Fountain Pen Restoration

Chicago’s Paris Pen Company

When we think of Paris, we think of France, not Chicago. But the restored pen this week brings us to the “Windy City”.

This pen was a fun one to restore as it is so colorful and very well preserved red hard rubber. As you can see from the photo below this is a lever filler that has not been used in quite some time as evidenced by the fractured and hardened sac. Standard cleaning was done. The section, feed and nib were scrubbed with q-tips and finished up with an ultrasonic cleaner. The cap was swabbed out and had the usual caked on ink residue. The threads on the barrel were especially dirty and a toothbrush did the trick on these. A size 16 sac was attached to the section with sac cement and the pen was reassembled.


As you can see, the pen was a promotional pen, commissioned by the Merkle Broom Company. A search for Merkle Broom Company brings a large surprise. It was in Paris, Illinois. See the following:

The “Broom Factory”: Merkle Broom Company

ImageMerkle Broom Company was established by John Merkle, Sr. and his son, Oscar T. Merkle, in 1879. The brick factory was built at the corner of West End Avenue and Broom Street in 1890. Also known as Merkle-Wiley Broom Co. The business was known as the largest broom manufacturer in the world during the early 20th century. At one time, it produced 6,000 brooms per day. Its “Blu-J” line of brooms was manufactured into the 1960s. The company merged with France Broom Co. in 1964, but the factory closed several years later. In 1985, a furniture manufacturer acquired the location. The original building survived a fire in 1996, but Northern Harvest demolished it in 1999 to make way for a newer facility. Source: Paris Beacon-News, March 3, 1999

So now I am really confused. Merkle broom was in Paris, Illinois and The Paris Pen Company was in Chicago. As I attempted to research the Paris Pen Company, I corresponded with a renowned expert in (Chicago) Pen History, who had actually worked in the Railway Exchange Building in the 1970s. He feels that the pen dates from around 1928 and that the Paris Pen Company may have been a pen store located in the Exchange Building, and that C.E. Barrett had probably made the pens for them.


This seems to make the most sense, but the Paris, IL location makes me wonder how Merkle was involved with Paris Pen. I will continue to research this and will update the post in the future if more information comes in.


As you can see below, the pen cleaned up well and is ready to write. The nib is a Warranted 14K No. 5. It is approximately the size of a Duofold Junior. A nice example of a red hard rubber pen, with an interesting and mysterious history. If anyone else has an example of one of these I would love to receive a comment from you.



July 8, 2008 Posted by | C. E. Barrett, Merkle Broom Company, Paris Pen Company | , | 12 Comments


%d bloggers like this: