January 26th, 2011

I bought my first nib pen a few years ago at Barnes & Noble (I had a gift certificate). It was used rather haphazardly, now and then, as the mood struck me. When I did trot it out, I got into the habit of rinsing it off in the sink before putting it away. And wouldn’t you know it, the nib has rusted in place!

I have to admit I nearly got caught in the same trap with my new exotic wood pen. I had already rinsed it a few times when I noticed that rust was starting to form inside the ferrule. I caught it in time to remove the nib and clean out most of the rust. I guess I should think about replacing the ferrule (the insert that holds the nib) eventually. But for now, it is alright. And I learned my lesson.

Now, as they did in the 1850s, I clean my pen with a pen-wiper!


I actually made this a few years ago as part of tableaux at the museum where I work. I forget where I found the directions (it is indeed made from a mid-19th century pattern). Since it was no longer on display at the museum, I decided to bring it home and put it into active service.

Inside, between the crocheted top and velvet bottom, there are four circles of white flannel. Each circle is worked round the edge in buttonhole stitch, then folded twice into a quarter circle. The four folded circles were stitched together to form a single circle with lots of layered openings into which you can stick your pen to wipe it clean.

Wiper with Pen

Like so. Clever, eh? You should see all the different and fanciful forms taken by pen-wipers in the mid-19th century. This one is rather tame. I look forward to making new wipers, in more adventurous patterns.

And I also look forward to receiving my first blotter. Hint. Hint.

Ebay Acquisitions

January 3rd, 2011

I returned to work today, after a long, lovely week of Christmas vacation. So if my posts are a bit less frequent in the coming weeks, or perhaps a little less florid, just put it down to the return of my usual schedule.

I had a particularly enjoyable evening, pow-wowing with the ever-fascinating Zoh and the founder of Tsirkus Fotografika. We looked at some amazing and beautiful photographs, and discussed all sorts of collaborative possibilities. Sorry you missed the fun? You can have some vicarious thrills by “liking” Tsirkus Fotografika on Facebook.

Shamelessly changing the subject, I will ramble on to tell you that my generous mate is always encouraging me to buy things from Ebay, and this week, I complied.

Enoch Wood Tiny Plate

Yes, it’s another Enoch Wood plate, part of the same pattern as the one I found in the thrift store last week. Again, I managed to pay a mere 99 cents for this little darling (plus $5 for shipping since it was an Ebay find). It’s really quite small — much more “wee” than I was expecting. For comparison, here it is on top of my first, saucer-size plate:

Enoch Wood Plates

After learning that one of my friends already collects English Scenery red transferware, I have decided to focus my own newly-awakened collecting impulse more generally on the work of Enoch Wood, so as not to offer her direct competition. I should hate to lose an antiquing companion for fear that we’d come to blows over a red floral plate! So these two starter pieces will one day be joined by any manner of Enoch Wood, the older the better of course.

Also from the mecca of online auctions, more dip pens for my growing arsenal.

Mahogany Pens

These three are plain wooden pen holders, made of polished mahogany.

Cherry Pen

And I splurged on an elegant fluted cherry wood pen holder with a metal tip.

Which of course means I will soon be needing lots more nibs — I’m still in the early stages, sticking to Speedball 512’s from my local Dick Blick. There are many vintage nibs available on Ebay, but I don’t know enough about them yet to choose intelligently. I picked up another pack tonight, along with another bottle of Bombay India Ink for my desk at work.

Ink & Nibs

I’ve hinted that an appropriate remembrance on Valentine’s Day this year will come in the form of a blotter, with some spare papers. I also plan to make myself a stash of pen wipers. Mid-19th century magazines abound with patterns for such items in every possible design and device. Did I mention ink wells? And there is the most charming wooden writing box for sale…

My New Pen

December 3rd, 2010

Last week I sent away for a new pen, and this afternoon it arrived. I have to admit it’s a real beauty. I purchased it through Ebay for a very reasonable price. The seller is located in Arizona and makes the pens by hand from exotic wood. Intrigued? Visit to see more of their work.

Read on…