Fountain Pen Restoration

Fountain Pens And Collecting Autographs In 1932

I found the book ” Waterman’s Autograph Album“, recently, and excitedly brought it home.  I had never seen one of these before and was excited to find it in great condition, though void of any autographs.  It measures 7 1/8″ by 5 1/8”.  My main attraction was that I know by the name that it was in some way related to the L. E. Waterman Company, one of the leading fountain pen manufacturers of the time.


You can see that the book was published in 1932, about the time that Waterman was moving away from their famous hard rubber pens and into plastics, such as the Patricians and Lady Patricias.


Here are photos of the interior.  As you can see, Waterman the Album was part of an Autograph Contest for boys and girls ages 16 and under.  Each child had six months to accumulate autographs of famous persons and submit them to the L. E. Waterman Company.  There were 333 prizes, 133 of which were cash prizes ($1,000 being the grand prize).   100 prizes were fountain pens – No 94 for boys and a Lady Patricia for girls, and 100 were Waterman Mechanical Pencils.


I find page three below to be particularly interesting, under the heading of “Entering The Names In Your Album”.  Naturally, one would be embarrassed to ask for an autograph without a pen, so it makes sense to have a Waterman handy, filled with Waterman Blue Black Ink, of course!


Finally, I find paragraph 9 to be interesting.  There is no guarantee that you will get your book back….



Doing a web search provides an interesting result.  Several of these, with autographs (the one that I found has none), have sold for handsome sums.  I am in no way and expert on autographs, but here are a few examples ~

Sotheby’s auction for Waterman Book, with autographs of 21 of the 1932 New York Yankees

A 1994 query as to what to do with one of these booksthe interesting thing about this is that the writer states that there were 15,000 entries and they came in 29th place (which would have been a $10 prize).  This and the other top 30 were displayed by Waterman at the 1933 Worlds Fair in Chicago and was returned.  The book linked in the letter had the autographs from Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, President Calvin Coolidge, President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others.  I wonder what autographs were in the winning entry?

A book for sale for $750.00, including numerous autographs

A book focusing on State Governor Autographs, including nice photos

Keep an eye out for these at estate sales or vintage book stores.  You may find an empty one, as I did, but it is still an interesting side street of  the fountain pen world.


March 14, 2012 Posted by | L. E. Waterman Pen Company, Waterman Autograph Book | , | 3 Comments

Classic Waterman 52

Most vintage fountain pen collections should include a Waterman Fountain pen.  The L.E. Waterman Fountain Pen Company started in New York in the 1880s and was a stalwart in the Fountain Pen business during the production dates of the 52.   Lewis Edson Waterman was the founder of the company in the late 1800s and credited with its successful start.

The Waterman 52 was produced during the 1915 to 1930 time period.  This period marked a high water mark for Waterman as they produced a large number of varieties of hard rubber pens.  The 52 was one of the most common and survives in large numbers today.  Relatively simple to restore (provided all of the parts are in good condition), it often has large flexy nibs which several collectors enjoy using.

You can see below that the pen that I found has survived well and would be quite easy to restore.  I have worked on several 52 varieties before and if (and when) the lever box is bent or broken, the restoration requires much more time and effort.

The nib is a Waterman No. 2 ~ the 52 model refers to a #5 for lever filler, and a #2 for the nib size.  You might recall that I salvaged a Waterman #2 nib off of a parts 52 (the lever box was gone and there was no cap) and used it successfully on an Eclipse Gold Filigree Fountain Pen, from the same time period, in this post:

Eclipse Gold Filigree

I began by cleaning all of the gold gently at first to make sure that there would not be any gold loss.  Perhaps I am a little paranoid on this, but I always wonder if I am going to run into some substandard gold or plating.  Fortunately none was encountered here and the furniture polished well.  The nib was polished and took a bath in the ultrasonic cleaner.  I installed a new silicone sac to protect against future discoloration of the barrel and this pen is ready to go.


Here is the finished product.  The pen measures  5 1/4″ capped and 6 1/2″ posted.


Waterman 52s came in many varieties.  I won’t attempt to discuss the Waterman numbering systems, which would be enough to confuse anyone, but in summary the 52 came in several different colors, textures, and with add-ons.

Some of the more common are~

Black Hard Rubber / Black Chased Hard Rubber / Red Hard Rubber (Cardinal) / Woodgrain / Rippled (black and red) / Filigree Overlay / Gold Banded

The black hard rubber versions came with both silver and gold furniture.  As you can see, the 52 line has enough varieties to keep a collector busy for years.  This pen falls into the banded (or repousse) category.  The cap band is very ornate and has an empty spot for engraved initials or name.


Here is a photo with the other two 52s in my collection, restored in past years.  The top pen is a Rippled 52 and the other is a BCHR with silver furniture and a gold nib.


Interestingly, the popularity of the Waterman line ended shortly after the production of these (and all other Waterman Hard Rubber Pens) in the late 20s.  Waterman did not react as quickly to the emergence and popularity of celluloid pens (Parker, Wahl, Sheaffer) in the late 20s and early 30s.  They continued to produce pens, and evolved to the competition, but never retained the market share that they had during the glory days of the 52 and other hard rubber pens.

March 10, 2009 Posted by | L. E. Waterman Pen Company, Waterman 52 | , | 2 Comments


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