Posted in Nibs, Stories

Breathe, just Breathe(r Tube)

I hadn’t given breather tubes a second thought until I unexpectedly ran into one in a 1951 Park Parkette. I got to thinking “what are breather tubes and why are they only in some pens?”

What is a breather tube you ask? Welp, it is added to a filling system whose mechanism will not completely fill the ink reservoir with one cycle of compression and vacuum.

The breather tube is a thin tube inserted into a hole in the back end of the feed and extends into the ink reservoir; it permits complete filling in pens that require multiple operations of the filling mechanism.

They also control the airflow within the barrel, thus immediately balancing the pressure of the air inside the ink reservoir with that of the external air, because the breather tube provides a way for air to transition between inside and outside, thus reducing or eliminating the tendency of leakage at high altitudes, sometimes!

What? How does it work?

When a filler mechanism is engaged, it pushes air out of the reservoir up the ink channel in the feed and out through the breather hole and slit in the nib. The nib of the pen is submerged in ink, as the compression stage ends, a vacuum is created and the evacuated air is replaced with the ink drawn up through the same channel in the feed.

Breather tubes require modification to the feed. A hole is drilled into the reservoir end of the feed, in to which the breather tube is inserted. Perpendicular, a “blowhole” is added via the ink channel or the dorsal side of the feed connecting with the breather tube hole.

Parker Vacumatic feed

A breather tube (26), effectively extends the ink channel deep into the reservoir. Thus, when the filler mechanism is engaged, the air is forced out through the tube and the “blowhole” in the feed (16). The vacuum draws ink up the ink channel into the blowhole. As the blowhole is attached to the breather tube, the distance ink travels is farther so a better vacuum is created. As ink exits the breather tube it fills the reservoir while maintaining a vacuum. Once the ink level in the reservoir reaches the end of the breather tube (A), the vacuum is equalized and the pen is “full.”

From Parker patent 2,400,768

This sounds great – right, well it does come with a significant aggravation. The breather tube makes it difficult to completely empty the pen thus cleaning the reservoir is problematic.

Not all breather tubes address the issue of leakage and excess ink flow associated with high altitudes or air travel. The Parker patent 2,400,768 claims to address this issue. Breather tubes extending to the rear of the ink reservoir are prone to leakage caused by air pressure differential. The aft opening of these excessively long tubes is submerged in ink until the reservoir is almost empty – when carried nib up. The pressure differential associated with altitude changes causes the higher pressure in the reservoir to force ink out through the breather tube. Who knew patent applications could be interesting to read?

Contemporary Pens with Breather Tubes

Basically, any pen with a fixed squeeze filler, which is pretty uncommon, will use a breather tube, such as many of the Hero, the Bahadur, and the Dux models.

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 Pens, Stories

The Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre Presents, Mystery Behind the Blue Diamond

Welcome to the Fountain Pen Mystery Theatre, where “it may be said with a degree of assurance that not everything that meets the eye is as it appears.” Enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and touch but of deduction. In this episode, our hero unravels the mystery behind a Parker “51,” as there are more so-called “first-year” pens than Parker ever made.

“It is of the highest importance in the art of detection to be able to recognize, out of a number of facts, which are incidental and which vital.” Sherlock Holmes – The Reigate Puzzle

Parker “51” Cordovan Brown

Holmes, it appears this is NOT a Parker 51 “First-Year” pen, manufactured from late 1940 through 1941. Easily distinguished by their unique characteristics.

Practically all pens of this period are double jewels, the Parker “51” Made in USA is imprinted on the end of the barrel near the jewel in a single line.

“First-year” clips are also rather unique. They resemble the Parker Vacumatic clips with a larger blue diamond. Also, the enamel used is of a lighter blue color, and the clip gold plate over a brass base. They are die-struck, resulting in a negative image on the back.

The clutch inside the cap is longer and has 4 “portholes” instead of the more common 5 “portholes.”

Filler units are the aluminum Speedline filler used in the Vacumatic line. Interestingly, some of the 1942 production pens are found with aluminum Speedline fillers. Finally, the nib is completely devoid of any markings. Parker did not start marking and dating the nibs until 1943.

My dear Watson, in order to correctly identify a “first-year” pen you must employ a holistic approach to the pen and not just focus on each individual characteristic.

“In solving a problem of this sort, the grand thing is to be able to reason backwards.” Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet

The availability of component materials was not consistent during this period, Parker would use older components in newer pens and new components as they become available. Sometime in the second quarter of 1942, the imprint on the “51” was changed to a two-line format that remained until the end of the Vacumatic period in 1948.

The new imprint is relocated to the barrel under the clutch ring. While the nib is the most frequently replaced component on a pen. We cannot accept it at face value.

Conceding that later production used available inventory which included early components; however, during the war years, the brass used in the cap clip and clutch ring base was replaced by metal. War year clips and clutch rings show a silver base instead of brass. Post-war production returned to a brass base.

The blue diamond on the cap clip was discontinued in mid-1947 due to a ruling by the FTC.

“You know my method. It is founded upon the observation of trifles.” Sherlock Holmes – The Bascombe Valley Mystery

The clutch ring is well worn, even so, this does not aid in determining if the underlying material is used. The ring appears to show brass while in a different light it appears to be silver (metal).

Look here Watson, the clutch inside the cap is 5 holed and short, typical of the war-time pens. The “first-year” clips were plated over brass and die struck. This left a negative print on the backside of the clip. Then there is the oversized blue diamond on the clips of “first-year” pens. The blue diamond on this clip is the standard size found on Vacumatics and later “51.”

As mentioned, the pen’s nib contains absolutely no markings. Parker did not begin using markings on the nibs until 1943, thus this nib must be earlier.

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes – The Sign of Four

Elementary my dear Watson, this is most assuredly a “first-year” Parker “51,” purchased by Ray Sims of Twin Falls, Idaho.

Upon closer examination, there is a barely detectable crack in the clutch ring. One can deduce from this, that the pen was damaged.

The repair is done during the war years. At this time the original speed line filler is replaced with a plastic filler and the original cap is replaced.

It is common knowledge that the “51” imprint was relocated in 1942 to the barrel by the clutch ring. Upon closer examination, this pen is missing the Parker “51” imprint completely. This can only occur when a “first-year” pen has the original jeweled blind cap with the imprint replaced by a NOS blind cap which will be void of the imprint. The NOS cap is confirmed by the ever-so-slight variance in color between the jeweled blind cap and the barrel.

As you can see Watson, being observant to detail and with deductive reasoning the mystery is solved. Until next time….

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 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 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 Pens, Stories

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

In 1932, Parker decided to dip their toes into the fountain pen lever filler market, they introduced the Parco (defined as frugal, sparing, moderate or temperate). Parker spared no expense, as they picked through the bins of old Duofold parts and built a new pen (did I mention frugal, sparing, moderate or temperate). Even though the pen was made of old Duofold parts it retailed at a significantly lower price point $1.75 vs $5 (that is $35 vs $100 adjusted for inflation) for the Duofold, making it a good deal.

I digress a bit, this month I thought it would be fun to compare how the Duofold and Parco pens compare, since they are first cousins. For transparency, my Parco is made from old Duofold stock, while my Duofold is made from new Duofold stock. It’s not entirely an even comparison. Also, the Duofold is sporting a fine nib while the Parco has a flex medium.

BTW, the “Vs” doodle was done using both both pens.

Anyway, what are you writing with this month?

Posted in Pens, Stories

Vintage Trendsetting Pens, the original “Influencers”

I was reading a blog the other day by Deb Gibson (of Goodwriterspens) where she was musing about pens that she thought were the primary influencers impacting the direction fountain pen appearance has taken over the years. I was considering a posting about the history of fountain pens and felt her blog was far more interesting and considered “reblogging” it. In her humble opinion, the following are the biggest influencers:

  • Parker Duofold
  • Sheaffer Balanced
  • Parker 51

I’m not going to go into great depth summarizing her thoughts, she does such a great job. I invite you all to read her blog; however, I would venture the Conklin Crescent should be on the list, replacing the Sheaffer Balance. But more on this later.

The Sheaffer Balanced, I’ll be honest I don’t know much about this pen, I honestly don’t like it, though Walt Disney was a big fan. It’s claim to fame is the torpedo shape and there are plenty of contemporary pens with the same shape.

I absolutely agree with her choice of the Duofold, clearly a landmark design and development. Many a contemporary pen is designed with the Duofold in mind. The Parker 51, I can see that as well. It’s influence is less pervasive because it came into being when the ballpoint pens were coming of age, but I feel the design impacted the appearance of all “clicker” ball point pens.

Missing from the list is the Conklin Crescent, why you may ask? I am getting a little off topic by adding this pen based on it’s self filling mechanism which impacted it’s appearance.

The Conklin Crescent is renowned for two firsts 1) first mass-produced self-filling pen and 2) the first mass-produced pen to use a flexible rubber ink sac. The crescent filling system employs an arch-shaped crescent attached to a rigid metal pressure bar, with the crescent portion protruding from the pen through a slot and the pressure bar inside the barrel. Which in turn compressed the internal rubber sac, creating a vacuum to force ink into the pen.

The crescent filling system is the basis for the Sheaffer introduction of the lever filling system in 1912, and the subsequent Parker button filler system. Clearly the pressure bar, and ink sac self filling system introduced by the crescent filling system became the primary direction of fountain pens for the next 60 years. In order to accomplish this, pen manufactures had to incorporate self fill levers, which petruded from a slot cut into the barrel – like the Crescent fill. Or they introduced a button under a blind cap which depressed a pressure bar. I know it is a stretch but it’s just my opinion which is the reason for the post.

So I ask, what are your thoughts? Do you agree, disagree, what pens do you think made a significant impact to fountain pen appearance over the years?

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Posted in Restoration

My Parker Duofold Jr

The Duofold is the pen that made the Parker Company one of the greatest pen-manufacturers of the world. Parker debuted the Duofold in 1921. Before the Duofold, nearly all pens were made of hardened black rubber but Parker developed a method to make rubber in a red-orange color which proved very popular.

The Duofold didn’t come easy to Parker, their Lucky Curve pens were selling well, but there was no pizazz. Along comes Lewis M Tebbel, Parker district sales Manager, he persuaded a machinist at the Wisconsin plant to make him a a Lucky Curve model #26 in some old stock red hard rubber. Tebbel’s pen was a hit so he ordered a couple dozen red pens, selling them all immediately. He proposed to Parker’s management that they should incorporate the “Duofold”, his name for the new pen, in the regular line, selling it for $7. This was a major investment in 1929. That $7 is equivalent to $110 now, and BTW I paid less than Ellwood in today’s dollars. His request to expand the product line was refused, not to be deterred, he contacted Kenneth Parker directly.

In 1933, Parker ended production of Duofolds at the Janesville factory, but production continued in Canada and Europe into the 1940’s. The Duofold was the pen that boosted Parker from a small pen manufacturer to one of the leading players in the pen world. When production ended, Parker sold more than ten million pens.

I purchased a 1928 Duofold Jr, from a seller outside Allentown, Pa – just north of Philadelphia. The pen is personalized with the name of the original owner, “Ellwood A Leupold.” Though a common practice, most collectors frown on personalization, I prefer it. Before I took possession of my this “treasure,” I was on Ancestry.com researching the owner. Ellwood Arthur Leupold was born in 1906 to Gustavus Leupold and Paulina Pandorf in Philadelphia. Ellwood was 22 when he purchased this Duofold, quit the investment for a young man employed by the Telephone Company as a draftsman. By the 1940’s Ellwood had changed employers, taking a position with the Corn Exchange National Bank. Both positions I think would warrant a quality pen. In 1945, Ellwood Leupold marries Mary Cuta, the couple remained residents of Philadelphia. Ellwood died in 1985, and Mary in 2016 at the tender age of 102.

The pen was in good shape, but it needed a cleaning and a new ink sac. When I took the pen apart I found significant dried ink deposits inside the barrel, on the pressure bar and the fill button. After a night of soaking, most of the ink dissolved and the residual was easily removed. The blind cap over the button and the flat top cap that held the clip on were black hard rubber and showed signs of sun/water damage. I ran some sand paper over them to remove the heavy damage and an occasional tooth mark. The flat top blind cap contained groves but the groves were caked with 93 years of grime – eww. I took a dental pick and began the process of cleaned out the groves, going around the cap 3 times. Afterwards, I applied a super light coat of Danish Oil to protect the BHR and restore a nice shine. I’m torn about using this oil because it contains a minute a mount of varnish but it does make the BHR water proof. I guess time will tell but I am using only the tiniest amount.

The section unscrewed from the barrel after I applied light heat with a hair drier. I had to use the dental tool to remove some very odd colored stuff caked inside the barrel and the remains of the ink sac. Since ink isn’t white I’m not sure what was in the barrel. Anyway, the nib and feed separated from the section with little effort. I had hoped the feed was a Lucky Curve but no. It took a lot of elbow grease to remove the stains from the underside of the nib. There does not appear to be any damage but we shall see. The channel in the feed was free of dried ink deposits but I cleaned it all the same.

Installed a new 16 ink sac, returned the nib an feed into to section and put it all back together. Inserted the pressure bar and the button. Time for the moment of truth, ink up the pen.

the “Duo” prefix was very popular at the time, being used as a marketing superlative for a wide range of products (paralleled by the ubiquity of “super” in the postwar era). “Duofold” would have suggested that the new oversize Parker was twice the pen competitors could offer – consistent with its pricing, which pushed existing market norms — while the “-fold” suffix both carried through the comparative reference (as in “twofold”) and alluded to the mass and rigidity of the Duofold’s large, manifold-style nib (“manifold” being the term for stiff nibs made for use with carbon paper, with which one could make manifold copies of a document).

David Nishimora
Posted in Pens, Stories

Fountain pens “the Stars” of the writing world

“Fountain pens,” conjure the thought of antiquated writing instruments, long forgotten and relegated to the back of cluttered desk drawers, buried under “stuff” or the choice of highbrow NYC lawyers. You may be surprised to learn that there are a number of celebrities & A-listers who own and use fountain pens! I make no claim to doing the research, I found an assortment of lists on this topic which I combined, edited and skinnied down, and adding my own finds.

Literary World

  • Mark TwainConklin Crescent Filler.
    Twain was a prominent influence in the fountain pen industry, helping put an end to the days of the eyedropper filling method by fiercely promoting the newly invented Conklin Crescent Filler.
  • Sir Arthur Conan DoyleParker Duofold.
    Doyle penned four canonized Sherlock Holmes novels and 56 short stories.
  • Ernest HemingwayMontegrappa.
    All he needed as a blue-backed notebook, two pencils and his ELMO pen.
  • Jane Austen – Dip Pen.
    Her writings predate fountain pens but I thought it was a fun fact that she had her own special iron gall ink recipe and used a special type of notebooks, “quarto stationer’s notebook bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marble paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.”
  • Dylan ThomasParker 51.
    Thomas is a Welch poet probably best known for his poem Do Not Go Gentle Into the Good Night made known to the Sci-Fi community for its inclusion in the movie Interstellar.
  • Harper Lee – brand unknown but she explicitly placed one in Atticus Finch’s coat pocket during the famous courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Anne FrankMontblanc Meisterstück.
    In her diary, there is a chapter where she mourns the loss of her pen after it is accidentally burnt in a fire, a gift from her grandmother.
  • Salman Rushdie – Vintage Fountain Pens.
    His primary go-to vintage pen is a Montblanc Meisterstück
  • Stephen KingWaterman Hemisphere.
    King has written 95+ novels including It and Carrie with this instrument claiming, in 2014 he wore out 4 pens writing Dreamcather.
  • Neil GaimanPilot Custom 823 and LAMY 2000.
    Changes his ink color daily to track progress, the first draft of each of his novels is in longhand.
  • Joe Hill (son of Stephen King) – Pilot Metropolitan.
    Hill is the author of comic book series Locke and Key (now a Netflix series) and a handful of novels, of which NOS4A2 is soon to be a AMC series.
  • Christopher PaoliniLAMY and Pilot Decimo.
    Best known for his fantasy & sci-fi books Eragon and To Sleep in a Sea of Stars. Both books I own.

Entertainment World

  • Charlie ChaplinParker Duofold.
    Most of Chaplin’s journal writing and poems remain unpublished, a poem of his about self-appreciation has circulated the internet – “As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is ‘AUTHENTICITY.’”
  • Johnny DeppMontblanc Meisterstück 149.
  • Debra MessingMontegrappa Fortuna Copper Mule.
  • Rick WakemanConway Stewart.
    Wakeman the keyboard player for 70’s super group Yes and an avid journalist. Listing fountain pens as one of his “Top Ten Outsides Family and Music” interests and concocting his own ink blend.
  • Oprah WinfreyViscounti.
    Her pen was fabricated with the tiniest drops of gold and silver using the intricate filigree technique, a traditional Italian art form that has been passed down from jewelry master to jewelry master for generations.
  • Diane KeatonMontblanc.
  • Dustin HoffmanMontblanc.
  • Edward NortonMontblanc.
  • Howard SternVisconti Arte Mudejat Aragones.
    A gift valued at $1,700. Its design is inspired by the Aragon region of Spain and celebrates the harmonious coexistence of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism that occurred there between 1000 and 1600 AD.
  • Diane SawyerWaterman.
  • Alton Brown – unknown.
    When asked what he cannot leave the house without. “Nutmeg, a pocket knife, cash, a small notebook of some type, a fountain pen, and my iPhone.”
  • Kevin Pollack Waterman Edson.
  • Kristen StewartTibaldi Bentley Crewe.
    Avid journalist and owner of an extensive fountain pen collection. She was gifted the TBC valued at $46,000 as a present on her 23rd birthday.
  • Walt DisneySheafer Balanced.
    A well used Balance fountain pen, 1930’s vintage, was found in Walt Disney’s desk in 1970 when his office was being inventoried by the Walt Disney Archives.
  • Carl Banks Esterbrook.
    Used an Esteerbrook 356 Art & Drafting Pen to ink Donald Duck.
  • Sylvestor StalloneMontegrappap Chaos.
    As seen in his film Expendables II.
  • Emma WatsonParker 51
    A Parker fountain pen accompanied her to class at Brown University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature.

World Leaders/Events:

  • Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth IIParker 51.
  • General Dwight D. EisenhowerParker 51.
    Used to sign the German Instrument of Surrender in Reims, France.
  • General Douglas MacArthurParker Duofold.
    Used a 1928 Duofold to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on the deck of the USS Missouri.
  • Lyndon B JonsonEsterbrook.
    A set of 74 clear Lucite Esterbrooks were used to sign the Civil Rights bill into law in 1964.
  • Theresa MayParker Duofold.
    She used the Parker to sign Article 50 commencing “Brexit.”
  • Vladimir PutinMontblanc Meisterstück 146.
    He used the Montblanc to sign the document “admitting” the Crimea and Sevastopol back into the Russian Federation, after his militia invaded the territories.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – Kaweco Sport

Odd man out

  • Albert EinsteinPelkan 100 N and Waterman taper-cap.
    The Waterman was used to write the Theory of Relativity and is on display at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden.

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