Author Topic: The Victorian Pen Wiper  (Read 487 times)

Offline Chessie

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 43
  • Karma: 3
    • View Profile
The Victorian Pen Wiper
« on: March 20, 2023, 10:47:42 AM »
This might be a strange question, but does anyone use a historical pen wiper for their dip pen nibs? 

My practice has tended to prefer things that last a long time and aren't disposed of in the garbage when possible.  Microfiber cloths are fine, of course, but in doing 18th century woodworking and calligraphy there's a trend towards 'going back' to doing things the way we used to before one could just throw something away and get another one.  Many of the older methods were actually in place for good reasons, namely that they were efficient and useful.  Many were only replaced by an industrial process because the industrial process could churn out a lot of things very cheaply for easy replacement when something broke which led to an expectation that everything would break.

There are two classes of antique pen wiper that I've found - cloth and brushed.  The cloth ones are pretty much microfibers made of wool - well and good.  The *brushed* variety are the one that interest me. 

I use a lot of ground inks (soot and animal glue) along with dip pens.  At the advice of a few members of the forum I'm going to re-try the Mitchell broad edge nibs without futzing with the reservoirs.  I'm genuinely excited to give that a go.  In doing that, it's offered an interesting opportunity to try out a pen wiper (with no reservoir in the way) to keep ink flowing cleanly. 

Has anyone made use of these?  Would modern, plastic bristled brushes be able to replicate the historical function (being as the antiques are extremely expensive)?  I could see getting a few bottle cleaners and cannibalizing them for parts to build something similar. 

Online Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7290
  • Karma: 333
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
Re: The Victorian Pen Wiper
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2023, 12:59:19 PM »
That is so cool! I have never seen one before.
Warm Regards,
Lettering & Design Artist
Flourish Forum Shop

Offline K-2

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 363
  • Karma: 54
    • View Profile
Re: The Victorian Pen Wiper
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2023, 03:49:18 PM »
@Chessie - I glued a toothbrush head to the inside of a water cup for exactly this purpose. It's very similar! The trick is to affix it right at the usual waterline, so you don't get more of the nib/holder wet than you have to.

--yours, K

Offline AAAndrew

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1022
  • Karma: 121
    • View Profile
    • The Steel Pen Blog
Re: The Victorian Pen Wiper
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2023, 09:38:56 PM »
I've never found the brushes work well dry. Since most of what I use are water-based inks, I find just a wipe with a tissue or thin napkin works as well as anything else. (those little coffee shop napkins seem to work quite well)
Check out my steel pen history blog