Fountain Pen Restoration

Waterman Crusader

This week I was fortunate to work on a pen that came to me in a trade.  I have never ventured into the Waterman Taperite world of fountain pens and I selected this pen, as I have always admired its styling.  I had never written with one, repaired one, or really researched their history, so this was a good learning experience.

Below is a photo of the pen after I took it apart.  You can see the remains of the semi-hard sac that I was able to pull out in pieces.  The silver ring is the clutch that sits between the section and the barrel – allowing the inner cap to firmly grasp the pen.  Finally, the section is a friction fit to the barrel.

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I opted to leave the section / feed / nib together and not attempt to knock out the feed and nib.  The opening at the front of the section looks too small and the section is fairly thin – both lead me to think that attempting to knock out the feed would damage the section.  In lieu of this, I cleaned the section, scraping off the old sac.  I then subjected it to many baths in the ultrasonic cleaner, removing an traces of the old purple ink that had been used.  I also tested the channel to make sure it was clear and no ink was left.  Below are two photos of the cleaned section / feed /nib after a thorough cleaning – the lower photo showing the smooth feed.

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Here is the completed section with the size 16 sac (trimmed to fit into the barrel).

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I also polished the barrel and section to clean up a few surface scratches and to shine it up a bit.  I read that the caps are prone to scratching and wear, so I did not touch the cap with any polish or cleaner for fear of damaging the gold color.

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The pen measures 5 1/4″ closed and 6 1/16″ posted.

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Here is a close up of the imprint which is nice and crisp.  This was made in the US, sometime in 1948, or after.

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The nib is a Waterman Ideal 14K “Rigid”.  Writing with it confirms it is quite firm and a medium.

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A little background I have accumulated on Waterman Taperites ~

The Taperite Line of pens commenced in 1945 with two models – the Stateleigh and the Citation. In part, it was Waterman’s answer to the extremely popular Parker 51 and its hooded nib.  My pen is an open nib, but many Taperites were hooded nibs that also came in an open nib version.  After that, changes occurred as they added models and sizes to the line as the 40s progressed.  The particular pen in this post is a Crusader that appeared around 1948 and thereafter.  There was a previous version of the Crusader that did not have the gold striped cap.  It also appeared in a smaller version and as a set, with pencil, and/or ballpoint (ugh).  In the advertisement from November of 1953 (below) you can see the Crusader set(s) available and their prices.  Note that they came in gold and silver caps for some color combinations.

(note that a comment below from a Waterman expert points out my mistake – “Waterman’s seems to have reserved “Taperite” for the semi-hooded pens (see, e.g., the 1953 ad copy: “Points in Taperite or Standard model”). So your pen here is a Crusader, but not a Taperite.” )  Thank you to the reader for pointing out my error.  I am glad I continue to learn about these pens….

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Some other models were the Medalist, Dauntless, and Corinth – all introduced in the late 1940s.  The three advertisements in this post are from my collection and show some of these models which were produced in both the United States and in Canada.

Saturday Evening Post – December 16 1949 (showing several different models and the open nibbed Crusader in Red)

SEP Dec 16 1949

And from a year later ~ the Crusader with matching pencil.

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Colors were Black, Blue, Green, Red, Tan, and Gray.  I have not followed these pens very closely, but it seems to me that I have seen many more Black, Blue and Gray pens.

January 24, 2011 Posted by | Waterman Crusader, Waterman Pen Company, Waterman Taperite | , , | 6 Comments

An Artcraft Wedding

Artcraft Fountain Pens were made in Birmingham, Alabama in the 20s and 30s, until the Company moved to Argentina on or around 1934.  I own a few and have an interest in finding a few more.  When I was alerted to the existence of this Wedding Party Announcement by the owner, I couldn’t  resist the urge to obtain it and take some photographs, do some research and then send it on to a pen friend and very serious Artcraft collector in Alabama.  I suspect he will be able to research the contents of this Invitation/Announcement better than I.

The announcement comes on a four panel fold sheet of very heavy paper.  Quite a production for a dinner in 1919.

Ford Cromer, was the President and Treasurer of Artcraft.  An excerpt from my post on Artcraft (August 18, 2009) reads:

…”research shows that Artcraft first appears in 1930 at 1424-26 3rd Avenue North in Birmingham, AL (this address is now a large Chevrolet dealership).  The President/Treasurer was Ford D. Cromer, James G. Erwin was Vice President, and Lillian Sharpley was Secretary. In 1931, the address changed to simply 1424 3rd Avenue North.  In 1932, Ms. Sharpley was no longer listed and in 1934 Harriett P. Cromer was listed as Secretary/Treasurer and the address reverted to the 1424-26 3rd Avenue.  Artcraft disappears from the Birmingham records after 1934.”…

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Years before this, in October of 1919, Reese Adamson, threw a dinner in honor of Ford and Harriet’s impending wedding.  I am a sucker for history and this piece is certainly filled with it.

Based on the Sheriff’s quote at the bottom of this post, we can assume that Ford and Harriett were married shortly after this Friday dinner.

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I am not sure who the victims refer to – whether they were the wedding party or if they were the close friends, or if they were all the attendees of the evening.  (Edit 2/11/12:  John Hubbard sent me the following vintage post card of the Roebuck Country Club.  Thank you, John for this glimpse of the location ~

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As for What’s Coming, count me in the camp of those that are glad they were not there.  I will defer to Alabama natives as to the popularity of some of these items in the early 1900s, or whether this was just a joke menu, but it is not the most appealing menu to me.  I did not know what Postum was.  For those who do not know, it was a coffee substitute which gained popularity during WWII as coffee was rationed.  Anyway, Mr. Adamson certainly had a lot of fun putting this together.

I did some research on the various attendees.  Without spending numerous hours on genealogical sites and inspecting birth, death, and cemetery records, I found out a few quick pieces of information ~

Ford Cromer was 33 years old at this dinner.

Edwina Thagaard attended Yale University during the period 1917-18.

William Cosby – Bill Cosby?  No, of course not, but most fountain pen fans know that the other Bill Cosby is a huge fountain pen fan and regularly appears on a Fountain Pen Hospital Ad – just a weird coincidence.

Frances Glenn and Harold Bowron –  Frances was 21 and Harold 24 at the time of the dinner.  They eventually married and the Bowron family creates many references today in the Birmingham area.

Cecil Gaston was a prominent Birmingham Proctologist for years and has a patent for a portable sitz bath..

Po Ole Reese Adamson (age 31 at the dinner) was involved in the transportation business, patenting a railroad locomotive five years later in 1924.  Adamson Ford still exists in Birmingham today, descending from his roots.

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I have never run across any photos of Ford Cromer in my limited research of Artcraft.  At least now I have an artists interpretation.

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Below are two offspring produced by Ford and Harriet, about 10  years after the wedding.  Both are discussed in previous Artcraft posts ~

Artcraft Fountain Pens – August 18, 2009

Cromer Artcraft Lifelong Fountain Pen – March 2, 2010

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No fountain pen restoration this week, but an interesting piece of ephemera from before the Artcraft Pen Company got started.  I look forward to any additional information that those more familiar with this Company can provide…

January 11, 2011 Posted by | Artcraft Fountain Pens | , | 2 Comments

Craig Fountain Pens

This week, I worked on two Craig pens that I have had for about six months.  I wanted to reread some information that I had read a while ago on them, before commencing on the restoration.

I will discuss what I have learned about these pens later.  Below are the two lever fillers after I have taken them apart.  Both had sac remnants inside, which I did not save for the photo.  Both are lever fillers and the BCHR (black chased hard rubber) is clipless.

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The Jade plastic model was fairly simple to restore.  I cleaned the barrel insides and removed all traces of the old sac and jbar.  I also cleaned the inside of the cap.  After using an xacto knife to scrape the section free of the old sac and adhesive, I used a q tip to clean the inside of the section.  I also cleaned the feed off and scraped out the channels which were filled with old ink residue.  The nib, a Warranted 14K #3 was cleaned with metal polish.  The lever, clip, and cap band were a more difficult task.  They are not gold and probably brass.  I had to spend a considerable amount of time cleaning these with a stronger polish and dremel.  Eventually, I got the old brassing off of each and the pen looks quite good.  I installed a new (small) jbar, reset the feed and nib in the section and attached a size 16 sac to the section/feed/nib.   I then reinstalled the section (friction fit) to the barrel and the pen is ready to go after some gentle polishing of the outside of the barrel and cap.

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The BCHR Craig was an even easier repair.  As you do not want to expose the rubber to any moisture and there are no clip or cap ring, the only item to be polished is the lever.  The nib, feed, and section were treated as with the jade pen and reinstalled with a size 16 sac and full size jbar.  The completed pen, which also has a Warranted 14K #3 nib, is below.  The black hard rubber is still about 80% black, with faint traces of browning from age.

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The completed pens measure as follows ~

BCHR – 5 1/2 inches closed and 6 5/16 inches posted

Jade – 4 5/16 inches closed and 5 5/16 inches posted

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Side by side, the rather crude imprints on each pen.

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Craig Pens were a sub-brand of Sheaffer Pens in the early 1900s.  The name came from Walter A Sheaffer’s son, Craig.  They were a lower priced and lower quality pen.  The information on these pens is a bit sketchy and even has some potential tie-ins to George Kraker, who worked for Sheaffer before going out on his own, only to be sued and lose to Walter Sheaffer.  A lengthy discussion and debate on Craig, Sheaffer, Kraker and many more can be found here ~ Sheaffer, Kraker, Craig, Bon-Ton etc..

One of the things that makes collecting vintage pens so rewarding and frustrating at the same time is the scarcity of information that is available on many of these  lesser known brands.  The reward is when a piece of information is found that solves a mystery.  Every fountain pen has a story – some are just harder to find.

January 3, 2011 Posted by | Craig Fountain Pens, Sheaffer | , | 2 Comments

   

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