This week’s restoration comes to me from across the Atlantic ~ a P. W. Akkerman Button filler, from the Netherlands. P. W. Akkerman, is (and was) a well respected retailer located in The Hague. They were founded in 1910 and have thrived in the Netherlands ever since.
Below is a photograph of the pen after I have taken it apart. You can see that the blind cap and the clip cap are both in very bad condition. This is where the parts bin comes in handy, and I had both available from Duofold Junior donor pens from years gone by.
As with most button fill repairs, the pressure bar also needed replacing as this one had lost its rigidity. I used it as a guide to cutting another to the correct size. The nib needed to be cleaned and is the only piece of gold on the pen. The clip and cap bands were at one time gold plated, but that had worn off and all that is left is the steel base. Someone had decided to scratch their name into the barrel and I spent quite a bit of time with find grain paper sanding it off. After this was done, I used scratch remover and polish on the barrel and cap, restoring a bit of their former shine.
I fit a size 16 sac to the cleaned nib/feed/section and screwed this back into the barrel with the assistance of a bit of silicon grease. I then carefully placed the new pressure bar in to the barrel through the button hole, making sure it fit securely against the section unit. Remember to smooth down the end of the pressure bar prior to insertion to guard against it shearing the sac. I attached the newly cleaned button to the bar extending from the button hole and tested the mechanism with water. The seals held overnight and the pen fills well.
Finally, I inserted the new blind cap and clip cap to the cap and barrel, producing the pen below. Aside from the clip, which is badly discolored and a but pitted, it is a nice looking pen again.
The fountain pen measures 4 13/16 inches capped and 5 3/4 posted. The nib is a Parker arrow nib and is imprinted that is was made in Canada. This is the only marking other than Akkerman on the pen. I do not know if this nib is original to the pen, and suspect that it is not.
I initially surmised that these pens were made in Parker’s English factory in Newhaven, as it so closely resembles a Duofold. However, further research would lead me in the other direction…
Below is the imprint, referring to P. W. Akkerman and its two related locations. I have corresponded with Mr. Paul Rutte (The Hague location) and he was kind to confirm that this was indeed an original Akkerman Pen from the late 30s/40s and was available for sale to the general public and not just a promotional piece. He also mentioned that these pens were produced in Germany, and assembled in The Hague. The excellent book Fountain Pens Of The World by Andreas Lambrou, confirms this as it states that Akkerman Pens were produced for them by Lamy in Germany. The striking resemblance to a Parker is not so far fetched as the early history of Lamy is tied to Parker, as Josef Lamy actually started with Parker and when he went out on his own, several of his early pens resembled Parker’s (source ~ Fountain Pens of the World, by Andreas Lambrou).
Here is a photo of a Senior and Junior Duofold in the same Burgundy/Black Marbled pattern that were produced in the 30s in Janesville, Wisconsin. The Junior model is almost identical to the Akkerman Pen.
And finally, an assortment of Parker products from the 1930s showing this same attractive pattern that Parker used. Top to bottom:
Duofold Senior, Duofold Junior, Deluxe Challenger, Challenger, Challenger (small), and Challenger Pencil.
Over the past holiday season, one of my daughters became interested in reading some old Life magazines that were at her grandparents home. Given her interest, we headed out this past weekend to an old book store to see if we could find a few for her to have at home. We found no Life Magazines, but did find several National Geographics.
What a great source of pen history can be found in these magazines, as well as many old magazines. A quick scan of ebay will show a large amount of sellers of pages cut out of old magazines for vintage fountain pens. As we scanned the magazines I noted that there were many advertisements in the pre-depression years and post WWII years, which would make sense from an historical perspective. As an aside, the auto ads of the late 1920s are very cool. Just like pens, there were many auto manufacturers that did not make it through the depression years.
The most accurate way to date our vintage pen collections is from Pen Company literature such as catalogs and production records. Of course, not all of us have direct access to these and have relied on the kindness and hard work of past collectors who have shared this information with us all. Another way is to look at old advertisements such as these to confirm the historical place of our collections.
Below are two photographs that I took of pages from the National Geographics, which have images of pens in my collection ~ both have been in my collection for quite some time and not covered by previous posts as they were restored prior to 2007.
The first is from a March 1944 issue and it promotes the Sheaffer Triumph ($12.50) pen. I have a brown and a red one of these models. They are great pens, as they hold a lot of ink. I do not own a pencil as shown, however. Pictures of the red plunger fill and both the red and brown pens follow the advertisement.
Of particular interest in the ad is the statement that “much of Sheaffer’s plant and personnel is now 100% devoted to precision manufacture of armaments.” During the war, materials used in pen manufacturing were in shorter supply as they were used in the war effort, and Pen Companies such as Sheaffer devoted many of their facilities, equipment, and available employees to making parts for the military.
The above Sheaffer ad also promotes pencil lead and Skrip Ink. Directly above is a bottle of ink from my collection that fits this time period, as also confirmed in John Bosley’s Book, VINTAGE INKS, which places this bottle and box in the 1944-48 time period. Click on the title for a link to his website.
The next advertisement is from a March 1928 National Geographic. It promotes one of the most famous pens in fountain pen collecting, the Parker “Big Red” Duofold. Ah, if only we could purchase on of these for $7.00 now. Not to mention the Mandarin pen inserted at the bottom left.
The Duofold is a button filler. In the following past posts I have restored Parker Button Fillers:
The big red is the most famous of the Parker 1920s Duofolds. The hard rubber version is especially sought after. This ad depicts the Non-Hard Rubber, Permanite material. It is advertised as being 28% lighter than hard rubber. What I find most interesting is the claim that they are non-breakable. Stated: “We have thrown these new Duofolds from an aeroplane 3,000 feet aloft and not one has broken“. I suspect they mean that not one broke in the actual act of throwing, and not upon landing. Anyone who has restored a number of Duofolds knows that they are to be treated with care to avoid any cracking.
Here is a photo of a Hard Rubber Duofold from my collection. Not the exact pen depicted above, but the predecessor model from a few years earlier (and 28% heavier).
I was able to capture many more pen and ink related advertisements ~ most of pens I wish I had. So the next time you are coming up empty looking for fountain pens at a flea market, antique store, garage sale, or estate sale, you can spend some time looking for old magazines and searching for a $7.00 Duofold.
Last night I worked on a set. I usually do not come across sets, but it seems I have stumbled on a few lately. The matching pencils make a nice contrast to the fountain pens, if they are salvageable.
This is a Striped Duofold Button Filler. I have previously covered two restorations of Striped Duofolds ~
The above two linked posts covered Vacumatic Duofolds, one Blue Striped and one Dusty Red. This pen is the third Striped option, Gold and Green.
The picture below shows the internals, including petrified sac and still usable two part pressure bar. It is nice to find one of these pressure bars in solid condition as they have a ridge that sits on the cap-hole perfectly, and no trimming and smoothing of a new bar are necessary. Also note that the section is friction fit, not a screw in.
As usual, the gold cap band, clip, button, and nib are quite tarnished. The only new part needed to restore this pen is a size 16 sac. I gave the section, feed, button, and nib a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner and the nib and button an extra scrub with metal polish and a dremel. The cap band has an engraving (J.W.B) and is very dirty. Continual cleaning with metal polish ( I am now using Pentiques’) brought it back to a nice shine with a small amount of staining. The clip polished up nicely and is as good as new.
The cap was cleaned on the inside to remove all of the old ink residue. Then the section was scraped to remove all of the old sac remnants. The nib and feed were fit back into the section and the size 16 sac was trimmed to fit just below the cap end button hole. After the sac was cemented to the section/feed/nib with sac cement it was allowed to dry. Then it was fit back into the barrel. The original pressure bar was fit into the barrel and seated against top of the button hole. The polished button was then placed over the pressure bar in the button hole. Testing of the bar by pressing on the button revealed a perfect fit. The button pressed down and came back up when released. Water testing revealed a nice flow of water after the sac was filled and released. Finally, I cleaned the blind cap threads and put a bit of silicon grease on them to assure a smooth twist.
I did not post a photo of the pencil prior to restoration as it was clean and relatively unused. I polished the barrel and cap at the same time I polished the pen barrel and cap and that was all that was necessary. The lead was still in the pencil as well. The mechanism is a twist of the cap to release the lead.
The finished product(s) are below. The date code on the pen is the first quarter of 1941, in Janesville, Wisconsin. Striped Duofolds were produced by Parker from 1940 to 1948. They were produced in both Vacumatic Filler and Button Filler options. The two major cosmetic differences between the two are the black blind cap and visulated section (seen in the bottom picture below).
As I have mentioned before, these Striped Duofolds are not as widely collected as Parker Vacumatics, or early Duofolds, but are very well built pens that are a nice addition to any collection.
In my post of September 10, Striped Duofold, I restored a 1942 Dusty Red Striped Duofold. It was a single jewel Junior, measuring in at 5 1/16 inches capped. I mentioned at the end of that post that I would be on the lookout for a blue striped model. Well, I found one! This is a 1941 Blue Striped Duofold Debutante Double Jewel at 4 5/8 inches.
As you can see from the picture below, this model still has the metal speedline filler and came in fairly good shape except that the filling system was shot and the nib quite dirty.
I won’t go into great detail on the restore of this as a review of several previous vacumatic repairs in earlier posts covers the details. There was nothing exceptional about this process. The diaphragm is a debutante size and the nib required a bit of work on both sides.
A couple of items stand out on this pen. First, the double jewels are more attractive to me. I think they make the Parker 51, Vacumatic, and Striped Duofolds look much better than the single jewel models and the prices usually reflect this.
Secondly, the cap band is a bit different than the standard Striped Duofold. I have posted a close up of the cap band in the final photo below.
Striped Duofolds were produced from 1940 through 1948. World War II caused the filling units to be switched to plastic. Button fillers are also found, though not as plentiful as vacumatics.
I have mentioned this in the past, but it bears repeating. The Striped Duofolds present a nice opportunity to restore vacumatic filling systems and are often found at reasonable prices when compared to Vacumatics.
Good Luck in your searches!
Parker introduced a “new” Duofold line in 1940 which utilized the Vacumatic filling system. This line continued on until 1948. These Duofolds, often called Striped Duofolds to separate them from the previous Duofold lines, came in the following colors: Blue, Green, Red, Black (rare), and Shadow Wave (rare). The pen that I found below is an example of the red, or Dusty Red, color. It’s size if 5 1/16″ capped, which makes it a Junior Size. It was produced in the 1st quarter of 1942, and you can see it is a Speedline Filler by the filling unit in the upper left hand corner of the picture below. This Speedline Filler continued until sometime after the start of WWII and was replaced by a plastic filler unit. At some point a button filler was also produced.
As you can see above, the pen was quite dirty and the gold parts were tarnished when I picked this pen up. The repair of the filling unit is the same as with the Vacumatics that I have previously covered:
I used a debutante diaphragm on this pen, which is the correct size. As with this filler, the most time consuming job is getting the pellet out of the unit and then inverting the diaphragm and getting the new pellet in the unit. After this was complete, I cleaned up the cap, barrel, clip (after twisting out the top jewel), feed, nib, and section. The filler unit was screwed back into the top of the barrel using the filler tool shown in previous posts. I then tested the filler by making sure it was in straight by shining my small light into the barrel and then tested the suction by putting my finger over the open barrel and working the filler. There was a lot of suction, so I inserted the section/tube/feed/nib back into the barrel and tested the pen with clean water. All performed well. I now put the cap back together and the resulting pen is pictured below.
Much of the Dusty Red now shines after it was polished and the inside of the barrel was cleaned. As with the Vacumatic line of pens, these hold a lot of ink.
Often overlooked as the “other” Duofold line and not as popular or well known as the Duofolds of the 20s and 30s, these are very nice pens that are often more reasonably priced. I am now on the lookout for a blue stripe to compliment this one.
This pen restoration looks very similar to this one Janesville Wisconsin Button Fill that I published on December 27, 2007. But it’s what is under the hood that counts with this pen. You can see the familiar button filler parts after I took this one apart.
The major difference is the feed, shown here prior to cleaning and inserted in the section. The Lucky Curve feed has a curve to it on the end as you can see on the right hand side. This prevents it from being knocked out using a block as we do with most feeds. With Lucky Curve feeds you need to first, slowly and carefully, rock the nib back and forth to pull it out of the front of the section. Gentle heat can be applied to help with this and I use a piece of rubber to grip the nib. Just be careful not to put too much stress on the nib which might cause it to crack or disfigure. After the nib comes out you will need to push the lucky curve feed back through the section to remove it for cleaning. The reverse holds true for reinserting the feed into the nib and section.
The picture below is of the feed after it has been pushed back through the section and is ready for cleaning.
When you find these feeds in these earlier Duofolds is often up to chance. I have run across some that have been broken off, probably by a repair person with little patience, and no concern for preserving the original feed.
A nice thing about this repair was that the original pressure bar was still in quite good shape and I was able to reuse it.
A little about this pen – It is a Parker Duofold Junior in Black. The imprint and nib place it under production in Janesville, Wisconsin sometime near 1927. The nib is a 14K Medium Parker Duofold.
The repair was a straightforward button filler job. I used a size 16 sac and made sure to cover it with pure talc prior to insertion in the barrel. The old pressure bar was used and it had already been smoothed so it will not pinch the sac at the section, leading to a broken sac. Another reminder, as I have stated in previous posts, is that these are threaded sections and care should be taken when removing the section to turn the section and not to pull or rock.
Two photos of this Duofold Junior are below. You can see that the imprint is well preserved it did not need to be highlighted by a crayon.
The Lucky Curve Feed was patented by George Parker in the late 1800s and you can see it was still in use into the late 1920s. It was a successful patent and designed to help ink to go back into the barrel of the pen when the pen was not in use and in the pocket.
The Parker Pen Company began producing the highly popular Duofold line of Pens and Pencils in the early 1920s. Initially, they came in red and black hard rubber. When Parker switched over to celluloid in 1926, the first color that they added was a Jade (green). However, this color line did not have the Duofold logo until some time in 1927. As discussed in previous posts, Parker Lapis Junior Fountain Pen and Janesville, Wisconsin Button Fill further colors were added as well as the Duofold line evolved. I would encourage you to read these posts for additional information.
Here is a picture of this Pen (a Junior Size) after it has been taken apart. It is vey difficult to find these pens in perfect color. They do exist, but are priced at a premium. This pen is in better color condition than many, but certainly not pristine. The gold is quite shiny and my thought is that someone polished this pen before putting it up for sale, without restoring the internals.
As you can see, the nib is a Lucky Curve imprint, consistent with this time period (1926).
In order to restore this pen I needed to polish the nib gently. There was a little bit of staining where the nib sat in the section that came off with gentle polishing using a small amount of polish and a q-tip. I also polished the clip and cap ban gently. The same was done to the button and pressure bar. I am able to reuse the original pressure bar, so the only new part of this pen will be the sac.
The feed and section were cleaned with water and a cloth and a new size 16 sac was attached to the assemble section/feed/ nib with sac cement. You must trim the sac with an xacto knife so that it fits in the barrel and when attached to the section it extends to just under the top of the barrel hole. After the sac was dry, I coated it with a light coat of pure talc and screwed it back into the barrel. I then carefully inserted the pressure bar into the pen through the top hole of the barrel so that the bar seated (remember to smooth the end of the bar a bit) on the section. The button is then attached to the bar and when depressed, should push inwards, collapsing the sac.
I always test this with water and if the assembly is well done, a steady stream of water should shoot out after the sac fills. If this does not occur, you can unscrew the section again (after taking the bar out through the top) to make sure that the pressure bar has not compromised the sac at the section. Sometimes a sharp bar might cut the sac. Also make sure that the bar has not twisted the sac when inserted. A light shone in through the top of the barrel should show the top of the sac near the top of the barrel.
Here is a picture of the Jade pen (c 1926) with a nice medium Luck Curve nib, ready to write. I like to put either black or vintage green inks in these pens.
I have also shown the imprint of this pen below. Note that there is no mention of Duofold yet.
Parker Duofolds were Parker’s flagship pens starting in the early 1920s. Original colors were Orange and Black. Hard rubber was phased out and plastic (Permanite) became the material of choice in 1926. In 1927 the Duofold line of pens added Jade Green, Mandarin Yellow and Lapis Lazuli Blue to the colors of Senior, Junior and Lady Ringtop versions. Today the Blue and Yellow versions are the hardest to obtain in decent condition. The Mandarin Yellow is even more difficult to find than Blue and is prone to cracking, especially on the cap.
Up until acquiring this pen, I had restored numerous red, jade, black, black/pearl (a new color added in 1928), and red/black/pearl Duofolds. I have always wanted to obtain the blue and yellow colors, but prices are quite high on them.
About a month ago I ran across this Lapis Blue Duofold Junior at a very reasonable price, in line with its rough condition. As you can see, the internal pressure bar had deteriorated and I did not bother to include the old sac in the picture as it was basically dust. Note that the hard rubber blind cap, section, feed, and cap end are all discolored to brown. This is due to probably a combination of factors. Contributing would have been the ink that was left in the pen and dried into the rubber as well as where the pen may have been stored. Any dampness, temperature change and light could have also contributed to the destruction of these parts.
The good news is that I have several spare parts from Duofolds (in this case Duofold Junior) that I could use. Spare parts accumulate as old pens with some good parts start to pile up in my parts chests. About three years ago I picked up a bunch of Duofolds in very bad shape. Some had cracked barrels, were without caps or nibs. But each had a few good parts. Typically, I was able to salvage buttons, sections, clips, blind caps and nibs.
With this pen I wanted to duplicate the exact blind cap, section. feed, and cap end as in the original. Duofolds came in many different versions over the years and these parts differ significantly from year to year. As you can see from the pictures below, I was able to find matching parts for each.
As with all button fillers (see also my post of 12/29/07) the repair was straightforward. I cleaned the inside of the barrel and cap to remove any residual ink. I then polished the nib, clip, and button using simichrome and a dremel. The clip and nib are 14K gold and there is no problem with being a little more aggressive with them to clean them with a dremel. I used just a q-tip with a small amount of simichrome on the cap rings, however.
After scraping the remnants of the old sac from the section and cleaning the inside of the section with water and q-tips, I reinserted the nib and new feed into the section. I then attached a 16 silicon sac to the section, cutting to size so that it would fit to just short of the button hole at the end of the barrel. I coated the sac with pure talc prior to screwing the section (note that most Duofolds are screw-in sections as this is very important when removing the section at the beginning of a restoration project) back in to the barrel. Talc will aid in inserting the pressure bar and keep the sac from adhering to the sides of the barrel in the future.
The new pressure bar was then inserted through the end of the barrel through the button hole so that the bar rests on the end of the section. It is important to smooth the end of the bar so that it does not cut into the sac at the end of the barrel. The button is then placed on the pressure bar so that it fits in it’s slits. After this process it is a good idea to test the pen with water by placing the nib/section in tap water and depressing the button. Bubbles should appear as the pressure bar presses against the sac and pushes air out. As the button is released and the pen is held in the water, the water should replace the air in the pen. After the pen is removed from the water, press the button again and a nice stream of water should squirt out of the pen into the water again. If this is the case, you have successfully restored the filling system. I tested this pen and it works well.
The blind cap was screwed in over the button, the cap end screwed in over the clip and the plastic was polished and a coat of carnuba protectant buffed on gently. A final touch of white crayon was rubbed over the imprint for highlight.
The only restoration that was not possible, as in so many vintage pens, was the discoloration (darkening) of the permanite plastic due to the deterioration of the sac and ink. There is no reversal of this, but I am happy to finally have an example of a Lapis Lazuli Duofold Junior.
Research indicates that this version dates to 1929 or after, given the two cap bands. At that time, it sold for $5.00. .
My spare supply chest still has several Duofold parts. I will keep my eyes open for a Blue Senior Duofold and maybe even a Mandarin Yellow.
Gold pens are highly sought after, some more than others. Here are a couple of extreme examples. The first two pictures are of a Morrison 14K Gold Filled Flat top that measures 5 1/8″ capped. These are a nice pen to find (as well as other third tier makers) to satisfy the vintage gold need. The price can be very reasonable. I paid $26 for this pen. It did not look quite this good when I found it, but as with most vintage Morrison’s, the Warranted 14K #4 nib is a good one with a little flex and repairs are straightforward.
The filler is a standard j-bar and lever and I did need to replace the jbar as well as add a size 16 sac, as the barrel is quite narrow. One needs to be very careful when cleaning the exterior of these, as the gold is a gold plate and aggressive polishing will probably lead to a worn exterior. I did minimal cleaning of the exterior and the results are satisfactory. These pens seem to be quite plentiful in varying conditions and I would suggest waiting for one with a nicely preserved exterior. This design also came in a silver as well.
Just for comparison, below is a Parker Lucky Curve, probably dating to the early 1920s, in 14K Gold. Roughly the size of a Duofold Junior, it is stunning in all gold, including the section.
Both pens are vintage gold, and the bank doesn’t have to be broken to find a nice, restorable example.
The next pen up for repair is a Parker Junior Duofold, with a streamline cap. The exact date of the manufacture of this pen is imprecise, but it would have been produced in Janesville, WI by Parker sometime after 1929. Duofolds were produced in different sizes – Senior, Junior, and Lady being the most common. The Lady Duofolds of this time had a ring on the top of the cap, to attach to a chain that could be worn around the neck. The larger Senior models and the Lady versions will be covered at another time. This pen is approximately 4.5 inches long (capped). The most common colors of these pens were black, red and jade green. Other colors were produced such as mandarin yellow, blue and pearl/black.
All of the Parker Duofolds of this time were button fillers. Button fillers have a sac that is filled by pushing on a button at the end of the barrel which pushes a pressure bar inside of the barrel against the sac. When the button is released the pressure bar releases the sac, inflating it again, and allowing the ink to flow into the pen. These pens are quite easy to restore. In most cases, all that is needed is a new sac and pressure bar.
This is a picture of the pen after it has been reduced to it’s parts. I used gentle heat from a heat gun to remove the section from the barrel. Often, the section screws into the barrel, so care needs to be taken not to just pull the section out, but to screw it out gently. As you can see, the sac has hardened over the years, but the good news is that the pressure bar (at the bottom of the picture) can be used in the restored pen.
The first task was to clean the gold pieces. I used a q-tip and simichrome to polish the nib, button and clip. After polishing, I put them in an ultrasonic cleaner for a couple of minutes to give them a clean shine. I next cleaned out the section and “christmas tree feed” with water and dried them with the gold pieces. Finally, I polished and waxed the barrel and cap. I selected a size 18 sac and attached this to the section with sac cement after the nib and feed were placed back in the section. Next the section and attached sac were pushed back into the barrel. Button fillers are a bit tricky at this point. I inserted the original pressure bar in the cap, through the hole in the top of the cap, being careful that it lined up next to the sac cleanly. When this was done, I placed the button over the protruding pressure bar end and pushed the button into the barrel end until the pressure bar resists.
After several hours to allow the sac cement to completely dry, I tested the pen by pushing down on the button while the nib was in a glass of water. The pressure bar and button did their job and the sac filled with water perfectly. Pushing the button again released a steady stream of water back into the glass. The filling system was successfully restored.
Here is a picture of the completed project, both capped and uncapped.
Parker Duofolds were very popular pens in their day and many fine examples such as this one have survived due in part to the workmanship and materials used in their manufacture. They are once again being produced, though using a cartridge/converter system.
An excellent book on the history of the Parker Duofold is PARKER DUOFOLD, by David Shepherd and Dan Zazove.
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