A Little Polish

Whenever a pen is polished part of the surface is worn away.—Da Book, by Frank Dubiel, p.98

Update 2013 Apr: This post references a company that seems to no longer be in business. Links to the Tryphon site are broken. Ron Zorn at Main Street Pens sells a wax free pen polish kit. I haven’t tried it, but when I need it, this is what I plan to grab.

Today being pen rotation day at my house, I spent some time cleaning pens before putting them away. Using a wee bit of Tryphon Celluloid Polish on the WASP Addipoint gave the pen a lovely, warm look. That pen went back in rotation for the week. (People with large pen collections can take a year to get a pen back in rotation. The joy of my small collection is that pens come back into rotation in a few weeks.)

Addipoint in Pearl Brown (Click photos for closer look)

Tryphon provides a variety of tools and polishes to pen collectors. The aforementioned Celluloid Polish was formulated specifically for celluloid pens. (The instructions for the polish also indicate it is safe for casein pens.) I’m a little paranoid about polishes and use very little so as to avoid ruining imprints and already worn out trim on old pens.

Tryphon is a tiny business run by a husband-wife team. When you order from them, as is true for many of the small businesses within the pen world, you are not dealing with a large staff and sometimes they are slow to respond. (I’ve heard these folks have other full-time jobs.) They are really nice people so don’t go all “instant gratification” on them. Besides when they are slow with your order, they often include free samples of other pen polishes. They always deliver! Sometimes you have to appreciate “slow buying” along with slow writing, slow food, slow down… well sometimes anyway. I found Tryphon, of course, through FPN where many people highly recommended them.

Late model Wahl-Oxford

I don’t know the Tryphon people. They provide some important products that not always easy to find. For example, they sell the tiniest jar of talc for use in re-saccing pens. You can find bigger portions elsewhere if you need it like from Woodbin, a Canadian source of pen repair supplies recommended by many an FPN’er.  Usually I can get what I need from Tryphon or from Pendemonium. A pen shop in Iowa, Pendemonium is a place I’d like to live in live next to. They, too are nice people (owed by a husband-wife team) who communicate very well and are quick to fill orders. Beside all that, they love cats! During the holidays they filled my order of pen sacs quicker than I thought humanely possible! Again, I don’t know these folks. I’m just a happy consumer customer.

Other fountain pens that received a little Celluloid Polish treatment included a beat-up (well-loved?) Wahl-Oxford and the Wahl Pen.

Left to right: Wahl-Oxford, WASP Addipoint, Wahl Signature Pen

Both the repair books I have (Frank Dubiel’s Fountain Pens: The Complete Guide to Repair & Restoration (aka Da Book) and Pen Repair by Jim Marshall & Laurence Oldfield) discuss polishing yet except for their admonitions neither was satisfactory in providing a clear guide to a dweeb like me. (If you are interested in old pens I hope you own at least one of these books. Even if you don’t repair pens yourself the books are filled with valuable information, about pens—despite my feeling about their sections on polishing.) Fortunately Tryphon polish comes with clear instructions.

The Fountain Pen Network has a Repair Q and A subforum. There the moderators link to a variety of resources. They’ve included links to posts on the topic of pen polishing which seems to be quite a controversial topic among collectors.

Some people prefer Simichrome which I used once (along with a smidgen of patience) on an Esterbrook to successfully remove the stains from Noodler’s Bay State Blue. Even though the Addipoint is similar to the Esterbrook I could not bring myself to use Simichrome (which is very abrasive) on the pen because it just felt more fragile than an Estie. Or maybe I just love the Addipoint more.

The main rule is never to use a technique that is more invasive than necessary.—Pen Repair, Jim Marshall and Laurence Oldfield, p.179


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