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

Moore Tuscan And A Yankee Surprise (Part II)

If you read my post of last week (Moore Tuscan And A Yankee), you will remember that I recently received two fountain pens from a collector friend in Michigan, with the request to restore two family heirlooms.  The first restoration was a Moore Tuscan, and that was an honor to work on, and a beautiful pen resulted.  The next pen, and the subject of this post, is an old favorite, a Yankee Pen, from Grand Haven Michigan.  I restored and written about several of these over the past four years.  Here are a few, for reference.  Also, any posts (search at right) covering Pencraft, Belmont, or Dixie would be related to this pen.

A Yankee In Michigan – January 27, 2008

A Yankee in Minnesota – May 15, 2008

A Yankee In Chicago – February 18, 2010

You can see from the photo below that this lever filler had a hanging pressure bar, common to many Kraker models of the day.  The sac had hardened and the bar was loose and not attached to the end piece.  I cleaned the gold trim ~ clip, lever and nib ~ being careful not to get any polish on the black hard rubber.  I scraped the section, removing all remnants of the old sac and reinserted the nib/feed to the cleaned section.  I attached a size 18 sac to the section/feed/nib assembly and fit it back into the barrel, where a new large j-bar had been inserted.  The whole mechanism works fine as I tested it with water and let it sit overnight.

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Here are two photos of the completed pen, capped and uncapped.  It is a large pen, 5 1/2 inches capped and 6 3/4 inches posted.

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Here is the imprint, very crisp and clean.  As discussed many times in the past, the Michael George Company was named for its owner,  George Michael Kraker, the movable pen maker, with stops in Kansas City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Grand Haven (MI) and Libertyville (IL).  I would speculate that this pen was produced in Grand Haven in the mid to late 20s, around the time of the Tuscan pen that belongs to this owner.

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Many of the Kraker Pens I have repaired have colored (red or yellow) ends on the caps and/or barrels.  I have not seen one with screw out ends, however.  Here is a close up of the barrel end.  Unfortunately, the cap end is missing.  If anyone has access to an one, let me know as I would like to get it in the hands of the owner.

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Now for the Surprise …..  the nib is a Yankee 2.  I have seen Warranted, Forever, Pencraft and Dixie nibs on Kraker Pens of this era, but never a Yankee nib.  I checked with another Kraker collector and he confirmed that he had not seen one either.  Clearly they exist, as evidenced by this nib.  I would love to hear from anyone who has photos of other Yankee nibs and their supporting pens.

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So, like the Moore Tuscan restored in the previous post, this pen is now back in Michigan where it was originally assembled.  I was lucky to have had the chance to handle both of them and get a few photographs before they left my workbench.

November 1, 2010 Posted by | Kraker, Yankee Pen | , , | 3 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

A Yankee In Chicago

I understand if you are growing tired of these Yankee in …. articles. Every time that I write one, I think it is my last. I have already detailed the restoration of Yankee Pens from Minnesota, and Grand Haven, Michigan in these posts from two years ago:

A Yankee In Michigan – January 27, 2008

A Yankee in Minnesota – May 15, 2008

Belmont Rexall And Yankee Cousins – May 22, 2008

I have not seen a Yankee in George Kraker’s next stop after Grand Haven, Michigan which was Libertyville, IL.  That doesn’t mean they do not exist, but I have not seen one.  So, after the Minnesota and Michigan articles on Yankee Pens, I thought I was done.

Then I ran across this nice little pen, a Yankee from Chicago, IL.  Given the material, Black Chased Hard Rubber (BCHR), I would place this pen in the period after Kraker left Kansas City and before he went to Michigan, in the early 1920s.  I have read that his name pops up both in Minneapolis and in Chicago during this time and this pen is a good representation of his work in Chicago.  Research from Lion and Pen historians here, indicates Michael George Co. in Chicago in 1923. (Thank you to Dennis and Jineen for their extensive Kraker work).

As you can see, the pen is a clipless lever filler.  The hanging pressure bar has broken and there is general wear.

I emptied the barrel out, including the old sac remnants and lever anchor.  I also gently polished the lever, which has a light gold wash on it.  The nib, a Warranted Number 3, was vigorously polished to its original shine.  As this is a BCHR pen, I did little other cleaning as I do not like to expose the hard rubber to any liquids or polishes.  I did clean the inside of the section and the channels of the feed prior to reassembling the section/feed/nib and a size 16 silicon sac.

The resulting pen is below.  As mentioned above, it was produced as a clipless model and measures a smallish 4 5/8″ closed and 5 7/8″ posted.

The imprint below is a common Kraker look, with the large YE.  As mentioned in the past, Michael – George Co. is the name of the Company that Kraker used, reversing his first and middle names.

The lever is the familiar Kraker lever (Lotz) that is found on many of his early pens produced in Minnesota.  I have posted photos of this lever in several previous articles for Yankees, Drew, and Winter Robbins Pens.

Here is a closeup of the 14K Warranted 3 nib which is quite flexible, as is common for the time.

Just when I thought I had finished my collection of these Midwest gems, I was fooled again when I found this pen.  Reading through the research on Kraker and his many exploits, there are still a few out there.  Does anyone have a Kleeno?

February 18, 2010 Posted by | Kraker, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

A Yankee in Minnesota

In my post of January 27, 2007, titled A Yankee in Michigan, I repaired and discussed a Yankee Pen made by a George Kraker pen company in Grand Haven, Michigan. In that post, I mentioned that I had a Yankee Pen from Minnesota. Well, two weeks ago, I came across another Yankee Pen, from the Minneapolis Pen Company. The clip on this one is the same as the clip used by Kraker in Michigan and on the Monogram Pen discussed on February 7. Having read several expert opinions, I am quite confident that the Minneapolis Pen Company and the Yankee Pen that I am restoring here is another Kraker product. I would place the date in the early 1920s after he left Kansas City and prior to Grand Haven, MI.

The picture below is of the pen after being taken apart. The sac had reduced to a fine dust. As you can see, the hard rubber chasing is in excellent shape, as is the color and imprint. the nib and feed were very dirty and needed to be scraped (feed) and cleaned. The nib is a nice Warranted 14K with no size number. The section needed to be scraped to remove all signs of the previous sac.

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I installed a size 16 sac and the pen works fine. Below are pictures of the restored pen closed and posted.

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I want to point out the unique lever. This lever is one that appears on many Kraker pens of the period. The first photo below is the lever of this pen. You can also see the same lever on a Winter Robbins pen, featured in my post of December 7 of last year, titled Hard Rubber Midwest Style.

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Finally, here is another pen, a Drew Pen Company (St. Paul, MN) with the same lever again. It would lead me to believe that Kraker may have been involved in some way with the manufacture of several of these pens.

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May 15, 2008 Posted by | Drew Pen Company, Hard Rubber Pen, Kraker, Minneapolis Pen, Minnesota Pens, Monogram Fountain Pens, Winter - Robbins, Yankee Pen | , , | Leave a comment

   

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