Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories

Arnold: the Original Disposable Fountain Pen

Company Backstory

Remmie Arnold started his company in 1935, operating out of Petersburg, Virginia after his tenure with the Edison Pen Company. Arnold became one of the largest producers of fountain pens in the world, concentrating on very inexpensive pens sold primarily in low end stores.

Good can be cheap, but Cheap is never good.

How cheap were Arnold pens you may ask? Retailers could buy a gross for $22.50 or 15 cents per pen, reselling them at a 40% profit. Wow, I paid $4 for a pen that originally sold for 21 cents, hmmm…. been had again. Obviously, with such a low price point, these pens were not built to last. The Arnold Pen Company survived through 2005 having switched from fountain pen production to become a ballpoint pen manufacturer.

My Pens

I bought 3 Arnold pens to experiment with, 2 came from a seller in Richmond. Both of those were supposed to be NOS, right out of the box. Yup the pens were never used, which doesn’t mean they aged well – actually they are both butt ugly.

Even ugly pens need love – right, so I set about pulling the green pen apart. The section pulled free of the barrel and lookie there, the original ink sac is still intact and pliable. That is cool, I need to ink it up and see how well it writes. Well maybe later.

Looking at the feed, it has 2 ink channels or fissures as Waterman liked to call them. It is super cheap, the manufacturing process used a 2 sided mold to create the feed. The sides didn’t fit well and the residue plastic was not trimmed off.

Good stuff cheap

I decided to ink up the pen, it took ink without any problems. The lever is super small so it is difficult to maneuver. I have to admit for a 21 cent pen it writes really well and I’m impressed the ink sac holds ink. The sac is probably upwards of 60 years old.

I got out my old Sunshine cloth and went to work on the cap band and clip. I failed to make any progress, so I switched to a new Sunshine cloth and that made a difference on the cap band, the clip improved but not by much. The filling lever is beyond hope. The nickel finish is gone and there are signs on the barrel of discoloration by the threads. The pen has clearly been exposed to the sun in the hot, humid Virginia summers. I am toying with the option of using my DIY nickel electroplating process to restore the missing nickel plating. But that folks is the topic of a future blog post.