Fountain Pen Restoration

Autumn Nib Harvest

Autumn, at least here in Minnesota (US) is a time of harvest.  The fields are abuzz with machinery gathering various crops for sale or to be stored.  So, too, it is time for me to harvest a few nibs for future use.   The three pens photographed below are, from top to bottom:

Pencraft (Kraker)/Chicago – Red Mottled Hard Rubber with Lotz Lever – circa early 1920s

Waterman 100 Year Pen – celluloid, circa 1941+

No Name Large Black/White Pearl Flat Top – circa 193os

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All of the pens were picked up over this Summer for less than $10.00 each and came with numerous structural problems.  The Pencraft is completely discolored (the red pattern is barely visible), has a cracked cap, is missing the clip, and half of the lever is missing.  The Waterman has the familiar crazing of both ends – which is all to common in these later generation 100 Year Pens, is missing the clip, and has a crack in the cap.  The no name flat top has a missing clip, and is severely discolored (common with this plastic pattern).   All three, of course, need new sacs and pressure bar overhauls.

Sometimes it is important to know when a pen is not saveable.  These are three such pens.  However, each has parts which are salvageable, and can be used in the future.  I the case of all of these, the nib/section/feed are valuable.  The rest of each pen will be saved in a parts bin in case a lever box is needed (in the case of the 100 Year).

Below are the three after I removed the section from each.  The caps and barrels were placed in what I call my reject pond, which is a large bin that contains parts that have a low probability of ever being used again.  I have dipped in it for a clip or lever on rare occasions, but it is mostly parts that are of no use to future projects.

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That leaves me with three nice section/feed/nibs units.  I knocked out each nib and feed and cleaned all three remaining nibs, feeds, and sections.  After cleaning, I reassembled the units, leaving me with three nice nibs – for now attached back to their original feeds and sections.  It remains to be seen whether they will be used together, or if I will just need a nib for an existing feed and section.  Below are the cleaned and polished units, waiting for a mate.

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Details of each ~

Pencraft No. 3 – Chicago – damaged tip with no iridium, but a fairly rare imprint

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Waterman No. 18 100 Year Pen

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Warranted No. 6

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Additionally, for those interested in estimated values of nibs, a site that I frequent is at nibs.com.

So, next time you see a glass, box or tray of beat up old pens, don’t forget to see if there is any value to the parts!

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Pencraft Pens, Waterman 100 Year Pen | , | 2 Comments

Moore Fingertip

The Moore Fingertip Pen is a fountain pen I have been in search of for quite some time. I have run across a few, but they have been in distressed external condition. Recently, this pen crossed my path and I made a nice trade for it.

Moore Pens began near 1900 in Boston, Massachusetts and were a significant player in the fountain pen world for a good part of the first fifty years of the 20th Century. The Fingertip was their answer to the streamlined pens of the 1940s, highlighted by the Parker 51 and Sheaffer Triumph nibbed pens. Fingertips were made from 1946 to 1950, and unfortunately for Moore, did not enjoy the successes of the Parker and Sheaffer pens, and mark the beginning of the end for Moore. However, they were solid pens, and are extremely collectible today. Part of that collectibility is due to the failure of the line, as less were sold over the four years of production.

Below is a photo of the Fingertip after it was taken apart. The stainless steel section is friction fit to the barrel. I have heard that extreme care needs to be taken in removing the section, as the barrel is very prone to cracking. Fortunately, with gentle heat from my heat gun, the section separated with no problems. You can see the sac had hardened and broken apart in the barrel.

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I scraped the old sac off the section edge and cleaned out any remaining sac remnants from the barrel.  The lever system was in great shape and the pen shows no evidence of any usage.  This is confirmed when I rinsed the section in an ultrasonic cleaner, and also by the clean sales sticker on the cap, reverse side to the clip (see photo below).  I attached a size 18 sac to the section, using sac cement, and allowed it to dry overnight.  The friction fit section was then securely placed back in the barrel and the pen is ready for use.  Fingertips are well known for their rigid nibs.  This one is no exception.

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The pen measures a 5 1/8 inches closed and a substantial 6 3/8 inches posted.  Given the fit of the cap, I would think most would write without posting the cap.

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Here is a closeup of the price sticker, found on the cap, reverse of the clip, matching the price of $8.75 for pen only, quoted in the advertisement from my collection, below.

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From 1946 (Saturday Evening Post) – this is a rare advertisement for the Fingertip, aimed at the graduate.

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And a closeup of the pricing and features.  A few comments ~ Number 3 states that the lack of an exposed feed prevents fingers from getting ink on them.  Actually, users of this pen often note that it does bleed onto the fingers from the section/nib.  And Number 5 states that there is a full selection of pen points for every individual writing requirement.  I have never seen a catalog, or Moore publication, depicting all of the points available, but most I have seen in person or in print seem to be of the standard medium or fine variety.  If anyone has additional information on wide, italic, or other nibs, I would like to have the information to add here.

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As mentioned earlier, Fingertips were produced from 1946 to 1950.  They came in six solid colors (Black, Vintage Wine (this pen), Sunset Red, Stardust Blue, Woodsman Green, and Eiderdown White).  There were also two striped colors produced – Autumn Pearl and Seaspray Pearl.  These are a bit rarer, and command a higher price in today’s marketplace.

The Fingertip was a response to the trend by pen makers to produce more streamlined pens.  The major US manufacturers all had their entries in this competition.  Below are five pens from my collection that represent some of the entries.  All have streamlined features and had varied successes.  Obviously the Parker Vac 51 and the Sheaffer Triumph models were winning designs and marketing victories, and led to many further models and successes.  The other three, including the Moore Fingertip, were not so successful, and to varying degrees, marked the decline of their ability to compete in the future pen marketplace.

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Finally, the packaging.  You can see in the photo above that the Fingertip set (fountain pen and pencil) came in an attractive snap case.   This single sale pen ($8.75) came in the rather plain box photographed below.

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The Fingertip disappeared in 1950.  I really like this pen – the weight and uniqueness of the styling.  Though not successful in its time, it is still very collectible, and marks an interesting transition period in United States Fountain Pen history.

September 6, 2012 Posted by | Moore Fingertip, Moore Pen | | 2 Comments

   

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