Fountain Pen Restoration

Message In A Bottle

Extraordinary events happen in every hobby sometimes.  They are often unexplainable and often not to be believed.  One such event happened to me last night at the monthly meeting of a Pen Club near my home.  The topic of the evening was Minnesota Pen Companies.  I marveled at the collections of the members and the wide array of vintage pens from such makers as Pencraft, Drew, Winter-Robbins, and Houston (Tracy).  One large collection of Houston’s, including large gold filled pens, was stunning.  And there were advertisements, boxes and catalogs as well.

As we were doing our show and tell, the subject settled on The Self – Lock Pen Company of Wells, Minnesota cane up.  Patent 1,036,149 covers the Self-Lock Pens.

In my post of February 17, 2009 I discussed The Rentz Pen Company and the pen above.

I learned that the Rentz Pen above is rarer than the later Self Lock Pen and predated it.  The Self – Locks have a stick on the end of the cap that is placed into a hole on a button on the barrel and depressed to fill the pen (see patent above).  My pen has the filler shown above that is pulled out to allow the button to be depressed and then pushed back to secure the button and full sac.  Following the Rentz link above provides photos of this process.

Back to the pen meeting…

We were discussing the Rentz Pen in my collection (above) and the fact that it was without a nib/feed/section, and as it was the only one at the meeting, it was being passed around.  As it returned to me and I opened the cap again, this note dropped out of the barrel.  It was coiled up tightly to store in the barrel and all of the opening and closing of the Rentz lever must have dislodged it.  When I opened it up I found this penciled note ~

As you can see, Emile Nelson assembled this pen in 1903, five years before the patent listed on the barrel.  This dates the pen much earlier than my February 17, 2009 post suggested.  It appears that the pen may never have had a section, feed, and nib as the note survived for 106 years without damage other than normal age.  At this point, the rest is speculation.  Perhaps this was a prototype and the patent stamp (below) was made at a later date… we will probably never know.

What is certain is that Emile left a note for someone to find, and it took  106 years, but it did get discovered.   And to be dislodged and revealed around a cluttered table of Pen Enthusiasts 100 miles and 106 years from his home seems perfect.

Happy Pen Hunting, and check those barrels……


November 21, 2009 Posted by | Rentz Fountain Pens | | 3 Comments

Rentz Fountain Pens

I was lucky enough to find a Rentz Pen recently and the photographs of this mottled hard rubber pen are below. No restoration necessary, but I want to discuss this pen for three reasons. Reason 1 is that it was made in Minnesota, my home. Reason 2, is that it has a really unique filling system that I will discuss, and reason 3 is that it has an interesting and incomplete history.

George and Bert Rentz resided in Wells, Minnesota in the early 1900s. They were inventors and claimed inventions of a phonograph, fishing leaders,  night driving glasses, and fountain pens.

Three Rentz fountain pen patents that I have located are as follows:

Patent 1,036,149

Patent 955,475

Patent 896,576

As you can see, these are dated between 1908 and 1912.

I have not seen too many Rentz pens and this one came with a glaring problem.  What you see in the photo below is all there is.  The section, feed, and nib are all missing.  But, I have wanted one of these for a long time and the filling system is the attraction, so I couldn’t resist picking it up.  A fellow collector has a Rentz pen and they were produced with proprietary Rentz nibs.  I will keep my eye out for a section/feed/nib in another pen, but they are not very plentiful.  In the last two years, this is the only Rentz I have seen.


The filling system does work well in this pen.   As you can see in the next two photos, the top shows the button locked while the pen is in use.


To fill the pen, the button on the right is pulled out, allowing for the button to be pressed against the pressure bar and sac to deflate the sac, releasing it again fills the pen.  Bert Rentz’ patent 955,475, referred to above, covers this system.


Here are close ups of the two imprints showing the patent information and the Wells, Minnesota location.



The pen measures a long 5 7/16 capped and the hard rubber is in excellent shape, though the imprints are a bit faded.

The last bit of information I would like to discuss briefly is, Why Wells, Minnesota? I don’t know specifically but Wells was on a rail line leading east to Wisconsin, Chicago, and east giving them a source for the delivery of materials and distribution. I don’t believe Rentz pens existed for a long period of time, but they may be a good example of the small manufacturers and assemblers that popped up during this era, only to disappear as quickly as they appeared.

Finally, if you come across a Rentz pen, let me know. Mine needs to be used and I would love an original section, feed and nib!

February 17, 2009 Posted by | Rentz Fountain Pens | | 3 Comments


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