The inclusion of this pen in my collection is what happens when frustration and aggravation meet. You see I was bidding on a blue checkered pen and thought I had the auction won but at the last second a sneaky shit jumped in and outbid me – this happened twice. Four months after the last disappointment a similar pen appeared for auction! I liked the brown, and the pen appeared in great shape so I was determined that it would be mine when the auction ended. It came close but I won, paying more than I should have, but it is mine.
I was able to determine that “Ambassador” was a marketing name for pens manufactured by a couple different pen manufacturers. So which company made this pen? The most likely manufacturer is the Majestic Pen company, founded in the late 1920s, formerly the J. Harris & Son Pen company of NYC. But how do I prove this assumption? While researching Majestic Pens I found a picture of a black and grey checkered pen with Majestic on the clip and a big “A” on the lever. Just like mine – BINGO!
Both Majestic and J. Harris were considered third-tier pen manufacturers; quality and longevity are a concern for collectors. Majestic produced a wide variety of very attractive inexpensive decently made pens in the 1930s but they suffered from inferior metal parts, thin gold plating and most had untipped steel nibs. Their “top line” pens were sold with gold nibs. The nib on this pen is a “Super-Pen” Iridium No. 6, in all likelihood, there is no iridium on this nib. Unfortunately, the company was short-lived and shuttered some time during the late 1940s.
Considering this pen was produced by a third-tier pen manufacturer, in the 1940s, it is in exceptional shape. The nib is steel with gold plate and possibly an iridium tip, there is not a scratch on the barrel or cap and the gold plate on the clip is nearly perfect. All it needs is a new ink sac and a general cleaning. Ran the section and nib under hot water (it’s ok this is a celluloid pen) so I could remove the section from the barrel, ahhhh no. I managed to pull the nib and feeder out of the section which was not budging. Plan “B” the hair dryer. As we all know I have a bad track record with hairdryers, I applied heat to the section and in short order, it pulled free from the barrel.
To my surprise the ink sac is grey and still rubberish, it was dried up and brittle. I’ve seen similar sacs from pens dating to the later 60’s so I am assuming this is not the original sac but a replacement. The sac was installed in a very peculiar fashion. The section is normally just inserted into the open end of the sac but this sac was rolled inward and shellacked to the section. Anyway, only a portion of the sac came out, what remained of the sac was tangled with the j-bar. I removed the lever and tried to remove the j-bar, which promptly broke. Geez! I got the rest of the sac and the short end of the j-bar out of the barrel.
Did a quick Duck-Duck-Go search and found j-bars for sale and a DIY solution. Naturally, I choose the DIY option and ordered a 2”x12”x0.025” or .68mm thick brass sheet. The thickness of the brass is .025” (.68 mm) which is a bit too thick for normal shears, but I have tin snips (I know who has tin snips?). Anyway, I cut out a new j-bar, the edge that was cut left a sharp finish so I introduced it to the Dremel, the sharp edge was all gone. The new j-bar is a little wider than the original but it fits nicely into the barrel which I think will be better long term.
I attached the ink sac and put it all back together, inked up the pen, and wrote a sentence. Maybe the first sentence was written with this pen in 50 years. It wrote well, the nib is not damaged, and glided across the paper smoothly.COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
4 thoughts on “The “Ambassador””
Great explanation of the process to renovation. Pleased it all turned out well despite the ‘J’ bar hiccups. Fair play you getting that one sorted. Shellac was how I thought it should be done after reading advice somewhere. Tried it on a pen years ago with poor outcome. So interesting to see your opinion on simple and clean application of the ink sac. Very helpful. Cheers.
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Cheers for the comment. This was written when I was interested in explaining and detailing the process. I’ve made a couple more J-bars since then.
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It’s the small self engineering jobs I love to see when stripping, repairing, fixing and then renovating. You know and understand the older vintage items which sometimes need these interventions due to their parts being unavailable. We have a BBC series called ‘The Repair Shop’. The explanation on the website search states: “ Expert craftsmen pool their talents and resources to restore heirlooms and treasured antiques, such as music boxes, vases and clocks, to prove that anything can be restored to its former glory.”. It’s a fascinating series. All the best Danny.
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