Fountain Pen Restoration

Where Have All The Pen Stores Gone?

This article is for those of you that are from the fine cities of Omaha, Nebraska and Houston, Texas, or simply remember the pen stores of the past.   I travel frequently to Omaha and lived for two years in Houston, so these had some meaning to me when I stumbled upon them in the past year.  The first is a post card marked as mailed in May of 1946 from Ted’s Pen Shop in Omaha.  It seems that Ms. Lammers of Hartington, NE had a pen and pencil in need of repair and Ted Damask was writing to advise her what he needed to do the job.  A good salesman, Ted, he mentions that she might also need a new pen at some point.

A little bit of research shows that Ted Damask was 41 years old when he typed this post card.  He died in Omaha at age 54 in 1959.  As with many of the fountain pens shops, they also sold cards and stationary.

A search of the Lammers’ name in Hartington yields numerous results and Gertrude and her family were, and still are, a prominent name in Hartington.

Photobucket

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The Google Street map below shows that the corners of 16th and Farnam now contain a Chinese Restaurant, Quiznos Sub Shop, Parking Garage, and Medical Center.  The days of the local pen store are past. That is not to say that the pen store has completely disappeared (see Pendemonium in Fort Madison, IA). Many fine stores, both brick and mortar and on-line exist today, but in limited numbers.

The second Pen Store is mentioned in this advertising blotter below. Wolfe’s sold and repaired fountain pens, just like Ted’s.  They also sold greeting cards and branched out to Stamp Collectors.  I have been unable to uncover any information on Wolfe’s, but as you can see from the Google Street map below the blotter, the area contains no evidence of a Fountain Pen Store.

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Of course, none of what I have written here comes as any surprise to the fountain pen collecting community. We all know that the days of the fountain pen as a common commodity are over and we have to scour the countryside for our favorite vintage (or current) pens. We all dream of a time when you could go into town and purchase a fountain pen at the drug store, pick one out of a catalog, or go to Wolfe’s or Ted Damask’s store.

Part of the joy of restoration is bringing the pens available at these stores back to the condition they may have been found in the glass case in Houston or Omaha. At the same time I hope I have shown a new collectible ~ blotters and post cards that depict what Fountain Pens Stores were like in their heyday.

As the Holidays approach, don’t forget to frequent your local or on-line pen dealers for your pen collecting (or restoring) needs ~ and have a Happy Holiday Season.

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December 17, 2009 - Posted by | Fountain Pen Stores, Hartington NE, Houston TX, Omaha NE | , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Great images. I like the use of photos from Google being paired with the historic paper.And yes, I wish I could walk into the pen shop. Note the mezzanine level office hidden by the plants. This is where the boss, when not on the floor, could keep an eye on things.

    Comment by Greg Koos | December 19, 2009 | Reply

    • Thank you Greg. It is good to hear from you and thanks for the information on the Bosses Office…

      Comment by all of us | December 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great post & have enjoyed following your blog, especially picking up a few repair tips and historical backgrounds on lesser known pens.
    You said, “Part of the joy of restoration is bringing the pens available at these stores back to the condition they may have been found in the glass case in Houston or Omaha.” Indeed. I have three of my grandfather’s pens, which I’ve restored (2 Watermans and a Skyline). My mother told me (she’s in her 80s now) that she remembers as a little girl going with her father to some pen shop in San Antonio each year and him buying a new fountain pen. As I said, I have three of these and it would be great to know what store they came from.

    Comment by Sandy | December 19, 2009 | Reply

    • Sandy,

      I will try and find the name of the store for you by posting a question to the Yellow Board of Pentrace.net. There are several members there from Texas and they might know the name of the San Antonio Store. Check the website for my question and see if there are any answers.

      Regards,

      Phil

      Comment by all of us | December 19, 2009 | Reply

      • Thanks, I appreciate that & will stay tuned.

        Comment by Sandy | December 21, 2009

  3. Hi,
    To learn about pen shops youmight try these people at the San Antonio Public Library. Give them the date span that the pens were purchased.
    http://guides.mysapl.org/localhistory

    Comment by Greg Koos | December 23, 2009 | Reply


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