When collecting pens you absolutely will find ones that need some help, and that is when you start looking for the best pen repair books to help you get it back into shape. There are a lot of ways to learn pen repair; videos, forums, and web pages spring to mind. A book, however, allows you to put the book right where you are working so you can reference it while you work. This is personally my favorite way to work. While some fountain pen books have small sections on fountain pen repair and fountain pen repair supplies, they are no substitute for the actual repair manuals listed here.
At the top of any best pen repair books list is Fountain Pens; the Complete Guide to Repair & Restoration by Frank Dubiel, also called the Da Book. This is an old book, Frank passed away in 2003 and the current version of Da Book is the Pendemonium revised edition from 2004. What this means is that in some cases better or more modern ways to repair pens have been found, but this is the book that started it all.
One of the really cool things about this book is all the hand-drawn images. Frank took a lot of time to deliver a book that was just outstanding.
While this book is expensive, and the reprint and binding is not always that great, the knowledge in the pages is second to none. This was written by the undisputed king of pen repair in his day. His insights are worth far more than the price of the book. There is a reason this is on the shelf of pretty much every person who is even mildly interested in pen repair around the world.
Yes, pen repair professionals today no longer use flames and nail polish in their repairs, and neither should you, but the ideas behind what he was doing has not changed at all. Do yourself a favor, start with this book and then if you feel you need more, do additional research. Honestly, many of the pen repair professionals I know started with this book and expanded on their own, never needing more information.
Next is another classic, Pen Repair: A Practical Guide for Repairing Collectable Pens and Pencils with Additional Information on Pen Anatomy and Filling Systems by Jim Marshall and Laurence Oldfield sometimes just called the Marshall-Oldfield, or simply Pen Repair. I am linking to the Second Edition for a few reasons; first, it is usually available and the third edition is usually not (no idea why), second, it is the edition I learned with and so have the most familiarity with, and lastly because I have been told that although the second edition is a huge improvement over the first, the third has little to offer over the second which is why I never bothered to buy the third edition.
All of that being said, this is a great book to have in addition to Da Book. In Pen Repair, you will see a lot of color images including a lot of disassembled pens so you know what they look like inside before you start disassembling. Da Book is almost exclusively hand drawings which is some cases is better, and in some cases worse than photographs so having both is just amazing.
This book is also just jam-packed with information. Even the inside of the cover has huge color-coded sections of information.
Between this book and Da Book, I would say that Da Book has more little tidbits of hands-on knowledge and sometimes the hand-drawn images can be really helpful, while this book packs substantially more information and uses not only color photographs, but color charts and more to help convey an amazing about if information. If you are serious about pen repair, you need both. Just want one to start with? Personally, I would go with Da Book but you won’t go wrong with this one either.
One of the most successful pen repair professionals in the business is Richard Binder and he wrote a book called The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 2: Restoration. This is the newest of the books on this list and in my opinion, the one most aimed at pen repair professionals.
The book is considered to be something to work with books like Da Book and Pen Repair but I find it can stand on its own pretty well. Instructions are nice and well laid out including prefaces showing the tools and parts you will need to perform the repairs. I really like that since this is a very new publication (compared to the others) it shows the most modern tools and methods currently available.
One thing I absolutely do not like is the binding on the book which is just your typical softcover binding. Both Da Book and Pen Repair use spiral binding which makes actually using them while repairing a pen infinitely easier. I find myself wrestling with the book while trying to work on a pen and that is just a bad recipe.
Overall this is an excellent book and if you have and used one or both of the previous two and plan on restoring fountain pens professionally, I recommend you add this to your collection.
Lastly, the Parker Pen Repair Manual by The Parker Pen Company written in 1900 is a very interesting little read and perfectly suitable for someone who knows nothing about pen repair, particularly if they are dealing with Parker Pens.
If you are looking for a cheap introduction, a historical introduction, or a gift for someone that might have an interest in repairing pens but you aren’t sure, this would be an excellent choice. This was the only Parker fountain pen repair manual of the day and written by the company that ruled the fountain pen world in the day.