Author Topic: Vintage Pen  (Read 541 times)

Offline CarolOMalley

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Vintage Pen
« on: June 06, 2021, 04:14:21 PM »
Hi all,

This is my first proper post here after some time browsing and thoroughly enjoying the forum, so I hope I'm doing this correctly and have posted this into the correct section! Please correct me if not!

I'm looking for some advise about a vintage/antique pen. This pen belonged to my great grand-mother, who died in the early 1920's when my grandmother was just a baby, so this gives some idea as to the age of the pen. I've attached some photos for reference.
I started calligraphy in September 2020 and it would mean so much to me if I was able to bring this pen back to life and use it, if it is possible! It is a truly stunning pen and feels really lovely in the hand However, given my lack of experience, I'm afraid that I might do damage to it!

There is an inscription on the very top of the pen and looks to be "Waterman Pat'd FESY (or possibly FE5Y) 12 & Nov '84. Sterling". The nib has the inscription "Waterman Ideal New York".

Would anyone be able to advise me or point me to any useful resources about how it properly use this. It does appear to be a fountain pen that I would fill, rather than one I would dip, but I'm wondering about how to fill it. From Googling, I did find a vintage instruction booklet that looked to be a similar built pen that seemed to say that I would fill the actual barrel of the pen with a dropper and then screw back on the top but I'm not sure if I was interpreting this properly. Also, am I ok to use the same type of inks that we would use in a fountain pen today, or should I looking for a particular type of ink to use.

Any advise about properly cleaning/repairing it, or just advise in general about using vintage pens like this would also be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much for your help and looking forward to hearing from you!

Offline K-2

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2021, 09:22:36 PM »
What a beautiful pen, @CarolOMalley -- It looks like it's in pretty good shape, despite its age.  It could be cleaned up and put back to use for sure, but it will take a bit of patience and elbow grease.  I refurbish a lot of vintage pens.

The only concern I would have is that the nib itself has been worn down so that it is now essentially oblique, but as long as you too are right-handed, you could still be able to write with it - but you'll need to hold it at the same angle your great-grandmother did so that the slit makes contact with the paper.  It won't make super fine hairlines anymore, and it may affect the ink flow and flexibility - a nib of this vintage is going to have some flex to it - what fun!

You are correct that this is an eye-dropper fill pen, which is also good news, because it doesn't have a decaying ink sac or a syphon mechanism that might need repairs.  And you will be able to use almost any ink that says it is "safe for fountain pens" -- but I personally would stay away from any ink with particulates: pigmented ink, ink with shimmer, and iron gall ink (even if it says its safe).

So here's what I'd do to refurbish it, if it were my pen.  I've probably restored 3 or 4 pens of this vintage.  This is a long post, but it has detailed instructions.

1. soak the nib-unit.  This is actually three parts: the nib, the feed, and the grip that holds the nib onto the feed.  For the pen to ever work again, you need to get all the dried ink out of the feed - and that probably means you should try to take them apart.  But they'll be hard to get apart.  Soak them together in plain water for a day.  Then dilute a bit of kitchen ammonia 1-1 and soak them in that for a day or two (do not use alcohol; it will dissolve the grip, which is most likely made of resin).  Keep refreshing the bath until the solution stays clear overnight.

2. while the nib-unit is soaking, clean the body and cap -- soak it in some plain water and use a long-stem cotton swab or a pipe cleaner to scrub the insides.  Use another cotton swab to dry them out thoroughly.  You could polish up the silver-work on the outside with a jewelry cloth too.

3. Do you have an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner? Like this: https://www.amazon.com/Magnasonic-Professional-Ultrasonic-Eyeglasses-MGUC500/dp/B007Q2M17K/ref=sr_1_8?crid=3ECKZR5MVR1OD&dchild=1&keywords=ultrasonic+cleaner&qid=1623026544&sprefix=ultra%2Caps%2C207&sr=8-8  They're not very expensive, so if you don't have one, but really want to refurbish this pen, I recommend buying one.  They are a fantastic way to clean nibs and brushes too, so it's not a single-use item.  I use mine almost every day.  If/when you have one, put the nib-unit into into a small glass with some of the ammonia solution, and set the glass into the reservoir, and fill the basin with water to the fill-line.  Set the cleaner to run on its longest setting.  Ink will come out of the unit.  You can put it through several more cycles, but let it cool down in between so you don't overheat the motor.

4. Eventually it will look like there's no more ink stuck in there.  You'll need to change the solution inside the glass a few times.  When it looks like it's as clean as it'll ever be, use a small cloth and gently pull the nib & feed from the grip.  Use only your fingers.  Do NOT use pliers; you will crush the feed.  The feed is the most delicate part of the pen.  If it won't come out - do not force it.  Go back to soaking/vibrating it.  If you cannot ever get it out, can still be okay and useable -- but taking the nib unit apart is the only way to check to see if the nib is corroded underneath, and clean or replace the nib if there is corrosion.

5. Let the parts dry on their own for a day or two if you got them apart.  When you put it back together, make sure the feed lines up with the nib (the "shoulders" should align).  If you didn't take it apart, you can fill the body with some "fountain pen ink" (see above) and see if it works.  You may need to put it in a cup, nib pointed down (with the lid on), to let gravity get the ink into the feed.  You may need to adjust the nib & feed relative to each other to adjust the ink flow.

6. Test your pen to make sure that nib works for your hand.  If it doesn't, you might be able to find a vintage replacement on eBay or a modern nib that fits.

7. Enjoy your refurbished pen!  Note - every fountain pen has inks that it works best with and worst with, so you might order some sample vials to see what works well with yours.  Pen shops like Goulet, Anderson, VanNess all sell 2ml to 4ml vials of ink for $1-$3 each.

If all of this sounds too intimidating, you could try contacting a pen shop that does repairs -- like Anderson: andersonpens.com.  Or feel free to message me if you're having difficulties.

Best wishes for restoring your beautiful pen - and please share updates about outcomes!

--yours, K


Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2021, 03:24:48 AM »
Wow K, thank you so much for such a detailed and informative answer.
Yes, thankfully I am right handed and just holding the pen and testing the flex on it, I'm hoping that the angle will be ok, but it's great to know that the nib could be replaced if need be!
Looking forward to trying this out. While it will be long process, the steps as you have laid them out make it very approachable!
Thanks so much again! I'll let you know my progress!

Carol

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2021, 01:14:59 PM »
Beautiful pen! What a treasure! Thank you @K-2 for the detailed response!  :)
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2021, 06:01:23 PM »
Thanks Erica.

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #5 on: June 18, 2021, 03:40:32 PM »
Just thought I'd hop on this evening to give a wee update. I've been following the brilliant instructions from @K-2 soaking the nib unit in water and the ammonia solution and trying to ease the pieces apart and tonight I've finally been able to separate them! I can believe how much ink has come out of them, but already its looking so much better! On to the next stage now!

Offline K-2

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2021, 06:47:31 PM »
Thank you for the update!  And congratulations on getting the nib unit disassembled, @CarolOMalley --  that's the hardest part!

Isn't it amazing how much ink comes out of the nib unit?  Like you hit the button to the sonic cleaner, and even after you thought it was clean, ink comes snaking out of the crevasses, as if conjured from another dimension.

When you reassemble things, make sure you rinse all of the ammonia solution off of all the parts so that it doesn't react with the ink.  Also, a tiny dab of silicone grease on the the threads to the body/ink-reservoir will help prevent leaking.

For inks that are non-reactive, dye based (not pigmented), water-soluble, and easy to clean out of your pen, I highly recommend J.Herbin classic fountain-pen inks (not the anniversary collections, which have shimmer & sheen and are very very beautiful, but which can be problematic in older fountain-pens).  Lots of colors, great flow, easy cleanup, reasonably priced.  J.Herbin is a beautiful vintage/heritage ink company (founded in France, in 1670) that will play well with your beautiful vintage pen.  The classic square bottles are even designed with a pen-rest on them!  Sailor and Pilot inks (from Japan) are likewise incredibly well behaved, gorgeous inks with long histories and rigorous quality control.

--yours, K

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2021, 07:21:19 PM »
Oh thank you so much for the recommendation....I'll go look them up...I'm so looking forward to trying it!
I haven't done too much to the body of it yet, so will try to clean it up at bit now too per your earlier advise!

Offline Cyril Jayant

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2021, 05:28:17 PM »
I have also few points to continue your restoring. Just few cents but could be useful to you as a new  user like you.
K- 2 has given the best instruction and you have done the harder part. So rest is easy. I can tell you few more tips to clean the nib. without an ultrasonic cleaner. Once the nib is out you can brush the nib with a tooth brush and using tooth paste it makes very shiny . Those old ink gunk disappear with the ultrasonic frequency vibrations. So dose with a brushing with tooth paste or ( polishing paste called  Simichrome polish) but is not necessary. So washing  off the nib and Feed after  polishing with  tooth paste water will make them more clean and shiny. ( But toothpaste is not recommended by restores and my disclaimer here is I use it sparingly for VERY GUNKY NIB AS RUSTED DIP NIBS SO I CAN USE THEM WITHOUT THROWING AWAY) You can Flush the nib slit with a shim ( or a razor blade if it is very necessary ) Your pen seems to have an oblique nib and it seems there were so many oblique  nibs originally those days. I don't agree this pen became an oblique  by using so long. Fo that if you look at the tines and the tines are warned out as oblique they I guess K-2 is right . If the pen write well it is very beautiful and fun to write with an Oblique nib. I have several  vintage oblique. It is not easy to find a waterman nib to this pen and it is never the same quality. It is the most costliest nib to get. Some times you have to buy a whole pen for a nib you are looking for. 
 You can use the 70% alcohol with a cotton sob to remove Gunked ink. I do it most of the time. Never use for soaking  in alcohol but to quick wipe. You can use a long tipped cotton sob or a rolled up kitchen towel soaked with alcohol to remove all older in the body /Barrel. Never put that part in water and as your pen has an overlay silver clad around the body the water will case more problem. Older materials they used for the pen barrels are hard rubber and they deteriorate for water. quick  wash under running water (always cold ) and quick drying is the recomandation. 

You have got all the info about what ink and what shouldn't be used. You know the waterman ink is the best overall  ink  for many use of standardising  and comparisons. Lot of people use it to compare other inks to find in comparison to watermans ink when they are looking different aspect in writing. That is my point on ink here. 
I highly recommend  you not to use the pen as eye- droppers. Those pens are very sensitive and  this pen is of course not your every day writer. So giving  that pen a noble place for an occasional  writer you can have more attention and care for this pen. ( try to use it as a dip pen )
I own many pens like this one. Some watermans and Mabie Todds  Onto De la Rue "The pen" as eye dropers. They are more than century old So this is my experience about these older pens. (Also I have broke several in my first operations of removing the section to take out the nibs.) But they are all fixed.
   So good luck and congrats on your  new writer.
PS-
This is an important video on policing  and cleaning a pen.
He is an expert on pen restoring vintage pens . Have a look at his videos.
« Last Edit: June 27, 2021, 11:43:42 AM by Cyril Jayant »

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2021, 07:03:49 PM »
! Apologies for so long in coming back, life has been a bit hectic recently so I've had to put this aside! Thank you @Cyril Jayant for your comment, its very much appreciated and you have given some great advise!
I spent some time this evening cleaning and polishing the parts. The nib has come up beautifully, but unfortunately that has revealed quite a large crack in it. I hadn't seen it before, as it was so dirty! I have tried fitting it all back together and it does all go back nicely, but with a crack like this, I'm going to assume that I will not be able to fill the pen as intended and will be doing as @Cyril Jayant has suggested and just use it as a dip pen...if even that is possible!!! I will try doing so search to see if I can find a replacement one, but from what Cyril has said that may not work out either!!!
On the ink, I've looked at the ones you have suggested @K-2 , and they look stunning....as you say, the bottles are fabulous! But unfortunately I'm finding it difficult to get somewhere to ship here to Ireland. Would Sumi ink be OK to test with, or another high quality fountain pen ink...Ferris Wheel Press inks would be one that I would be able to source here?

Thanks again for all your help, you really have gone beyond my expectations when I posted this!

Offline Cyril Jayant

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #10 on: July 01, 2021, 08:23:00 AM »
I can see the crack and it is a very fortunate one. As it is down in the bottom it will not stress to come further on normal writing.

Only If you do use it as a dip pen nib .. like in calligraphy  using a pointed  pen. Then the pressure will come into the nib to extend the crack further.
I believe that crack has a considerable  support from the feed and the section  to go in for use for some times.

I have few Mabie pen  with cracked nibs. Funnily one pen writes with a light hand like a brush pen with exaggerated flex due to the crack. What you can do is start using the original nib and keep looking a  replacement nib. When you find a nib then try it. ( finding  a good nib in Ebay is luck . It can only  happen only if you seek that luck too)
Perhaps you can try a Swan -Mabie Todd- no2 nib. That nib is in same quality  as the waterman nibs.  (both nibs are rare category under vintage. but possible to find )

Even if you use this pen as a dip pen never use SUMI / permanent  pigment  inks (Ex.Sailor ) or Inda ink with this pen. If you forget to rinse the ink after use it will clog and stain the nib and Feed.

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2021, 08:47:12 AM »
Thank you for these recommendations @Cyril Jayant ... I will keep searching for those nibs. At least there's hope. I'll keep trying for the inks aswell to get something suitable. Even if I use it for monoline projects to start with to see how the nib behaves and what pressure it can take!

Offline InkyFingers

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2021, 11:09:00 AM »
It so happens that a cracked nib like that is very serviceable.  Bring it to a jeweler with a laser welder.   It should be an easy 5 minutes welding.

Offline K-2

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2021, 11:31:51 AM »
@CarolOMalley - @InkyFingers and @Cyril Jayant have it right.  The crack isn't on the working portion of the nib.  It'll be fine; and as InkyFingers suggests, you could have it repaired.  Hard agree with Cyril also: NEVER use sumi or india ink or any pigmented ink in/on that pen, whether you fill or dip it; it will clog the feed.

I don't know where in Ireland you are, but The Pen Corner in Dublin carries Herbin and Waterman inks as Cyril suggests.  Perhaps they ship to where you are?  You could call them: 353 1 679 3641 (there's a sign on their building that also says they do fountain pen repairs, but might be um. a legacy carryover).  J. Herbin should be fairly easy to come by in Ireland, as it's a French company, and stocked widely in pen fanciers shops all over the EU.  Waterman is based in USA, but is also a widely stocked brand, internationally.  The Japanese inks might be harder to get where you are.  But JetPens.com (in San Jose, California) stocks them, as well as Waterman and Herbin, and a hundred other things I want, and they ship internationally.

--yours, K

Offline CarolOMalley

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Re: Vintage Pen
« Reply #14 on: July 01, 2021, 03:30:02 PM »
Thanks @K-2 and @InkyFingers
Oh my gosh - it never occurred to be to see about getting it repaired, I just thought that wouldn't be possible - will look into this.

Ok - I will definitely not use the Sumi ink and just have a bit more patience :D
I had seen on their website that Herbin was French, so was really surprised that every link I was getting seemed to be to American retailers and websites, that were charging shipping costs that were three or four times the price of the ink itself (understandably!). Even Herbin's website was giving me a list of US retailers which puzzled me. I'll double check my search settings are right and maybe I need to change the keywords I'm using or something.
I hadn't seen that shop in Dublin at all either so thanks so much for the recommendation. I'm based in Donegal, but I actually have a trip to Dublin planned in a couple of weeks so the timing here couldn't be better. I can see a lot of the trip's budget being reassigned to visiting here - it looks to be a beautiful shop ;D I will contact them them beforehand to see if they still do repairs.