Fountain Pen Restoration

Green Marble Junior Vacumatic

In two previous posts on Parker Marble Junior Vacumatics –

Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler

1935 Parker Silver Pearl Vacumatic Junior

I discussed the restoration of the other two marbled color Vacumatics of the mid-1930s.  Though smaller Junior sizes, they are highly sought after due to their interesting colors and barrel transparency.  Below is a photo of the pen after I took it apart.  Nothing extraordinary here and the lockdown filler, though very dirty, worked fine.

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The restoration was as with all of the Vacumatics previously discussed.  These models use a standard size replacement diaphragm.  I needed to clean up all of the parts and the barrel had typical staining and diaphragm remnants stuck to the inside.  As I always state, and it is very important – make sure to remove all traces of the old diaphragm from the barrel.  Even when you think they are all gone, use a goose neck flashlight to recheck.  This will make reinserting the restored filler and diaphragm so much easier.

After total cleaning, the pen was reassembled and here are completed photos.  As with my other two marbled vacs, this pen dates to 1935.  The Grey and Burgundy Pearl Juniors were introduced in 1934 and the Emerald (this pen) a year later in 1935.  As with the Burgundy pen, the furniture was gold, the grey being silver.

The transparency is good on this pen after cleaning, but not quite as stunning as with the grey and burgundy pens from the previously mentioned posts.

The pen measures 4 13/16 inches capped and 5 11/16 inches posted and the nib is a Parker medium.

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Here is a photo of the three Marble Junior Vacs together with a Vintage Parker Violet Ink bottle from the same era.  Yes, I still use this ink, but not in these pens.  Reds, Browns, and Violet inks tend to stain – and I do not want to have to clean these barrels again.

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A little Photoshop enhancement to highlight the colors and the amber transparency of this pen.

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These make a nice subset of Parker Vacumatics.  There are so many variations in the Vacumatic run, that it is nice to find a smaller subset that can be completed fairly easily, especially if you are willing to find them unrestored and do the work yourself.  Happy Searching!

May 27, 2009 Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | , | Leave a comment

Marxton Flat Top

Large Flat Top fountain pens from the 20s and 30s are some of my favorite pens due to their size and comfort in my hand. They also tend to have large nibs that hold up to extended use and their sacs hold more ink.

This weeks restoration is an example of another of these. In case you missed them, here are a few more large flat top posts from the past:

A Dixie in Illinois – November 26, 2008
A Dixie in Michigan – August 1, 2008
Universal Fountain Pen – December 23, 2007

Below is the  Black pen after I have taken it apart.  You can see that the j bar is broken at the top, which is quite common.  The sac is still shaped, though hard as a rock.

I used a new j bar and a size 18 sac in this repair.  I thoroughly cleaned the section of all remains of the old sac and shellac.  This is necessary to assure a solid adhesion to the new sac.  The feed and nib were cleaned.  The nib is a plain 14K Warranted nib that is similar in size to the Warranted No. 8s found often in these over-sized flat tops.

The clip was previously polished vigorously and has lost much of its gold plating.  This is the only negative to the pen.  The lever, cap band, and nib are still shiny gold.  The clip is imprinted with “MARXTON” below a wreath.  The lever has a wreath at the circular lift point.  There are no imprints on the barrel, though there is a smooth section for an engraving.  The rest of the cap and barrel is a series of six tight lines from top of pen to bottom separated by a smooth alley.

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Marxton Pens were a brand of Eclipse Pens.  You can refer to a post on Eclipse with references here.    Marxton and Park Row were lesser brands under the Eclipse banner.  Marxton gets its name from the founder of Eclipse, Marx Finstone.  This is the only Marxton that I have touched, but I have seen photos of some very colorful large flat tops.

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I would date this pen to the late 20s / early 30s time period, though I have no direct advertising evidence.   The pen measures 5 5/16″ closed and 6 3/8″ posted.

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May 20, 2009 Posted by | Eclipse Pen Company, Marxton Pens | , | 1 Comment

Lucas Fountain Pens

Here’s an eyedropper with some wear it, and at the ripe old age of 102, why not…

It is a Lucas Fountain Pen, priced at $2.00 in 1907.  First the fix, then a little fun history.  You can see from the photo below that it breaks down in to five simple parts: barrel, cap, section, feed, and nib.  Barrel, cap and section were in quite good shape.  the barrel and cap had a lot of dust and dirt, but no signs of old ink.  The feed and nib were a different story.

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The feed’s channels were caked with dirt and grime and the nib was blackened on front and back.  I took an xacto knife and carved out the inner channels on the feed to clean it up.  The nib took several times of grinding down with a Dremel and Simichrome, which I prefer not to use unless there is cause for a strong cleaner.  The Gold Plate nib was such a time, and after many attempts, I was at least able to get it to the point where it is readable, usable, and aesthetically pleasing.  The finished product can be seen below.  It measures 4 7/8″ closed and 6 3/8″ posted

The nib reads GOLD over PLATE with a Diamond Pattern in between.  Though it is gold plate, quite a bit of the gold coloring survived the grinding polish.

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So, who is George Lucas and what is the history behind this pen?  At this point I know nothing about Mr. Lucas or his Manufacturing Company.  I have checked patent and corporate records to no avail.  As you can see from the four views of the box that this pen came in, the pen was made specifically to be sold at the Jamestown Exposition of 1907.

The Jamestown Exposition took place from April 26,1907 to December 1, 1907.  It was planned for many years in Virginia, and was to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia Colony.  In the early 1900s, Expositions (or Worlds Fairs) were popular and took place around the country.  This Jamestown Exposition did not take place in Jamestown, but in Hampton Roads, Virginia, near Norfolk.  There were mixed reviews on its successes, and attendance was never what they had hoped, but it did lead to aid in the development of the area and the establishment of the Norfolk area as a Naval Headquarter.  Clicking on the links below will provide more background on the Exposition as well as some interesting photos.

First, here are the front and back of a Postcard I found that give us an idea of what Jamestown/Hampton Roads looked like in 1907.

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Jamestown Exposition ~ Wikipedia

Jamestown Exposition ~ Gallery

The marketing tactic on this pen was to show a $2.00 price on the box, and offer the pen for $1.00 (presumably at the Exposition) as a sample. One could then mail $2.00 to Lucas and receive a duplicate pen in the mail.   Given the large numbers of people projected to be at the Fair from around the United States, this was Lucas’ way of exposing his pen to the masses. Unless I uncover more about Mr. Lucas and Lucas Manufacturing, I would say that it was not successful.  However, it may be that the pen was a one-time Exposition proposition and Lucas had no other aspirations beyond December of 1907.

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I have italicized the writing on the sides of the box as it is difficult to read as posted here.

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“On receipt of the selling price $2.00 a Fountain Pen guaranteed an exact duplicate of the pen enclosed.  Will be posted to any address in the United States and Canada. Geo. F. Lucas Mfg. Co. Inc. 410 Law Building, Norfolk, Va.”

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“Directions: For good results, reservoir must be filled with writing fluid.  Occasionally the ink flows too freely if this is neglected”

Interestingly, this last message is a good one.  I was just reading the other day about how someone was having problems with a vintage eyedropper and that it tended to emit a blob of ink when the pen started to run low on ink.  The given solution was to make sure the section/feed/nib were sound and to make sure the pen was filled with ink. Mr. Lucas’  instructions would seem to agree.

A little bit later in the century, Virginia would again find itself on the Fountain Pen Map.  Chances are that if you are a collector, you have run into a vintage Arnold Fountain Pen….but that is a story for another day, and another pen.

May 12, 2009 Posted by | Jamestown Exposition, Lucas Fountain Pens | , | 2 Comments

Morrison Wartime Pens

The discovery of this matchbook cover a few months ago had me on the lookout for a Morrison “Patriot” Fountain pen. I finally found one recently, and proceeded to work on it’s restoration.  This is the only piece of fountain pen ephemera that I have found on a matchbook cover.  I suspect that there are others out there and if you have some, please comment.

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Here is a photo of the same pen depicted on the matchbook after I took it apart.  This photo shows the syringe filler, still attached to the section.  As you can see, the barrel is quite dirty and the gold furniture is tarnished.

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I used a bit of heat and was able to  twist off the syringe tube ~ it is friction fit to the section.   The plunger can be pulled out through the front after the plunger grip is unscrewed.  The photo below shows the filler after it has been taken apart and the cartridge has been cleaned out.

The dilemma with these pens is that the filler was never meant to be repaired..just used through the limited life of the pen.  So, in repair, there are a few options.  First, one can repair the filler to its original condition and this involves rebuilding it by repacking the cartridge and rebuilding the plunger washers.  Secondly, one can simply turn the pen into an eyedropper.  The section screws into the barrel and a seal could be developed.  Third, a sac could be attached to the section and the pen could be simply filled by squeezing the sac and then attaching the barrel.

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Fortunately, I had a simpler solution.  I have had the Morrison set below for about 10 years sitting in the back of my pen chest and when I checked its filling system, it was the same.  I was able to take the filler unit off of the Red Morrison and shellac it to the Army Patriot.

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Here is the filler below after the switch and water test.  I shellacked the unit to the Patriot after fully cleaning the section, nib, and feed.   After the shellac had dried, I water tested it overnight to make sure that the seals are still effective.  There was no leakage in a 24 hour time period and the unit was ready to be reinserted into the pen.

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First, the barrel and cap needed a good cleaning, as did the gold clip and clip ring.  Do not attempt to clean the Army insignia at the cap top as it is covered with a very thin gold plate.  The rest of the furniture may be polished.

Below, is the completed pen, polished and ready to write.

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Here is the cap top logo of the US Army.  These Morrison Pens also came with cap tops of the Navy and Air Force. (Thank you to richardspens.com for this information)  You can see the gold plating on this logo has worn down over the years.  These pens were produced during WWII and marketed to the general public, appealing to the patriotic fervor of the time.  The matchbook states that they could be a “GIFT FOR MEN IN THE SERVICE”.  In fact, they were not military pens as they did not meet the military code for pens, having clips that were not military issue.  For a quick overview of Military Clips, refer to my post of  March 21, 2008, Sheaffer Skyboy Surprise .

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The nib is a large 14K nib in medium point.  There is no Morrison marking on mine and I do not know if this is common or a replacement nib.   Morrison certainly had their own marked nibs on earlier pens.

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Here is the logo, highlighting the unmistakable Army Green color.

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The pen measures 5 3/16″ closed and 6 1/2″ posted.  As the matchbook shows, this was sold for $6.25, including pencil, which is missing from my pen.  In my experience, the Army pens are more commonly seen than the Navy or Air Corps.   I have no idea whether this relates to the manufacturing numbers or not,  but it does relate to the number of US Service Men and Women.  The number of Army and Army Air Corps personnel significantly outnumbered the Navy during World War II.

As with V-Mail ink, reallocation of Pen Factories machinery and materials, and Military Clips, this is another interesting part of Pen History during this time in United States History.

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Morrison Fountain Pens, Morrison Patriot | , | 3 Comments

   

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