Fountain Pen Restoration

Arnold Pens

Anyone who has hunted for fountain pens has sifted through many Arnold Fountain Pens. They are very plentiful, and more often than not, in very poor condition. Most have not held up well over the years, primarily due to low quality original parts. Thus, the collectibility is very low and most go unrestored.  These pen/pencil combinations are really no exception, though not without some charm.

I was sifting through a plastic bag of old pens that a local friend had given me as parts and these two jumped out at me due to their bright colors.  I saw they were Arnold’s and had low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised by the condition of the plating and plastic.  Getting the sections out of the barrel was no easy task as they had been glued in and they are so small that there was not much to grip to.  Finally, with time and heat, they came apart with no damage to the plastic barrel.  Below are the two combos after I took the sections out.  The blue pen had the old sac caked to the inside of the barrel and the green pen was clean – the old sac simply falling out. Thus, I believe the blue pen had been used and the green was void of any ink remnants.  Both jbars were still in place and I did not remove them as I have no replacement bars this small.   My next task was the section/feed/nib units.  These pens are very small and the nib units are tightly packed and I reached the decision that to attempt to knock them out would be tempting breakage.  So, I simply ran each through my ultrasonic cleaner.  Even doing this removed a bit of the plating on the blue combo nib.


An interesting feed is shown below, from the green combo.  The blue is a standard black feed, but the green pen has a gold feed (it appears to be hard rubber).  Photos are of both ends of the feed.  Fortunately, no ink ever touched this combo, and the gold colored feed survived.



Due to the pencil being on the opposite end of the pen, the sac is an abbreviated 7/8 inches long and will require constant refilling if used.


The Signature nib is of the  cheap gold filled variety.


Below are the finished products. The clips, bands, levers, and pencil cones are all light gold filled on the green combo, and silver on the blue.


They measure 4 5/8 inches closed, and 4 7/8 inches posted.


Arnold pens were produced in large quantities for many years in Petersburg, Virginia.  Remmie Arnold started the company in 1935, after working for the Edison Pen Company (see my posts on Artcraft Pens –  Ford Cromer, one of the Artcraft Founders, also got his start at Edison!).  In the years that followed, Arnold became one of the largest producers of fountain pens in the world.  They concentrated in very inexpensive pens (less than $1.00) and were sold primarily in low end stores. As with most third tier pens, there is little to no advertising associated with the pens as well, due to the low price points..   But they did sell lots of them (and eventually ballpoints).  Finally, due to the low price points, they were also not built to last, and as mentioned above, most have not survived in good condition.

I do have one small piece of Arnold memorabilia – this 1937 letter from Remmie Arnold to a potential customer, touting their products.


and a closeup of the colorful address logo


Further information on Arnold Pens can be found at Richard Binder’s Website here and an interesting piece on Remmie Arnold, gathered by Kamakura Pens, can be found here.

For anyone interested in getting started in restoring fountain pens, they are excellent pens to start on!   They can be acquired for low prices and if you make a mistake along the way, the loss is small.  They did make a wide variety of styles over time, both large and small, so one can practice on many different sizes.  Most that I have seen are lever fillers and some can be very colorful.

Finally, a collage including these two pens, another white pearl combo, and an Arnold Ballpoint Street Sign, captured off of the Internet ~

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App


August 27, 2013 Posted by | Arnold Pen Company | | 3 Comments

Indian Fountain Pen

This week, I worked on a pen/pencil combo from the Indian Pen Company.  I have seen these around before, and had always been interested in their origin and drawn by their very colorful (by vintage fountain pen standards) patterns.

You can see the component parts below, along with a badly stained barrel and cap.  Structurally, it is in decent shape, as there are no cracks or chips.  These were colorful, but the the furniture is just gold plated.   This includes the nib and pencil point, which have both discolored.

I first spent a considerable amount of time cleaning the barrel and cap, removing ink stains from the barrel.  As I have mentioned in the past, I first use INK NIX cleaner and a toothbrush to remove most of the ink in the threads.  The inside of the cap needs to be cleaned completely as well as this is where the ink on the barrel originates.

Cleaning the clip, lever, nib and pencil was fairly easy, as the gold plating had already worn off all but the nib.  I polished them and placed the nib in an ultrasonic cleaner for a short bath of 60 seconds.  Most of the gold plate remains on the nib, but even that short cleaning, removed some.  You can see from the photo below that the portion of the nib that was in the section had already worn off completely.

I scraped the section clean of the old sac remnants.  Be careful of these as the section as the nipple is very thin and gentle removal of the sac should be practiced here so you don’t harm the nipple.

The next problem encountered was the that the old jbar needed to be replaced as it was very brittle.  The two sizes of  jbars that I have are both too big for this combo as the pencil mechanism uses up some of the barrel internal area.   As I was experimenting with a trimmed jbar, I disengaged the internal snap ring, used to secure the lever.   When this happens, you need to pull the snap ring and lever out of the barrel.  Reattach them and slide the ring and lever back into the barrel and get the ring to snap back into its track – aligning the lever back into its slot.  This can be a tedious tasl and is the reason I usually do not remove the ring and lever to clean them with lever filler repairs.  This went well an I was once again able to insert a trimmed jbar back in to the barrel.

After cleaning the feed, section and then reinserting the nib, I attached a size 14 sac to the section nipple and inserted the assembly into the barrel.  Then the pencil mechanism was also placed back into the barrel.  (note – these take a 1.18mm lead).


So, how did these pens get the Name “Indian”?   I am not certain, but from what I have read, they resemble Native American blanket patterns.  A quick Google search for these blankets revealed a myriad of patterns and I have printed out a couple below.  It is easy to see the resemblance.



The complete pen / pencil combination can be seen below.  It measures 5 1/2 inches capped and 5 7/8 inches posted.


Note the worn condition of the clip and nib as the thin gold plate has completely worn off.


I will share what little I know about these pens and it is all speculative from various conversations and reading ~

Many think that the Indian Pen brand was a sub brand of the Arnold Pen Company in Petersburg, VA.  The dates of this pen type appear to be from the 1930s.  Without going into a long discussion of Arnold, they were a huge pen Company in Virginia, founded by Remmie Arnold after he purchased the remains of the Edison Pen Company.  Indian Pens seem to fit here somewhere and I am quite confident that there was a relationship to Arnold Pens or its preceding companies, which are also known for very colorful low priced combos.   I have actually seen one of these patterned pens with an Arnold clip, so there must have been some crossover at times.

My example is not a pristine one, though the barrel and cap are clean.  I have also seen these in green and blue patterns and with clean gold nibs and clips.  When in excellent condition, these relatively cheaply made combos sell for quite high prices.

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Arnold Pen Company, Indian Pen Company, Southern Pen Company | , , | 3 Comments


%d bloggers like this: