Friday, January 22, 2010

the museum of forgotten art materials...

I was following one of those winding paths of blog leads when I fell over this site....

the museum of forgotten art supplies

what a hoot!

I quickly realised that out of the 230 items on display (there were some double ups when it came to rapidograph pens and french curves....) I could put my hand up to a total of 129 of these as something that I've either:

a. used in a past life  (hands up to the Agfa Repromaster and the phototypsetter!)

b. have hoarded away in the cupboard somewhere (blue repro pencil... and repro grid paper)

or (as was mostly the case)

c. still actively use in the studio (vemco drafting machine, pelikan inks, Dr Martins bleedproof white....geeez it just goes on and on)

and worse still I have a load of things not on the list!

like these.....

which all my calligraphy mates could readily identify as various nibs (and will be yelling 'snap' right now) and as many are still more or less available and in use they are not all that 'forgotten'

(ps for those who need to know these are: from top to bottom, right to left - coit pen, 5 line automatic pen, 2 'brush' nibs, 2 x speedball 'b' series nibs, 2 x speedball 'c' series nibs, 2 x brause nibs, 2 x William mitchell roundhand nibs,  witha  couple of auotomatic pens at the bottom)

but how about these...

again – many calligraphers will have something similar

they are burnishers for polishing gold work (the grey ended one is haemotite and the whitish one is a needle agate burnisher...for getting into tricky areas!) I've not been one to do a lot of raised or flat gold work in calligraphy – but I've got these darlings just in case that situation ever changes!

What about this though....

its a specialist cutting tool (and rather kaput) anyone want to guess what its used for? (hint it's a calligraphy tool again... so calligraphers get no points for correct identification! - oh ok I'll tell you - its a quill knife!)

and then there's always my favourites

like this....

its a brass parallel rolling rule – I think its original use was maritime navigation – but I use it to align objects (particularly collage and booky things) or to rule a heap of parallel guide lines (for calligraphy)

and my all time favourite, this......

This is one of my most precious and still most used tools – I can't imagine trying to go without it! I'm not sure if they are still available (I've never seen one for sale anywhere..... I purchased this in the late 1980s and keep it in a cotton pillow case) – now you might be able to gather from the markings what it is (its name is actually imprinted along an edge) but that won't give much of a clue  what I use it for or why its my one of my favourites....

its an ADGAUGE – its original use was to work out reproduction enlargements.... but as it is a very precise tool, perfectly and finely marked and made – I have always used it to square up work (using the marked lines to check that everything is absolutely parallel and square)

oh and P.S. – these are my other 'forgotten' art treasures

my stunning compass collection (I did some serious saving to afford this set – it was almost $300 back in the early 1990s) – I still love to open up the box and admire the precision tools – soooo beautiful – and I use them all the time!

And of course – all you booky people will appreciate my love for this dear...

it took me years to find this – and it's was in such wonderful condition

and whilst some booky people might be stopping by – maybe you can clear up a question about my little press – when I undertook a unit in bookbinding (as part of my Diploma in Western Calligraphy waaaaaay back) the booky teacher called these 'nipping presses'.... so I've been referring to them as such ever since - is that their correct name?

Well – others might be forgetting about my arty treasures but that's just what they'll remain to me – little treasures. Hey – if you've got some (all?) of my forgotten arty things – you simply MUST tell me! Maybe you've got a hidden gem or two of your own? I promise not to covet them.... ok truth is, I'll covet them, but I promise I won't try to raid your cupboards if you tell me all about them...


  1. About 40 years ago when I was doing some calligraphic stuff I had most of those nibs.
    I love the quill knife! And the set of compasses/callipers. My father had a set of Staedtler instruments which he let me use at High School(didn't help my math one iota!)
    Now I'm going to have a good look at that "museum."

  2. Love the museum of forgotten art supplies.

    Yes that is indeed a nipping press. At various stages of the bookbinding process you need to put the book in to give it a quick 'nip' as opposed to a full press when you leave the book in overnight.

    I thought a book press was a book press and I only discovered this when I showed my bookbinding tutor pictures of my homemade book press.

    He said something like - its okay for pressing the covers but it couldn't be used as a nipping press. You need to be able to give it a quick squeeze or 'nip' and then release the pressure.

    ...and I am insanely jealous! I've been looking for one for ages. One day I will have one, along with an amazing studio and a gorgeous wooden plan chest for all my paper.

  3. Greetings,

    This was a wonderful trip down memory lane.

    I still have all my drafting tools and drafting machine from 1967 stored in a large trunk. Even all the Hunt's pen tips and other drawing material, just in case I have the urge to sketch again.

    This goes for all my 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras and lenses, just incase i can start affording film again.

    Besides what is old fashion today has a habit of being trendy in two or three decades.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I am glad i found you.

    Warmest regards,

  4. What a great little museum! I have quite a lot of those objects, including my father's Staedtler instruments which I have treasured most of my life. I also have a small collection of spokeshaves, one I can use for leather (but rarely do), the rest for looking at and loving. I have a nice little nipping press which I need to research before I try to talk about it. I love seeing other folks' materials...

  5. This is my new fav post! Such a marvellous collection. I have tools sitting around the studio that just appeal to me at junk sales, and I rarely find out what they are until some old salt wanders in (more often than you'd think, being an old equipment kinda studio) and says 'that's a fish scaler, what's that doing on your wall?!'

    Because it looks pretty.

    Pathetic? Heh.


thanks for all your lovely comments - your words are greatly appreciated xx