Tag Archives: eyedropper pen

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Elementary Gift

Most pen fanatics are familiar with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famed author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, having once been an advertising spokesman for the Parker Duofold. However, that was at the end of his life.

This Swan eyedropper was once a gift from mystery writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his wife to James Holmes during the Christmas of 1910.

Before there was such a thing as a Parker Duofold, one can speculate about what pens he would have used. Well, if what he gave as decadent gifts are any clue, it might have been Swan pens!

As I have said many times before, one of my favorite parts about owning this business is meeting tons of awesome people from around the world. This past week I was contacted by Sharon in the UK, and she had a spectacular pen to share.

Here is the tail imprint on this Swan pen from 1910.

It was a Christmas gift her great grandfather, a coincidentally named James Holmes, received from “Sir Arthur and Lady Conan Doyle” in 1910. It appears to be a rolled gold Swan eyedropper with a hammered finish!

She is having it appraised by a famous auction house in London, but she also was hoping we might be able to come up with a reasonable figure. While I could come up with a reasonable number for such a pen without a famous inscription, I felt pretty confident a pen from the creator of Sherlock Holmes took it to the next level.

Any thoughts, Loyal Readers?

This shows the heavily worn section and nib of this Swan eyedropper given by the creator of Sherlock Holmes.

When Hard Rubber Misbehaves

A Waterman's #15 eyedropper soaks in water to help loosen the old ink sealing its threads.

A Waterman’s #15 eyedropper soaks in water to help loosen the old ink sealing its threads.

Old hard rubber pens, especially eyedroppers, can be a difficult repair because the pens are so old and frail. It is very easy to overtorque them and crack or crush them.

The problem, especially in eyedroppers, is that old ink effectively turns into glue on these old pens. Eyedroppers are so problematic because the ink always seeped into the threads that held the section to the hollow barrel that served as the pen’s ink reservoir. Other pens with ink sacs get ink-glued when the old sac gave out flooding the inner barrel with ink.

Lucky for you, the solution is really simple. Once again H2O comes to the rescue. Fill a cup with room-temperature water and soak the pen over the line separating the section from the barrel. Let it soak for 12 to 48 hours. This is usually enough time to loosen the old ink and allow the pen to open the way it should.

Sometimes it takes a little heat. Heat is the enemy of your old hard rubber pens. Open flames will melt or burn the pen very quickly. Hot water will discolor the pen, too. If you need the heat, just hold the pen briefly under warm to hot water flowing from your kitchen tap. Don’t expose the pen to the heat for more than a couple seconds, and keep an eye out for discoloration. It doesn’t take a lot of time or heat to start the discoloration process.