Additional Pen Information

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Post 003 Salz Peter Pan


Today’s post features what is probably the smallest pen ever made: the Peter Pan pen from the Salz Brothers Pen Company. Pens we think of today as small, like the Kaweco Sport, look like giants when seen next to the Peter Pan pen.

Short international cartridge, Peter Pan pen, Kaweco Sport, and Duofold Centennial,
Short international cartridge, Peter Pan pen, Kaweco Sport, and Duofold Centennial,

Salz Brothers History

The Salz Brothers Pen Company was founded around 1920 in New York City by Ignatz[1], James, and Jacob Salz. Salz initially produced high quality pens, but over time the quality deteriorated. The company went out of business around 1950. Some nice examples of early Salz pens can be found at PENS PAPER INKS…WHATEVER!, including this 1920s pen and pencil set. The website also gives a brief history of the Salz Brothers Pen Company.

Salz pen and pencil set from the 1920s. Image from PENS PAPER INKSWHATEVER!
Salz pen and pencil set from the 1920s. Image from PENS PAPER INKS…WHATEVER!

There is limited information available about the Salz Brothers Pen Company. Richard Binder, an extremely knowledgeable pen collector and highly respected nibmeister, has some useful information.

Worthpoint has some details on the later years of the Salz Brothers Pen Company including the name change to Stratford Pen Company.


Peter Pan Pen
Peter Pan Pen

My Peter Pan pen is an early[2] model, probably from the early 1920s, and is typical of the style popular in the early twentieth century. The barrel was made of black hard rubber and overlaid with a gold filigree pattern. There is a solid area where a name could be engraved. The gold overlay on the Peter Pan was, in fact, actually gold filled, which meant that 10% of the material used for the overlay was made from 18K gold.[3]

The pen was too small to hold a lever or button filler that was typically used when this pen was made. You can see from the picture above that even a short international cartridge would have too big a diameter to fit inside the barrel, in addition to being too long.

The Peter Pan Disassembled
The Peter Pan Disassembled

The pen has a small ring at the top of the cap. A ribbon or chain was passed through the ring so that the pen could be worn by a woman around her neck. The pen then served a dual purpose: a writing instrument and a piece of jewelry.

The weight and size of the pen are given in the table below. The Peter Pan weighs in at ridiculously light 4 grams, or only 14% of a modern Duofold Centennial. It is interesting to see that the Kaweco Sport, which is considered a small pen today, is just about twice as long as the Peter Pan pen.

Early 1920s Peter Pan compared to a Kaweco Sport, and Duofold Centennial
Measurement Units Peter Pan Kaweco Sport Duofold Centennial
Weight g 4 9 29
Length, capped mm 56 105 138
Length, uncapped mm 53 100 127
Length, posted mm 77 134 172


The nib of the Peter Pan pen is usually described as a No. 1 0, that is, the smallest nib size in use.

Peter Pan No. 0 size nib
Peter Pan No. 0 size nib

The nib is inscribed “Peter Pan 14 KT”. As mentioned earlier, the pen is an eyedropper filler, that is, the ink is squirted into the barrel and the nib/section is screwed back into place.

I was curious about the ink capacity of the barrel, so I measured it[4]. The Peter Pan pen can hold 0.4 mL of ink. This volume is about 1/100 of an ounce. According to Wolfram Alpha, this is the equivalent of 2/3 of a plain M&M, although I imagine it’s not as tasty.

Looking down into the barrel looks like a satellite photo
Looking down into the barrel looks like a satellite photo

The engraving on the cap says Salz Brothers and 18 K - 1/10, which indicates that the hard rubber body is covered with a gold filled alloy.

Engraving on the cap
Engraving on the cap


The Salz Brothers Peter Pan pen is an example of the pens produced during the early years of the company (1920s). The materials and workmanship were of high quality, unlike the pens made during their later years. I am fortunate to have another Peter Pan pen in my collection. It differs from the one shown here only in that the gold filled exterior is solid (not a filigree pattern) so the hard rubber doesn’t show through.

It’s too bad more isn’t known about the Salz Pen Company, but I suppose that is because they only made quality pens during the first part of their existence. There would be little interest in the low quality pens made during the later years.

I can’t resist one more comparison shot:

The little gun and the big gun
The little gun and the big gun

  1. Ignatz was quite a playboy and spent much of his time in nightclubs. Apparently he mixed with the wrong type of people and was shot at the entrance to his home one evening. New York Times Abstract  ↩

  2. The original Peter Pan pens, like this example, were superseded by increasingly larger models that were needed to accommodate non-eyedropper filling systems.  ↩

  3. Gold filled pens were of much higher quality than our modern gold plated equivalent. The gold doesn’t wear off as easily as gold plating, although heavy use will eventually cause brassing where the gold is worn away.  ↩

  4. I filled a syringe with water and noted the amount of water. I then slowly pushed down the plunger squirting water into the barrel. I stopped when the barrel was full and noted the amount of water remaining in the syringe. Subtracting this number from the original amount gave the amount of water (or ink) that was needed to fill the barrel. That number turns out to be 0.4 mL. Since a milliliter and a cubic centimeter are the same volume, this is also 0.4 cc.  ↩

Thursday, March 6, 2014

002 Parker Big Red Duofold 1928-29


The Parker Pen Company was founded in 1888 by George S. Parker. Parker has made pens continuously since then and is still in business today[1]. Parker was one of the Big Four pen companies that dominated the fountain pen industry during its Golden Age. For more information, see the companion article Parker Models found at the tab above.

Parker Duofold
This picture, like all the illustrations in this post, shows my 1928–9 Big Red Duofold Senior.

Duofold History

The Duofold was launched in 1921 with the Big Red model, which has since become the most recognizable Duofold color. Originally the pen was made from hard rubber, but in 1926 Parker plastic models. Plastic pens quickly dominated the market and were the mainstay of pen manufacturers ever since[2]. Duofolds sold for $7, which was considered outrageously expensive at the time. Nevertheless the public fell in love with the pen and were willing to pay this extravagant sum to own one[3].


Big Red Capped
Big Red Senior from 1928–9

I own several Big Red Duofold Seniors. The specific one shown in this post was made in 1928 or 1929[4]. It has two thin gold bands on the cap, that distinguish it from earlier models that had either no band, or a single large band. Later models, know as Slimline, although also having two thin bands, had caps that tapered somewhat so that the top of the cap had a smaller diameter than the bottom where the threads were located.

The weight and size of the pen are given in the table below. The Duofold Senior weighs in at surprisingly light 21g compare to a modern Duofold Centennial that weighs 29g. The extra weight of the Centennial is due to the brass casing for the filling mechanism. The size of the Senior and Centennial are virtually identical, which shows how carefully the designers of the modern pen were to be faithful to the 1920s design.

The 1928–29 Duofold Senior compared to the Duofold Centennial
Measurement Units Duofold Senior Duofold Centennial
Weight g 21 29
Length, capped mm 138 138
Length, uncapped mm 130 127
Length, posted mm 171 172


The nib of the 1928–9 Duofold Senior is appropriately sized for a pen of these dimensions, that is, it’s quite big. It is, of course, made from 14K gold, which was the standard for that day.

The nib is inscribed “Parker Duofold Made in USA” [5].

The 1920s Duofold pens carried over the button filler mechanism that was used in the Jackknife Safety pen and other predecessors of the Duofold.

Button Filler
Pushing in the button would cause a thin metal strip to bow towards the center of the barrel causing the ink sac to compress. Releasing the button while the nib was immersed in ink caused the ink sac to fill.

The imprint on the barrel is somewhat worn, but it is clearly legible.

The imprint reads George S. Parker—Parker Duofold—Made in USA[6].

The clip was large and gold-filled.

The engraving on the clip reads “Pat. SE 5–16” at the top and “Parker ” written vertically.


The 1928–29 Parker Duofold Senior was one of the most prestigious and expensive pens of its time. It was meant to reflect the importance of the user and to make a statement. The large size and the amount of gold in the nib was meant to impress people. This was the kind of pen that was used to sign a bill into law, or, for lesser mortals, sign a mortgage contract.

This particular unit has some flaws. There is a series of gauges in the barrel where a tool of some sort seems to have slipped. The imprint is worn, but easily readable. Also, it looks like the lip of the cap had a chip knocked out and later glued into place. These noticeable flaws made the pen less valuable and I purchased it for somewhat less money than a pristine unit. Perhaps some day, if the mood strikes me, I might fill this pen with ink and write with it. A little extra wear probably won’t hurt the value of this pen as it would one in better condition.

  1. Parker did stumble in the 1980s and was bought out by its management, who quickly sold the company to a conglomerate. The conglomerate moved the headquarters to England and subsequently to France.  ↩

  2. Plastic pens could be made in a large number of colors and patterns, whereas hard rubber pens came in only red and black. Early plastic Duofold colors include red, black, jade, mandarin yellow, lapis blue, and pearl.  ↩

  3. Parker, aware that large Duofold Seniors were too expensive for many people, introduced a smaller and less expensive model named the Duofold Junior, which sold for $5. Also sold at $5 was the Lady Duofold, which was similar to the Junior model except that the clip was replaced with a gold color ring on the top of the cap. The ring was used to attach the pen to a neckless since women’s clothing styles didn’t include pockets. My mother, who was a young girl during the 1920s, told me how much she disliked this style of ladies pens because, inevitably, the pen would work its way loose, unscrew from the cap, and she would look down and find just an empty cap dangling from the neckless.  ↩

  4. How is the date of a pen determined? The most common method of dating a pen is by comparing it to contemporary magazine advertisements. Looking at a series of ads in dated magazines for Parker Duofolds during the 1920s shows all the major and minor modifications made during the years it was produced. In particular, Glen Bowen’s book, Collectable Fountain Pens is filled with ads arranged chronologically for each manufacturer.  ↩

  5. Beneath the inscription are the additional characters “.47.”, however I don’t know the significance of this.  ↩

  6. The Parker Vacumatic pen, which followed the Duofold, had the year of manufacture as part of its imprint. Thus a “9” in the imprint would mean the pen was made in 1939.  ↩

Monday, March 3, 2014

001 Pelikan Toledo M900


The Pelikan M900 Toledo was released as a limited edition in 1991. I don’t know how many were manufactured, but only 500 were sold in the United States. My pen came with a certificate saying it was #431 out of 500.

Toledo Certificate

This is a very expensive pen, perhaps the most expensive in my collection. A Google search showed that the pen, in mint condition, sells for around $1800. That is about twice what I paid for it in 1991[1].

One thing that puzzles me is that, even though the pen was marketed as a limited edition in 1991, today there are many pen stores selling the M900 Toledo. For example, The Pen Boutique is selling it for $1800 and Amazon is selling it for much less.[2].

Open M900

The Pelikan Pen Company describes the Toledo pens like this:

The body of the fountain pen is made by use of an elaborate damascening technique. Its hand‑carved motif was coated with a layer of gold.

Pelikan’s detailed description of the Toledo models is here.

Physical Characteristics

Here is a picture of the M900 Toledo next to a TWSBI 580. They are just about identical in length when capped. However, the M900 is much heavier as shown in the table below.


I made these measurement using a calibrated digital scale and a micrometer. The weight agrees with the numbers I found on the internet.

The Pelikan M900 Toledo compared to the TWSBI 580
Measurement Units Pelikan M900 TWSBI 580
Weight g 39 28
Length, capped mm 141 142
Length, uncapped mm 128
Length, posted mm 158

Like the beautifully hand-carved exterior, the nib of the M900 Toledo also has beautiful carvings on its upper surface. nib

How it writes

I can only guess that it writes like any other Pelikan’s with gold nibs. If a pen is truly rare, it can only lose value by writing with it. Although I write with many of my antique pens, I don’t write with the ones in mint condition except under certain circumstances. I’m planning a future post on the subject.


  • The Fountain Pen Network has a very detailed review of the Pelikan Toledo M900 here. The review contains several closeups of the pen including the top and bottom of the nib.

  • Another review is from the blog Write to Me Often. This review is bilingual, so scroll down to find the english version.

  • The Fountain Pen Hospital, based in New York City, has a brief description of the process used in making the Toledo pens[3].

  1. That sounds like a good investment, but it only works out to about an annual increase of 3%. A certificate of deposit would have done as well and an equity investment would have returned 3.75 times as much.  ↩

  2. The certificate, as shown in the picture, identifies the pen as the “Toledo M900 Collectors Edition”. I suppose this makes it stand out from the ordinary Toledo M900, but I don’t see any differences in the pen dealers pictures from my pen. Perhaps the only major difference is in the wording of the certificate itself!  ↩

  3. I confess to a certain nostalgia when I think of the Fountain Pen Hospital. Although I have been buying fountain pens since 1957 (that’s not a typo, I’ve been writing with fountain pens for 57 years) I never thought of myself as a pen collector until I discovered that there was a thriving hobby in collecting antique pens. I bought my first antique pen from the Fountain Pen Hospital in January 1990. It was a black Shaeffer Snorkel, with gold nib and trim, from the 1950s.  ↩