Fountain Pen Restoration

Pencraft – Chicago

I really wish someone would pen a biography of  “George Kraker, Midwestern Pen Builder”, so that I could refer to it in my many posts regarding his various pens.  I can’t resist picking them up and restoring them.  This is the nicest to date ~ a classic large mottled lever filler.  I have numerous Kraker – produced pens from Minneapolis,  Kansas City, Grand Haven, Michigan, and Libertyville, Illinois.  This is my first from Chicago.  The history shows that Kraker was producing pens in Chicago in the early 1920s, after he left Kansas City.  At the same time he had his hands in Pen Companies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.   Ultimately, he moved on to Grand Haven, Michigan and produced pens there until 1928/29.  Many of his pens have been covered in posts here during the last two years. To read and see more, click on the Kraker link in the Categories on the right side of this page.

As I stated, this is my first Chicago Kraker.  However, it is not my first Pencraft.  These were made in the future in various locations.  On June 1, 2008 in this Pencraft post, I discussed the restoration of a Pencraft pen from Libertyville, IL.

You can see that the restoration is a simple lever-filler.  The hanging pressure bar is inside the barrel and in good shape, so I did not remove it.  I was able to take off the red jewel cap top to reveal the hanging  j-bar and inspect it for damage.  None being found, I let it remain in the barrel.  The gold furniture polished up well and there is no loss of any color.

pencraft chicagp

Two items on this pen stand out from other Krakers of the time.  First, the section.  It is mottled just like the barrel and cap.  This is a nice touch that I have not seen on any of the other Dixie, Yankee, Belmont, and other Kraker brands that I have worked on.  Second is the nib, which I will highlight below.

Here is the section and the size 18 sac that I fit to the section and trimmed to fit into the barrel.


The finished product is highlighted by the section matching the barrel and cap.  This is a nice touch in any pen and a bit unexpected, at least by me, with these pens.


This Pencraft is a large pen, measuring 5 3/8 inches closed and 6 7/8 inches posted.


Here is the Pencraft “L” Nib.  It is quite large, comparable to the Large Warranted 8 nibs of the period.


Below is the imprint.  Pencraft, in the traditional Kraker Script of large first and last letters, followed by Michael George Co.  Michael George Co. is a Company name that Kraker used in various locations, transposing his first and middle names (George Michael Kraker).


Finally, another signature ~ the transparent colored jewel cap and barrel ends seen on many past posts here.

For a few other of these end caps, check out these past posts:

Belmont, Rexall, and Yankee Cousins
dated May 22, 2008

A Yankee in Michigan dated January 27, 2008


There are many Kraker collectors out there ~ most with much more impressive collections.  It is easy to see how we get hooked.  The pens are diverse, affordable when compared to the Parkers, Wahls, and Watermans of the period, and always seem to have interesting variations.


April 24, 2009 Posted by | Kraker, Pencraft Pens | , , | 2 Comments

Parker 61

Just a brief entry here on cleaning a Parker 61 Capillary-Filler. The Parker 61 was produced by Parker beginning in 1956. It began as a capillary filler and continued to be produced as one until the late 1960s. At that time, Parker switched the pen to a cartridge/converter fill due to the clogging issues that 61s experienced. The capillary filler was a simple filling system, accomplished by unscrewing the barrel and placing the end of the filler into a bottle of ink and allowing the filler to wick up the desired ink.

This worked well. The problem arose when the filler sat with ink for a period of time and became difficult to clean.

This Grey 61 with a Lustraloy cap came to me to see if I could get it to write. I acquired a 61 Jet Flighter three years ago with the same problem and had fashioned a tool to do the cleaning, so this was a snap.

To make your own tool, purchase an ear cleaning bulb and cut off the end until it fits securely over the end of the capillary filler.  Then place the nib end of the pen in water and squeeze, repeating until the changed water becomes clear.  You may also want to reverse the bulb to cover the nib end.   After you have cleared the filler, cover the nib with tissue and leave the pen upright to allow the remaining ink residue to drain out.  This process should clean out your filler and you are now ready to fill with your ink of choice.


Here is a photo of the completed 61.  I polished the barrel and used a qtip to polish the inlaid arrow design, unique to these pens.  Of special importance in working with these is not to attempt to clean the barrel and arrow insert with an ultrasonic cleaner, as they have been known to knock the inlaid arrow out of the pen.


Here is a photo of another Parker 61 – the Jet Flighter, an all stainless steel model that was produced beginning in 1959.  I crafted the above tool initially to clean this pen out after I purchased it a few years ago.  It came with the matching pencil.


April 15, 2009 Posted by | Parker 61, Parker Pen Company | , | 42 Comments

Vacumatic Jewelers Bands

This week I restored a 1943 (1st Quarter) Single Jewel Silver Pear Vacumatic Major.  As you can see below, nothing particularly out of the ordinary, except for the cap band.

The pen, after being taken apart, is below.  As you can see, this is a wartime (1943) pen with the plastic filler.  The only part that needed repair was the debutante diaphragm.


The repair went as with several other vacumatic restorations that I have covered over past year or so.  As usual, care needs to be taken in inverting the diaphragm and attaching it to the filler.  Then it needs to be carefully placed back in the barrel using a vac tool, making sure it seats properly and does not twist or bunch up in the barrel.  All of this tested out well.

The barrel was also gently cleaned with non abrasives to preserve the transparency as with all vacumatic barrels.  This one has average clarity, but not outstanding.


Below is a photo of the Jewelers Cap Band. This is a narrow jewelers cap band.  It is sometimes referred to in literature as a stacked coin band, as it resembles a stack of dimes(?) piled in a stack.  These bands were produced on pens by Parker to be sold in Jewelry Stores.  Parker sold most of their pens in retail stores, stationary stores, and pen stores.  When they identified jewelers as an additional sales location, they produced these special bands.  Some of them were much wider than the one on this pen, and the jeweler could engrave it for the client.  It worked well for the jewelers of the period as well, as the war had cut down on their inventories, and they were looking for more products to sell in their stores.


Finally, a close up of the imprint showing the pen was manufactured in Janesville, WI in the first quarter of 1943. The three dots (one on each side and one below) by the 3 indicate the first quarter of the year. Two dots indicate the 2nd quarter, one dot the 3rd, and a lone 3 indicates the last quarter of the specified year.


The pen measures 5 inches long, capped. These pens and their unique bands are not particularly valuable, but have a little niche in history. They provide the collector with another variation to hunt for.

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Jewelers Band, Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | , | 2 Comments

Did He Say Pencil?

Once in a while a fountain pen collector runs across other writing instruments out in antique stores, on-line auctions, and garage sales.  Occasionally we use them, though we will never admit it.

I rarely purchase any vintage writing instruments other than fountain pens and am usually not interested in completing a pen/pencil set, or in purchasing one already complete.  But, once in a great while I will run across a pencil that strikes my fancy, and usually it is one that matches a restored pen.  Here are two examples.

The first photo is of a 1936 Parker Vacumatic Pencil, that matches the Burgundy Marble Vacumatic Junior that I restored in my post titled Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler, dated June 20, 2008.

Not much to the restoration of this.  I did not go any further than the four parts here.  I suspect that a vintage pencil restorer would break the pen down further and actually work on the internal mechanisms.  That might spell disaster for me, and as the pencil seems to twist and turn well, I concentrated on cleaning it up and replacing the old eraser with one that is usable.

You can see that the old eraser is shot and that the burgundy marble finish is just a bit dirty.  The cap jewel is just a two part jewel and clip.  As I write this I now notice that the cap is missing  from this “before” photo.  The part on the top left is a storage case for extra leads and is inserted into the barrel with the eraser on top for use.

I carved out the old eraser with an X-Acto knife and carved a new one from an existing pencil eraser so that it would fit.  I polished the clip, jewel and point and it was ready to be reassembled.


This (photo directly below)  is the second pencil ~ a Belmont.  I have written several posts on Belmont Pens.  The post that has a fountain pen that closely matches this pencil is Belmont/Rexall and Yankee Cousins, dated May 22, 2008.

Again, I did not venture into the internals of the pencil.  The cap pulls off to reveal the eraser and a chamber for extra lead, of which there are several.  I did shave down the eraser to make for usable surface and polished up all of the silver and the cap.  The cap reads: BELMOMT Made in USA.  The cap twists to push the lead out of the point and loads by putting the lead in through the point end and twisting the cap counterclockwise until the lead catches.  This is the same lead procedure as the Vac Pencil above.


Here is a photo of the finished 1936 Vacumatic  pencil.  I don’t think that it got much use in its day,  as it is very clean after some gentle polishing.  It is a smallish pencil, at 4 5/8″.


The imprint below shows that it was made in the third quarter of 1936, consistent with the timing of the red/burgundy marbled Vacumatic Junior.


Here are two photos of the lead / eraser holder.  It appears that these were resold as entire units as the instructions advise to throw away when the leads are used up and replace with a full one.  You can also see the new eraser that I carved to fit.  It now works like new.  Fortunately, there are still six remaining leads in the cartridge.



Below is this pencil next to the Vacumatic Junior that I reference in the Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler post above.  The pen was produced in 1935, so I have not reunited a set, but they work well together.  Interestingly, the book Parker Vacumatic (2008, written by Geoffrey Parker, David Shepherd, and Dan Zazove) mentions on page 258 that most pens were sold individually and that only one in six customers bought sets.  This is apparently true, as they state that few pencils seem to have survived to today.


Following  is a photo of the not-as-ornate Belmont pencil.  Probably more suited for school or the workshop, it is a solid pencil.  It measures an inch longer than the Parker at 5 5/8″.



Finally, here is a photo next to a Belmont Fountain Pen.  I am not certain if this pencil was sold individually or as a set, but this pen is a fairly close match to what the pen may have looked like.  My gut tells me the pen is a bit older in the time scale, and several Companies made pens for Rexall/Belmont, so it is a reach at best.


I hope my side trip into the unknown of pencils was not too far off course from Fountain Pens, but I think it was an interesting diversion.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Belmont Pens, Fountain Pens and Pencils, Parker Pen Company | , , | 2 Comments


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