Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker Duette Junior

This latest restoration is of a 1932-32 Parker Thrift Time Duette Junior.  I mentioned the Duette in my post of February 17, 2008 – Tres Moderne . That post covered a pen that is identical to this one, except it was made in Canada, and its imprint and nib reflect this.

This Duette Junior was a depression era pen that Parker sold for $3.00. It was produced at the same time that the Duofold Line was being produced, and was a lesser priced option during hard economic times.

The repair was standard for a button filler. Below is a picture of the pen after I have taken it apart.

The pressure bar is a two part original, but unfortunately the bottom has corroded and it is now too short for the pen and will have to be replaced.  As with the Moderne, the cap jewel is a gold screw-in that screws into the cap and sets the clip, which reads, PARKER.

The sac came out in almost one piece, which made for simpler cleaning of the barrel.


I polished the clip, nib, cap jewel with polish and a dremel and a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner.  I had to use a new pressure bar and trim about 1/8″ off the bottom to assure a proper fit in the barrel.  Remember to smooth the bottom of the bar to prevent it from cutting into the sac and destroying the filling system.  I used a size 16 sac in this pen.  I had first inserted an 18, but it was too tight in the barrel.

The section is friction fit, unlike its more expensive relatives, the Duofolds.


These are also referred to as Depression Era Pens, Thrift Time Pens, and School Pens. Produced in the 1932/33 time period, they were not advertised heavily and as I mentioned above, were sold for $3.00. There was also a slightly larger size produced.


Numerous colors and designs were produced. My collection is limited to these two black specimens.


Both of these have flexible Parker nibs. I have sampled one other from a fellow collector and it also had some flex to it. I am not sure if this is indicative of all of these pens, but it is a a nice alternative to many of the rigid Parker Duofold nibs of the time period.


June 25, 2009 Posted by | Parker Duette, Parker Pen Company | , | Leave a comment

More National Geographic Fountain Pen Advertisements

A trip to the Used Book Store yielded a few more interesting advertisements last week.  Even better when they relate to restored pens!

This first photo is from the National Geographic dated March 1951.  It depicts a Sheaffer TM Valiant Touchdown Fill. Comparing this Thin Model to the previous Thicker version is exactly what my photo from the post titled 1949 Sheaffer Valiant Touchdowns – The Big Ones shows. I have put a copy of that photo after this advertisement.

My post titled Valiant TM Touchdown shows the restoration of this very 1950-52 pen.

NG Mar 51


The next advertisement is from a November 1949 National Geographic and again depicts pre-snorkel Touchdown sets.  Notice both the closed nibbed (triuimph) Sentinel Deluxe and Valiant, as opposed to the lesser priced Statesman Set.

NG Nov 49

Esterbrook Pens are a popular choice among collectors due to their availability, colors, ease of repair, and each of nib change.  I restored a mid-1950s CH model in this post from May 8, 2008 ~ Fountain Pen Restoration 101.  The photo below from the March 1951 points out (no pun intended here) the ease of switching out the nibs on these pens to fit ones writing style or needs.  Below the advertisement I have attached a photo of two previously restored Esterbrooks and their approximate production dates as they more closely resemble the pen in the advertisement.

NG Mar 51


The next two photos promote the very popular Parker 51, which I have discussed in numerous posts.  The first is from the February 1945 National Geographic and the final advertisement is from the November 1949 NG.

This first advertisement is for the time period before the Vacumatic was phased out and the Aero-metric took over as the filling system on this model.  The next to last paragraph is especially interesting to me as it states that “Parker 51’s will be more available”.  Given the time period and the fact that the war time rationing by Parker and other pen makers was ending, this was a true statement.

The final paragraph mentions the mid 1940s Vacumatic Colors of Black, Blue Cedar, Dove Grey, and Cordovan Brown.  The days of the Aero-metric and more colors were still a few years away.

Vacumatic 51 Restoration posts that have already been published here are as follows:

Black and Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic ~   September 25, 2008 (photo below)

Final Year for 51 Vacumatics 1948 ~   January 15, 2009

A pen that looks very much like the $15.00 1945 pen below was featured in the first post and I have placed a small photo under this advertisement.

NG Feb 45


Finally, this 1949 advertisement for the Aero-metric fill 51, which had just replaced the Vacumatic version.  The post war economy was heating up.  They mention the increase to eight colors and even offer sets up to $275.00.

NG Nov 49

These advertisements continue to be a great way for those of us who are not able to get our hands on original catalogs or sales materials to study the history of fountain pens.  Next stop ….  the public library.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | National Geographic, Parker Pen Company, Sheaffer | , , | Leave a comment

US Made / Canadian Assembled Parker 51

This week’s pen is another Parker 51.  I don’t mean to repeat myself with another Cedar Blue 51, but this is a bit different.  It was assembled in Canada, and that comes with a little bit of history.

First the restoration ~ the photo below shows the component parts prior to restoration.  The collector and nib are quite clean.  This is due to the fact that I ran them through the ultrasonic cleaner prior to help get them separated.  As you can see, all of the parts are in good shape, and the pen has a plastic speedline filler, consistent with its 1946 date.  The pen is Cedar Blue in color.

cedar T6

I have added a second photo here of the filler unit and nib/feed/collector here for reference.  This is what they should look like prior to insertion to their respective ends of the barrel.  Always put the filler unit in first so that you can see into the barrel to make sure it has settled in correctly and the vacuum effect is efficient.


Below is a photo of the pen after assembly, showing the correct placement of the filler in the rear of the barrel and a successful placement of the shell around the collector/feed/nib.  A bit of tweaking is always necessary to get the nib perfectly lined up in the shell, but this is simple as the collector is friction fit to the barrel and can be adjusted quite easily.

Closer examination will also show that the cap has changed between the before and after photos.  51s present a myriad of combinations when it comes to caps.  There were well over 20 different caps made for Vacumatics, and there is very little guarantee when you find one in the wild that it is the original cap.  Collectors switch caps (I just did here) and it is very difficult (if not impossible) to determine if the cap is original.

The cap that came with this pen was a Lustraloy with plain silver clip.  As this pen dates to 1946 (see below), I felt that a blue diamond clip was more appropriate.  I know it is not original, as it came from my parts bin, but it looks better.  Should I ever resell this pen, it is very important to let the potential buyer(s) know of this change.  I only wish this was a common practice.


On to the history lesson.  Much of this came from the Parker 51 book, by David and Mark Shepherd.  Anyone with an interest in 51s should pick this book up.  It is a great read and the photos are comprehensive.

The date code on the barrel of this pen reads Parker “51” Made in USA T6.  This indicates that the pen parts were made in the Janesville, Wisconsin factory, shipped to Canada and assembled there in 1946.


The Canadian division of Parker was started in Toronto, Ontario in 1923.  It began strictly as an assembly location, assembling pens to be distributed in the UK.  At the time, laws prevented product to be produced and shipped from the US to Great Britain, so the Canadian solution was devised.  Eventually, the Toronto location began to manufacture as well.  During WWII it manufactured war parts for Britain.  By the time the 51 Vacumatic came along, during and after WWII, these pens were manufactured in Toronto, as well as simply assembled there.  This pen (well, at least the barrel) was assembled only in Toronto, based on the T6 imprint.  Had it been manufactured there it would have had a “Made in Canada” imprint and no “T” before the date code.

Business must have been good in Canada, as Parker expanded after WWII and opened up an ink production facility in London, Ontario.  They also began making 51 Vacumatics in England in 1947.


The pen comes with a 1946 marked fine point and fills well.  No nib smoothing necessary with this nib.

So the next time that you run across a Parker 51, make sure to check the imprints ~ they always tell a story.

Note:  Please read Comment Dated 1-17-10 below in which my information above is corrected and further information is provided.  Thank you.  PM

June 9, 2009 Posted by | Parker 51, Parker Pen - Canada, Parker Pen Company | , , | 3 Comments

Sea Gull Fountain Pens

POST # 85

Another Parker Vacumatic clone here.  I have posted another article on a Wilson Fountain Pen (link) back on February 9, 2009.  Wilson Fountain Pens were made in India.  This pen, a SEA – GULL is very similar in design, and until I handled it, I assumed it was a vacumatic fill as well.  As you can see below, the surprise was that it is an aero-metric.  So, SEA – GULL took two Parker items ~ the design of the Vacumatic, and the Aero-metric filler and combined them into this interesting pen.


Restoration is quite easy.  The metal sac guard is friction fit and can be pried off of the section quite easily.  The old sac had hardened and broken inside of the sac guard.  The section was cleaned and the old sac remnants were scraped off of the tip.  The cap ring and clip were polished and no gold was lost, so they are not cheap gold plate.  However the nib is gold plate and much of it had already worn off, so I polished it down to the silver color.  I attached a standard rubber size 16 sac to the section and refit the sac guard/pressure bar.

Below is a photo of the completed filling assembly.  It tested well in taking on water after a night of drying.  The unit simply screws back into the barrel.


Here are a couple of photos of the completed pen, measuring 4 3/4″ capped and 5 1/2″ posted.



A close up of the nib reveals the familiar Parker Arrow (?) and “Sea – Gull / Special Pen”


And in case you did not know, the Special was the Best in the World, as declared on the pressure bar.


The imprint is quite faded, but reads




This photo captures three pens ~ Top to Bottom ~


Parker Vacumatic (early 1940s)

Wilson (India) c 1940s-50s


There is not much information available on Sea – Gull Fountain Pens.  What I have been able to gather from several sources is that they were produced in Japan in the 1950s.  The filling system would seem to support this. I have seen photos of others that are solid in color.  If any of you have additional information…as always, please let me know.

June 1, 2009 Posted by | Parker Vacumatic, Sea - Gull Fountain Pens | , | 4 Comments


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