Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
- Although we started out using and recommending the traditional standby, shellac, for attaching these sacs, we have found that a stronger and more reliable seal is provided by a silicone sealant such as Devcon Silicone Adhesive 12045 (Loctite 908570 is another brand successfully used by customers). It should be noted that these silicone adhesives give off acetic acid as they cure, and most contain some petroleum distillates. Sac nipples of hard rubber will not be affected, nor are hard plastics such as acrylic and polycarbonate likely to be vulnerable. Celluloid could be affected, but this is more a theoretical than a practical concern given the very small quantity of sealant required for sac attachment. In practice, I have had no problems to date using silicone adhesive to attach silicone sacs to celluloid sections (noting that the solvent in shellac, alcohol, is also a solvent for celluloid, which would seem much more problematical in comparison).
- The traditional sac sizing scale is always explained as representing the outside diameter of the sac in 64ths of an inch. Conventional latex sacs, all of which are now made by dip-molding, vary significantly in wall thickness and hence in outside diameter, but even the largest in a batch of conventional #18 sacs are going to be well under 18/64". Why is this? As far as I can tell, the sac size number in fact represents the inside diameter of the smallest barrel a given sac will fit -- a measurement necessarily slightly greater than the outside diameter of the sac. Our first size of silicone sacs measures a true 18/64", slightly larger in diameter than conventional latex #18 sacs. Future sizes will be adjusted to bring them into line with extant sac size charts; we are considering re-labeling our #18 sacs as #18 1/2 for the same reason.
- Silicone rubber offers a number of advantages over latex, but there are areas where latex is superior. Gas permeability is one: air and water vapor will diffuse through silicone much faster than through other rubbers and plastics -- around 26 times faster than through PVC, according to one source. Knowing this, we put our first silicone sacs through extensive real-world tests. Our main concern was that ink might thicken due to evaporation, but in actual use we ended up refilling the test pens well before any noticeable thickening occurred. Recently, however, we have become aware of another way in which silicone's permeability can be an issue, albeit an easily managed one. It seems that if a pen with a silicone sac is left lying horizontally, after a couple of days the feed will become saturated and will drop ink into the cap. The solution is simple: if you aren't going to use a pen for a while, store it with the nib elevated. In fact, this was standard advice from all the old-time pen companies, and is a practice that is second nature to vintage pen enthusiasts. The pen doesn't have to be stood on end -- resting on a slant is quite enough.
American-made nib with a Greek imprint. I can now reveal that the nib (shown again above) was found on the pen shown below, which came directly from a family house on a Greek island.
Constantine I reigned from 1913 to 1917, and again from 1920 to 1927. The design of the pen, the presence of a V. V. clip in particular, suggests that it was made to commemorate the accession of 1913.
As yet I have not been able to find any trace of any Kretikaki or Kritikaki brothers in New York, excepting a record of an 11-year-old Autigony Kritikaki passing through Ellis Island in 1908. There is a Kritikaki Brothers company in Greece that is currently active in tile and other construction materials, and perhaps it would be worth contacting them to inquire about the history of their company.
ADDENDUM: Yet another report of a fancy pen with the same nib, this one a Heath silver filigree over red hard rubber. Although our sample size is still very small, the great variety of pens is striking. No two are alike, and the main commonality is that they are all flashy, of excellent quality, and made using components that were generally available in the greater New York City fountain pen industry. This suggests that the Kritikaki Brothers were not aiming to sell large quantities of a limited selection of designs, but rather to offer a broad range of distinct individual items to a boutique clientele. I would further speculate that this business came to a crashing halt with the start of WW1 -- first with the curtailment of shipping, then with the split of Greece into the Kingdom of Greece and New Greece in 1916 -- and that the pens found to date in the United States were inventory stranded and eventually sold off in New York (there is an interesting report from the US Consul in Thessaloniki, published in February of 1917, about the market for fountain pens in New Greece, but if one looks at contemporary reports from New York, availability of shipping to Greece could not be counted upon).