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

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

Posted in Restoration

My Gold Starry #256 – Are you kidding me?

The Pen

I have been Jonesing for a pen like this – mottled hard rubber, eyedropper filler and retractable. Bonus time, the pen is vintage French and the seller is in NOVA (Northern VA). The offer clearly stated the pen is missing it’s cap, figured I could live with that and hope I may stumble upon a vintage cap. The barrel has an 11mm diameter and measures 103mm in length without a cap and the nib is retracted.

The pen arrived, and I am super excited. The nib extends and retracts, the barrel colors are BEAutiful so I went about examining the nib. I pull out the nib, and immediately notice the feed and nib are held together by some crappy homemade “section.” Hmmmm!

Look at this crap, now I am super annoyed! Breathe, take a deep breath…

Once my blood pressure came down I decided to take the feed and nib out of the faux section. After more grumbling I set about smoothing the section and making it look good. As I have no idea if it will even prevent ink leakage, I thought it might as well look good. Yes I realize the availability of Gold Starry 1920-something pen parts is well non-existent but really this is horrible.

Now that I talked myself off the ledge, again, I went about taking the pen apart – I really wanted to see the inner workings. I began by separating the backend of the pen from the barrel, it unscrews. With a slight pull, out came the retracting mechanism.

The nib is retracted or extended depending on which direction the end-cap is turned. The shaft holding the section has pins which bisect the corkscrew in the channels and extend into groves cut into the inside of the barrel. The turning motion will cause the corkscrew fixture to spin thus the channels will run the pins down the length of the mechanism or return them to the beginning this extracting or retracting the nib.

At this point, I realized that the end-cap which is turned to extend or retract the nib is broken. I was able to pull the entire mechanism out of the pen. The end was clearly broken off. A quick review of the end-cap and one can see the shaft bisecting the end-cap. Thus when the nib is extended, the end-cap is twisted tightly to ensure a snug fit – we don’t want ink leaking out.

I consulted with some Fountain Pen Geeks and they recommend leaving it as is or see if the shaft is long enough to go through the cap again. All agree that glueing the shaft to the cap is a very bad idea.

How is it filled with ink? Well, the nib is retracted into the barrel, then ink is squirted in over the nib filling the barrel. Once the barrel is full the nib is extended. The section “receiver” forms an ink-tight fit around the tapered end of the barrel from when extended. Ink flows into the “receiver” through 2 holes then to the feed and the nib.

The nib is by Georg Peter Rupp, a nib manufacturer from 1920’s to 1970 in Heidelberg, Germany. It is safe to assume this nib is not the original. Can’t guess if it is pre or post war. But the gold color is odd, the nib material should be silver and if you look closely between the “P” and “O” it looks like silver or is that a reflection?

Well look at that, a nice pretty stainless steel nib, not the fake gold platted nib. Funny what a rub down with a Sunshine Cloth will show you.

I was annoyed earlier, now I am mad.

Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories

Gold Starry pens “le stylo qui marche”

Company Backstory

Gold Starry can trace its origins back to 1909 with the marketing of Conway Stewart fountain pens in France, under the Gold Star brand name. This resulted in a trademark violation, thus in 1912 the name was changed to Gold Starry, staying true to the English origin of the pen. The first pens sold by Gold Starry were black hard rubber or mottled safeties. These pens were eyedropper filler safety fountain pens, identified by two digits (models 36 & 39), indicating the price in francs.

At the beginning of the 1920s, fountain pen production began in a pavilion on the outskirts of Paris. 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).

During the war, the company suffered through the occupation, having an English brand name only made matters worse. After the war, quality issues plagued production and market share fell with the introduction of the ballpoint pens. Gold Starry responded by introducing cartridge fountain pens and participating in 1959 consortium for the production of the “Visor Pen.”

Gold Starry managed to survive these crisis periods by supplementing their production lines, entering the world of luxury office accessories (with calendars, rulers, letter openers) and a successful line of luxury ballpoint pens, all produced using gold-plated metal. World events intervened yet again, this time the company felt the effects of rising gold prices, thus their products being prohibitively expensive. This crisis proved too much and Gold Starry was shuttered in 1980.

Model 256, retractable eyedropper

In 1925, Gold Starry introduced the 256 and the 257 Loaded safety models. On the barrel of each is engraved their trademark star, dotted rings on the clipless cap and barrel. This pen and the 257 model are unique in that on the barrel is imprinted “Manufacture Francaise,” while later models spelling is “Fabrication Francaise”

The Eyedropper Filler System

Has been around since the earliest years of fountain pens, and is pretty simple. There are 2 methods used to fill an eyedropper pen: the section is removed from the barrel and an eyedropper is used to squirt ink into the barrel, afterward the section is reinserted in the barrel. It is very important that the section is securely inserted in the barrel.

To fill a retractable safety pen, the nib is retracted, again ink is squirted into the barrel using an eyedropper. In both cases, the barrel must always be in the upright position, otherwise the ink will pour out the open barrel – duh.