Fountain Pen Restoration

A Yankee In Chicago

I understand if you are growing tired of these Yankee in …. articles. Every time that I write one, I think it is my last. I have already detailed the restoration of Yankee Pens from Minnesota, and Grand Haven, Michigan in these posts from two years ago:

A Yankee In Michigan – January 27, 2008

A Yankee in Minnesota – May 15, 2008

Belmont Rexall And Yankee Cousins – May 22, 2008

I have not seen a Yankee in George Kraker’s next stop after Grand Haven, Michigan which was Libertyville, IL.  That doesn’t mean they do not exist, but I have not seen one.  So, after the Minnesota and Michigan articles on Yankee Pens, I thought I was done.

Then I ran across this nice little pen, a Yankee from Chicago, IL.  Given the material, Black Chased Hard Rubber (BCHR), I would place this pen in the period after Kraker left Kansas City and before he went to Michigan, in the early 1920s.  I have read that his name pops up both in Minneapolis and in Chicago during this time and this pen is a good representation of his work in Chicago.  Research from Lion and Pen historians here, indicates Michael George Co. in Chicago in 1923. (Thank you to Dennis and Jineen for their extensive Kraker work).

As you can see, the pen is a clipless lever filler.  The hanging pressure bar has broken and there is general wear.

I emptied the barrel out, including the old sac remnants and lever anchor.  I also gently polished the lever, which has a light gold wash on it.  The nib, a Warranted Number 3, was vigorously polished to its original shine.  As this is a BCHR pen, I did little other cleaning as I do not like to expose the hard rubber to any liquids or polishes.  I did clean the inside of the section and the channels of the feed prior to reassembling the section/feed/nib and a size 16 silicon sac.

The resulting pen is below.  As mentioned above, it was produced as a clipless model and measures a smallish 4 5/8″ closed and 5 7/8″ posted.

The imprint below is a common Kraker look, with the large YE.  As mentioned in the past, Michael – George Co. is the name of the Company that Kraker used, reversing his first and middle names.

The lever is the familiar Kraker lever (Lotz) that is found on many of his early pens produced in Minnesota.  I have posted photos of this lever in several previous articles for Yankees, Drew, and Winter Robbins Pens.

Here is a closeup of the 14K Warranted 3 nib which is quite flexible, as is common for the time.

Just when I thought I had finished my collection of these Midwest gems, I was fooled again when I found this pen.  Reading through the research on Kraker and his many exploits, there are still a few out there.  Does anyone have a Kleeno?


February 18, 2010 Posted by | Kraker, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

DuoCraft Fountain Pen History

I first wrote about DuoCraft Fountain Pens in a post dated October 13, 2009 ~ Duocraft Fountain Pens .

In that article, I discussed a theory that these pens were produced and aimed at the Music community. One of the nice things about collecting vintage pens are the nice people that you meet. Over the Holidays I was fortunate to meet a knowledgeable collector/user from California while he was visiting relatives here in Minnesota. One of the pens I brought to show was the DuoCraft – Music Nib pen. After the meeting he found this Duocraft brochure for sale on eBay and pointed me in the right direction to find it, and I did in fact make the purchase last week. Fortunately, there were no other interested parties and the cost stayed low. So, thanks to another collector, I have solved some of the mystery of DuoCraft.

My guess that these pens were directed at the Music industry was correct. I have printed the four pages of the brochure below and I think they are very interesting. Clearly DuoCraft was selling items directly to Musicians/Composers/Orchestras and others in the Music Business.

The pens alone came in either a two or three point style. My pen is the three point pen. Cost was a listed $3.50 or $5.00 for including a double sided pencil of black and red leads. The brochure that I purchased reduces these prices to $2.50 for the pen and $3.50 for the set ~ a Christmas Special. Here is a photo of the pen that I restored, and referred to in the link at the beginning of this article.

Page 1 refers to the cost of the pens, showing the two and three point pens as well as the set with pencil.

Page 2 is my favorite ~ referring to the various Music Writers who use the DuoCraft pen. Chick Adams is featured as the Head Arranger for the Abe Lyman Orchestra. Click on the link for a bit of non-fountain pen entertainment. The comments by the rapidly writing Herbert L. Clarke, VP of the American Bandmaster Association (and noted cornet player) give us an idea that these pens were marketed (at least through this brochure) after March of 1935.

Page 3 is non-pen related, but shows that DuoCraft was marketing more than Fountain Pens. The Lightning Arranger looks complicated to me and, as I am not a musician, I don’t know if it was actually effective.

Page 4 mentions the Fountain Pens again near the bottom and also mentions “Music Writing Ink”. I would love to find a bottle or two of that! Also, a nib junkie’s dream ~ 14K Music nibs at $1.75 each, or steel at $.25. There is also a reference to Congressional Style nibs. My guess is that these are the standard two point nibs. I have seen this term used for dip pen nibs, so maybe this is a reference to a standard two point nib.

Finally, the Brooklyn address for DuoCraft Company. Checking Google maps reveals nothing of interest other than a residential (current) neighborhood at
View Larger Map 2025 Menahan Street in Brooklyn.

So, no restoration this week, but a little more background on an interesting niche fountain pen. I will certainly be keeping an eye out for the dual pencil and the ink.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Duocraft Fountain Pens | | 6 Comments

Diamond Medal Wide Band Fountain Pen

This week’s restoration was found at an antiques store in Central Wisconsin this Winter while taking a break during a business trip.  It was in a glass amidst many other pens and pencils.  Kind of a “Diamond Medal In The Rough”, pardon the pun….

I finally got around to working on it this week and below is the photo after I took the pen apart.  Two things stand out here.  First, the sac is completely hardened, showing that the pen had not been used, or opened in quite some time.  Second is the lever system.  This is a “hanging pressure bar” found on many of these Chicago pens.  Instead of the common jbar found on many lever fillers, the hanging bar was attached through a hinge in a circular anchor at the top of the cap.  See my article dated February 7, 2008 titled Rexall Monogram for a photo and brief discussion of this lever – bar system common to National Pen Products pens.

Unfortunately, the anchor was broken on this pen and I will have to improvise.

The pen was thoroughly cleaned.  I used a dremel and cleaner on the outside to the cap and barrel, including the gold cap band, lever, nib, and clip.  They did not show any signs of wear, and with gentle cleaning and I was able to be more aggressive once I determined they were not a cheap gold plate.  The inside of the cap was cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner and with qtips to get rid of the inevitable caked on ink.  The channels of the feed were traced with a sharp hobby knife and cleared.   I used a size 16 sac on this one ~ attaching it to the section/feed/nib with sac cement.

Below are two photos of the completed pen which measures 5 1/2 inches closed and 6 9/16 inches posted.

I then photographed the pen along side of a larger (width) Diamond Medal I have had for quite some time.  You can see that it is a narrow pen.  The wider pen compares in size to a large OS Sheaffer or Parker Duofold.

The nib is a Diamond Medal No. 2, fairly small to fit the narrower pen and section.  It has a fair amount of flex, not unusual to pens of this era.

Here is the crisp imprint on the clip, which cleaned to a very shiny gold.

Diamond Medal Pens were produced for Sears Roebuck and sold  by them during the 1920s and 1930s.  The earlier production pens of the 1920s came in a variety of plastics and were produced by National Pen Products of Chicago, IL.    This would be an NPP pen, that Sears would have probably sold in its stores and through its famous and popular catalog.   Later Diamond Medal Pens were produced for Sears by Parker, including vacumatic and button fillers that resemble the Parker pens of the 30s.  But those are for another day…

You never know where you might find a user and collector quality pen.  Thank you to those that have shared their “finds in the wild” with me back channel.  They are still out there…

February 1, 2010 Posted by | Diamond Medal Fountain Pens, National Pen Products, Sears | , , | 2 Comments


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