Fountain Pen Restoration

P. W. Akkerman Button Filler

This week’s restoration comes to me from across the Atlantic ~ a P. W. Akkerman Button filler, from the Netherlands.  P. W. Akkerman, is (and was) a well respected retailer located in The Hague.  They were founded in 1910 and have thrived in the Netherlands ever since.

Below is a photograph of the pen after I have taken it apart.  You can see that the blind cap and the clip cap are both in very bad condition.  This is where the parts bin comes in handy, and I had both available from Duofold Junior donor pens from years gone by.

As with most button fill repairs, the pressure bar also needed replacing as this one had lost its rigidity.  I used it as a guide to cutting another to the correct size.  The nib needed to be cleaned and is the only piece of gold on the pen.  The clip and cap bands were at one time gold plated, but that had worn off  and all that is left is the steel base.  Someone had decided to scratch their name into the barrel and I spent quite a bit of time with find grain paper sanding it off.  After this was done, I used scratch remover and polish on the barrel and cap, restoring a bit of their former shine.

I fit a size 16 sac to the cleaned nib/feed/section and screwed this back into the barrel with the assistance of a bit of silicon grease.  I then  carefully placed the new pressure bar in to the barrel through the button hole, making sure it fit securely against the section unit.  Remember to smooth down the end of the pressure bar prior to insertion to guard against it shearing the sac.  I attached the newly cleaned button to the bar extending from the button hole and tested the mechanism with water.  The seals held overnight and the pen fills well.

Finally, I inserted the new blind cap and clip cap to the cap and barrel, producing the pen below.  Aside from the clip, which is badly discolored and a but pitted, it is a nice looking pen again.

The fountain pen measures 4 13/16 inches capped and 5 3/4 posted.  The nib is a Parker arrow nib and is imprinted that is was made in Canada.  This is the only marking other than Akkerman on the pen.  I do not know if this nib is original to the pen, and suspect that it is not.

I initially surmised that these pens were made in Parker’s English factory in Newhaven, as it so closely resembles a Duofold.  However, further research would lead me in the other direction…

Below is the imprint, referring to P. W. Akkerman and its two related locations.  I have corresponded with Mr. Paul Rutte (The Hague location) and he was kind to confirm that this was indeed an original Akkerman Pen from the late 30s/40s and was available for sale to the general public and not just a promotional piece.  He also mentioned that these pens were produced in Germany, and assembled in The Hague.   The excellent book Fountain Pens Of The World by Andreas Lambrou, confirms this as it states that Akkerman Pens were produced for them by Lamy in Germany.  The striking resemblance to a Parker is not so far fetched as the early history of Lamy is tied to Parker, as Josef Lamy actually started with Parker and when he went out on his own, several of his early pens resembled Parker’s (source ~ Fountain Pens of the World, by Andreas Lambrou).


Here is a photo of a Senior and Junior Duofold in the same Burgundy/Black Marbled pattern that were produced in the 30s in Janesville, Wisconsin.  The Junior model is almost identical to the Akkerman Pen.

And finally, an assortment of Parker products from the 1930s showing this same attractive pattern that Parker used.  Top to bottom:

Duofold Senior, Duofold Junior, Deluxe Challenger, Challenger, Challenger (small), and Challenger Pencil.


September 24, 2009 Posted by | Duofold, Lamy Fountain Pens, P. W. Akkerman Pens, Parker Pen Company | , , , | 5 Comments

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

Striped Duofold

Parker introduced a “new” Duofold line in 1940 which utilized the Vacumatic filling system. This line continued on until 1948. These Duofolds, often called Striped Duofolds to separate them from the previous Duofold lines, came in the following colors: Blue, Green, Red, Black (rare), and Shadow Wave (rare). The pen that I found below is an example of the red, or Dusty Red, color. It’s size if 5 1/16″ capped, which makes it a Junior Size. It was produced in the 1st quarter of 1942, and you can see it is a Speedline Filler by the filling unit in the upper left hand corner of the picture below. This Speedline Filler continued until sometime after the start of WWII and was replaced by a plastic filler unit. At some point a button filler was also produced.


As you can see above, the pen was quite dirty and the gold parts were tarnished when I picked this pen up. The repair of the filling unit is the same as with the Vacumatics that I have previously covered:

Parker Vacumatic Lockdown Filler
Parker Vacumatic

I used a debutante diaphragm on this pen, which is the correct size. As with this filler, the most time consuming job is getting the pellet out of the unit and then inverting the diaphragm and getting the new pellet in the unit. After this was complete, I cleaned up the cap, barrel, clip (after twisting out the top jewel), feed, nib, and section. The filler unit was screwed back into the top of the barrel using the filler tool shown in previous posts. I then tested the filler by making sure it was in straight by shining my small light into the barrel and then tested the suction by putting my finger over the open barrel and working the filler. There was a lot of suction, so I inserted the section/tube/feed/nib back into the barrel and tested the pen with clean water. All performed well. I now put the cap back together and the resulting pen is pictured below.


Much of the Dusty Red now shines after it was polished and the inside of the barrel was cleaned. As with the Vacumatic line of pens, these hold a lot of ink.

Often overlooked as the “other” Duofold line and not as popular or well known as the Duofolds of the 20s and 30s, these are very nice pens that are often more reasonably priced. I am now on the lookout for a blue stripe to compliment this one.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Duofold, Parker Pen Company, Striped Duofold | , , | Leave a comment

Golden (Fountain Pen) Dreams

Gold pens are highly sought after, some more than others. Here are a couple of extreme examples. The first two pictures are of a Morrison 14K Gold Filled Flat top that measures 5 1/8″ capped. These are a nice pen to find (as well as other third tier makers) to satisfy the vintage gold need. The price can be very reasonable. I paid $26 for this pen. It did not look quite this good when I found it, but as with most vintage Morrison’s, the Warranted 14K #4 nib is a good one with a little flex and repairs are straightforward.


The filler is a standard j-bar and lever and I did need to replace the jbar as well as add a size 16 sac, as the barrel is quite narrow. One needs to be very careful when cleaning the exterior of these, as the gold is a gold plate and aggressive polishing will probably lead to a worn exterior. I did minimal cleaning of the exterior and the results are satisfactory. These pens seem to be quite plentiful in varying conditions and I would suggest waiting for one with a nicely preserved exterior. This design also came in a silver as well.


Just for comparison, below is a Parker Lucky Curve, probably dating to the early 1920s, in 14K Gold. Roughly the size of a Duofold Junior, it is stunning in all gold, including the section.


Both pens are vintage gold, and the bank doesn’t have to be broken to find a nice, restorable example.

March 7, 2008 Posted by | Duofold, Morrison Fountain Pens, Parker Pen Company | , , | 4 Comments

Janesville, Wisconsin Button Fill

The next pen up for repair is a Parker Junior Duofold, with a streamline cap. The exact date of the manufacture of this pen is imprecise, but it would have been produced in Janesville, WI by Parker sometime after 1929. Duofolds were produced in different sizes – Senior, Junior, and Lady being the most common. The Lady Duofolds of this time had a ring on the top of the cap, to attach to a chain that could be worn around the neck. The larger Senior models and the Lady versions will be covered at another time. This pen is approximately 4.5 inches long (capped). The most common colors of these pens were black, red and jade green. Other colors were produced such as mandarin yellow, blue and pearl/black.

All of the Parker Duofolds of this time were button fillers. Button fillers have a sac that is filled by pushing on a button at the end of the barrel which pushes a pressure bar inside of the barrel against the sac. When the button is released the pressure bar releases the sac, inflating it again, and allowing the ink to flow into the pen. These pens are quite easy to restore. In most cases, all that is needed is a new sac and pressure bar.

This is a picture of the pen after it has been reduced to it’s parts. I used gentle heat from a heat gun to remove the section from the barrel. Often, the section screws into the barrel, so care needs to be taken not to just pull the section out, but to screw it out gently. As you can see, the sac has hardened over the years, but the good news is that the pressure bar (at the bottom of the picture) can be used in the restored pen.


The first task was to clean the gold pieces. I used a q-tip and simichrome to polish the nib, button and clip. After polishing, I put them in an ultrasonic cleaner for a couple of minutes to give them a clean shine. I next cleaned out the section and “christmas tree feed” with water and dried them with the gold pieces. Finally, I polished and waxed the barrel and cap. I selected a size 18 sac and attached this to the section with sac cement after the nib and feed were placed back in the section. Next the section and attached sac were pushed back into the barrel. Button fillers are a bit tricky at this point. I inserted the original pressure bar in the cap, through the hole in the top of the cap, being careful that it lined up next to the sac cleanly. When this was done, I placed the button over the protruding pressure bar end and pushed the button into the barrel end until the pressure bar resists.

After several hours to allow the sac cement to completely dry, I tested the pen by pushing down on the button while the nib was in a glass of water. The pressure bar and button did their job and the sac filled with water perfectly. Pushing the button again released a steady stream of water back into the glass. The filling system was successfully restored.

Here is a picture of the completed project, both capped and uncapped.



Parker Duofolds were very popular pens in their day and many fine examples such as this one have survived due in part to the workmanship and materials used in their manufacture. They are once again being produced, though using a cartridge/converter system.

An excellent book on the history of the Parker Duofold is PARKER DUOFOLD, by David Shepherd and Dan Zazove.

December 29, 2007 Posted by | Duofold, Parker Pen Company | , | 1 Comment


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