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How To Care For Hard Rubber/celluloid Pelikans?


sargetalon
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Hello everyone. I'm preparing to acquire two pens that I have had my eye on for a long while now and am looking for some help to keep them looking their best. Both are part of Pelikan's 1935 Originals of their Time series, the Jade and Lapiz. I don't intend for these to be display pieces (none of my birds are) but rather regular users.

 

I don't have a lot of experience with vintage materials and want to ensure that the pens stay in as good a condition as they can for as long as they can. My question is, how do you care for celluloid and hard rubber to prevent oxidation and discoloration?

 

I have looked up many threads but most address what happens after hard rubber discolors and the controversy over "re-coloring" it. How do I prevent it in the first place? I find the olive green or brown tint that these pieces take on somewhat unpleasing to the eye. I know to avoid prolonged exposure to UV lighting so definitely keep it out of the sun. Is regular incandescent or fluorescent lighting a problem too with regular use? They will be stored in a chest in a cool, dark place. Just how volatile is the hard rubber? I also understand to avoid contact with hot water as that will cause problems. Anything else you guys can suggest to keep my new birds looking good would be much appreciated. Thanks!

 

fpn_1458213758__image.jpeg

PELIKAN - Too many birds in the flock to count. My pen chest has proven to be a most fertile breeding ground.

fpn_1508261203__fpn_logo_300x150.jpg

THE PELIKAN'S PERCH - A growing reference site for all things Pelikan

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Dunno what to tell you, Joshua -- except...congratulations! Beautiful! (It's not so long ago you were wishing me the same thing -- so glad you got yours; but...two at once? Was that some sort of coup? Aren't they lovely-looking pens, though?)

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How about hearing about personal experiences Are you finding these pens durable with regular use?

PELIKAN - Too many birds in the flock to count. My pen chest has proven to be a most fertile breeding ground.

fpn_1508261203__fpn_logo_300x150.jpg

THE PELIKAN'S PERCH - A growing reference site for all things Pelikan

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I have the pens from your photo, the reproduction versions of the original 1935's. I used them quite a lot before I retired on a daily basis, but I was a little more cautious in my use with them. I didn't throw them around willy nilly as one would do with a lesser valued pen. They held up very well to daily use. If they weren't in use, they were in my shirt pocket, or in the 10 pen case that I carried daily with me everywhere I went. After three years of day to day use they are still in what I would call excellent condition. I've used nothing but water and a polishing cloth.

 

Up till today, I hadn't paid attention to the fact that the black parts are hard rubber. Now I have to wonder what to use, if anything, to preserve the richness of the color. I knew the barrels were celluloid, I was just so excited to have them I didn't pay that close attention to what they are made of. Silly me!

 

I, too, would like to know how others are preserving the beauty of their pens!

Fair winds and following seas.

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I don't believe museum wax is available any longer, at least not the one Ron referred to. I have read stories of Renaissance wax leading to discoloration of hard rubber. So hard to know what to do. Perhaps just use them normally and take what comes.

PELIKAN - Too many birds in the flock to count. My pen chest has proven to be a most fertile breeding ground.

fpn_1508261203__fpn_logo_300x150.jpg

THE PELIKAN'S PERCH - A growing reference site for all things Pelikan

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If it seems ok after all these years that would be the best bet. As they say if it works don't fix it.

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Both, celluloid and ebonite/hard rubber, I treat them, once or twice a year, rubbing gently hand cream with one pinch of mineral oil and beeswax, even carefully inside the mouth of the cap with a cotton swab impregnated. It keeps them more bright, with more color intensity and soft touch, hydrated and less brittle. When you return to pick up the pens after 2 or 3 days once "absorbed the cream" really your notice the difference.

Edited by Lazard 20
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Interesting comments by Lazard; but - to answer Joshua's query -- I don't do anything special. My Pelikans all live in a padded pen case, which I cart around with me, unless I decide to carry only two or three pens, in which case they go into a small Pelikan case (the only Montblanc one I ever owned had the stitching come apart -- no more MB pen cases for this person!) There is some fading of the hard rubber filler-end of my lapis -- actually one side of the section, too -- and I suspect that it may have sat in a shop window in Moscow for a while? My jade has a vintage barrel, nib and feed (if you remember my description from back when I got it, Joshua) and there is very little fading of that one. I cannot say it bothers me muchly; but I may try Lazard's trick...I did buy them to use!

Edited by Christopher Godfrey
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Best practice conservation advice is always to do nothing which cannot be reversed, and particularly not to use any cleaners, solvents waxes or polishes, which although applied with love could well react with the plastic.

 

The twin enemies of early plastics are moisture and light, and they should also be kept in ventilated conditions. Here is a link to a site made in conjunction with English Heritage, which gives very clear suggestions: http://www.conservationregister.com/PIcon-careplastics.asp

 

I think the only thing you should really avoid is leaving the pens out on display in a sunny room, and (not that you ever would) soaking or using a sonic cleaner. Although I haven't got your lovely new birds (I wish), I have a few ebonite pens, including a fine modern ebonite Conway Stewart Churchill, and that's doing well so far with no particular cossetting, just a nice pen drawer to relax in when not inked up.

 

John

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Lizard, I would be careful about using mineral oil on rubber or even plastic. Mineral oil damages O rings and causes rubber to dry out and perish faster. I know this from my experience with vintage fishing reels and air rifles.

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Oh, and Joshua, I forgot to congratulate you on acquiring two such beauties :)

 

When they are in your hands, I hope that you can give us some detailed photographs; I am really interested in how Pelikan did the ebonite binde. Presumably they had to turn it, in which case is the piston mechanism the standard injection moulded job, or something different? All the modern ebonite pens I can think of are either cartridge converter or lever, thus avoiding any actual contact with different materials.

 

And doesn't it make you nostalgic for the times when Pelikan felt able to produce stuff like this? Even though the numbers were small, the technological challenges were always impressive. I can imagine a small team within Pelikan having really fulfilling jobs. Maybe one day ...

 

John

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I'd not expect the hard rubber to fade for generations. I do have a couple pens, one a '30's Mercedes with olive green hard rubber piston cap, perhaps one more. I do have a couple of BCHR Osmia, '30's-50's that are still as black as they ever were.

 

I'd 'oil' yours with your thumbs...though Lazard has an interesting idea....

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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Lizard, I would be careful about using mineral oil on rubber or even plastic. Mineral oil damages O rings and causes rubber to dry out and perish faster. I know this from my experience with vintage fishing reels and air rifles.

 

Hello, thanks. No, I think I have not explained well the procedure.

 

I want to say a micron, a pinch, 1/4 of a simple drop or even less mixed in the hand cream. It is not related to the amount that is used to lubricate a rifle and this small, very small portion of oil reaches no inside of a fountain pen nor a O-ring in a snorkel or touchdown filler system.

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  • 2 weeks later...

See David Nishimura's (vintagepens.com) discussion of hard rubber discoloration. One exposure to water, ammonia, bleach etc. can discolor your hard rubber. I've had this happen to vintage hard rubber.

 

One other note of caution, there have been reports of shrinkage of the celluloid in the lapis and green 1931 Originals of Their Times.

 

This has happened to some vintage celluloids, and modern ones with imperfect or insufficient curing. This is a problem for which there is no solution, and can cause stress cracks on celluloid when it shrinks around fillers.

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Both, celluloid and ebonite/hard rubber, I treat them, once or twice a year, rubbing gently hand cream with one pinch of mineral oil and beeswax, even carefully inside the mouth of the cap with a cotton swab impregnated. It keeps them more bright, with more color intensity and soft touch, hydrated and less brittle. When you return to pick up the pens after 2 or 3 days once "absorbed the cream" really your notice the difference.

 

Which "hand cream" product are your rubbing into your celluloid and hard rubber pens?

 

Mineral oil is incompatible with natural rubber; I do not recommend anyone apply it to any rubber component of any pen.

 

Particularly when it comes to waxes, I agree with this comment from encremental:

 

Best practice conservation advice is always to do nothing which cannot be reversed, and particularly not to use any cleaners, solvents waxes or polishes, which although applied with love could well react with the plastic.

 

Reversibility is an important consideration.

 

--Daniel

"The greatest mental derangement is to believe things because we want them to be true, not because we observe that they are in effect." --Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

Daniel Kirchheimer
Specialty Pen Restoration
Authorized Sheaffer/Parker/Waterman Vintage Repair Center
Purveyor of the iCroScope digital loupe

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  • 7 months later...

When I check back my Lapis 1935 - which had been stored for sometime, there is discolorization of celluloid from blue to purple at the captop. As mentioned in the other old thread, the pen cap is slightly shrunk but still able to cap fully. Does anyone has similar issue like mine? There is nor discolorisation nor shrinkage issue for my Jade 1931 or Yellow Gold or Double White Gold nonetheless.

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I'd already answered....

But....

:yikes: ""water"", :yikes: ...(the rest I can understand) """""ammonia, bleach etc. can discolor your hard rubber. I've had this happen to vintage hard rubber""""".

Edited by Bo Bo Olson

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

RIP...200's once great nib, now a double ball.:crybaby::wallbash:

 

The cheapest lessons are from those who learned expensive lessons. Ignorance is best for learning expensive lessons.

 

 

 

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I'd already answered....

But....

:yikes: ""water"", :yikes: ...(the rest I can understand) """""ammonia, bleach etc. can discolor your hard rubber. I've had this happen to vintage hard rubber""""".

Hi Bo Bo

 

How about the blue celluloid of the Lapis 1935 cap top which has discoloured from blue to purple.. I didn't use any polishing material on the pen. It was kept for sometime in the pen case.

 

Regards

Daeng

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