Fountain Pen Restoration

More National Geographic Fountain Pen Advertisements

A trip to the Used Book Store yielded a few more interesting advertisements last week.  Even better when they relate to restored pens!

This first photo is from the National Geographic dated March 1951.  It depicts a Sheaffer TM Valiant Touchdown Fill. Comparing this Thin Model to the previous Thicker version is exactly what my photo from the post titled 1949 Sheaffer Valiant Touchdowns – The Big Ones shows. I have put a copy of that photo after this advertisement.

My post titled Valiant TM Touchdown shows the restoration of this very 1950-52 pen.

NG Mar 51


The next advertisement is from a November 1949 National Geographic and again depicts pre-snorkel Touchdown sets.  Notice both the closed nibbed (triuimph) Sentinel Deluxe and Valiant, as opposed to the lesser priced Statesman Set.

NG Nov 49

Esterbrook Pens are a popular choice among collectors due to their availability, colors, ease of repair, and each of nib change.  I restored a mid-1950s CH model in this post from May 8, 2008 ~ Fountain Pen Restoration 101.  The photo below from the March 1951 points out (no pun intended here) the ease of switching out the nibs on these pens to fit ones writing style or needs.  Below the advertisement I have attached a photo of two previously restored Esterbrooks and their approximate production dates as they more closely resemble the pen in the advertisement.

NG Mar 51


The next two photos promote the very popular Parker 51, which I have discussed in numerous posts.  The first is from the February 1945 National Geographic and the final advertisement is from the November 1949 NG.

This first advertisement is for the time period before the Vacumatic was phased out and the Aero-metric took over as the filling system on this model.  The next to last paragraph is especially interesting to me as it states that “Parker 51’s will be more available”.  Given the time period and the fact that the war time rationing by Parker and other pen makers was ending, this was a true statement.

The final paragraph mentions the mid 1940s Vacumatic Colors of Black, Blue Cedar, Dove Grey, and Cordovan Brown.  The days of the Aero-metric and more colors were still a few years away.

Vacumatic 51 Restoration posts that have already been published here are as follows:

Black and Gold Parker 51 Vacumatic ~   September 25, 2008 (photo below)

Final Year for 51 Vacumatics 1948 ~   January 15, 2009

A pen that looks very much like the $15.00 1945 pen below was featured in the first post and I have placed a small photo under this advertisement.

NG Feb 45


Finally, this 1949 advertisement for the Aero-metric fill 51, which had just replaced the Vacumatic version.  The post war economy was heating up.  They mention the increase to eight colors and even offer sets up to $275.00.

NG Nov 49

These advertisements continue to be a great way for those of us who are not able to get our hands on original catalogs or sales materials to study the history of fountain pens.  Next stop ….  the public library.


June 17, 2009 Posted by | National Geographic, Parker Pen Company, Sheaffer | , , | Leave a comment

National Geographic and Your Fountain Pens

Over the past holiday season, one of my daughters became interested in reading some old Life magazines that were at her grandparents home.  Given her interest, we headed out this past weekend to an old book store to see if we could find a few for her to have at home.  We found no Life Magazines, but did find several National Geographics.

What a great source of pen history can be found in these magazines, as well as many old magazines.  A quick scan of ebay will show a large amount of sellers of pages cut out of old magazines for vintage fountain pens.  As we scanned the magazines I noted that there were many advertisements in the pre-depression years and post WWII years, which would make sense from an historical perspective.  As an aside, the auto ads of the late 1920s are very cool.  Just like pens, there were many auto manufacturers that did not make it through the depression years.

The most accurate way to date our vintage pen collections is from Pen Company literature such as catalogs and production records.  Of course, not all of us have direct access to these and have relied on the kindness and hard work of past collectors who have shared this information with us all.  Another way is to look at old advertisements such as these to confirm the historical place of our collections.

Below are two photographs that I took of pages from the National Geographics, which have images of pens in my collection ~ both have been in my collection for quite some time and not covered by previous posts as they were restored prior to 2007.

The first is from a March 1944 issue and it promotes the Sheaffer Triumph ($12.50) pen.  I have a brown and a red one of these models.  They are great pens, as they hold a lot of ink.  I do not own a pencil as shown, however.  Pictures of the red plunger fill and both the red and brown pens follow the advertisement.

Of particular interest in the ad is the statement that “much of Sheaffer’s plant and personnel is now 100% devoted to precision manufacture of armaments.”  During the war, materials used in pen manufacturing were in shorter supply as they were used in the war effort, and Pen Companies such as Sheaffer devoted many of their facilities, equipment, and available employees to making parts for the military.





The above Sheaffer ad also promotes pencil lead and Skrip Ink.  Directly above  is a bottle of ink from my collection that fits this time period, as also confirmed in John Bosley’s Book, VINTAGE INKS, which places this bottle and box in the 1944-48 time period.  Click on the title for a link to his website.


The next advertisement is from a March 1928 National Geographic.  It promotes one of the most famous pens in fountain pen collecting, the Parker “Big Red” Duofold.  Ah, if only we could purchase on of these for $7.00 now.  Not to mention the Mandarin pen inserted at the bottom left.

The Duofold is a button filler. In the following past posts I have restored Parker Button Fillers:

Janesville, Wisconsin Button Fill December 29, 2007
Parker Lapis Junior Duofold Button Fill March 15, 2008
Parker Jade..Pre-Duofold July 18, 2008
Luck Curve Feeds
September 4, 2008

The big red is the most famous of the Parker 1920s Duofolds.  The hard rubber version is especially sought after.   This ad depicts the Non-Hard Rubber, Permanite material.  It is advertised as being 28% lighter than hard rubber.  What I find most interesting is the claim that they are non-breakable.   Stated: “We have thrown these new Duofolds from an aeroplane 3,000 feet aloft and not one has broken“.    I suspect they mean that not one broke in the actual act of throwing, and not upon landing.  Anyone who has restored a number of Duofolds knows that they are to be treated with care to avoid any cracking.


Here is a photo of a Hard Rubber Duofold from my collection.  Not the exact pen depicted above, but the predecessor model from a few years earlier (and 28% heavier).


I was able to capture many more pen and ink related advertisements ~ most of pens I wish I had.   So the next time you are coming up empty looking for fountain pens at a flea market, antique store, garage sale, or estate sale, you can spend some time looking for old magazines and searching for a $7.00 Duofold.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Duofold, National Geographic, Parker Pen Company, Sheaffer | , , , | 3 Comments


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