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The Pen Doctor XL

(This page published May 1, 2023)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]

Scrap Value of Cheap Steel Nibs

Q:I have lots of cheap pens - they are from either India or China, aluminium bodies and the fountain pen nib says “Iridium Point Germany.” I know they won’t be iridium but do you have any idea what these nibs are made from for scrap metal purposes?

℞x:NibsThe IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY imprint indicates that those nibs probably do have hard tipping material (commonly called iridium). It means that the tipping material came from Germany, not that the entire nib is German. The nibs in these cheap pens are often Chinese, not Indian, and the rest of the nib is probably low-grade stainless steel. However, some Chinese manufacturers, notably TWSBI of Taiwan (Republic of China), have begun using JoWo nibs, which are made in Berlin, Germany. If the nib looks like the upper photo here, whether it’s gold plated or not, it's definitely Chinese. (That five-petaled blossom is a dead giveaway.) I don't know of any Chinese makers who are counterfeiting JoWo nibs, so if the imprint looks exactly like the inprint on the lower nib shown here, the nib was probably made by JoWo.

No matter where the nib was made, however, what it comes down to for scrap value is very little. Small amounts of stainless steel such as you’re dealing with are worth pennies; at current prices it’s about USD $0.25 per pound (454 g).

What Is This “51”, Really?

Q:My 89 yr old father pen collector (and my inspiration for getting into collecting) recently gave me this pen. He bought it many years ago and was told it is solid 18k South America made. It doesn't have the Industria Argentina logo that those pens had and the only mention of Parker is on the filling mechanism which has the standard parker imprint instructions. The clip is stamped 18k but there is no stamp on the cap itself or the barrel.

A collector in Brazil wrote : “You have a jeweler's overlay Parker 51 name Carioquinha and all the ones that I have seen like yours are made in Brazil rather than Argentina. Not the most collectible pen and not high quality and usually most of the value is in the gold content rather than a collectible. There are several versions made with different patterns, but all have that same clip.”

Foun tain pen

℞x:The Brazilian collector gave you exactly the right information. The photo above shows a typical Carioquinha “51”; yours might or might not look exactly like this. (Carioquinha, pronounced “CAR-ee-oh-KEEN-ya,” is the name of a kind of bean that has khaki stripes on a beige background, and the word is used here to describe the appearance of the pen’s surface.) As far as I know, your pen is solid gold, but the best way to tell for sure if it’s plated, filled, or solid is to evaluate it nondestructively. Weigh the barrel only, using a scale that can weigh in decigrams or better. Then measure the volume of the barrel by immersing it in a graduated cylinder partially filled with water and observing how many milliliters of water it displaces. You can then compute the barrel's average density in grams per cubic centimeter. The density of water is 1.0.

If it's solid 18K, 75% of the weight will be gold, and the remainder will be a combination of other metals, usually copper and zinc (the components of brass). You can find the approximate density of ordinary 18K on the Internet; compare that with the density you computed.

If it's filled, there should be an imprint somewhere that gives the percentage of 18K gold by weight, with the remainder of the weight being brass. This is usually written in a form something like this: 1/10 18K GF or 1/10 18K RG, where of the total weight would 18K gold and the rest brass. You say there’s no such imprint; the inference I draw is that it’s probably solid, but the weight will tell.

If it's plated, the portion of gold will be negligible for practical purposes. Almost all of the material will be brass, and the lighter weight will give it away.

Broken Pelikan Pen

Q:Hello everyone, my Pelikan m800 fell from my shirt pocket to the ground. Unfortunately the barrel broke from the section. Anyone know of a place or person that can repair it in  REDACTED ?

Broken pen
Copyrighted image used under 17 U.S.C. §107, Fair Use.

℞x:One answer to the question said to use CA (cyanoacrylate) glue. Bad idea.

Ordinary CA glues (aka super glues) set chemically when exposed to moisture. There’s moisture in the air in the form of humidity, so that part is good, but the chemical reaction continues as long as there's moisture present (ink is moisture), and the joint falls apart after a while.

Get the joint surfaces perfectly clean and dry. Apply a good 2-part epoxy, following the instructions carefully and making sure the parts are properly aligned. Stand the assembly upright with the nib uppermost and allow the glue to set for 24 hours.

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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