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What Do You Clean with This Fountain Pen Tool

Vach the Stampede

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Vach the Stampede



Recently picked up this tool because I was curious but, I haven't figured it out yet.


Photos here!


It is about 2" long, metal, and says: The Bailey Meter Co. Fountain Pen Cleaner. One side is a hole (I am guessing to put on a ring with other tools maybe?). The other side is a tube filled with stiff wire bristles. I tried taking the bristles out of the tube...they do come out, but I don't think that's how you're supposed to use it because it's really difficult to get them back in.


Presumably you stick this thing...*in* a pen part? Or *on* one?...Through one? ...So many prepositions could be the right answer!


Is it for a particular kind of pen?


Or maybe I don't have the whole tool?


Anyone know? Or have any guesses?


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Frightening, I'd not like to have that anywhere near my pens!

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova





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It looks like a crimp on terminal for cables.  Bailey Meter Company, crimp lug cutaway...  maybe a demonstrator.  But pens?  No idea.

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Vach the Stampede
Thanks for the responses. 
Last night I spent about two hours hunting through patents for pen cleaning mechanisms. Nothing in particular looked like this device, though I did notice an abundance of patents for "pen wipers," mentioning the issue of clogged pen nibs, and the need for a wiper... either after filling, or after removing the pen from its cap.
So my latest (bad?) guess is that maybe it was meant for wiping a nib on or in…? (frightening is right, @OCArt) It might have been an alternative to jabbing your pen into potatoes! (see below)
One patent that particularly led me towards this guess was for a portable nib cleaner that would attach to a pen cap clipThe patent mentions an existing, “known device” that was used for wiping nib crust, the problem being that it was not portable. “The suction effect and the capillarity of the material, as well as the wiping of the crust from the end of the nib, bring the ink back into flow so that the nib writes on immediately when it is used afterwards. These known devices are to be placed on the table or to be attached to an Inkwell set up and are quite large, which is why you cannot always carry them with you, as would be desirable when using the nib cleaner for fountain pens.” 
This patent also could potentially be relevant, as it recommends the use of clamped together bristles to compress the nib and feed together, to force expulsion of dried ink without needing to violently shake the pen. This one has a similar idea but uses paper bristles.
Other patents mentioned the issues with current materials for wiping pens (blotting paper would use up extra ink, “seagrass”, felt and related would leave troublesome fibers or would contaminate the ink with different colors), so maybe this is why wire would be attempted?
Another problem that seemed to be mentioned in patents quite regularly was the use of drawing ink, especially in stylographic pens, and there were a number of patents with what seemed to be a built-in “cleaning wire” for “cleaning the ink-feed tube.
As for what this would have to do with a Meter Company…perhaps employees needed to make notes but were not near a desk or running water, so needed to have a way to dispose of their “nib crust” on the go? Or maybe Bailey was just always trying to invent things (he did have 141 patents) and branded them with his company name?
Or, update after looking at @irrigger’s message (@irrigger you are better at finding patents than I am), maybe it was specifically for cleaning a capillary recording pen?
I am obviously near totally ignorant in the history of pen cleaning, and totally making stuff up here after a *very* short and incomplete researching. But it’s fun to guess!
In the off chance that anyone has made it this far and in case there is any one else who will find these interesting (I’m relatively new to this, so it’s all interesting to me), here’s a handful of the tangentially-related patents I came across for pen cleaning devices (“pen wipers”):
  • Ink well wiper
  • Faucet blaster
  • Seems very elaborate just for wiping?
  • Replacement for potatoes?!: —"-Ieretofore various devices have been employed as a pen-support, comprising principally paper, shot, hair-brushes, and potatoes, all of which readily clog and become saturated or covered with ink, and hence objectionable and inoperative. A potato is by far the best of those heretofore used; but the life of a potato as a pen support and cleaner is limited to a few days at most, and potatoes are often difficult or at least inconvenient to procure."
  • Really elaborate pen filler/cleaner.  Also has a couple metal strips/brass shim to clean your pen nib. Paragraphs are out of order so hard to read but the picture looks intriguing.
  • Pen Cleaning Air Gun. “Capillary pens and capillary nib or point insets of writing or drawing instruments which are used with Indian ink or ink-like writing liquid must be cleaned from time to time to remove residual dry writing liquid. This is mostly done by rinsing out with water or a special cleaning liquid and is generally complicated and troublesome. “  Water is complicated so lets instead use a spray can of cleaning fluid.
  • I also ran into the Parker Centrifuge, which I see on past posts here actually works quite well in the form of a salad spinner. So, maybe all of these cleaners were much more practical than they seemed in my hasty foray! 
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