Author Topic: The Art of the Central Piercing  (Read 247 times)

Offline AAAndrew

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The Art of the Central Piercing
« on: March 10, 2019, 04:18:35 PM »
And, no, I'm not talking about navel piercings. (or naval, for that matter) I'm speaking of the piercing of a steel pen at the base of the slit separating the tines. This has been called many things, many of them silly or misleading ("gravity well"? "breather hole"?)  Lately I had taken to calling it just the "hole" but I've begun to change my mind and instead I'm going to begin to call it the "central piercing."

First off, it is a piercing of the surface of the pen, as much so as any side piercings. it is also centrally located as it stops the slit, which is (almost) always on-center. (Only the multi-line pens violate this truism). And, by calling it a piercing, we also acknowledge the fact that these gaps often have a decorative role in addition to any functional ones.

I recently purchased my first lightboard, and since then I have actually spent more time photographing steel pens in my collection that have interesting central piercings, then I have using it for writing practice.

At first, I took a picture of some pens from a recent mass purchase. (one of those fabled "bag o' pens" where you don't know what you're getting, but you do know you're getting a lot of it) This is the first picture below.

These pens have a nice mixture of standard shapes, as well as unusual ones.Some piercing shapes are associated with specific pen shapes or types. The first image (Esterbrook 914) with the torch-shaped piercing is almost always found on Bank Pens, long beak-shaped pens. The second inverted chevron (or "inverted V") is often found on stub pens, most of which are of one shape, but this one (Hunt 709 Courier Stub) has a different silhouette. Then there are the unusual ones. You have the Hunt 1681 Pennsylvania with it's upside-down keystone shape. Pennsylvania is known as The Keystone State, so this is an unusual example of the piercing shape related to the name of the pen. The other fun one is a Spencerian 41 Panama Pen. The ax-shaped piercing is one of my favorites. Not sure what an Ax has to do with Panama, unless it's indirectly referencing the amount of trees they had to cut down to build the canal through the jungle. That theory falls apart, though, when you consider the pen is actually made by Perry and was sold outside the US as the Perry 92EF Glastone. What an ax has to do with the prime minister, perhaps someone more, shall we say, British can answer.

If these are of interest, let me know and I can post more. Not all are quite as quirky as the ax, but there are a fair number that aren't simple ovals.

Andrew

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Offline matteherr

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2019, 05:11:43 PM »
I didn't even know these existed. As always, nice research and post.

Offline KristinT

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2019, 05:47:27 PM »
Very nice!  I like your term "central piercing"; it is technically descriptive, concise, and unlikely to be conflated with a different feature of nib design.  The photograph is great, it would be lovely to see more piercings that catch your eye.

Offline RD5

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2019, 07:29:48 AM »
Gladestone's favorite pastime was to use his axe to cut down trees. His axe is now kept on display by the Liberals.

Offline JanisTX

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2019, 07:35:11 AM »
This' fascinating!  Thanks for sharing!  Post more! :-)

Janis

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2019, 07:44:23 AM »
Gladestone's favorite pastime was to use his axe to cut down trees. His axe is now kept on display by the Liberals.

Mystery solved! How this became a Panama Pen in the US is a bit more tenuous. I would have thought they’d go with someone like Abe Lincoln, who was known to wield a mean ax when young making split rail fences. Or George Washington who was known for cutting down a cherry tree with an ax. But Panama?

Thanks for clearing this up for me.
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Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2019, 09:20:23 AM »
Okay, here are some more. Just remember, you asked for it.

Left to right: Eugene Adcock 452, Axion 712, BA 9112. All show the typical "baseball bat" shape common in spoon-shaped pens. Another recognizable hole shape. the last is what I call a "stick and ball" shape, because it doesn't have the narrowing towards the ball that you see in the baseball bat shape. (last one is a Baignol & Farjon 803)  There are a lot of variations of the stick and ball; sometimes at the end, sometimes in the middle, and even variations with 2 or more balls with a stick through the middle.

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Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2019, 09:21:20 AM »
L-to-R: American Albata Pen (mid-19th-century), Baignol & Farjon Nostradomus, Birmingham Pen Co. 228, Blanzy Poure 083. The third shape, a long, wide spear point with three circles increasing in size is also a common shape/hole combination across manufacturers. The last one has a common oval hole, but the side piercings are pretty extreme, especially for its size.

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Offline NikkiB

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2019, 04:40:51 PM »
Oh I love these. The axe is such a great little design feature.  I want to go back to the Birmingham Pen museum now to see if I can find some really quirky ones!!
Nikki x

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2019, 06:50:39 PM »
Blanzy Poure 135, Blanzy Poure 620, Brandauer 139, Brause 5. As you can probably tell, I'm going through my drawers in alphabetical order. This last one is a slight variation on the three-hole shape. Here it's a two-circle and an oval shape. The first one is a very typical shape/hole combo for long spear-shaped pens. The third one is another stick and ball.

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Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2019, 06:51:48 PM »
Brause 660, Burton & Gausby, Eagle Vertical No. 2, Eagle E40 Bank with the standard Bank Pen Torch. I like the Brause version of the crescent which looks more like a crescent moon. The Burton & Gausby is from the mid-19th-century.

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Offline AAAndrew

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Re: The Art of the Central Piercing
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2019, 06:53:09 PM »
Eagle E110 Lyceum Stub, Eagle E620 Manifold, Eagle E710 Transcript, Esterbrook 6 Commercial. The Lyceum has the classic crescent, one of the two main shapes used for stubs, the other being the chevron, see the next picture. I included the last one because it's piercing is particularly thin and squared off on the ends.

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