Posted in Restoration, Stories

“All have their Worth and each contributes to the Worth of the others.” J.R.R Tolkien, The Silmarillion

I came across a pen, a cheap gold-plated metal one with the name “Worth” etched on the clip. The nib needed lots of attention but the barrel and cap are in reasonably good shape – plus the price was right – ok it could have been a couple dollars cheaper.

Back story

I set about researching the “Worth” name on the pen. Pens typically bear the names of the manufacturer such as Parker, Sheaffer & Esterbrook, while some also included names of large retail chains (“big box” stores). House-brand pens as they are known, are not favored by collectors but they are often attractive and on occasion of high quality. Could this be a department store pen, maybe Woolworth’s or possibly the French fashion shop House of Worth? I doubt it, so what’s next?

Are you familiar with Eclipse Pens? I’m not but wouldn’t you know it, they offer a metallic pen with a very similar design of gold-plating. Eclipse was a Canadian Pen manufacturer known for their celluloid and BHR pens. I assume that they contracted with a third party for the metalwork and the service provider probably had a catalog of designs to pick from. Finding two pens with the same design by different manufacturers is not a surprise.

Eclipse fountain pens were originally manufactured in the United States from about 1903 until the early 1930’s, manufacturing moved to Canada from 1925 to 1960 when the company shuttered. Maybe, maybe not, next!

Then I stumbled upon a dip pen manufacturer in NY marketing “Worth College Pen” nibs. These nibs are readily available on eBay and Pinterest. I tried researching the nib manufacturer but to no avail. I also posed questions to the Fountain Pen Network and Fountain Pen Geeks, and no one is familiar with “Worth” pens.

The Restoration

Ok let’s be honest, the nib is gross. There is ink gunking up the feed. The section is easily removed from the barrel. I put it in a cup of water for 24 hrs. Oddly enough the water did not change color based on the dried ink. I guess the gunk isn’t ink or it is not a water based ink (more likely the case). Anyway, the nib and feed easily separated from the section with a gentle pull and I set about working on the tarnished nib with a Sunshine cloth.

When the old dried up ink sac was removed, it was grey primarily, making me think it dated back to the 1960s. The section was showing signs of abuse, sandpaper removed the marks and some accumulated yuck.

As you can see the barrel and cap are in good shape with the exception of the chip missing from the lever – oh well. A Sunshine cloth removed the accumulated dirt and grime, restoring a very nice luster to the pen.

I installed a new ink sac, a #18 fit very nicely without being cramped inside the barrel.

All cleaned up, nib shows no sign of damage, we’ll see if it needs any smoothing but it has what appears to be hard water stains. The stains could be caused by overzealous cleaning with alcohol or an acetone, or fountain pen unfriendly inks.

There does not appear to be any corrosive damage to the nib. I found several options to address the stains, including micro mesh, silver polish, car polish, tooth paste, an emery cloth, so I opted for 7,000 grit paper. If anyone has other suggestions on how to remove the stains don’t be shy.

How does it write? Well, it is scratchy, can’t say I am a fan. If the angle is too steep the nib digs into the paper causing holes. Also, it needs to have the nib and feed heat set (my fingers are blue now). Considering what it looked like when I got it, I guess it writes well.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 127mm,
  • Uncapped length 119mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 10mm,
  • The cap diameter is 11mm,
  • The Pen weighs in at 14g.

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Author:

I'm a loser as my wife likes to tell me, I enjoy researching dead cousins and playing with fountain pens.

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