An Anecdote Of Two Pens

 

Hello! Franz here and I wanted to share a story about the two vintage pens above. From top to bottom they are: Parker 75 in Sterling Cicelé, and a Sheaffer Flat-Top in Jade Green celluloid.

December 9, 2017

On a Saturday while I was at work, a very good customer looked for me and astonished me. Let’s call him Dr. M, Jr. since he is a dentist. He said that he knew I liked fountain pens and showed me his father’s pens that he found at home. He asked me about them and I shared my little knowledge of vintage pens and told him that the silver one was a Parker 75 likely from the mid-’60s and the green one was a Sheaffer flat-top pen probably from the ’20s or ’30s. I told him that the Sheaffer’s cap and barrel were in beautiful condition and just needs a restoration of the internals. As for the Parker, the internals would just need cleaning from dried up ink and it would write like new.

Dr. M, Jr. shared that his father was a veterinarian and he always saw him with either of these pens clipped onto his shirt pocket just like I do when he sees me. He then said that he would be happy to give these pens to me. At first, I declined and said that these were his father’s pens and he should keep it. But Dr M, Jr. insisted that I be the one to keep them since I am more likely to use Dr. M Sr.’s pens. So I accepted his gift with a very wide smile on my face, and with a promise that these pens will be restored and be put to good use.

After Dr. M, Jr. left, I was so ecstatic and I immediately shared the story on the Facebook group of the San Francisco Bay Pen Posse. Below was my post and a lot of people responded with kind and heartwarming words.

Pen Condition and Characteristics

After doing some light research and examining the two pens , I found that the Sheaffer was probably made around 1938-1940 by looking at the imprint on the barrel and nib as well as the comb underside of the feed. The cap’s condition is almost pristine and the barrel is just a little darker. I think this darkening was caused by the rubber sac’s off-gassing thru the years but I could be wrong on that.

As for the Parker 75, even though I could not find a date code on the barrel, it was made around 1966-1968 due to the “flat tassies”, and the zero engraving on the section. The patina developed on the sterling silver is just uniform and beautiful. I would not dare polish the patina off the pen and keep its aged and used look.

Both pens have flat cap and barrel finials

 

December 10, 2017

So the next day, I attended the Pen Posse meetup and brought the two pens. As I walked in, Farmboy aka Todd, immediately told me that he won’t restore the Sheaffer and effectively no other pen posse member will restore it as well. He said that since the pen was given to me, no one else should restore the pen but me. That definitely makes sense since it will be a more meaningful repair. BUT… I was petrified because in my 5 years of being into fountain pens, I’ve never restored a pen before. I’ve never even seen one done nor even read a repair book. I was afraid that I might mess it up and break the section, or barrel, or whatever. Well, I accepted the challenge and told them I shall restore the Sheaffer next week under their supervision.

I immediately searched “sheaffer pen resaccing” on YouTube. Learned a few things but I knew the hardest part was getting the section off the barrel without breaking it. So all I really did during the week was soak the section in water to clear out the dried ink as much as possible.

Sheaffer section soaking in a shot glass

December 17, 2017

Resaccing the Sheaffer

Fast forward a whole week and the day has come for me to face my fears. Gary, a pen posse member, guided me along the whole process and he actually brought most of his pen restoration tools. I first had to heat the section so that I can gently pull it off the barrel. This probably took the longest time and it’s the one part of the process that requires patience. Basically, enough heat will expand the barrel so you can slowly take out the section. Emphasis on “slowly” because you risk breaking the barrel due to excessive force if you rush it.

While heating the section, rotating ensures uniform heating of the barrel. Like a rotisserie!

After some coaxing, the section finally came off and I had to clean out the old dried up sac from the section, and the barrel. There were bits of the sac that was onto the inside of the barrel that needed some encouragement with different scraping tools but it eventually cleaned off. The photo on the left below still shows the shellacked part of the sac still on the section and the photo on the right shows the cleaning of the section.

Bits and pieces of the dried up sac

After cleaning both section and barrel, a new sac was measured and cut to fit. I’ve learned from Gary that it’s easier to have different sizes of rubber sacs and trial fit them into the barrel rather than looking for a specific size for each pen. Most of the process here was not documented though, so my apologies. After cutting the sac, I applied shellac on the section and slowly placed the sac. I applied more shellac over the seam to ensure there were no gaps and let it dry. After about 30 minutes, I applied some pure talc on the sac for lubrication, and inserted the section in the pen barrel with a snug fit. Et voila! The Sheaffer has been restored! I waited 24 hours before inking it up though.

 

Reconditioning the Parker 75

The Parker 75 was a straight-forward restoration in which I’ve done before. I just soaked the section and nib overnight in water to loosen up the dried up ink. Afterwards, I took the nib out from section and flushed water to continue clearing out the ink. The section of a Parker 75 seems to hold A LOT of ink but with just a little patience it eventually cleared out. The converter’s rubber sac had holes and needed to be replaced so my friend Nik P. graciously swapped a “newer” converter for the old one. The sacs on these vintage Parker converters are replaceable.

And that’s about it for the Parker 75!

 

Conclusion

Well, thank you for letting me share my proud pen story. It feels great when you restore your own pens but restoring gifted pens with a history definitely holds more meaning and gives the pen a more personal (to me) story. Thanks to Farmboy and the Pen Posse for the encouragement, Nik for the help, and special thanks to Gary for the guidance from start to finish!

I’ve been using these two pens since December and love them! I haven’t seen Dr. M, Jr. since I restored the pens but when I do, it will certainly be a proud moment.

Take care and keep on writing friends!

– Franz

Writing Sample
Photo by Gary

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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7 Comments

  1. A wonderful story! I still have the same Parker 75 that I was given as a graduation present from high school in 1967, along with several nibs that I have accumulated for it, since they are so easily interchangeable. I love the 75 nibs because, unlike most Parker nibs, they are springy and very comfortable to write with. The 75, along with the later French Premier series, are wonderful pens and should be sought after more by collectors.

    1. Hi James! Thanks for sharing your story. I didn’t mention it in the post but the Parker 75 is a pen that I have a small collection of and I love it even if it’s small for my hand.

      It’s also a pen my Dad said that he coveted but it was he couldn’t afford it in his high school days. He settled for a Parker 45 but admired the 75 from afar. =)

    1. Hi Judy! Thanks for your kind words. I personally have not bought pen sacs yet and more likely do it soon. Have a couple pens that I’ll probably restore myself.

      But a couple sources I’d suggest is Dale Beebe from Pentooling.com, andersonpens.com, and Indy-pen-dance.com.

      Hope that helps!

  2. Love your story! What special pens. I have the same Sheaffer! Bought at the Philadelphia pen show this year. It also has a darker body than cap. You have in interesting theory about why that happened. I just thought it was part of the design. You know, ahead of trend use of ombre.

    1. Hi Celia! Thanks for sharing your story as well. What nib size do you have in it? It’s a beautiful green pen for sure. Will you be attending other pen shows this year?

      1. Hi Franz, I believe mine is a fine point too. There’s a serial number on the nib: 756967. Doesn’t have original feed. It wasn’t holding ink properly so the seller switched out the feed. Still is kinda drippy. Have to use a drier ink. But otherwise love the way it writes and it’s a beauty.

        I’ve only been to Philadelphia pen show, but my cousin and pen-enabler is trying to convince me to go to other shows.

        What do you recommend as musts?

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