Fountain Pen Restoration

Another Yankee Surprise

A pen friend jokingly suggested that maybe I should change the name of this to Kraker Fountain Pen Restoration. I do apologize for the frequent post on these related pens and ephemera, but I keep finding them and other collectors tend to alert me to their existence.  I keep thinking that I have seen most of the variants that I want to, and then another pops up, like the one in this post.  Back on November 1, 2010 I wrote about a Yankee Pen that I restored for a fellow collector – Moore Tuscan And A Yankee Surprise II – that had the first Yankee nib that I had seen.  This week’s pen provides the second.

Below is a photo of the pen after I took it apart.  You can see that the sac was in one piece, though hardened.  Also, there is significant staining around the threads on the barrel where the cap sits.  This is very typical of vintage pens as the ink finds its way into the cap and then to these threads.

Also, the cap band is missing – a sad thing – as the color on this pen is very very good.

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A reader asked if I would post a few action photos, so I will do so in some coming posts.  This week I will show three related to the feed and section.   After taking the pen apart, I cleaned off the old sac remnants from the section nipple.  You can see this process in the first photo below.  I first use an exacto knife to do this over the entire area.  Be careful not to be too aggressive as you do not want to damage the nipple, which will force you to find another…  After this step, I take some sand paper and further sand off the remnants to make a perfectly smooth surface to cement the new sac to.

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I then cleaned the feed.  I first wipe it down, cleaning the old ink and dirt from the outside.  I then take a knife and gently clean out the channels of the feed.  You will be surprised how much old ink and grime comes out of these channels.  Be careful not to damage the channels.  Typically there are smaller channels within the large channel seen.

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Skipping back to the section, I then clean the inside with a q tip and water, dipping the q tip in the water and swabbing the inside of the section.  This will take several q tips, especially for a pen that has been used often.  It is interesting to find out what ink was used last in the pen.   You can see that this one was black.

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After these steps, I reinserted the polished nib and cleaned feed back into the dry and clean section.  I then attached a size 18 sac to the section and let it dry.  Shifting to the cap and barrel, I polished them with scratch remover and polish.   There were the standard surface scratches, but you can see that the color was excellent.  I am not sure why, as these green celluloid pens usually discolor over time, but not this one.  I also spent considerable time on the barrel threads, removing the old ink stains from the inside of the cap.  The inside of the cap also was cleaned to remove all traces of old ink to prevent this from reoccurring.

Here is the finished pen, a mid 1920s Yankee, produced by the Michael George Co. (George Kraker) of Grand Haven, Michigan.  I am searching for a matching cap band and when I find one, this will be the pen I put it on, due to its excellent color.

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Measurements are 5 3/8 inches closed and 6 3/4 inches posted.

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A clean, crisp imprint with the familiar Non-Breakable claim.

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The highlight of this pen is the nib.  It is the second Yankee nib I have seen, and a much larger No. 8.   The down side is that the tip is chipped and in need of replacement iridium.  I am not sure if I want to spring for this, but given the uniqueness of the nib, I might be tempted.

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Kraker also produced a Green Dixie in Grand Haven, with a large Dixie No. 8 nib in Grand Haven.  Photos of this pen can be seen here in my post of August 1, 2008, titled – A Dixie in Michigan.

I won’ t link to all of the articles that I have written on these Kraker related pens, but if you are interested, just click on Kraker, Yankee, Dixie, Belmont, or Pencraft in the Blogroll on the right of this page.  Quite an interesting time line and assortment of pens and brands (at least to me).

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June 14, 2011 Posted by | George M. Kraker, Kraker, Yankee Pen | , | 2 Comments

Kraker Civil War

This pen came exactly as shown, without two very important parts, the feed and a nib. As you can see, it is very dirty and I have no idea how long the nib and feed have been missing. It is a yellow Kraker Yankee, produced in Grand Haven, Michigan. I keep finding new colors of these pens, produced in the short time Kraker was in Grand Haven in the mid to late 1920s.  My Title ” Kraker Civil War” is simply a play on George Kraker’s use of Dixie and Yankee Pens as two of his brands and my curiosity as to why.  I have not been able to come up with any reason for this.  Some have speculated that it was a marketing issue, but there is no hard evidence that one brand was targeted at a specific area of the Country (North vs. South).   As you will note if you link to Yankee and Dixie Pen Articles in the Blogroll to the right, both pens were produced in various of Kraker (Michael George Company) locations, though I have not seen a Dixie made in Minnesota or Chicago, or a Yankee in Libertyville, IL.  That does not mean they were not, I just have not seen one.

On to the restoration.  My biggest problem, aside from the dirt and grime on the yellow barrel and cap, was the missing feed and nib.

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I searched through my parts bins and though I had a few nibs that may have solved the nib problem, I had no feed that fit the section well with these nibs.  So, I started to sift through my collection looking for a section that was similar in size to the Yankee section and came across this candidate below.  It is a pen I have had for probably ten years and seldom use due to its very large size of 5 7/8 inches closed.  It has no markings on it but my guess has always been that it is a National Pen Products (Chicago) pen due to the markings on the lever.  I also suspect that someone had replaced the clip at one time.

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I removed the section/feed/nib from the barrel and the sac was in good shape.  I checked my records and I had put a size 20 sac on this one in 2004.  It still seemed good to me and I tested it with water to be certain.  The fit into the Yellow Yankee barrel was perfect and now all I had to do was work on the appearance of the barrel and cap of the pen to produce a nicely restored pen.  Now I have a missing feed and nib on this pen, but Warranted 8 nibs are relatively easy to find and I will keep and eye out for the correct feed.

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I first checked the hanging pressure bar of the pen with the sac inserted and it was fully functional.  That was good enough for me, as these are difficult to get back to their proper position once removed.  If it fails to function in the future, it will be simple to remove it and replace with a long j bar.

I cleaned the outside of both the barrel and cap with Pentiques scratch remover and a dremel.  As you can see, this did the job.  I then used polish and wax to complete the job.  I also gently cleaned the nib, clip, lever, and cap band with a jewelers cloth.  The completed pen is below, measuring 5 1/2 inches capped and 6 3/4 inches posted.

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Here is the Civil War angle.  Below is this pen and below it is a Dixie that was produced a few years later in Libertyville, IL by Kraker (see this link for more information on the Dixie).  As I mentioned above, I do not have any information as to why Kraker used the Yankee and Dixie names, though it appears that the Dixie name appears later in his pen producing life.  Here is an example of two virtually identical pens, produced 104 miles apart that carried different names.  Libertyville was Southwest of Grand Haven, but certainly not in the heart of Dixie.  There is a series of articles appearing in the fine magazine produced by the The Pen Collectors of America – The Pennant – that is written by two very knowledgeable Kraker collectors, which may shed more light on the naming of his pens.  Until then, it is fun to see the variations.

The two photos below show the Yankee / Grand Haven, MI and Dixie / Libertyville, IL pens next to each other.  They are unmistakeably Michael – George (Kraker) pens, with the differently colored cap and barrel ends, single cap bands, and distinctive clip.

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Here is a closeup of the clean imprint, with the typical large first and last letters.

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Finally, the replacement Warranted No. 8 large nib, taken from the blue marbled National Pen shown above.

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Kraker pens in the late 1920s presented a large number of variations, and pens that are colorful and well made.

August 4, 2010 Posted by | Dixie Fountain Pens, Kraker, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

   

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