Fountain Pen Restoration

Parker 51 Pencil

It is time for another pencil post to break up the fountain pen stuff…though they are all related. This week’s find is a very neat Parker Vacumatic 51 Writefine Pencil, dating sometime between 1940 and 1948, the Vacumatic 51 run.

These pencils were sold to match the corresponding Vacumatic 51 in both barrel color and cap design.

Here is the photo of the pencil before I had a chance to clean and polish it. The twist mechanism works perfectly and the eraser and lead supply are full.

I polished the lead cone and cap with a jewelers cloth.  I then polished the barrel with scratch remover, finishing polish, and buffed on a coat of carnuba wax.  Below is the finished product.   The lighting does not do the pencil justice.  It is the Cordovan Brown color.  Remember that the four standard Vacumatic 51 colors were India Black, Cordovan Brown, Dove Grey, and Cedar Blue.  Measurement is 5 3/16 inches long.

These pencils were usually not date stamped (until the Aerometric 51 pencils came along) so I have no idea of the date of the pen.  It is marked that it was made in the U.S. and as it is a Vacumatic pencil, the 1940 to 1948 date range is as precise as I can get.  During WWII some of these were produced with plastic internals to save materials for the war effort.  As I mentioned above, the lead is advanced by twisting the cap clockwise.  This method changed as the pencils paired with Aerometric 51s came in the late 1940s.  These aero pencils advanced the lead by pushing, or clicking the cap.

I do not have the corresponding Vac 51 for this pencil, but I do have a Cordovan Brown Vacumatic (Canadian Production) that comes quite close.  Here they are together in a few different poses.  The pencils were made of celluloid and the pens of lucite, causing the pencils to age darker than the corresponding pen.(see for this information)   This is certainly true of the pen and pencil below, though they are not an original pair.

In perusing the various writing instrument websites, I often come upon questions as to what types of modern mechanical pencils are recommended.  Many opinions exist, but at $15 USD this came as a good alternative with some good history behind it.  Most 51 pencils are found in a set with the pen, but occasionally one can be found on its own, and if priced right, I would grab it..

For further Vintage Pencil Articles, please revisit ~

Did He Say Pencil? Dated April 2, 2009, which covers a Junior Vacumatic Pencil and a Belmont Pencil.

Sometimes a diversion into pencils is a good thing, but I promise to get back to Fountain Pens next time.


April 17, 2010 Posted by | Fountain Pens and Pencils, Parker 51, Parker 51 Writefine Pencil | , , | 6 Comments

Did He Say Pencil?

Once in a while a fountain pen collector runs across other writing instruments out in antique stores, on-line auctions, and garage sales.  Occasionally we use them, though we will never admit it.

I rarely purchase any vintage writing instruments other than fountain pens and am usually not interested in completing a pen/pencil set, or in purchasing one already complete.  But, once in a great while I will run across a pencil that strikes my fancy, and usually it is one that matches a restored pen.  Here are two examples.

The first photo is of a 1936 Parker Vacumatic Pencil, that matches the Burgundy Marble Vacumatic Junior that I restored in my post titled Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler, dated June 20, 2008.

Not much to the restoration of this.  I did not go any further than the four parts here.  I suspect that a vintage pencil restorer would break the pen down further and actually work on the internal mechanisms.  That might spell disaster for me, and as the pencil seems to twist and turn well, I concentrated on cleaning it up and replacing the old eraser with one that is usable.

You can see that the old eraser is shot and that the burgundy marble finish is just a bit dirty.  The cap jewel is just a two part jewel and clip.  As I write this I now notice that the cap is missing  from this “before” photo.  The part on the top left is a storage case for extra leads and is inserted into the barrel with the eraser on top for use.

I carved out the old eraser with an X-Acto knife and carved a new one from an existing pencil eraser so that it would fit.  I polished the clip, jewel and point and it was ready to be reassembled.


This (photo directly below)  is the second pencil ~ a Belmont.  I have written several posts on Belmont Pens.  The post that has a fountain pen that closely matches this pencil is Belmont/Rexall and Yankee Cousins, dated May 22, 2008.

Again, I did not venture into the internals of the pencil.  The cap pulls off to reveal the eraser and a chamber for extra lead, of which there are several.  I did shave down the eraser to make for usable surface and polished up all of the silver and the cap.  The cap reads: BELMOMT Made in USA.  The cap twists to push the lead out of the point and loads by putting the lead in through the point end and twisting the cap counterclockwise until the lead catches.  This is the same lead procedure as the Vac Pencil above.


Here is a photo of the finished 1936 Vacumatic  pencil.  I don’t think that it got much use in its day,  as it is very clean after some gentle polishing.  It is a smallish pencil, at 4 5/8″.


The imprint below shows that it was made in the third quarter of 1936, consistent with the timing of the red/burgundy marbled Vacumatic Junior.


Here are two photos of the lead / eraser holder.  It appears that these were resold as entire units as the instructions advise to throw away when the leads are used up and replace with a full one.  You can also see the new eraser that I carved to fit.  It now works like new.  Fortunately, there are still six remaining leads in the cartridge.



Below is this pencil next to the Vacumatic Junior that I reference in the Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler post above.  The pen was produced in 1935, so I have not reunited a set, but they work well together.  Interestingly, the book Parker Vacumatic (2008, written by Geoffrey Parker, David Shepherd, and Dan Zazove) mentions on page 258 that most pens were sold individually and that only one in six customers bought sets.  This is apparently true, as they state that few pencils seem to have survived to today.


Following  is a photo of the not-as-ornate Belmont pencil.  Probably more suited for school or the workshop, it is a solid pencil.  It measures an inch longer than the Parker at 5 5/8″.



Finally, here is a photo next to a Belmont Fountain Pen.  I am not certain if this pencil was sold individually or as a set, but this pen is a fairly close match to what the pen may have looked like.  My gut tells me the pen is a bit older in the time scale, and several Companies made pens for Rexall/Belmont, so it is a reach at best.


I hope my side trip into the unknown of pencils was not too far off course from Fountain Pens, but I think it was an interesting diversion.

April 2, 2009 Posted by | Belmont Pens, Fountain Pens and Pencils, Parker Pen Company | , , | 2 Comments


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