Fountain Pen Restoration

Fountain Pen Ink Tablets

I like to mix up my posts to include non – pen items from time to time. I have covered advertising, tools, and inks and here is an interesting Ink topic with historical significance – INK TABLETS.

In my June 8, 2008 post titled Stylographic Pens I discussed the restoration of a cool JUCO (Jacob Ullrich Company) Stylographic Pen.  His Company was in the New York City / New Jersey area from the late 1800s until the 1920s.

I recently came across this tin of Violet Vulcan Ink Tablets. The pictures below show the top and bottom panels as well as the inside and tablets.  You can see from the bottom of the tin that at the time of manufacture Ullrich was at 27 Thames Street in New York City (currently home to the Five Star Shoe Repair Corporation!).


Ink Tablets are an interesting historical fountain pen – related niche.  During World War I (1914-1918), soldiers could not carry ink bottles to refill their pens, so pen companies developed the idea of powder or tablets, which could be combined with water inside the fountain pen to produce ink.

As eyedroppers were a common pen of the day, this was a good solution for the soldiers.

Many companies made the tablets and a noteworthy pen that was produced to store these was the Parker Trench Pen.  An interesting thread at Lion and Pen regarding the Parker Trench pen can be found here. (thank you to all who contributed to this lengthy and informative discussion on Trench pens)



I mixed one of the tablets with water and here is a sample using a Waterman 12 Eyedropper (I can only dream of finding a Trench Pen….)  One tablet provided more than enough ink supply to fill the Waterman 12, which is not a particularly large pen.  Here is a sample:


So, the next time you are in an antique store lamenting the lack of vintage pens for sale, don’t forget to check the cases and shelves for ink tins – you might just get lucky.


November 3, 2008 Posted by | Ink Tablets, Jacob Ullrich, JUCO Pens, Parker Trench Pen | , , , , | 5 Comments

Stylographic Pens

Just when you think you know enough about fountain pens to make you dangerous in casual conversation, another alley opens up and a new type of pen emerges.

I had heard of stylographic pens and had seen a few pictures here and there, but considered them inferior to standard nibbed fountain pens.

Last night I restored a JUCO “Independent” Stylo. My opinions changed after I completed the pen and tried it out. First, a picture of the pen after I took it apart. Note that there are a few parts that are not found on most fountain pens. The nib almost looks like a rollerball nib and the bottom right elongated needle fits inside this nib to control the flow of ink.


The black hard rubber barrel and cap are identical to lever fillers of the day. The only departure is the section, nib and and control needle. There is no feed as the nib screws directly into the section. As you can see, the sac had hardened and needed to be replaced by a size 18 sac. I cleaned out the section, nib and ink control using an ultrasonic cleaner. I also spent quite some time cleaning out the cap, which had an abnormally high concentration of purple ink caked into it.

Below is a close up of the imprint, which appears on the cap, not the barrel. Inside the heart on the left is “JU & Co, which is short for Jacob Ullrich and Company. JUCO, was a fountain and stylographic pen maker in New York City in the late 1800s and until the 1920s. Jacob Ullrich was a resident of Hoboken, NJ.

Here are a few of his Stylographic Patents:

Stylo 1882

Stylo 1908

Stylo 1910


Below is a picture of the completed pen. The clip and lever have lost their gold plating, but the chasing on the black hard rubber is well preserved. I would estimate this as an early to mid 1920s pen as it is a lever filler and many of the JUCO stylographic pens I have seen are eyedroppers and date to the 1905 to 1915 time period. This pen writes much like a modern day roller ball with a fine line. There is none of the shading and expressiveness of a standard fountain pen nib, but if one is looking for a rollerball type experience with a vintage feel, this is the pen. I have filled mine up with Waterman Ink (Florida Blue) and it will be a good pen for math and accounting in the office.


Stylographic pens were invented in 1875 in Canada by MacKinnon and appeared in the US shortly thereafter. Their popularity was then quickly dashed by the emergence of nibbed pens, but they did remain in production on a limited basis for many years. One of the most noted producers in the United States was Inkograph and they were even more popular in England.

If you are looking for a pen with some historical significance, with practical use, ease of repair (assuming the needle is in usable condition), and a unique niche in the world of pens, a Stylo would be a good choice.

(Note: Many thanks to the website: Vintage Fountain Pens, for information critical to the writing of this post, as well as friends at the Lion & Pen website for leading me to Jacob Ullrich.)

June 6, 2008 Posted by | Jacob Ullrich, JUCO Pens, Stylograpic Pens | , | Leave a comment


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