Posted in Reviews, Stories

Eco Friendly Stuff, The Review

At the end of November on Cyber Monday, I highlighted some eco-friendly pen and journaling options. To be transparent, I do not have any vested financial interest in any of the products but I was intrigued and willing to try some out, thus I made some purchases.

For Christmas, my wife got me (she also got me a pen, imagine her surprise) eco-friendly pencils, a fountain pen, and a journal. Let’s see how well they did and what did they cost me.

Rainbow Recycled Paper Pencils, wood and plastic free.

The pencils write and act well… like pencils. I put one in an electric pencil sharpener, no issues there, it took a perfect sharp point. Some Amazon reviewers complained about this but I had no issues. I love the rainbow color. The pencil is made from recycled paper and is wood and plastic-free. The writing material is of premium #2 HB pencil lead, conform with EN71 and ISO9001. When I put the pencil to work, the point did not break (another popular complaint). I was sketching a plan for built-in bookcases, I feel I gave the pencils a good workout. At $1/pencil it’s not the cheapest alternative but I can find plenty of more expensive wood pencils.

Zenzoi bamboo fountain pen

The pen cost $24, is handmade, and is classified as a calligraphy pen! I’m not entirely sure why, as it came with a German medium iridium nib. In the Q&A section another purchaser described it as a medium-bold point pen nib, not flat like a calligraphy nib, it’s more like a Speedball B-6 nib. With a name like Zenzoi, yes it is made in China for Germany. The pen is considered eco-friendly because it is made from bamboo, which as we all know is grass.

Zenzoi, a bamboo pen in a bamboo case

The barrel has a smooth finish with just a slight textured feel. The two blind end caps are rough. I am fighting the desire to get out the Danish Oil and apply a finish to the pen.

The converter is the type that is just pushed into the section. At the end that operates the plunger-screw mechanism is easily detached allowing access for cleaning. In the spirit of being green, I inked it up with Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume. The ink writes wet, no sheen, and minor feathering.

Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 145mm,
  • Uncapped length 123mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11.5mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Decomposition Notebook

The Decomposition Notebook turned out to be a fake. I know Caveat Emptor but I got it from Amazon and assumed (yes I know about ass-u-me). The good news, is it only cost me $6 and it is no longer available. I recommend going directly to Decomposition where the books are 50%-100% post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks. I noticed a couple pocket or field journals, maybe I’ll get one, compare it to the fake, and review it.

On a side note, we have started using cloth unpaper towels in place of paper towels for most clean-ups. They are attractive, highly absorbent, and come in a pack of 10. Alternatively, I guess I could have used hand towels or dishwashing clothes but really, they aren’t as attractive, and honestly, they are not as absorbent.

The Unpaper Towels

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Posted in Pens, Stories

Fountain Pen 101 Primer – How Does a Fountain Pen Work

It is interesting or shall I say surprising to me the number of people I’ve handed a fountain pen, encouraging them to give it a try, they either decline or stumble along. The initial look of fear, then confusion, followed by the exasperation “I don’t know how.” They are at a loss – how to use the pen. Thus the inspiration for a series of Fountain Pen 101 primers.

The workings of a fountain pen can be described simply as a controlled leak.

Major Fountain pen components

  • The nib. The pointed metal end that transfers ink to the paper and is the most recognized or iconic part of a fountain pen.
  • The feed. Sits under the nib and supplies ink from inside the pen to the nib. It often contains a visible set of grooves or fins which collect ink flowing from the reservoir and regulates ink flow.
  • The reservoir. Where the ink is stored in the pen’s barrel.

Take notice of the nib, there is a slit from the nib tip running half the length, terminated at the “breather” hole. The slit is placed above a similar groove along the dorsal side of the feed. The breather hole has two purposes, it acts as a means of “stress-relief” preventing the slit from growing and it allows air to enter the ink channel.

How does it works

How does the ink get from the reservoir onto the paper?

In part, gravity, but mostly through capillary action – the process by which liquids travel along the surface of a solid material because of attraction. Think how water spreads out across a paper towel to soak up a spill.

The feed of a fountain pen consists of one big channel with small groves or channels (usually 3) cut into the channel bottom. Ink flows along the small channels while air flows through the space above. This arrangement allows air to flow into the ink reservoir and simultaneously allows ink to flow towards the paper at a controlled rate. Capillary action along with gravity keep the channel filled thus preventing ink from escaping the fountain pen because air can’t get into the reservoir to displace ink.

The fins of the feed act as a temporary reservoir regulating the flow of ink. They fill with ink that is drawn across the top of the feed and the ventral side of the nib by capillary action.

A quick note on Fountain Pen Ink

Ink is water with dyes and other chemicals required for proper functioning. The chemicals create the properties of the ink, including the surface tension or viscosity (wettability). While the saturation of the dyes provides the color. Also, present are anti-bacterial chemicals so your ink does develop a life of its own in the bottle. Mold does bad things to your pen!

The ink also needs to be the right viscosity for capillary action to pull it through the feed. This is why it’s so important to only use fountain pen inks in a fountain pen.

The Ink Reservoir

The ink reservoir stores ink and can be a simple ink cartridge to a complex filling mechanism that’s capable of drawing in and storing the ink. Contemporary pens primarily use one of 4 types of ink storage; converter, piston, cartridge, or eyedropper, all located inside the handle.

A cartridge is the most common of the reservoirs. Each comes pre-filled with ink, making it easy to replace. Simply buy a new cartridge and replace the old one.

Converter and Piston reservoirs function by twisting the filling mechanism at the end of the pen. To operate, submerge the nib or opening of the converter into a bottle of ink twist the mechanism, and ink is drawn into the reservoir. Converter reservoirs are similar to the ink cartridge in that they can be removed. While Pistons are non-removable converters that come built into the fountain pen.

Eyedropper ink storage is more popular in regions that experience year-round heat and humidity (like in Asia). The filling process is considered cumbersome and potentially messy. The process is not that bad, simply remove the section, use an eyedropper (I use a straw) to draw ink from a bottle. Insert the eyedropper into the barrel, give it a squeeze, and you are done. These pens hold considerably more ink but due care is needed when filling them.

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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.

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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

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Posted in Pens, Restoration

Really, The Dog Ate My Pen

(Originally posted on 6 April 2021.)

In the spirit of TBT and the ghosts of Christmas past, I thought I’d reblog this post with updates. I’m sure everyone was good last year and Santa brought you lots of nice things. Did you put those nice things away? Are they out of reach of the dog? Yes, there is a lesson or two to be learned.

The Backstory

The Esterbrook Purse or Pastel pen was produced with women in mind, they were smaller, dainty, and designed to fit in a purse. The initial pens were made between 1954 and 1957. These Pastel pens were constructed using a much softer plastic, today they are usually found with cracks in the cap, and their color is faded. The pen in this tale was “cherry” when I got it, so I gave it to my wife as a Christmas present along with a sweet bullet journal (160gsm paper) so she could use a fountain pen, markers, etc without the bleed-through associated with the cheap stuff we call paper. This is where the trouble begins, the pen was stored in a cute little bag that somehow ended up on the floor (I blame the cats) and our dog thought she would try it out as a new chew toy. Fortunately, she wasn’t impressed.

CYA announcement

Do not do as I do, but if you choose to ignore my warning please don’t do it with a pen of value.

She managed to miss the nib, the cap clip, the cap ring, and both jewels. And, she didn’t put any holes completely through the plastic. I’ve read in numerous blogs, where people have used hairdryers to loosen the nib section from the barrel, knowing this plastic is a lot softer and more pliable maybe it could be leveraged to soften the plastic and remove the teeth marks.

Restoration

Beginning with the damage to the barrel at the lever, this type of pen uses a snap ring system to hold the fill lever mechanism in place. When the lever is engaged it will actuate a J-bar which compresses the ink sac thus when released ink is drawn into the sac.

Let’s start by removing and inspecting the nib section, confirming there is no damage to the section, nib, or ink sac. Using forceps I easily removed the J-bar, and now it is time to focus on the lever. Remember, there is a bite mark that appears to have grazed the mechanism and partially displace the snap ring. Normally, a lever is removed by raising it 45-degree then pushing forward, but in this case, that wasn’t possible. I managed to manipulate the lever until it and the snap ring came out, everything looks good.

Using the crafting hairdryer, I started intermittently applying medium heat to the barrel. After a couple minutes the plastic felt hot, so I inserted a dental instrument into the barrel. At the damaged area, I began rotating the tool so that the curved side of the instrument would press against the indentation. This I did until I succeeded in pushing out the tooth-mark. Next, I sanded the barrel removing the residual mark. The process is progressive, starting with 1000 grit paper, which will remove significant damage then progressing to 2000, 3000, 5000, and finally, 7000 grit paper leaving a perfectly smooth surface. The process removed all evidence of bite marks and scratches. Looking good!

Now feeling empowered and overly confident, I moved on to the pen cap. The cap has a hard plastic insert that seals the cap to the section preventing ink leakage. One of the bites made a dent protruding through the insert. This will require more heat, more effort, and more attention. Using the same basic principle I began applying high heat to the pen cap. Using a wax carving tool to apply pressure to the damaged area of the hard plastic insert while simultaneously applying pressure to the outside – it’s working!

This is when my overconfidence got the better of me, I applied too much heat plus I took my eye off the cap for just a split second. The tapered end of the pen cap opened up like a budding flower allowing the jewel and clip to fall out. Oh shit! Shit, shit, shit, shit! Now, what am I going to do? I was already patting myself on the back for a job well done.

Wait I have an idea! (Oh no, not again)

To Be Continued…

Posted in Collection, Pens, Reviews, Stories

The (Wish) List

I usually acquire pens based on impulse and circumstance (i.e. dumb luck), which has introduced me to a variety of odd pens. Some contemporary, some vintage, but all speak to me. The pens on this list are not pens to finish my collection. Nope, these are pens that have caught my eye, struck my fancy, and now I have a penchant for owning them. Oh and BTW, I love lists. Without further ado, in alphabetical order, let’s start the new year with a wish list ….

Benu – Silver Skull

“Silver Skull Fountain Pen is inspired by our childhood dreams of piracy and adventures. Rebellion and daring design is created for those who share the same ideals. Skillfully crafted by hand from glossy resin with its hand-friendly shape and shining decorative ring the Silver Skull Pen is a stylish accessory and a real pleasure to use.” – Benu Pen.com

I just thought this pen is the coolest. Why? Well I have a fondness for black pens, plus I have a fascination for Día de Muertos and who doesn’t like pirates. There are many “skull” pens on the market but this is the one for me.

Benu Silver Skull

Irish Pens – Black Carbon Fiber

“At 66 grams, Rhodium and Titanium wrapped in Black Carbon Fiber and with a Peter Bock nib at the business end this is a serious fountain pen, a fountain pen that will feel at home in the most exclusive boardroom, business setting or in your personal writing space, its gravitas will not go unnoticed whenever it is used. When the written words really matter! this is the fountain pen to use.” – Irish Pens.ie

Irish Pens, an Irish indie pen company specializing in pens made in County Cavan, Ireland of Irish native woods. I originally was drawn to their pens made from bog oak, but I saw this one! You have to admit, it takes your breath away. No surprise, this pen is the most expensive on the list.

Irish Pens Carbon Black

Kaweco – Student Pen

“Nostalgic fountain pen in soft green with golden details made of precious resin. The Student 60’s Swing impresses with a soft and organic green. The combination of green and golden elements is harmonious and underlines the series’s nostalgic, bulky shape. It matches the motto of the Swinging Sixties: Harmony and peace. The Student fountain pen with its curved pen body made of high-quality resin guarantees a haptic and visual writing pleasure.” – Kaweco Pen.com

Germans are known for their over engineering not for their simplicity, this this pen is the exception. The design, aesthetics, complimentary colors of ivory and green – beauty in simplicity. I do wish the section was not gold, but rather the same color as the cap.

Kaweco Student

Parker – 51

“When it introduced the “51” in 1941, the George S. Parker Company knew it had a winner. The pen was stylish but not flashy, durable but not clunky, and reliable but not overengineered. Over the next 31 years, the pen proved itself immensely popular. Tales are told of people who, unable to afford a whole pen, would purchase only a cap to clip in a pocket, giving the appearance of a complete pen.“ – Richards Pens.com

Parker 51 is the one vintage pen everyone should own, or so I have been told. After reading tons of accolades, this pen is worthy of the distinction. It is an attractive pen, unique in design. I am looking for an acceptable 1941 pen but they are not common. I fancy the Cedar Blue color but as mentioned I’m sure dumb luck will prevail and I’ll get what I get.

Parker 51

**** Update, a 1941 or maybe it’s a 1944 (more on this at a later time) is in the mail and of course it is not Cedar Blue.

Scrikss – Heritage Black GT

“Launched in 2014 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Scrikss company, the Heritage range is intended to be emblematic, a flagship of the brand Scrikss. The painstaking design is a combination between traditional and modernism, having as inspiration the aqueducts model that surrounded the old city of Istanbul in the past. It is created by the Turkish designer Kunter Sekercioglu.” – Scrikss Pen.com.tr

I stumbled on this pen after I bought a Scrikss 419. A lovely metal pen, with laser etched scrollwork. I feel like there is an elegance inspired by Instanbul. I have not found a US dealer as yet.

Scrikss Heritage GT

Posted in Collection

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

What is old is New again.

Let’s start the new year off with an old friend, we’ll sort of. I’m inking up the Waterman Lauret I, which is new to me in 2021 but is 30 years old. By old friend, I mean this pen feels just like the Waterman Hemisphere in hand. If you recall, the Hemisphere is the pen that got me started down this rat hole. Also, I adding a little excitement and opened the Papier Plume ink Cafe Diabolique which I picked up on Fountain Pen Day.

Papier Plume‘s special FPD ink: Cafe Diabolique which was blended to be an exact match for Cafe Brulot, a trance-inducing after-dinner coffee ritual which is still being performed by a few old-school waiters skilled in the flaming at-table ritual.

What did Santa bring you?

Posted in Restoration, Stories

To Wax or Not to Wax, Maybe Just Polish

People frequently confuse polishing with waxing or use the terms interchangeably. So why wax your pen? Well, the wax would appear to offer protective benefits for hard rubber and casein-based plastics (never apply it to celluloid) by creating a relatively impermeable layer to protect against moisture.

Spoiler Alert: from what I’ve read, waxing is not recommended for any pen, now let’s determine why!

The preferred method of restoration or cleaning is to polish a pen’s surface – please don’t ever use a buffer. I use a Sunshine cloth on everything. Some pen materials, such as celluloid, need to breathe and be stored in a place with good air circulation to avoid “celluloid rot”.

What’s the problem with wax?

Waxes have not been shown to benefit hard rubber, while they can damage celluloid by preventing the escape of the acidic gas by products celluloid naturally produce. The wax seals the celluloid, preventing the nitrocellulose gas from escaping, it is retained in the celluloid hastening decomposition. As waxes age, they harden requiring extraordinary measures for removal. This is even more prevalent with hard waxes like Carnauba. Also, the wax will “yellow” or become cloudy with age impacting the pen’s appearance. Even the best microcrystalline waxes are subject to these same issues. Synthetic waxes are even worse, they are almost impossible to remove. Waxes that were once thought to be “museum grade,” such as Renaissance Wax, are now known to be no better than other waxes.

Renaissance wax was developed by The Britisch Museum to protect the items in their collection. A study showed that Renaissance wax is especially difficult to remove without harsh solvents. The wax is no longer used in museums.

The point to waxing is to clean (surprise), wax makers know this and their recipes contain more hydrocarbon solvents than wax. Neither the solvents nor the wax is beneficial or appropriate to use on a pen. There are products out there that have neither solvents nor waxes that do an excellent job in polishing plastics.

At one point I thought Danish Oil would be a good ebonite protectant until I read the small print, the oil I was using is 70% toxic solvents and resin ester. I now use 100% mineral oil and a Sunshine cloth. The mineral oil is a cleaning agent on ebonite only. Guess what, it is distilled petroleum and petroleum does not play well with some rubber (I know – “loser”). Sticking with oils, REM and 3-in-1 oils have also been shown to accelerate the gas deterioration process.

As mentioned, I do not use wax at all, I do not use a buffer and the only polishing I do is use a Sunshine Cloth. I am considering a polish that contains only a micro crystal abrasive in a water suspension – no wax or solvents. Micro-Gloss Liquid Abrasive appears to be a good choice. I bought a rare Esterbrook circa 1932. When the pen approved it was clear the seller had applied a polish, I immediately got out 7,000 grit paper and did the best I could to remove any wax or polish residue on the pen.

  • Carnauba wax
  • Renaissance Wax
  • Johnson’s wax
  • REM (gun) oil
  • 3-in-1 oil
  • WD40
  • Mineral oil
  • Danish oil
  • Jewelers’ rouge buffing and polishing compounds

In Conclussion

I learned a lot and found out some of the things I have been doing could potentially cause harm long term. One of the purposes of this blog is to help others learn from my mistakes. Celluloid is not a concern for vintage pen collectors only. Montegrappa and Visconti are making beautiful pens from celluloid today.

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Posted in Pens, Reviews

The Hero 395

Company Backstory

The Shanghai Hero Pen Company has been manufacturing high-quality fountain pens since 1931. They began as Wolff Pens but changed their name to Hero in 1966. Hero pens are popular with users in China and India.

My Pen

This is not my first Hero pen, I was impressed by the Kaigelu 316A (which resembles the Parker Duofold Centennial). As a general rule, the Chinese do a good job imitating American and European products – including pens. Often these imitations have a tacky appearance and suffer for quality. This pen however is a legitimate original design with some interesting aesthetic considerations.

The pen has a metal barrel and cap, heavily patterned, copper or brown in color with a very subtle lacquer or antique finish. The pattern is either imprinted or acid etched and is intended to make the pen look aged.

The cap clip has a wave to it and attaches to the cap with the company floral logo imprinted on it. The barrel ring has “395,” “Doctor,” the company floral logo, and Chinese characters etched on it. The blind caps as well as the clip and barrel ring are finished to appear as “aged” metal. I assume they are made of stainless that has been treated to appear aged. Vinegar or a chemical wash or heat staining are options to age stainless. I can’t put my finger on it but the quirky end of the pen is very aesthetically …. well …. pleasing.

The pen comes with the stiff press bar converter filling mechanism – hated by many. I agree it is stiff, and with my fat fingers, depressing the bar is a challenge, but I managed.

The stainless nib has a gold plate center, with scrollwork etching including the company flower logo. Put nib to paper and ink begins flowing without delay. The nib is not a flex nib, or is it stiff – it is semi-flex if there is such a thing. I like it better than any flex nib I’ve ever run into.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 133mm,
  • Uncapped length 122mm,
  • Barrel diameter is 12mm,
  • The cap diameter is 12mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 29g.

Cons

My biggest complaint has nothing to do with the pen. As always, I bought it used. The previous owner must have loved it, the dark antique finish on the barrel is worn to a light color while the cap retained the original coloration. Then there is the filler mechanism, it is a PITA if you have fat fingers but it can be replaced.

Opinion

I am impressed by this pen, it is a great pen and at a mere $14 it is a steal, but wait, the same pen is on eBay now for $11 and the antique finish is not worn off on the barrel.

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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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