Fountain Pen Restoration

Clipless Waterman 52

I recently found this pen in a pile of old pens, passed over at an antique store as damaged goods. At first blush, it looked like another no name Black Chased Hard Rubber pen. Closer examination revealed that the underneath the after market clip and dirty nib, was a Waterman 52. I last restored and wrote about a 52 in my post of March 10, 2009 – Classic Waterman 52. That article discussed a nice example of a Gold Banded (Repousse) model. The next two paragraphs are from that post ~

Most vintage fountain pen collections should include a Waterman Fountain pen. The L.E. Waterman Fountain Pen Company started in New York in the 1880s and was a stalwart in the Fountain Pen business during the production dates of the 52. Lewis Edson Waterman was the founder of the company in the late 1800s and credited with its successful start.

The Waterman 52 was produced during the 1915 to 1930 time period. This period marked a high water mark for Waterman as they produced a large number of varieties of hard rubber pens. The 52 was one of the most common and survives in large numbers today. Relatively simple to restore (provided all of the parts are in good condition), it often has large flexy nibs which several collectors enjoy using.

As I mentioned above, this model is a clipless one.  The pen had an aftermarket clip attached, which I immediately removed.  I do not like these.  I certainly understand why they were used, but practicality aside, they usually leave gouges and discoloration – enemies to restoration. Clipless models were produced in the 52 line of pens, presumably to be used with aftermarket clips or without clips for easier carrying in a bag, purse, or case.


Below is a photo of the pen after I took it apart.  The inside pressure bar is still intact.  You can see that the old sac has hardened and come out in pieces.  The only wording that can be seen on the nib is the number “2”.  (more on the nib later)  Also note the damage done by the aftermarket clip in the center of the cap.


Remembering that these pens are made of hard rubber eliminates, for me, the use of water in cleaning the exteriors.  I did use a bit of water to swab out the inside of the cap, the inside of the section and the grooves of the feed.  I then polished the lever and went to work on the nib.  It is 14K and after I cleaned off the rest of the old caked on ink from it, I realized it was not Waterman No, 2 (the appropriate nib for this pen), but a Hallmark No. 2.  A photo of this nib and additional research follows later.

I reassembled the section / feed / nib and attached a size 16 sac to the section.  The only remaining work was to remove the damage done by the aftermarket clip.  Some rust like substance had attached itself to the cap where the clip had been and I worked at this with my fingernail and a dry cloth.  I also used a small amount of toothpaste, just enough abrasive substance to work out the final remnants.  I then rubbed it clean using a clean cloth and let it sit.  I really is quite amazing that there really is little evidence that the clip had been there for many years.

Here are two photos of the pen closed and posted ~


It measures 5 5/16 inches closed and 6 1/2 inches posted


Waterman 52s came in many varieties.  I won’t attempt to discuss the Waterman numbering systems, which would be enough to confuse anyone, but in summary the 52 came in several different colors, textures, and with add-ons.

Some of the more common are~

Black Hard Rubber / Black Chased Hard Rubber / Red Hard Rubber (Cardinal) / Woodgrain / Rippled (black and red) / Filigree Overlay / Gold Banded

This pen, at the bottom of the photo below is this plain BCHR version without a clip.


It appears to me that the nib had been on this pen for quite some time and was not a recent replacement.  The questions arise as to where did the Hallmark nib come from and was there a Hallmark Pen or Pen Company?

Research led me to two items of interest, summarized by the threads at Lion and Pen, with the following links ~

Hallmark Pen Barrels – my friend, the late Dennis Bowden, discusses a Hallmark barrel and the possibility it is related to Kraker (I know…not another Kraker connection).

Hallmark Pen Company (NY) and Hallmark Nib – Various collectors discuss the existence of Hallmark Pen Co. in NY and a nib sighting similar to mine.  The interesting thing here is that the nib mentioned was being sold by Max Davis, noted Waterman collector and author.  A connection to Waterman – maybe?

I have no other information on the Hallmark Nib.  I have sent out some queries and will update this post if I learn more.


Below is a photo of the familiar Waterman marking, identifying the model number on the bottom of the barrel.


Here is the standard imprint, seen on Waterman 52s.


And finally, and advertisement from the September 1926 National Geographic (these are great sources of information)


This pen turned out well.  It has retained its deep black color, with few signs of any discoloration at all.   The damage done by the aftermarket clip was removed and I am currently using it with Diamine Imperial Blue ink.  The Hallmark nib has some nice flex to it, similar to many of the Waterman nibs of the period.

If anyone has any Hallmark information, please let me know through the comments below.  Thank you.


April 25, 2011 Posted by | Hallmark Pen Company, Waterman 52, Waterman Pen Company | , , , | 9 Comments

Pencil Jewelry

Many fountain pen collectors and restorers spend lots of time wandering through antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, and garage sales looking for pens to add to their collections. Most of the time we find very little and usually nothing. One antique mall near where I live has yielded one vintage bottle of ink in the past five years of looking – even enlisting the kids on snowy afternoons to scan the aisles. Yet, a fellow collector and acquaintance found a Waterman 58 in excellent condition a few months ago. It all boils down to timing – being at the right place at the right time.

Back to this weeks find ~ As I mentioned, usually we find nothing or a stray bottle of ink. Recently, I picked up this piece of junk(?) jewelry and as I examined it, a pencil was found. Again, not a fountain pen, but a cool piece of writing history. I paid less than ten dollars for it, so no big investment in this interesting curio.

Here is the pin and its jewels and stones from the front, yet uncleaned.


From the side you can see the clip that would attach to a pin or chain, probably attaching to a jacket or shirt.


Pulling the pin apart reveals the insides …..


and  a telescoping pencil.  I was able to place a 0.9 mm pencil lead securely into the barrel and it writes well.


The pin measures 2 7/16 inches in its closed position and 4 1/16 inches when the base is fully extended.  I am thinking of cleaning it in the Ultrasonic Cleaner, but as yet have not decided.  Sometimes this method can dislodge jewels or ornaments or remove gold plate.  As I have no idea what the stones or jewels on this pen are, I will probably leave well enough alone.

So, when the visits to the flea markets or antique malls get frustrating, check out the old jewelry – you never know what you might find.  Finding this was fun, but I still wish I had found the Waterman 58……

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Pencil Jewelry | | Leave a comment

Waterman C/F

I admit that I came purchase this pen after restoring and using the Waterman Crusader in my post of January 24, 2011. I had never really thought much about the newer Waterman Pen (1950s and 60s), but I enjoyed the Crusader so much, I went out looking for another example. The CF (Cartridge Fill) is intriguing purely from an historical perspective. It is thought of as the first modern widely produced and distributed cartridge pen. I also happen to think that it is pretty sharp looking and reflects the 1950s modern deco styles.

It comes as no surprise that the designer was Harley Earl, a famous automotive designer. Pen companies often contracted with designers to come up with innovative and current designs to attract buyers.

You can see from the photo below that this was a very distressed old pen.  The price was certainly reflective of this, but it was in worse condition than I thought.  The staining is very pronounced and there was a thick layer of crud under the cap.  I figured that I had nothing to lose and began to chip away.  Restoration of this pen was simply limited to cleaning and a bit of nib adjustment.  I started with a small portion of the barrel to see if subjecting it to a harsh dose of polish would do any damage.  I used some polish and a q tip with no results, so I raised the stakes and used a dremel.  The result was good, so I began the process of polishing the barrel and cap in their entirety.  I alternated between the dremel and an ultrasonic cleaner.  I had to use a toothbrush to get under the clip, which is permanently attached to the cap and is rigid.

No restoration of a filling system here as this is a simple cartridge pen.  More on the cartridge later.

After many repetitions of the cleaning rotation, I was able to see that this was once an attractive pen.  Additionally, I flushed the section/nib/feed out several times.  The nib had bent downward toward the feed, and I used a special nib tool to straighten it back out.


The results are stunning.  Here is the completed pen which measures 5 3/8 inches closed and 6 1/16 inches posted.


The cap snaps flush to the barrel when closed, similar to modern pens.


I cleaned out the cartridge and below is a photo of it sitting in the section.  It snaps on to the section nipple similar to other cartridge pens that followed.  The reason that this cartridge is important is that there are no more being produced for this discontinued line, and converters are often difficult to come by.  Thus, I will reuse this one, filling it with a syringe prior to each use.


The next three photos are of a pack of eight green cartridges that I found (unfortunately all are dried out) and one of the cartridges showing the patent number – 2802448, issued in August of 1957 – viewable here.




Here is the imprint on the cap end identifying it as a Waterman C/F.


The nib design is very distinctive.  I believe this pen was made in France after the US Waterman operations ceased in the late 1950s.  Exactly when, I have no idea as these pens have no date markings.  If I were to guess, I would say sometime in the 1960s or 70s – how is that for not narrowing it down?

I have read that one of the problems with these pens over time is significant pitting on the nib and gold trim surrounding the insert. Fortunately, this pen has none of that and the assembly has survived well.


The C/F was introduced in 1953/4 and continued to be produced in the US until around 1958, when Waterman ceased operations.  They were also made in Canada for a time as well as in the United Kingdom and in France.  The French versions were much more ornate than many of the US versions.  Production continued in France until the early 1980s.  I have seen pencils and ballpoints as well.  The most impressive collection of them that I have seen, can be accessed at a thread at the Fountain Pen Network, here.

In the mid 1950s, they were advertised in the Saturday Evening Post, and here is an advertisement from my collection.  It is always nice to know that you can change your ink cartridge in the middle of the dance floor….wonder if they will try that on Dancing With The Stars….


I really like how this pen turned out.  I will enjoy trying it out in the near future and am pleased to have learned another little piece of Fountain Pen History from this predecessor to the cartridge pens of today.

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Waterman C/F, Waterman Pen Company | , | 2 Comments


%d bloggers like this: