The Cursed Polishing Wheel And Other Stories

Though I would never use one myself, I am sure that a polishing wheel, even in the field of fountain pen restoration, may be a useful tool in the hands of someone who can apply it judiciously and with restraint. Sadly, polishing wheels rarely fall into such hands; they’re usually employed by maniacs who, teeth and eyes gleaming madly, polish precious pens into shiny nubs.


This was once a Swan Self-Filler, most likely an SF2, before it was polished within an inch of its life. There is the barest ghost of the chasing and a very faint memory of the barrel imprint, but it’s shiny. Very characterless and very shiny.

I suppose it’s unlikely that the people who do these things read my blog, or even read at all, but if there’s any chance of penetrating the density of bone that surrounds the pea-sized object they call a brain, let me say this, “Step away from the polisher! Do it now!”

In all seriousness, old pens are a finite resource, scarcer already, perhaps, than we might think. Treat them with respect. They are fine instruments and an important part of humanity’s history.


Here’s me doing descriptions for next week’s pen sales. Except, of course, that I’m not in the photograph because I’m the one taking it, but you get what I mean. I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel any more often than is forced upon me, so I save all pen descriptions. A Waterman W2 is a Waterman W2 whether I prepared it for sale a year ago or today (though the variation in sizes of some quite modern pens almost gives the lie to that statement) so I reuse the the file with minor modifications to allow for colour, condition, nib type and so on. Despite having sold many hundreds of pens, though, there are some weeks when at least half the descriptions have to be written from scratch. This is such a week. It’s more of a chore but it’s more interesting too. It’s an indication of the unending variety of old pens out there.

4 thoughts on “The Cursed Polishing Wheel And Other Stories

  1. Most guilty of over zealous polishing I believe may have been the in-house repairmen of old. You know I like shiny pens, but will always choose detail over shine

    1. Hi Eric,
      Yes, I think that’s a reasonable way to go. What looks a bit strange is the 60 or 70 year old pen that’s now shinier than it was when it left the factory!

  2. “Very characterless and very shiny. . . . They are fine instruments and an important part of humanity’s history.”

    I think that sums it up for old pens. Though they might be old and dull looking, they should still retain that oldness that gives them character, or else they’re just another shiny pen out there.

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