Fountain Pen Restoration

Wilson Fountain Pens III

This is the third installment of information about Wilson Fountain Pens (India). My first post was dated February 9, 2009, titled Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery. The second, Wilson Fountain Pen Advertising, was dated July 20, 2009. I was originally interested in this pen as it was a very good copy of the successful Parker Pen from the 30s and 40s, the Vacumatic.

In my post of February 9, 2009 I mentioned that Wilson moved to Andheri in 1945, and it appears by this postmark that they (Dhiraj Pen Manufacturing Co.) were located there in 1960.  I had surmised that my pen was from the 1940 and it appears that this pen was still either in production, or being sold, as late as 1960, when this envelope was mailed in 1960.

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Unfortunately, the envelope that I found was empty, and I do not know what Dhiraj and De Sanno and Son were corresponding about.

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No restoration this week, but another piece of the Wilson Pen (The Universal Favorite) puzzle.  In the last few years I have had several inquiries based on the two articles above, and I hope this little bit of ephemera helps add to the collective research.

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Any further information on the Wilson line of pens would be appreciated.

Edit 10/15/11~ David Isaacson has allowed me to share the following photo, which is another interesting piece of Wilson ephemera.  A thread regarding these pens appears here.

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10-12-13 Edit:  An outstanding piece, written by Purvi Sanghvi, a relative of the founders of Wilson Pens, can be found here.  It details some of the history of Wilson Pens!

June 6, 2011 Posted by | Wilson Pen Company | | 6 Comments

Wilson Fountain Pen Advertising

On February 9, 2009 I wrote an article Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – The Wilson Pen Company. It focused on a Parker Vacumatic “look-a-like” fountain pen, produced in India.

After the restoration of that pen and the writing of the article, I was fortunate to find very colorful box that Wilson apparently used to display and/or ship these pens.  It measures 5 1/2″ by 6 3/4″ and held ten pens in metal slots.

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The art is interesting.  I believe the attempt is to compare the pen to a smooth sailing boat.  In the photo below I have inserted the pen from the previously referenced post.  Clearly, the same model but in a different color.  I wonder if they came in blues, reds, or blacks, to match the other common Vacumatic colors?

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10-12-13 Edit: An outstanding piece, written by Purvi Sanghvi, a relative of the founders of Wilson Pens, can be found here. It details some of the history of Wilson Pens!

July 20, 2009 Posted by | Wilson Pen Company | | 3 Comments

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery ~ Wilson Pen Company

I waited a few weeks to get to this one, as I needed to do some background research first.  As you can see, this is a very good replica of a Parker Vacumatic.  Without careful examination of the parts laying on the workbench, one might think this is a 1940s Vacumatic.  Well, its not and I will attempt to tell a little about this Wilson pen and walk through the restoration.

The first photograph shows the pen after I have taken it apart.  I am not sure where the nib is.  I noticed it is missing from the photo after I had finished.  I do remember that it had faint traces of gold wash on it, and was quite dirty.  You can see that it looks quite a bit like a broken-down vac.  The filler unit has a plastic plunger, much like the later wartime vacs, with solid metal threading.

I was a bit concerned about the clip and cap band.  I was worried that they were gold plate like the nib and would polish to a dull silver, but they are 14K gold and polished up well.

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The repairs went just as with a Standard Vacumatic.  I needed to replace the diaphragm and you will note that there is no breather tube.  I had purchased tubing from Woodbin (see blogroll) quite a while ago for this eventuality.  I cut a piece one inch long and it fit perfectly into the hole in the end of the feed.  Having completed that I began to clean all of the parts, not only to make the pen look as close to original as possible, but to eliminate a smell that I had never experienced before in a pen repair.  When I initially opened up the pen from both the nib side and filler side, the smell that came forth was one I had never experienced before.  I don’t know what caused this, but it was very foul.

I made sure to completely remove all remnants of the old diaphragm from the barrel and cleaned the filler as many of the metal parts had old diaphragm and adhesive on them.  Having cleaned the filler, which was comparable to a  Parker plastic speedline filler, I installed a debutante diaphragm.  The pellet holder was the same size as a Parker as the pellet fit well in the holder, after being pushed in with my pellet pushing tool.  If was a relief to have the same size parts between the Wilson and Parker products and I did not have to make any modifications.

As I mentioned above, the clip and cap band polished up well with my metal polish (I am now using polish purchased from pentiques.com) and look as good as new.  The biggest difference is in the nib when you compare the Wilson to a Parker Vacumatic.  The nib on this pen is a cheap steel nib.  There was a small amount of gold color on the nib when I found the pen, but this immediately polished out.

The following two photos show the completely restored Wilson Vacumatic.   The barrel reads WILSON VACUMATIC and MADE IN INDIA.

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As you can see, there is quite a bit of transparency to the barrel as once the barrel cleaned out, the plastic has a nice finish.

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The details are eerily similar to a Parker.  Here is a close up of the clip, band, and nib.  The clip is a very close copy of the non-blue diamond vac clips of the day down to the feathers and placement of the name.  I have seen examples of Wilson’s that do have the blue diamond on the clip.  I would love to handle one to see what the differences, if any, are.  The cap band has the familiar cross hatch design and in the space for engraving ( on Parker vacs ) they have placed their name.

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The nib keeps the same design, but is not 14K gold.  As you can see, in an effort to clean it up, the gold wash was stripped away.  There was actually little left when I obtained the pen, and what was left, disappeared quickly.  In case you can not read the nib it say ~ WILSON  IRIDIUM  TIPPED ~.    The design of the nib is similar to the Parker nibs.  Prior to putting the nib back in the section, I checked and a Parker nib fits perfectly.  I may be tempted to put one in should I decide to use this pen.

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Here is a photo of the Wilson Vacumatic on top of a 1942 Parker Vacumatic in Golden Pearl.  The Wilson measures   4 7/8 inches capped and 5 5/8 inches posted.

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The Wilson Pen Company got its start in Calcutta in 1939 when Dwarkadas Jivanlal Sangvi and his brother sold and repaired pens.  They then moved to Valsad and began to manufacture pens.  In the beginning they produced two pens per day.  The Company then moved to Bombay in 1943 and they produced 200-300 pens per day.  In 1945 they moved again to Andheri and expanded again to begin using plastic molding machines from England.  This information and much more can be read on their current website here . (Edit 10/2013 – this link is no longer active – see Edit below for current link to Wilson Pen History..pkm)

Finally, another picture showing the 1942 Parker on top and the Wilson below.  There have been other examples of pens that have emulated the Vacumatic in the past.  I think this was one of the best.

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10-12-13 Edit: An outstanding piece, written by Purvi Sanghvi, a relative of the founders of Wilson Pens, can be found here. It details some of the history of Wilson Pens!

February 9, 2009 Posted by | Indian Fountain Pens, Wilson Pen Company | , | 4 Comments

   

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