s plant and personnel is now 100% devoted to precision manufacture of armaments.”  During the war, materials used in pen manufacturing were in shorter supply as they were used in the war effort, and Pen Companies such as Sheaffer devoted many of their facilities, equipment, and available employees to making parts for the military.

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The above Sheaffer ad also promotes pencil lead and Skrip Ink.  Directly above  is a bottle of ink from my collection that fits this time period, as also confirmed in John Bosley’s Book, VINTAGE INKS, which places this bottle and box in the 1944-48 time period.  Click on the title for a link to his website.

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The next advertisement is from a March 1928 National Geographic.  It promotes one of the most famous pens in fountain pen collecting, the Parker “Big Red” Duofold.  Ah, if only we could purchase on of these for $7.00 now.  Not to mention the Mandarin pen inserted at the bottom left.

The Duofold is a button filler. In the following past posts I have restored Parker Button Fillers:

Janesville, Wisconsin Button Fill December 29, 2007
Parker Lapis Junior Duofold Button Fill March 15, 2008
Parker Jade..Pre-Duofold July 18, 2008
Luck Curve Feeds
September 4, 2008

The big red is the most famous of the Parker 1920s Duofolds.  The hard rubber version is especially sought after.   This ad depicts the Non-Hard Rubber, Permanite material.  It is advertised as being 28% lighter than hard rubber.  What I find most interesting is the claim that they are non-breakable.   Stated: “We have thrown these new Duofolds from an aeroplane 3,000 feet aloft and not one has broken“.    I suspect they mean that not one broke in the actual act of throwing, and not upon landing.  Anyone who has restored a number of Duofolds knows that they are to be treated with care to avoid any cracking.

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Here is a photo of a Hard Rubber Duofold from my collection.  Not the exact pen depicted above, but the predecessor model from a few years earlier (and 28% heavier).

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I was able to capture many more pen and ink related advertisements ~ most of pens I wish I had.   So the next time you are coming up empty looking for fountain pens at a flea market, antique store, garage sale, or estate sale, you can spend some time looking for old magazines and searching for a $7.00 Duofold.

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March 3, 2009 - Posted by | Duofold, National Geographic, Parker Pen Company, Sheaffer | , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] National Geographic and Your Fountain Pens […]

    Pingback by National Geographic and Your Fountain Pens : Penpedia | March 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thats exactly what I found when leafing through some old National Geographic magazines, It was what got me interested in fountain pens.

    Comment by Noah Makower | January 18, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you for your reply. I agree with you – the old magazines are an excellent source of information for those of us that enjoy the hobby and have limited access to detailed information.

      Comment by all of us | January 18, 2010 | Reply


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