In a previous post back in January, 2014, I wrote about the Charles H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company and described Mr. Ingersoll’s determination to make pens that retailed for one dollar but were always fitted with a 14K gold nib. His original pens, like the one in that post, were all metal. In the mid 1920s, metal pens were falling out of style in favor of the new brightly-colored celluloid pens. Ingersoll decided to move with the times, but wanted to maintain his one dollar price point and 14K gold nib.
In 1927 Ingersoll began producing pens from celluloid in four colors: Black, Chinese Red, Mahogany, and Jade Green. This 2nd generation celluloid era did not last long, though, because he quickly learned that celluloid tubing was not sturdy enough when thin enough to make his price point. By 1928 he was advertising his 3rd generation of pens made from “imperishable Bakelite”
I spotted this 2nd generation Charles H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen on ebay quite by accident. The seller had mislabeled it as a Spors pen and I have a standing search set up for Spors. A look at the auction revealed that the pen had a Spors accommodation clip, but did not look like a Spors. The picture of the nib showed a “CHI” or Charles H. Ingersoll, imprint, and I realized that it was a second generation Ingersoll “Dollar” pen in Chinese Red celluloid.
I won the auction, and when the pen arrived the reason for the accommodation clip became obvious: the original pocket clip, a z-clip, was broken off. In addition, the upholstery tack used by Ingersoll as a twist filler knob was gone. Fortunately the blind cap that had concealed the tack head was still present.
Since Ingersoll used a generic clip to save cost, finding a replacement was easy, but removing the inner cap to insert the new clip proved difficult. A week-long soak in a 10% ammonia/water solution loosened up the dried ink holding the inner cap firmly in place. With a little heat, I was able to pull it with no damage to it or the outer cap. The replacement clip slipped right into place.
The original ink sac, actually a rubber tube secured at one end to the section and at the other to a rubber plug, was completely rigid with age, so I removed it and fitted a new number 20 latex sac in its place. See the previous post for pictures that explain the twist filler arrangement.
Finding a replacement for the upholstery tack twist filler knob proved more difficult. All the upholstery tacks in Huntsville had heads too large to fit inside the blind cap. I tried a thumbtack, but it wasn’t long enough to secure into the rubber plug at the end of the ink sac. Finally I found a push pin with a long pin, shortened the handle to fit inside the blind cap, and pushed it into place in the end of the barrel. It is white plastic, so does not resemble the original, but it does work. Perhaps I should paint it black.
Once the section, ink sac, and twist knob were in place, I reinserted the nib and feed and the pen was whole again. A good shine with Ron Zorn’s pen polish completed the restoration.
The 14K nib is quite flexible and writes very nicely. That this pen looks as good as it does and could be returned to full functionality speaks volumes about the good value for the dollar provided by Charles H. Ingersoll..
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post I purchased a “Big Red” Parker Duofold in a local estate sale. When “Big Red” was added to the Duofold line it quickly caught the public’s attention and catapulted Parker into the big leagues of fountain pen manufacturers and many other pen companies large and small were quick to introduce something comparable in appearance. Side by side, my Duofold and this Ingersoll are strikingly similar. Up close, one would never mistake the Ingersoll for a Duofold, but at even a few feet the differences fade away. Someone buying an Ingersoll Dollar Pen likely could make a good impression on those who saw the pen from just a short distance away – and for much less money!