Fountain Pen Restoration

Charles Keene – Keene Fountain Pens

One of the advantages of having a blog such as this, where I can cover a wide variety of non commercial fountain pen topics, is that I get to talk with many people with similar interests. Some are experts, who communicate to share their knowledge and expertise, and some are fellow collectors who want to share similar experiences and add to the discussion. Once and a while, I hear from family members of persons discussed in various articles. I was fortunate to correspond with Frank Spors’ son on a few occasions, who shared valuable historical information on a few post about Spors Pens that I wrote a few years ago. I also have communicated with fellow collectors in Alabama and Argentina, who have shared many Artcraft Pen historical references that I would never had found.

A few weeks ago I received an email from the great granddaughter of the recipient of the letter below.  You can see that the letter was written to Mrs. Long by Charles Keene,  her cousin.  She had apparently attempted to assess the value of an antique, and possibly sell it.  I have previously written about Charles Keene in my post of February 21, 2011 – Keene Fountain Pens.  In that post I discussed Keene pens and their relationship with Eclipse.  The letter confirms the referenced New York address in 1931.  It also lists foreign locations and confirms that pens were certainly not his main product line.  I wonder what type of pen he used to sign this letter in 1931???

Mrs. Long died a few months after receiving this letter at age 55.  Her mother and Charles’ father were brother and sister, from Augusta, Maine.  Her great granddaughter also shared this obituary from the New York Times in 1947.

Charles obit from the New York Times published 27 Jul 1947 reads:
Charles A. Keene, retired diamond merchant and jeweler, formerly of many years proprietor of a store at 180 Broadway, New York, died here today in the Cape Cod Hospital after a week’s illness. As had been his custom for a long time he was spending the summer at his house in East Dennis. He was born eighty-one years ago in Windsor, ME, a son of William G. Keene.
Mr. Keene’s wife, Sadie B. Keene, who died on Sept 2, 1929 left her husband a life interest in her estate. of which the net value was appraised in Nov 1930, at $2,530,025. Mr. Keene’s New York residence in recent years was the Hotel Waldorf-Astoria.

I am thankful to Mrs. Long’s great grandaughter for sending this to me and granting me permission to share it here. It is another contribution to the history of fountain pens, shedding light on one of it’s fringe participants.


August 17, 2011 Posted by | Keene Fountain Pens | , | 3 Comments

Keene Fountain Pens

This week’s pen is one that is very typical of one found in the back of a display, or in a large can, at an antique store. I think that is where I found this one – in with bunch of pencils and ballpoints and capless no name pens.  I think that the previous owner had given up this one for dead.  Several problems existed.  First, the wide cap band was loose and slid right off.  A larger problem was the clip.  There was a thick layer of dried material (ink, mildew?) under the clip and it was very loose.  I could see that any amount of cleaning would cause it to fall off, so I carefully pulled it off myself.  The rest of the pen was in decent shape, with some barrel stains, but the nib, section, feed, and lever were in working order.

This pen is made of hard rubber, which presents its own cleaning problem, as cleaners and water do more harm than good, so I could only clean the barrel and cap with a clean cloth.  I did scrub the clip area with a brush and even used some fine sandpaper to remove the grimy build up under where the clip had been.  Removing the clip had left the remaining anchors in the cap, so I would have to figure out a way to get the cap back in place.  Option were to remove the inner cap and clip anchors, and look for a new clip.  Unfortunately, this clip is a proprietary one, and Keene clips are not easy to find.  My only option, aside from making a new one, was to glue the clip back to the barrel where the anchor sections broke off.  I did this, and the photo is the second below.

The cap insides and the barrel threads also were cleaned of all old ink stains.  A new j bar was needed as well.   The section was cleaned on the inside with water and the feed grooves were cleared.  The nib is a nice large Warranted No. 8 with plenty of tipping material.  Finally, the cap band and lever were polished gently as I suspect that they are a gold wash.


As mentioned, here is the cap, with clip after being attached with glue to the four contact points and after cleaning.


I installed a large size 18 sac to the section/feed/nib and the completed pen can be seen below.  It measures 5  1/4 inches closed and a large 6 7/8 inches posted.



As often is seen with old lever fillers, the clip box has expanded unevenly over time and pressure.  This one is not too bad, but detracts from the pens overall look.  You can see the imprint – Keene New York, with a K in the lever end circle.


And the cursive Keene on the repaired clip.   This is a nice touch.


From what little information I have been able to gather, I believe that Keene was a Jeweler in New York that contracted with Eclipse to brand pens for them.  I have no hard evidence of this, but it makes some sense as the pen resembles the large Eclipse pens of the period.  Charles A. Keene is listed as a NY Pen Company in 1920 and 1925 at 180 and 189 Broadway (source – Manhattan Pen Makers Project).  Though he may not have been a manufacturer, he did have a line of pens.  An interesting side note is this pen knife (photo from web) that has an imprint ~ Keene 180 Broadway New York M.I. Germany.


In summary, this Keene pen seems to have originated in New York in the 1920s from a jeweler that also marketed pen knives.  Keep an eye open for these pens.  If you can find one in good condition they almost rival the Duofolds of their time.  As always, I welcome additional information that sheds more light on the history of these pens.

Note:  Check out this article written by friend Luiz. on Keene Pens!   Amazing photos and history.  Thank you Luiz.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | Keene Fountain Pens | | 7 Comments


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