Guest Post: Restoring a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen

1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain PenWhile browsing through some listings on eBay one day in late March, I happened to stumble across an auction titled “Vintage Pelikan Fountain Pen 14 Karat NIB.”  The nondescript caption led me to believe that the seller wasn’t quite sure of what it was they were trying to peddle.  The pen in question had seen better days, that much was obvious.  Upon closer inspection, the binde was missing and a few gouges marred the surface of the cap and filling mechanism.  It would have been easy to dismiss the listing and move on if it weren’t for the lack of cap bands.  They weren’t missing mind you; they just weren’t part of the design.  The look of the cap offered just enough hope and a promise of what might lie beneath.  Scrolling through the rest of the photos in the series revealed just what I had hoped to find, a nib with a heart shaped breather hole.  A holy grail for some, the ID became immediately clear.  While not in fighting shape, the pen was no doubt a 1929 Transparent Pelikan Fountain Pen and looked very serviceable for a 90 year old writing instrument.  Understanding that a major restoration would be needed, I entered the fray, placed my bid, and began the waiting game.   To my surprise and delight, I ended up winning that listing on April 1st.  The pen arrived a few days later and I half expected it to be an utter disappointment, perhaps with a note tucked inside saying “April Fools’.”  Once I was able to inspect it, I knew right away that it was worthy of restoration so I turned to Rick Propas, a fellow Pelikan enthusiast and friend, who agreed to take on the task of reconditioning the eldest of Pelikan’s fountain pens.  Such a project is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced because disaster can befall at any step of the process.  With any restoration of this nature, concessions have to be made.  For instance, the early green bindes disintegrate when removed from barrels and spares are next to impossible to find.  Despite such limitations, I believe that the final product speaks for itself.  As an added bonus, Rick was kind enough to offer to document the restoration process.  Read on to learn how this wounded bird again learned how to fly as told by the restorer himself.

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