Posted in Restoration

Waterman Ideal 52 Vest Pen

The Backstory:

Waterman began production of the Ideal fountain pen in the 1880’s, with production lasted to the 1950’s. The most popular model being the Ideal #52. Waterman began producing lever-filed pens in 1915, when they devised a lever box mechanism to circumvent Walter Sheaffer’s lever-filling patent. Waterman apparently believed “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” thus making few to no improvements to the Ideal #52, much to their detriment, including the continued use of hard rubber when the competition was manufacturing beautiful pens in celluloid. They finally made the switch in 1934, nearly a decade behind the competition.

The Pen:

This refurbishment is the first Waterman I’ve purchased in 10 plus years and the first one that is vintage. I purchased the pen from a seller in Frederick, MD. I’m placing the age of the pen at about 96 years. It is made of black chased hard rubber (BCHR) and showing significant signs of sun damage plus the nib appears to have some damage. Capped, the pen measures a mere 4.25” long and doesn’t contain a pocket clip or a lanyard ring.

Waterman “Patented” Lever Box

Based in part on the manufacture code, the pen dates to around 1925ish making it the oldest pen in my collection. Waterman began phasing out the model codes in 1927. This pen contains the code 0852V;

  • 0 – gold filled,
  • 8 – broad 14k gold cap lip band,
  • 5 – Lever Filler,
  • 2 – nib size,
  • V – vest.
Model Code

The nib is an oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd opposed to a Waterman #2 nib. The nib is over a Waterman feed. Now the feed is very different when compared to Parker, Esterbrook and others. The ink channel contained groves running the length of the said channel and is known as the “Three Fissure Feed” system, patented initially in 1884. The design regulates the flow of ink, preventing blotting. On the underside is a divot, creating a secondary ink reservoir with an access hole to the feed fissures. The feed contains what appears to be the letters “ST” above the numbers “17 16.” After a Duck-Duck-Go search that called google.patent…. I determined that this design is detailed in patent 1,201,951A and the mysterious markings are the patented date Oct 17, 1916.

The feed

Refurbishment:

The nib and feed were easily removed, but the section wasn’t budging. Since the pen is BCHR there was no way I was soaking it in hot water. Instead, heat was applied lightly until the section just popped out – surprise. The old dried up ink sac came out with little effort, but removing the residual ink sac attached to the section was a different story. To clean up the section, sandpaper was used beginning with 1,000 grit paper working to 7,000 grit. The sandpaper also removed ink stains or some odd discoloring on the section.

Focusing on the cap, it soon became evident that there was green ink stains on the band and in the chasing. Initially, a Sunshine cloth was used on the cap which seemed to be of benefit. But, there was residual green grime along the cap band so a soft bristle toothbrush was used. Afterwards, I applied a very light coat of mineral oil which removed more green based grime. The teeth and leaver box on the barrel were also brushed then minimal mineral oil applied and immediately removed. Guess what, more green grime. On the cap, there is a small crack and a piece is missing. I considered adding some glue to the inside of the cap in the hope of adding stability but haven’t as yet.

The nib is the oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd nib, I assume it is not the original nib. The nib cleaned up well and yes it is damaged. The right side of the tip is missing and there is definitely an outward bend in the nib. Regardless, I measured and attached a #16 ink sac, the correct size is a #15 but I don’t have one. After the shellac dried, the pen was reassembled and I debated if I should ink it up, but as the nib is not in the best of shape why bother.

Nib Before and After
Refurbished pen

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