Duofold Special

There are very few pens I don’t enjoy working on. There are some, however, that are an especial pleasure and this Duofold Special would be high on that list. Late twenties/early thirties Duofolds are at the very peak of quality. There is no skimping of effort to achieve the best possible result in the manufacturing process. Apart from the slight barrel discolouration due to the decomposition of the sac, and a little wear on the plating, this pen is almost like new and that’s because of the original attention to quality.

There’s a routine to restoring a pen – assess, disassemble, clean, assess again, re-assemble. The only part that needs replaced here is the sac. I use a silicone one to prevent any further discolouration of the jade. It’s important to clean the inside of the barrel thoroughly; any fragment of the old latex sac that remains will continue to discolour the barrel. As it’s a screw-in section, sac size is critical. It has to be as large as possible to contain the optimum amount of ink, but narrow enough to clear the walls of the barrel. Then it’s time for reassembly and a gentle polish, and the pen is ready for write-testing.

I have read that the Duofold Special, or JL (for Junior Long) as it’s also known, was not listed in Parker’s catalogues of the time, but was made to meet popular demand for a Duofold the length of the Senior and the thickness of the Junior. Actually, it’s a tiny bit shorter than the Senior and a little thicker than the Junior – but near enough! From the first black hard rubber model in 1922 the Special was very popular in Britain, and survives in moderately high numbers. This two-ring green jade version was made in 1928 and 1929, and is not so often seen.


8 thoughts on “Duofold Special

  1. I have a Duofold special like yours with the twin rings but in black. It is in great condition and has a nice semi-flex nib. The quality is excellent.

    I have to replace the ink sac and was wondering what size you used?

  2. Thanks for the reply. I just hope that I don’t have to dismantle the feed as the lucky curve is intact and I don’t fancy breaking it by accident. I’ll order a size 18 sac.

    p.s. I have enjoyed reading the articles in this blog. Keep it up. 🙂

    1. That’s a precious thing! There aren’t many whole Lucky Curve feeds left. I haven’t seen one for years. If you can blow through it without much resistance you’ll get good ink-flow. If not, try to get some water through it, which should dissolve any ink residue. Failing that, I would suggest sending it to a good repairer. I know a few who would do a good job, give a quick turnaround and not charge a lot. If you need a referral, let me know.

  3. Dear Sir,

    I`ve been the proud owner of a Duofold Special now for many years,I have used it on very rare occasions to
    either sign a document or write a letter……the condition of the Lapis Lazuli is excellent because it`s been kept
    in a box and no light has got to it,both the barrel and the cap are as blue as the day it was bought.How much could I expect to get for such a pen in that condition

    1. Hi Gerhard,

      I can’t give you an exact price. In the last year I sold two Duofold Specials, one black, the other jade, quite discoloured. Both went for around £60.00. The Lapis Lazuli is less common, and a very attractive pen. My guess would be at least £100.00 and possibly quite a bit more, if the right buyers are in the market.

    1. Hi Max,
      Unless your pen is jade green lapis lazuli or one of those pale colours at risk of discolouring, latex sacs are best. They are more pliable and put less strain on the filling system. Don’t put any glue on the section/barrel joint.

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