How do I care for my vintage pen?
Older pens were made to a very high standard of precision and workmanship, often using materials no longer available or widely used today.
- INK CHOICE:
Inks appropriate for modern pens may do damage to a vintage pen. The answer to this question used to be simple: use an ink intended for use in a fountain pen – not India ink or drawing ink. Sometimes, pigment inks may have bad effect on vintage pens. With such pens, be very conservative in your choice of inks – stick to brands such as Waterman, Parker, Sheaffer, and Pelikan, avoiding reds and purples and browns. If you use a highly pigmented ink in such a pen, staining is likely, and it may not be reversible.
To prevent clogging, periodically flush your pen out, filling it with cool water and emptying it a few times. Doing this once every few months will keep dried ink from building up and interfering with ink flow. Do not use hot water, solvents, or household cleaners such as Windex or 409.
Do NOT soak any part of your pen other than the nib assembly! Pens are designed to hold liquids, not to be immersed in them. If ink gets into the inside of the cap, wipe it out with a damp cotton swab. Exposure to water, even briefly, can instantly fade the exterior of a hard rubber pen or pencil. Dunking the entire cap (or the entire barrel) into water is unnecessary and may do serious harm. If your pen is clogged with dried ink, soak it by placing it nib-down in only enough water to cover the nib and the lower part of the section, leaving the barrel dry.
- DOES YOUR VINTAGE PEN LEAK?
Carry your pen nib upwards and you should have no trouble with leakage. Keep your pen full of ink, since ink flow can become irregular if the ink chamber is close to empty. 95% of "leaky" pens can be cured by the above two precautions!
- BE EXTRA CAREFUL ON USING FILLING SYSTEM:
Avoid operating the filler mechanism (piston stopper eyedropper, lever, button, or whatever) when the pen is fully closed, as this puts excessive strain on the sac and the filling mechanism. When the cap is screwed on, the inner cap seals around the nib, leaving no place for the air in the ink reservoir to escape. Likewise, be gentle when pulling out the knob on the piston (the downward stroke, however, should be vigorous).
Be aware that bright sunlight can cause hard rubber to fade. Protect your pens from excessive heat, such as in a parked car on a sunny day. An outside pocket is cooler than an inside pocket, and is better for both pen preservation and slowing of ink evaporation.
- HOW TO FILL THE INK:
Figure 1: Piston Stopper Eyedropper
Figure 2: Lever filler