Fountain Pen Restoration

Longitudinal Striations / Third Generation Vacumatic

This week’s pen restoration is an oddity, from what little information I can gather. The date imprint on the barrel is worn off. It is a Vacumatic / Made in the U.S., but the one digit date is worn.

I am going to guess that it is a 1942 production as the nib has a 1942 date code, and the information that I have found on these is that they were produced after 1941 and are fairly rare.

In the first photo, you can see the eleven (11) parts of a dissembled Vacumatic (not counting the diaphragm that is mostly stuck to the inside of the barrel). The barrel of this one is quite scratched and I have already mentioned the worn imprint.

I first attacked the barrel and attempted, somewhat successfully, to remove some of the scratches. The indentation where the cap sits on the barrel is quite pronounced, as you can see in the first and second photo. Little can be done with this.

The monotone nib, cap bands and clip all polished up well with gold polish, a jewelers cloth, and a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. The diaphragm was completely stuck to the inside of the barrel and took quite some time to remove. I wanted to be extra careful with this as the vertical stripes are more rare and I did not want to compromise the transparency of the barrel.

All of the parts were in good shape, so the only addition is the debutante diaphragm. I won’t go in to Vacumatic Diaphragm replacement here. For more detailed directions. refer to one of many Vacumatic post to the right from the past two years.


Here is the completed pen, both posted and capped. You can see that this Third Generation Vac comes without the Blue Diamond Clip and in a single jewel. The pen measures 5″ capped and 5 3/4″ posted.



Any information I have been able to uncover on this pen has come from Vacumatic Expert, David Isaacson. He discusses this variant in both his Website, and a thread at Fountain Pen Network.


In essence, what Mr. Isaacson states is that these are somewhat uncommon variants from the early 1940s and should not be confused with the more documented First Generation Longitudinal Striped Vacumatics.

I must admit that when I purchased this pen, I was just looking for a Third Generation Black and did not realize what I had uncovered until I took it home and inspected it further.

I am not well schooled in Vacumatic classification at all. What I do know is that there appear to be unending variants and combinations. Add to this, various nib, clip, and cap changes over the years and it is quite confusing. One thing remains constant ~ they are fun to restore, hold lots of ink, are fun to write with, and handsome to gaze at.

Happy searching……


May 24, 2010 Posted by | Parker Pen Company, Parker Vacumatic | , | Leave a comment

Franklin Fountain Pens

Article # 125

This week’s pen is a Franklin Pen Company Eyedropper. I found this one lying in a pile of old pens. One thing about old Black Hard Rubber Pens is that they tend to blend into the woodwork when searching antiques stores, estate sales, and garage sales. They lack the color and tend to be overlooked. Fortunately the tarnished gold bands caught my eye.  Here is a photo of the only five parts of the pen after I took it apart.  Eyedroppers are by definition easy to restore.  There is no filling system and all one needs to do is clean the pen up and make certain it has no cracks or holes to allow the ink to escape.

I went back over the 121 articles I have written over the past years and only five have been written about Eyedroppers.

The Hintz Pen ~ October 5, 2009 (more on this related pen below)

Lucas Fountain Pens ~  May 12, 2009

Houston Pen Company – Tracy, Minnesota ~  August 26, 2008

Houston Pen Company ~  April 10, 2008

Eaton Pen ~  December 6, 2007

Pity this, as they are such a simple ink system, and one that holds a lot of ink.

I polished up the gold ornate bands and nib.  As with any Black Hard Rubber, you should be careful to keep any moisture and polish away from the rubber to prevent discoloration.  I was fortunate that this pen has retained its black color and has not suffered any browning that is common with these pens.  I reassembled the nib / feed / section after scraping the feed channels to remove old dirt and ink.


The completed pen is below  –  a Franklin Pen Company Double Band Eyedropper.  The pen measures 5 5/16 inches closed and 6 13/16 inches posted.  As with any Eyedropper, you should test the barrel and section / feed / nib for any leaks,  I filled the pen (using an eyedropper, of course) with blue ink and left it standing nib down overnight to check for leaks.  After the first night, I did notice a bit of ink on the paper towels beneath the pen, so I tool the assembly apart again repeated the process.  I noted that I had not put the feed in squarely the first time.  The second test went well and there was no leakage.  I cleaned the pen out and it is now stored, ready to write.


Here is a photo of the pen closed.  The flower pattern on gold bands is typical of many pens of the period and adds a nice touch.


As I mentioned above, one of the previous restorations I have done was of a Hintz Pen, dated October 5 of last year.  In that article, I speculated that Franklin Pen may have produced the Hintz Pen for the Hintz Store.  Having worked on this pen and researched a bit more about the Franklin Pen Company, I believe this to be the scenario.

The next two photographs are of the Franklin and Hintz Pens next to each other.  They are very similar (chasing and bands) and the key is that they both have Franklin No. 3 nibs with identical feeds.  I did some searching and here is a link to the feed filed by Franklin for this same feed ~ Franklin Cooley Feed Patent 1892 ~



There are collectors who specialize in Franklin Pens, so I will not pretend to be an expert, but from what I do know, the Franklin Pen Company was founded by Franklin Cooley and John Goodrich in the late 1800s in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  When I first saw these pens referred to years ago, I incorrectly assumed that they were named for Benjamin Franklin.  Clearly I was wrong.  I have also read that these founders moved to Philadelphia from somewhere in New York State to escape the already crowded pen manufacturing and retail business in place there and to enter a less saturated market.

I have not seen the article, but have seen reference to an article in the May 2000 issue of Penworld, by Franklin expert and collector John Roede, which fully covers the history of the Franklin Pen Company.  I am currently trying to get a copy and if I do so, I will add some further history to this posting.

Finally, here is a photo of the Franklin and Hintz nibs – perfect matches.


I have found another Hintz Pen and some additional advertising that I will restore and post in a few weeks.  These regional Pen Companies and their relationships certainly make interesting research opportunities, not to mention the pens which still perform well after 100 years.

May 13, 2010 Posted by | Franklin Fountain Pen, Hintz Fountain Pen | , | 2 Comments

Fountain Pen Radio

Post Number 124 ~

Note:  No restoration this past week, as I have been traveling for my real job….so, I found this old advertisement and thought it would be worth sharing….

Over the years, I have accumulated some ephemera related to Fountain Pens which make for interesting conversation and reading. From time to time I like to share these and this weeks post is a very humorous look at how to make a radio out of a fountain pen.

This tutorial is from an article in a 1954 issue of Science and Mechanics Magazine.  Science And Mechanics was published from 1929 to 1984 and the title is self explanatory.

I am not an electrical engineer and have no idea if this would have worked in 1954, but the most interesting thing to me, from the fountain pen perspective, is on page 2 in the Materials List ~  The first material needed is:  1 cheapest grade ballpoint pen, or discarded fountain pen.  I laughed when I read this as I took it as a comment which reflected what was happening to the fountain pen in 1954.  To make the radio, you would either need a cheap ballpoint (don’t use a nice one) or one of those old fountain pens you no longer need and have discarded.

If I was really adventurous, I would attempt this, but I am not.  I suspect that many of the materials would be difficult, if not impossible, to find.



Looking at the photo of the young lady listening to the pen reminds me of the iPod of today.  Who knew the pen radio was the precursor to the iPod?

Photobucket Photobucket

They should have named it the iPen.

Edit (May 11, 2010): A reader, John, was kind enough to send this photo from a 1938 issue of Popular Science.  It shows a Fountain Pen sized receiver that covered up to 75 miles.  Thank you, John, for the link.  As it states , it was handy for the hiker or cyclist….


May 4, 2010 Posted by | Fountain Pen Radio | | 8 Comments


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