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Posted by Dirck on 9 June, 2010

I recently got a pen from the dubious pits of eBay. Unlike most of my pens, this one has a nickname. I call it “Chewie”, but not through any lingering love of Star Wars (George Lucas having tried mightily in the previous decade to extinguish that particular youth-kindled flame of passion). One look should explain the name–

That was once, to judge by the markings on the barrel, a Balance Craftsman which judging by the colour was made between 1934 and 1936 (so it might be a 3T rather than a Craftsman– I’m not sure precisely when the name came to be applied). Whatever happened to this pen happened to both ends, revealing the inner cap at one extremity and the base of the filler bar at the other. I suspect rodents.

I do not claim to be any more than a merely competent fixer of pens, but I really don’t think there’s much even one of the acknowledged masters of the craft could do for this poor creature. Even the best doctor is occasionally unable to keep a patient from the next world, after all, and people have a certain ability to self-heal which pens lack. As a functional pen, Chewie’s time has gone… unless one is thinking in terms of parts.

Pen fixing is frequently a low-key approach to the efforts of Victor Frankenstein. With the bits of several broken pens, a whole one may go out into the world again. In the current case, if I may wring my hands together and chuckle darkly, I have committed the most complete of transformations possible– the point swap! The metal bit that touches the paper is, in the most technical sense, the pen, with the rest of it being merely holder (a definition going back at least to the 1830s when the whole notion of using metal instead of feathers for pens was getting underway). The pen is defined by the point, as the human is defined by the brain. So, like a big-headed scientist in a Bugs Bunny cartoon, I have moved the “brain” of one pen into a slightly younger one, and at the same time do away with a slight defect in that younger pen. I am rewarded with a very nice pen, which actually writes slightly wider than the modified tipless point I removed, and a few extra parts are still in hand for replacements on other damaged pens.

I do hope the headless, rat-gnawed carcass doesn’t start chasing me around the place, demanding its parts back.

Today’s Incredible Transplant Recipient: Sheaffer Craftsman Balance.
Today’s ink of testing: Lamy blue

3 Responses to “Resurrectionist”

  1. Do rats like plastic?

    • I understand that if someone values something, they’ll nibble it just through inborn vice. There’s also the camphor smell of celluloid to consider– perhaps it was a guinea pig with a sore throat.

  2. […] pen, of a more civilized age: Sheaffer Balance Craftsman (whose point came from a Star Wars nicknamed source) Today’s ink, neither clumsy nor random: Jentle […]

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