Pen cases: a cautionary tale

Having a number of fountain pens uninked at any one time, I was in need of a storage case. At the London Pen Show in October 2015, I bought a black, 24-pen zip case, which had elasticated slots for 12 pens on each side and a flap to separate the two sides when the case was closed.

The case was only £15.00, in a padded, leather-look, finish and appeared to be quite a good practical design. The zip extended for a few inches beyond the rim of the case, to facilitate opening it flat on a table and had a popper to fasten the zip down when in the closed position. It had no apparent brand name and so I cannot tell you who makes it or where it comes from. I liked it so much that I bought another identical one at the same show in October 2016.

All was well until yesterday when I took out a yellow Lamy Safari, thinking that I might ink it up and put it into use. I was shocked to find a stain on the back of the cap and barrel where it had been held tightly against the lining of the pen case. I took out a Pink Safari which had the same problem.

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An old, white Sheaffer No Nonsense was also affected, to a lesser degree. Happily, the lacquered pens or metal finish pens such as a Lamy Logo were unaffected. It seems that just the light-coloured Lamy Safaris had suffered.

I tried rubbing the mark off with my thumb but this had no effect. I washed them in water with concentrated washing up liquid, scrubbing them with a soft brush but again this had no effect.

It appears that the stain has got deep into the material from which Safaris are made. Perhaps it is some sort of reaction between this material and the black dye used for the thin inner lining of the pen case.

I have since had a brief look for a remedy on Fountain Pen Network and found a thread where people had experienced staining to the chrome finish of pens, such as a Waterman Carene and reference was made to “chrome tanned leather”. Someone had success resolving that problem using a sort of polish.  I do not think my pen case was leather and it seems to be a different problem.

I am writing this first in order to warn others against making the same mistake and secondly in the faint hope that someone might know of a solution, to lift this stain out. It is not the end of the world and the pens are still usable. But they are adorable pens and I am sorry not to have taken better care of them.

6 thoughts on “Pen cases: a cautionary tale

  1. Oh no. Can you get a Novus plastic polish kit? It’s sold here, among other places on Amazon. It may help, and at this point is unlikely to hurt. If not, an auto parts store may have something similar.

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  2. Oh my. That’s too bad. I read somewhere that some leather cases may have lining with residual salt from the treatment process, so it causes discoloration with some materials. I hope you can still get the stains out.

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  3. I’ve had the same experience (via an ebay purchase) which also involved a yellow Safari. I tried one of those ‘magic sponge’ erasers but it started lifting the colour as well – definitely not the solution!

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  4. I am assuming these cases have that black lining that resembles velvet? I’ve wondered how stable the dyes are in these things, as I now run to check the two full ones I have. Sometimes, chemistry is *not* fun!

    You did pick a nice pen in your retail therapy, I’ve always thought that’s a cheery blue.

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  5. Thank you. No, the lining in these pen cases was not like velvet but was some sort of thin, black, man-made material. I assume that there is probably a cardboard backing behind it and then some foam padding and an artificial leather-look outer shell. (I should have included a photo). Somehow the black dye has been absorbed into, or reacted with, my Safaris.I hope that your cases did not have the same issue.

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