Fountain Pen Restoration

Keene Fountain Pens

This week’s pen is one that is very typical of one found in the back of a display, or in a large can, at an antique store. I think that is where I found this one – in with bunch of pencils and ballpoints and capless no name pens.  I think that the previous owner had given up this one for dead.  Several problems existed.  First, the wide cap band was loose and slid right off.  A larger problem was the clip.  There was a thick layer of dried material (ink, mildew?) under the clip and it was very loose.  I could see that any amount of cleaning would cause it to fall off, so I carefully pulled it off myself.  The rest of the pen was in decent shape, with some barrel stains, but the nib, section, feed, and lever were in working order.

This pen is made of hard rubber, which presents its own cleaning problem, as cleaners and water do more harm than good, so I could only clean the barrel and cap with a clean cloth.  I did scrub the clip area with a brush and even used some fine sandpaper to remove the grimy build up under where the clip had been.  Removing the clip had left the remaining anchors in the cap, so I would have to figure out a way to get the cap back in place.  Option were to remove the inner cap and clip anchors, and look for a new clip.  Unfortunately, this clip is a proprietary one, and Keene clips are not easy to find.  My only option, aside from making a new one, was to glue the clip back to the barrel where the anchor sections broke off.  I did this, and the photo is the second below.

The cap insides and the barrel threads also were cleaned of all old ink stains.  A new j bar was needed as well.   The section was cleaned on the inside with water and the feed grooves were cleared.  The nib is a nice large Warranted No. 8 with plenty of tipping material.  Finally, the cap band and lever were polished gently as I suspect that they are a gold wash.


As mentioned, here is the cap, with clip after being attached with glue to the four contact points and after cleaning.


I installed a large size 18 sac to the section/feed/nib and the completed pen can be seen below.  It measures 5  1/4 inches closed and a large 6 7/8 inches posted.



As often is seen with old lever fillers, the clip box has expanded unevenly over time and pressure.  This one is not too bad, but detracts from the pens overall look.  You can see the imprint – Keene New York, with a K in the lever end circle.


And the cursive Keene on the repaired clip.   This is a nice touch.


From what little information I have been able to gather, I believe that Keene was a Jeweler in New York that contracted with Eclipse to brand pens for them.  I have no hard evidence of this, but it makes some sense as the pen resembles the large Eclipse pens of the period.  Charles A. Keene is listed as a NY Pen Company in 1920 and 1925 at 180 and 189 Broadway (source – Manhattan Pen Makers Project).  Though he may not have been a manufacturer, he did have a line of pens.  An interesting side note is this pen knife (photo from web) that has an imprint ~ Keene 180 Broadway New York M.I. Germany.


In summary, this Keene pen seems to have originated in New York in the 1920s from a jeweler that also marketed pen knives.  Keep an eye open for these pens.  If you can find one in good condition they almost rival the Duofolds of their time.  As always, I welcome additional information that sheds more light on the history of these pens.

Note:  Check out this article written by friend Luiz. on Keene Pens!   Amazing photos and history.  Thank you Luiz.


February 21, 2011 Posted by | Keene Fountain Pens | | 7 Comments

How To Make A Sheaffer Touchdown In 1950

Popular Science, in its November 1950 issue, published an article on How Your Fountain Pen Is Made. It discusses the manufacture of an unnamed Sheaffer pen.  In reviewing the photos it is clear that it is a Sheaffer Touchdown.  This would make sense given the time that this article appeared.

Even though the article is dated, it is an interesting look into the manufacturing process in Fort Madison in 1950.  I picked up many interesting pieces of information.  Of particular interest to me is the fact that it took 6 weeks and 318 different operations to make a pen.  Contrast that to the mass production of items today….

I also enjoyed the section on gold conservation – suctioning the gold off the floors and through the laundry – to salvage gold dust to be reused.

For your reading pleasure ~




From my article dated May 2,  2008, Sheaffer Valiant Touchdowns, here is a photo of the large and thinner models produced before and after 1950, and the larger model taken apart.



Finally, 1949 and 1952 advertisements for these popular, and relatively easy to restore, Sheaffer Touchdowns.


NG Nov 49



February 9, 2011 Posted by | Sheaffer, Sheaffer Valiant Touchdown | , | Leave a comment

Friendly Pen Neighbors

I had just read that there was going to be a Sheaffer Museum opening up in Fort Madison, IA in the near future.   About the same day that I heard this, a package arrived in the mail…

I had not ordered any pens, and Christmas shopping is several weeks in the past, so I was wondering what it was.  I opened the package under the watchful eyes of my three daughters, all hopeful it was some lost Christmas goodie I had forgotten about and had been lost in the mail.

I opened the box to a pleasant surprise!  Inside was nice handwritten note from Sam of Pendemonium, located in Fort Madison, the former home of Sheaffer.  She had acquired a large collection of pens and assorted “stuff”, including good old wooden pencils (remember them?).  And she thought that she would separate them out and she sent me the Minnesota ones.  Knowing that I like the history of Writing “Stuff” as much as restoring them and using them, she sent me a gold mine.

Now I am looking forward to researching the various imprints.  And believe it or not, one has the name of one of my wife’s relatives.


With the Sheaffer Museum opening sometime in the future and a great Store like Pendemonium in Fort Madison, we may have to make a family car trip this summer.

Thanks again, Sam for you kindness and generosity…

February 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment


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