Posted in Collection, Pens, Restoration, Reviews, Stories

The 1950’s Parker Parkette

The Parkette

A family of pens manufactured by Parker, but generally considered a third-tier pen. Evolving from the Parco, Parkette produced began in 1932 and ran through 1941. The pen was Parker’s answer to inexpensive competition while providing the Parker name and mystique. The Parkette generally lacked the quality of flagship Parker pens of the time (Duofold, and Vacumatic).

The Parkette was Parker’s first pen to make use of a lever-filling mechanism. A common option amongst other manufacturers but not one Parker pens ever would regularly embrace. Eventually, the lever-fill mechanism would find its way into other “third-tier” Parker pens, including the Duo-Tone (not to be confused with Duofold) and the Writefine.

The 1950s Parkette

It is a common practice for pen companies to reintroduce former names as a means of adding nostalgia. Parker introduced one last model to the Parkette family in 1950. The new pen included a lever-filling system and contemporary styling (a metal cap and a hooded nib). The newest Parkette did not fare well against period Parker’s.

My Pen

I have a grey 1951 Parkette. It is in very good shape, without any bite marks, or scratches, but it leaks. I know grey is boring but I like it with the shiny metal cap. It appears to have the same “defect” other hooded Parker’s shared – a gap between the hood and the nib. While researching the Parkette, it seems this pen is not favored amongst collectors and is considered cheap and not worthy of the time and effort to repair it – got my attention now.

This seemed odd to me, when I removed the ink sac I found the pen had a breather tube (more on these another day). A breather tube is used in better pens when the filling system fails to completely fill the reservoir with one cycle of compression and vacuum. This is a feature commonly not found in cheap pens and I would know, I have 3 Arnolds.

Refurbishment

I replaced the too-short ink sac, being careful not to remove the breather tube. I tried to remove the hood but found it is held firm by glue. I made a valent effort to remove it but when all options failed and applying solvents was the only choice, I stopped. The cap retention ring thingy was a little tarnished, nothing a Sunshine cloth could not remedy. The only real damage is a minute amount of brassing on the cap clip.

Not wanting to leave the feed, nib and breather tube as is, I used a bulb syringe to flush them out. I was surprised to see flakes of dried ink accumulate in the sink. My concern appeared warranted.

All done and ready to ink up and give it a go.

Welp, I’m happy to say it writes well. It is a fine point nib which is not one of my faves but this one does very well. The nib is a little wet but that may be excess ink from the filling fixing in the hood.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 132mm
  • Uncapped length. 121mm
  • Barrel diameter 11mm
  • Cap diameter 12mm
  • Weighs in at 16g

For a “cheap” pen not worthy of my time, the only complaint is a manufacturing defect (in my opinion). The cap is secured is pressure the cap retention ring thingy. The pen lacks a clutch ring as found in a 51, thus the cap is not adequately secured. I picked it up one day by the cap and the pen went flying. Luckily I made a good catch.

Posted in Restoration

Mabie Todd Swan Leverless

Company Back Story

Mabie Todd is one of the longest-lived manufacturers of writing instruments. Tracing its roots via gold nib and pencil manufacture to the 1840s. The company proper was established in 1860 in New York City. Swan pens were introduced in 1887, with UK production beginning in 1905.

Mabie Todd became a wholly-owned British company in 1915, with US manufacturing continuing until the late 1930s. Mabie Todd and the Swan were successful, known internationally as “the pen of the British Empire.” Although the company initially prospered in the postwar period, production ceased before the end of the ’50s.

Leverless

The Swan Leverless model featured a unique filling system, patented in 1932. It appears the pen is a piston filler or has a blind cap at the aft end of the barrel. Nope. Rotating the end cap one-half of a turn causes a metal bar to sweep the interior of the barrel. In doing so it compresses the ink sac. Rotate the cap back into position and allows the ink sac to expand again, filling with ink. A breather hole in the barrel facilitates air ventilation into the pen’s body as the ink sac is depressed.

Mabie Todd Swan Leverless sweep bar. The screw extends through the end of the barrel and the cap attaches to it.

Interestingly, the ink sac needs to completely fill the inside of the barrel. The use of an undersized sac will negate the sweeping action and the sac will not fill with ink.

Replace the sac

The section fits into the barrel via a friction fit. What makes the sac replacement of the leverless system unique is the need to remove the nib and feed from the section. Reinstall the section and set (fulling expand) the sac within the barrel by inserting a chopstick or similar item via the hole in the section. Only then are the nib and feed installed.

My Pen

I believe this pen to be an early version as it has a flat top and a Swan ‘medallion’ set into the cap. The pen is most likely ebonite, as determined by the smell – of old tires

My Swan appears to be a model L470/60, though there are no numbers on the pen. The pen is finished in black with a gold cap clip and gold cap ring. The barrel imprints are clear and sharp. This model and trademark logo date the pen to around 1934.

The nib is a Swan 3 while the feed has “Swan M2” stamped on it, and “Swan” stamped on the section. There are no other markings on the pen.

The top of the cap has the gold swan ‘medallion’ embedded in the blind cap and the Swan symbol stamped on the clip.

I did not notice any brassing on the clip or the cap ring.

I inked up the pen and gave it a go. The nib has a lot of flexibility but it is a fine nib (not a fave). The ink unfortunately, writes very wet. Combined with a flexible nib and cheap paper – the result it is not an impressive. I cannot blame the pen.

The ink is Scribo Grigio

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 127mm
  • Uncapped length. 116mm
  • Barrel diameter 11mm
  • Cap diameter 13mm
  • Weighs in at 17g

——————————- Reference Material ————————-

Posted in Restoration

Gold Starry, More Than A Ladies Pen

Company Backstory

The origins of Gold Starry date to 1909 with the marketing of Conway Stewart fountain pens in France, under the Gold Star brand name. In 1912, the name was changed to Gold Starry.

In 1921, Gold Starry became a wholly-owned French pen manufacturer of fountain pens, thus ending the import of English pens. Production initially occurred in a pavilion on the outskirts of Paris The company adopted the slogan “le stylo qui marche” (the pen that works). Characterized by the trademark consisting of a star, the Manifacture Francaise engraving on the barrel.

A lever fill model was introduced in 1927. My pen is a streamlined style, made popular by the Shaeffer Balance. This dates the pen to the 1930’s.

My Pen

My pen came from a seller in Rouen France. It is a small mottled ebonite lever filler with a gold loop to attach the pen to a chain and worn around the neck. As with my other 2 Gold Starry’s, there were surprises, some good, some not so good, but all awaiting for me to find.

The most obvious issue is the opening for the lever. It appears a tool was inserted into the opening and used to widen the opening to reinsert the lever and the snap ring. Feeling empowered I decided to try and restore the lever opening/barrel to its original shape.

I removed the lever and j-bar. Armed with an aluminum straw that fit the barrel perfecting, I set the tea kettle to boil. Taking hold of the straw, the damage section of the barrel is lightly applied to the steam for 15 seconds. Then inserting the handle of a spoon into the leveler slot (to prevent the accidentally over correction of the misshaped opening), applied pressure to each side, evaluated the results then the process repeated until the barrel is acceptable. The steam did leave a misty finish to the barrel which quickly came off when a Sunshine cloth was applied.

Before and After

Speaking of the lever, it turned out to be an interesting find. I’ve only seen levers that are plain, this one has a small raised accent shaped like an hourglass. Unfortunately, the hourglass is well worn and hard to see.

Also an interesting find is the J pressure bar, it reminds me of a Shaeffer SH pressure bar but in reverse and this pressure bar is in 2 pieces. The workmanship is really quit impressive.

The ink sac is also a surprise. Firstly, it is too large for the pen. A #18 sac has installed in the pen, which completely filled the inside of the barrel less the j-bar. Secondly, the ink sac is secured to the section by a string – no shellac. WTH. After reinstalling the J-bar, a #16 ink sac was inserted and determined that to be too large with the J-bar. I’ve settled on a #14 which I don’t have so I ordered a couple.

I decided to remove the nib and feed because there was some kind of white chalky “stuff” on the underside of the nib, plus the feed is out of position relative to the nib. Another interesting find, the nib is oblique.

Normally, I would ink up the pen and give it a go, but I am still waiting for the #14 ink sac. The nib is very flexible so I dipped the nib into Waterman Serenity Blue ink. The nib needs a visit to a nibsmith but definitely is flexible.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 99mm
  • Uncapped length. 84mm
  • Barrel diameter 10mm
  • Cap diameter 11mm
  • Weighs in at 9g
Posted in Heat Seating, Nibs, Restoration

Heat Setting an Ebonite Feed Without Burning Down the House

Heat setting an ebonite feed is a topic of much conjecture, often viewed as some deep dark secret shrouded in mystery, like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Addressing ink flow issues is not a rare or uncommon problem for fountain pen users. The cause of flow issues can be attributed to a variety of reasons. Before jumping to costly conclusions and if you have an ebonite feed there is a quick and easy “try this first” option – heat set your nib. Heat setting is a great option when addressing the following issues:

  • Consistent railroading
  • Dry writing
  • Hard starting
  • Dripping
  • Excessive leaking into cap
  • Blobbing
  • Excessively wet writing
  • Swapping nibs

Consulting the Parker Repair Manual 5115 (8th edition), the following guidance is provided. To achieve a consistent, and trouble-free ink flow, the nib must fit snuggly against the feed.

They recommend a process called “heating down” the feed. This is accomplished by lightly rotating the nib and feed through a flame. Then wet your finger in cold water, place the nib dorsal side down against a hard surface, like a table, and rub the feed in a back and forth motion. Pressing it against the nib produces a custom tight fit.

I strongly recommend that you do not use an open flame to heat down a feed. Vintage celluloid pens are highly flammable and there is a much safer alternative.

Let me introduce you to the hot-water-heat-setting method. No special skills required beyond the ability to boil water, and it works great. Using the hot water you can heat set a feed as many times as needed until the desired fit is had and the correct ink flow is achieved.

Begin by boiling water, it needs to be hot. Pour the hot water into a glass or jar, but only enough to immerse the nib up to the section. It is best if the section is not submerged. Leave the nib and feed in the hot water for 30-35 seconds then remove from the hot water. Now, place the feed on your thumb and gently squeeze or pinch the feed and nib together. Holding it for 20 seconds, allowing the ebonite to cool. Ink the pen and evaluate the results. Repeat as needed.

If you are heat-setting a vintage pen with a black ebonite barrel, I would remove the section from the barrel, eliminating any chance the barrel may come into contact with water. I had a very bad experience where my 100-year-old black ebonite pen turned green the instant the barrel got wet….

Thanks for reading, let me know if this has been helpful. It has for me. Until next time.

Posted in Restoration

Keystone: A Brand, A Model or Wearever

The keystone fountain pen, a taper-cap eyedropper-filling model produced by Soper & Sievewright, was fitted with a manually-operated ink shut-off to prevent leakage while in the pocket and also provided an option to fill the pen by removal of a threaded plug in the back end of the barrel.

Keystone was also a pen model name used by David Kahn, Inc. for one of the Wearever pens. Kahn, a manufacturing company operating in New Jersey, was founded in 1896 by David Kahn, a Jewish immigrant. Kahn’s company manufactured ornate pencil cases, mechanical pencils, and pens. The Wearever brand of fountain pens was introduced circa 1918. In the late 1920s, Kahn adopted the injection molding process then being developed in Germany, making them the first manufacturer to produce injection-molded pens.

This Keystone, is it a model, or is it a brand name …. we know that Wearever used Keystone as one of its model names, and this pen looks very much like the Jefferson pens produced by Wearever. I’m inclined to believe this pen is one of the Wearever models known as Keystone.

My Pen

Not trying to be a Negative Nancy, but let’s start with my complaint about the pen. The pen is overall in good shape and attractive but some idiot who previously “restored” it shellacked the section to the barrel after installing an undersized ink sac. I can’t take any pride in sloppy work but I guess “good enough” is as good as some people can manage – I’m a firm believer in the Peter Principle.

Now on to the pen!

Let’s start with the ink sac and section, as you can see this is all jacked up. OMG, it gets even better, the refurbisher did not bother to remove the old sac. Its remains are in the barrel as well as its remnants are still on the section under the newly installed sac – oh this going to be fun.

I had no problem removing the lever, and most of the previous ink sac, which was still rubberized-ish. Naturally, the J-bar broke when I tried to remove it. Or maybe it was already broken, but no worries I can make a new one. I eventually removed the old ink sac from the barrel making use of a wax carving tool and an X-Acto knife.

Then I pulled the nib and feed out by accident, which turned out to be a good thing, The underside of the nib was coated with a white stain. Using an old polishing cloth I went to work on the stain. The nib is imprinted with the verbiage “gold plated,” well as I worked the cloth to remove the stains so did the remaining gold plate.

Look closely below you will notice a series of cracks radiating out from the clip. I’m confident these are manufacturing defects and not related to misuse.

After manufacturing a new J-Bar, I made quick order reassembling the pen, installing a #20 sized ink sac. Time to ink it up and give it a go!

Can’t say I was impressed with how the pen writes. We all know I am not a fan of Fine point nibs. After inking up the pen I had to coax the ink to flow. The feed is not suited for fast writing and would be a horrible choice for note-taking.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 125mm
  • Uncapped length 120mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 13.5mm
  • Weighs in at 14g.
Posted in Restoration

1935 Parker Challenger

(Revised from the original posting on 16 March 2021.)

The Parker Challenger was manufactured from 1934 to 1941 and was a surprise success for the George Parker Company. The pen was introduced in February of 1934 during the Vacumatic era and featured a button filler made of the same material as the Vacumatics but at less than half the price. The Challenger was offered in two sizes, slim or standard, and sold for $2.50, whereas the Vacumatic sold for $7.50 and the Parkette for $1.25, making it priced right as a gift pen for school students.

My Pen

When I got my Parker Challenger as a consultation prize for bitching about excessive shipping cost on another purchase. It was in horrible condition, the clip and cap ring is heavily brassed. The ink sac was dried-up, and the section is frozen to the barrel and the nib won’t pull out. The date code 13 is stamped on the barrel, meaning it was manufactured in Q1 1935.

How to refurbish it, I pulled out my Parker Repair manual, which was apparently a bad idea. In the repair manual, it indicated that the plunger section needed or could be removed using the Parker pen vise. Turns out you aren’t supposed to take the plunger section out so when I tried and tried all I did was damage the threads of the plunger cap. Now there are no teeth to hold the cap on.

So I got working on the section and the nib. Both aren’t budging, using a hair drier and soaked them for days, they finally came apart. A peek inside the barrel revealed the pressure bar mixed up with the dried ink sac.

Feeling frustrated I did a Duck Duck Go search and found 2 articles, one on The Fountain Pen Network and the other on Fountain Pen Restoration detailing how to refurb a Challenger, well shit. This is when I realized the vise was a mistake. Removing the plunger was no problem but the pressure bar wasn’t moving. Using a dental pick, I broke up enough of the sac to free the pressure bar, then removed the remaining sac.

I found a guy in South Dakota with a spare clip for the Challenger – I ordered one. Well, the clip arrived and the hole in the washer is too small. At first glance, it is otherwise identical to the one I took off. Placing them side by side the new one is a little shorter.

The inside diameter of the brassed clip ring is 10mm while the replacement clip is 7mm. Could it be a Vacumatic clip since Challengers were made from the same plastic or maybe a remodeled Duofold clip,

Removing years of grim, tooth marks, and scratches. Taped over the name and mfr info and started sanding with 1000 grit paper, then 2000, 3000, 5000, 7000 grit paper then I repeated the whole process. Afterward, I went over the pen with a Sunshine cloth. It feels great! and looks good. The process was repeated with on cap.

Time to focus on the section, it had a brown tint from all the grime which required sanding twice. The paper turned brown, but when I finished it looked great. Installed a #20 ink sac. Used the Sunshine cloth on the nib, it shined up great so I also polished up the feed and put the nib back into the section.

Do No Harm

Turned my attention to the damage I did to the plunger cap. Applied 2 coats of sac shellack to the inside of the blind cap threads. It didn’t help so I cut some black construction paper into a thin strip and put it inside the cap, and shellacked it into place – bingo.

OMG, I’ve found a DIY process for nickel electroplating that is “safe and easy.” I gave it a go, didn’t poison myself or blow up the garage, and my wife didn’t divorce me (lol).

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 132mm
  • Uncapped length 116mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 14mm
  • Weighs in at 16g
Posted in Nibs, Pens, Restoration, Stories

Fountain Pen Primer 104: Cleaning and Care

I personally, clean my pen on the day it runs dry or exits rotation. This is done with cold tap water, I use a nasal aspirator (bulb thingie as it is popularly known) to force water through the feed and nib. The converter is rinsed out and the pen is left to air-dry overnight. Once reassembled, I use an old Sunshine cloth (it has been hand washed once) to remove fingerprints and water spots. All my pens are stored in a dark and dry storage box. I do not expose them to sunlight.

I rarely clean the pen if merely switching inks. I enjoy the blended coloration. I know, probably not the smartest thing in the world but hey, it’s my pen. Back to the topic at hand, as my father would say “don’t do as I do, do as I say,” thus without further ado… Cleaning and Care of your pen,

I opted to crowdsource this topic as I am far from the expert and I have established I may be a danger to some pens. Thus, I consulted with the membership of several groups of pen enthusiasts, what follows is their collective wisdom.

When

  • Don’t – simply keep refilling the same pen.
  • When changing to a different ink.
  • When the pen leaves rotation.
  • Clean the pen on the same day/night they run dry.
  • Within a week of running dry.
  • Every few months when refilling with the same ink.

How

  • Rinse in cold water.
  • Force water through the feed and nib with an ear bulb syringe or nasal aspirator
  • Use a blunt-end syringe to rinse out the converter.
  • Piston fillers take time to flush out, but patience and water will win the day!
  • Rinse the cap/barrel with water, then use cotton swabs to remove ink residue and excess water.
  • Add a drop of dish soap to the water if the pen that’s been sitting for a while, or a poorly behaved ink.
  • Sometimes just swap a cartridge for a new one and enjoy the transition between colors.
  • Allow to air dry on a paper towel.

With What

  • Sunshine cloth to polish and removed finger prints and water marks.
  • Distilled water is recommended but tap water is the choice 99.9 percent of the time.
  • Ultra Sonic cleaner on scruffy eBay purchases, or to remove inks stain be misbehaved inks.
  • Cotton swabs to clean caps and barrels.
  • For vintage or used pen, add a drop or two of dish soap to the water before soaking.
  • Rapidio-Eze pen cleaning solution.
  • Sailor pen cleaning kit.
  • Goulet Pens flush for stains.
  • Clean the converters with blunt-end syringe will save time.
  • Ammonia for stubborn ink stains.
  • Use a cotton towel or a connoisseurs cleaning cloth to remove finger prints etc.

Fears and Concerns

  • Polishing pens with a Sunshine cloth or anything else is too abrasive and may remove gold plating.
  • Infrequent cleaning makes the process much more arduous.
  • Never remove nibs from the unit or section as ebonite sections are heat set and will not fit correctly when reinstalled – causes leaks.

On a Lighter Note

  • Do not wash your pen in the dishwasher
  • Do not use a steel wool pad on your pen
  • Do not soak your pen in bleach to remove stubborn ink stains
  • If interested in applying wax or polish to your pen please read my post on polishing first.
Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories

Parker Vacumatic

The Vacumatic replaced the Duofold in 1933 as the Parker flagship line of pens. Production lasted through 1948 in the US and 1953 in Canada. The first models were known and marketed as “Golden Arrow,” followed briefly as the “Vacuum Filler” then “Vacumatic.”

Parker had bought the rights to this design from Professor Arthur O. Dahlberg in 1925, an instructor in machine design at the University of Wisconsin. Parker spent 5 years and $125,000 perfecting the mechanism.

The Vacumatic filler mechanism consists of a spring-loaded plunger attached to a sac-like rubber diaphragm. Depressing the plunger distends the diaphragm to expel air from the pen, and releasing the plunger sucks ink directly into the pen’s barrel. The whole barrel is used as the ink reservoir. The diaphragms are flexible parts that will break down over time.

The Vacumatic sported three filler mechanisms during its life. Two were made of a metal tube and known as the Lockdown Filler and Speedline Filler. Wartime needs saw the introduction of the Plastic Filler.

DuPont supplied the plastic for the body, which was made of alternating rings of celluloid. The horizontal rings alternated clear celluloid and opaque or pearlescent creating barrel transparency and visibility to the ink level.

During the life of the pen, it sported four clip designs, all variations of the new stylish landmark feathered arrow, designed by Joseph Platt of New York, which is now synonymous with Parker.

The very first pens, known as the Golden Arrow, were test marketed in July 1932. As with the Duofold, Parker quietly distributed 60 Golden Arrows to a store in Chicago. During July, the store sold nine Wahls, seven Sheaffers, six Parkers, two Swans, and one Waterman. The first week of August the Golden Arrow hit the shelves, during the month the store sold 15 Golden Arrows, one Parker Duofold, and one Swan.

My Pen

My pen is a standard Vacumatic, manufactured in 1946, Q2. It has the Blue Diamond Clip and the color is Gold Pearl. The pen was refurbished prior to my purchase. It has an age-appropriate plastic plunger but the color of the plastic plunger is incorrect – oh well.

The nib is solid colored with the Parker Arrow and a date code stamped on it indicating it was manufactured in 1946. The cap has a peaked black plastic jewel.

1946 Vacumatic cap jewel and ring

I wrote very nicely when inked with the Pelikan 4001 black. There is a little feedback but I attribute that to the paper, it’s pretty thick. And (don’t let me forget), Vacumatics are PITA to clean.

Evacuate the ink by depressing the plunger slowly. Release to draw water into the pen and slowly depress the plunger to expel the water/ink. Repeat this process until a) your thumb falls off, b) the cows come home, c) the grass grows or d) you decide that it is “good enough.”

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 128.5mm,
  • Uncapped length 119mm,
  • Barrel diameter 12mm,
  • Cap diameter 13.5mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 17g.
Posted in Pens, Restoration, Reviews

Handmade Mottle Ebonite Pen

“The mottled ebonite eyedropper fountain pen is resplendent of the magnificence of Indian craftsmanship for a reason … the hand turning of fountain pens is elevated to a form of fine art

Independent artisans working with a small lathe machine in a small apartment, produce high-quality handmade fountain pens that are sold all over the world. It takes between one to four days to make a single pen.

This brings us to my pen, unbranded, hand turned on a lathe from solid tan and brown mottled ebonite. The pen is in good shape, there is a small scratch on the barrel and ink stains on the cap around each air hole. The pen has a faint odor, this is common with ebonite, especially with indie pens from India. Hey, the pen is made from hard rubber and all rubber smells, it will fade with time. The feed is handmade from ebonite. There is a partial channel running along the ventral side of the feed, I’m not sure what function this serves.

The nib is a “Butterfly” brand medium nib, not a butterfly nib. Butterfly nibs are super cheap, they were popular in the early 20th century. They are missing tips at the end of the tines. Instead, each tine is bent under forming a writing surface. This nib has “Butterfly Medium” and the letters “PPM” in an oval engraved on it. The nib shoulders bet so that they form a tight fit around the feed much like a Lamy.

The pen is made entirely of lathe-turned mottled ebonite. You can just make out the lathe marks on the section. The cap has a single ring cut into it and a silver plate clip. The clip has pyramided rectangle boxes running the length of the clip. The clip is attached to a silver-plated ring and held in place by a blind cap.

I was able to remove the ink stains from the cap with a Sunshine cloth, and cleaned the insides; purple was the past ink of choice.

Time to give it a try, I got out the Serenity Blue and filled the barrel. Had to prime the nib, but once it got started no problems. I stored it nib up for hours, introduced it to paper and ink flowed without missing a beat.

Now for the scary part, I’m going to lay the capped pen on my desk in the hope it doesn’t leak.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 128mm,
  • Uncapped length 112mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Inside barrel diameter 7mm,
  • Inside barrel depth 61mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Geek alert! For giggles, doing the math (yes I cheated and used an online calculator) but the volume of the inside of the barrel (less the section) is nearly 9,300 cubic mm. This pen can hold just north of 9ml of ink.

The Verdict

I have a thing for mottled pens let’s focus on the pink elephant, I was leery of the nib. Image my surprise when it wrote so well. Once upon a time, I was a fan of fine-tipped nibs (to compensate for cheap paper) and this pen writes closed to fine than to medium making this a great choice. The nib is firm, bordering extra firm – ok it is so firm you could use it in a game of darts, which may not be agreeable to all. The pen did not leak when left lying horizontally but it did have an issue after the weekend. When I tried to use it after it lay horizontally over a weekend nothing, no ink. I applied the nib to the paper with a bit more force than normal and a gusher ensued.

Final thoughts, this pen is not elegant, it’s not fancy, it’s simply functional. With the huge ink reservoir, I’ve filled it with as much Serenity Blue ink as I dare, now let’s see how long it lasts. Kudos to the Indian artisan who made this pen.

Posted in Restoration

Gold Starry Safety Pen

Company Backstory

The origins of Gold Starry can be traced back to 1909 with the marketing of Conway Stewart fountain pens in France, as the Gold Star brand. Following a trademark violation in 1912, the name was changed to Gold Starry, retaining the English origin of the pens. The first pens sold by the Gold Starry brand were black hard rubber or mottled safeties. These pens were eyedropper fill safety fountain pens, identified by two digits (models 36 & 39), indicating the price in francs.

At the beginning of the ’20s, fountain pen production began in a pavilion on the outskirts of Paris. In 1921, Gold Starry became a wholly-owned French pen manufacturer, thus ending the import of English pens. The company adopted the slogan “le stylo qui marche” (the pen that works). Characterized by the trademark consisting of a star, the brand name, and “Manifacture Francaise” engraving on the barrel and some dotted rings on the cap top.

My Pen

I picked up the pen from a seller in Germany. The seller said the pen is a model 59, least ways that is how I am reading him. I cannot find any documentation on Gold Starry models beyond 36, 39 and 256. Based on its size, it is a vest pen without a clip.

I’m estimating the pen dates from between 1921 to 1926 as determined by the logo and the cap rings (no dots). The original brand logo is a Star followed by GOLD STARRY, nothing else. In 1925, the logo changed the star now bisects GOLD STARRY and “Manifacture Francaise” is engraved on the barrel. The logo on my pen has a star followed by GOLD STARRY, there is nothing engraved on the barrel and the cap is missing the customary dotted cap rings. This tells me the pen is either a Conway Stewart marketed by Gold Starry or one of the first Manifacture Francaise pens.

1924 (top) and 1927 Gold Starry advertisments

The Restoration

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The pen is in really good shape with the exception of ink stains. The barrel from the section and 1/2” past the cap threads were heavily coated with ink. The mouth of the barrel and operating shaft were covered with a significant amount of ink residue and dust. I spent days removing the ink.

The nib needed a little tuning, one of the tins was slightly bent and had to be straightened and aligned.

Time to give it a try, with the nib retracted I used a straw to drop ink down the barrel. The barrel opening is so narrow a normal straw cannot be inserted into the opening, but I managed, drop by drop. You may be wondering how the ink is prevented from spilling out of the barrel. This is a safety pen, the nib is only extended when being used. At all other times the nib is retracted and the cap is screwed on. Inside the cap is a circular protrusion that will plug the opening of the barrel when screwed on tightly.

With the nib fully extended, the pen met paper. The nib is very soft and flexible, it took a moment to get used to how it writes. Held the pen up to examine the nib….wait, ahhhh the ink is leaking out of the knob used to extend or retract the nib. Damn the cork used to pack the shaft is missing or dry rotted (remember my comment about dust on the operating shaft!). Great a case of inky fingers.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 92mm,
  • Uncapped, nib retracted length 84mm,
  • Cap length 31mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 8.5mm,
  • The cap diameter is 9.5mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 20g.

I mentioned the pen is small, how small you ask? It’s this small.

L-R: Mont Blanc Meisterstuck, Waterman Hemisphere, Bic Cristal, Gold Starry, Conklin All American