Posted in Restoration

The “Ambassador”

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 out bid 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.

I was able to determine that “Ambassador” was a marketing name for pens manufactured by a couple different pen manufactures. So which company made this pen? The most likely manufacturer is the Majestic Pen company, founded in the late 1920’s, 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 are considered third tier pen manufactures, quality and longevity are a concern for collectors. Majestic produced a wide variety of very attractive inexpensive decently made pens in the 1930’s 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 1940’s.

My Ambassador

Considering this pen was produced by a third tier pen manufacture, in the 1940’s, 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 wasn’ 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 being .025” (.68 mm) thick is a bit too thick for normal shears, but I have tin snips. I cut out a new j-bar, the edge that was cut left a sharp finish so I introduced it to the Dremel, sharp edge 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 written by this pen in 50 years. It wrote well, the nib is not damaged, and glided across the paper smoothly.

DIY J-Bar