Fountain Pen Restoration

Sheaffer Junior Flat Top Fountain Pen

The mid 1920s were an interesting time in fountain pen production.  It marked a widespread change in materials from hard rubber to plastic materials.   This weeks restoration is a good example of the period and interesting in that it is so similar to other pens that it competed against for the consumer dollar ~ or three in this case.  The main competition was the Parker Duofold, which was very similar in size and shape, differing mainly in its filling system which was a button fill.  My Post of March 15, 2008, Parker Lapis Duofold Junior Fountain Pen covers the repair of a Duofold Junior and its button filling mechanism.

Below is the Sheaffer Junior size Flat Top pen after I have taken it apart.  The jbar is in the pen and functional.  There was no sac in the pen, so someone has already taken it apart and decided not to restore it.  You can see the ink discoloration that plagues so many vintage pens.  The ink has gotten into the cap and the threads and cap have discolored the barrel and its threads.  The nib is in good shape as is the section and feed.

I spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the stains as well as sanding down some bit marks at the end of both the cap and the barrel.  The owner of this pen was quite a chewer…  The inside of the cap was also filled with dried up ink which caused much of the external problems.  I cleaned it with a combination of the ultrasonic cleaner and q-tips.

I cleaned the nib, clip, lever and cap band with Pentiques metal cleaner.  I cleaned the section and feed with q-tips and water, paying special attention to the feed channels which were caked with dried ink and dirt.

I used a size 18 sac, refitting it on the section/feed/nib and reinserting it into the barrel.

Below is a photo of the completed pen, a “3-25” model in Coral Red.  This was the name that Sheaffer gave to this color.  As you can see it closely resembles the same orange/red of the Duofold.  These pens were produced by Sheaffer from the mid 1920s through the end of the decade and probably into the 1930s.  I do not have any Sheaffer catalogs from this time period, so will not attempt to give exact dates, but the general period is accurate.

The Coral Red color was the least common of the Sheaffer Flat Top colors of the period.  More plentiful were Jade, Black, and Pearl/Black.

Later models may have had a different lever system, lower clips and/or a humped clip as opposed to the straight on with this pen,

This pen is referred to by many collectors today as a Junior Flat Top, or 3-25.  The 3-25 logo appears in two places on the pen ~ on the nib, and at the top of the cap, to the right of the clip.  The 3 apparently refers to the cost of the pen at the time ~ $3.00 and the 25 refers to a 25 year guarantee.  No white dot lifetime guarantee on this pen.  I have also read that this model may have been referred to as an SC where S stands for Short (as opposed to the larger Flat Top model) and the C for a model with a Clip.

Below are the two 3-25 imprints.

As I mentioned earlier, the red/orange flat top was a popular pen of the period and many Companies, large and small, first, second and third tier, produced these pens.  Below are (from top to bottom) an Oxford (European Production), this Sheaffer 3-25, a Parker Duofold Junior (single band non-streamlined), and a Chicago (NPP?) Paris Pen Company Pen.

If you like colorful pens, these vintage Sheaffers are a good bet to provide a sound writing experience and are relatively simple to restore. Solidly constructed, they often survive in fairly good shape.  Keep an eye out for them and their black, jade and black/pearl counterparts.


March 19, 2010 Posted by | Sheaffer, Sheaffer 3-25 | , | 1 Comment

Atlas Appliance Desk Pen

A recent family vacation unearthed this Desk Set.  We were traveling through Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois and a rainy day brought us to an antique store in rural northwestern Illinois.  When I saw this one, I assumed it was a Sheaffer.  After all, we were only a hundred or so miles from Fort Madison and they were famous for producing a myriad of desk sets.  So, for $9.00, I snatched it up and we were on our way.  Not until I got home and unwrapped it on my work bench did I realize that it was not a Sheaffer set.

I have written about a few other desk sets in the past ~

Rube Goldberg Ink Delivery Machine – December 21, 2007

Fishing For A Desk Base – January 19, 2008

Gold Bond Stonite Desk Pen – December 17, 2008

I am not certain who made the pen or the desk hardware.  I only know that the clock was made in Germany from its markings.

However, I do know that it was probably put together for the Atlas Appliance Corporation in Brooklyn, NY.

Below, is the exploded view of the desk pen after I took it apart.  Nothing special here and a very underused pen as there were very few traces of ink.  I only needed to replace the size 14 sac and the jbar.  The bar was still intact, as you can see, but it was brittle and broke after a few pulls.  I polished the ornamental band and lever, but left the nib alone, as it is gold plate and I wanted to retain as much of the gold as possible.

As with many desk pens of this type, the sac has to be trimmed quite short, as the barrel is smaller to allow the taper to screw in.  I also used a smaller size j-bar to accommodate this.

Here is a photo of the completed pen, ready to write.

And the completed set.  The clock is a wind-up model (remember those?) with a wind up alarm and alarm volume control on the reverse.  I found that it works for about 1.5 days after being completely wound.  The familiar tick-tick-tick brought back some childhood memories that battery or electric clocks have taken away.  Orbros was a Clock and Barometer manufacturer in Germany and several of their products are still sold in the antique marketplace.  I have no evidence that they still exist.

The underside of the handsome marble base bears this label from Lachman and Company.  They still exist in the Detroit area and as you can see by the link, still very active in these types of promotional products, among many other products and services.

The lever filling desk pen bears this imprint.  I don’t have any information on the Company, but my guess is that they used these as promotional pieces or awards.

The coolest part of the set is the nib.  It actually bears the Company Name and what I believe is their logo as well.

Lachman may have contracted these pieces and then sold them to Atlas for their use.  It would be interesting to find other desk bases made for Lachman that they sold to other corporate clients.  The imprinted gold plate nib is what makes this set to me.

It now resides in my office at work.  Now I just have to remember to wind it each day…..

March 10, 2010 Posted by | Atlas Appliance Fountain Pen, Desk Pens | | 3 Comments

Cromer Artcraft LIFELONG Fountain Pen

This week’s pen is a beat up hard rubber Artcraft, from Birmingham, Alabama.  Not exactly the first place we think of as a fountain pen production center during the 1920s and 1930s, but they made some nice pens, and I wish I had a few more.  This one came to me via eBay and was advertised as a Cromer Pen.  Fortunately, I had done a small amount of research for this article ~ Artcraft Fountain Pens – August 18, 2009 ~ and remembered that Ford D. Cromer was President of Artcraft Pens in 1930.

When the pen arrived, I checked the worn imprint, and it was indeed an Artcraft Pen, though the imprint was different than the pen restored in my August article.

As you can see, this pen is quite beat up, and the red hard rubber is stained.   There is also a small crack in the cap lip.  Cracks in hard rubber pens are not a good thing.  Plastic pen cracks are  much easier to deal with.

You can also see that there was once a cap band and that it is now missing.  The lever is in good shape, but the j bar is broken and corroded.

I began restoration by cleaning the gold clip, lever, and nib.  All three cleaned up well with a jewelers cloth and small amount of polish.  The hard rubber is another story.  As you know, hard rubber does not stand up well to water and other liquids.  The largest stain was near the large cap hole opposite the clip.  I used a very small amount of toothpaste on this stain and gently removed as much as possible.  Other than the barrel threads, I did not clean the rest of the pen.  I did scrub the inside of the cap with light amounts of water and a q tip – removing most of the old ink.  On pens with years of caked layers of ink, this can be a long and tedious job.  Cleaning the cap and internal threads guarantees that the barrel and barrel threads will remain clean as well.

This is a large pen, measuring 5 1/4″ closed and 6 3/4″ posted requires a large j bar and a size 18 sac, which were inserted into the barrel and attached to the reassembled nib/section/feed.

Below is the completed pen, with the Large LIFELONG imprint.

The full imprint is very faded, but reads:

Cromer Artcraft      Pen Company

Artcraft                       Fountain Pens

Birmingham              Alabama


In the middle of the two columns is the familiar Artcraft logo – an artists palette, with the words Makers of Artcraft inside.

I tried to get a close up of the Cromer Artcraft below to give you an idea of the type.

The nib that came with this pen is an Aiken Lambert Warranted Number 4.  My guess is that this is a replacement, but I have no evidence of this.  The other Artcraft restoration that I have done (August 2009 article referred to above) had an Artcraft nib, but that pen was probably produced at a later date that this one.

The history of Artcraft is interesting, though incomplete to me.  What I do know is in the August 18, 2009 article, complete with Artcraft moving to Argentina in 1934.  They continued to produce pens there, as I have received photos of some from collectors in response to this previous article.

March 2, 2010 Posted by | Artcraft Fountain Pens | | Leave a comment


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