Fountain Pen Restoration

Message In A Bottle

Extraordinary events happen in every hobby sometimes.  They are often unexplainable and often not to be believed.  One such event happened to me last night at the monthly meeting of a Pen Club near my home.  The topic of the evening was Minnesota Pen Companies.  I marveled at the collections of the members and the wide array of vintage pens from such makers as Pencraft, Drew, Winter-Robbins, and Houston (Tracy).  One large collection of Houston’s, including large gold filled pens, was stunning.  And there were advertisements, boxes and catalogs as well.

As we were doing our show and tell, the subject settled on The Self – Lock Pen Company of Wells, Minnesota cane up.  Patent 1,036,149 covers the Self-Lock Pens.

In my post of February 17, 2009 I discussed The Rentz Pen Company and the pen above.

I learned that the Rentz Pen above is rarer than the later Self Lock Pen and predated it.  The Self – Locks have a stick on the end of the cap that is placed into a hole on a button on the barrel and depressed to fill the pen (see patent above).  My pen has the filler shown above that is pulled out to allow the button to be depressed and then pushed back to secure the button and full sac.  Following the Rentz link above provides photos of this process.

Back to the pen meeting…

We were discussing the Rentz Pen in my collection (above) and the fact that it was without a nib/feed/section, and as it was the only one at the meeting, it was being passed around.  As it returned to me and I opened the cap again, this note dropped out of the barrel.  It was coiled up tightly to store in the barrel and all of the opening and closing of the Rentz lever must have dislodged it.  When I opened it up I found this penciled note ~

As you can see, Emile Nelson assembled this pen in 1903, five years before the patent listed on the barrel.  This dates the pen much earlier than my February 17, 2009 post suggested.  It appears that the pen may never have had a section, feed, and nib as the note survived for 106 years without damage other than normal age.  At this point, the rest is speculation.  Perhaps this was a prototype and the patent stamp (below) was made at a later date… we will probably never know.

What is certain is that Emile left a note for someone to find, and it took  106 years, but it did get discovered.   And to be dislodged and revealed around a cluttered table of Pen Enthusiasts 100 miles and 106 years from his home seems perfect.

Happy Pen Hunting, and check those barrels……

November 21, 2009 - Posted by | Rentz Fountain Pens |


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Okami and pendemonium, P. Munson. P. Munson said: New Fountain Pen Restoration Article # 104. Kind of Spooky […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Message In A Bottle « Fountain Pen Restoration -- | November 21, 2009 | Reply

  2. All I can say is “wow”!

    Comment by TAO | November 21, 2009 | Reply

  3. That is a very nice connection with the past. I think it demonstrates how important writing instruments were to people a hundred years ago.

    Comment by Jon | November 22, 2009 | Reply

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