Where did "Brassing Adds Character" come from?

24 02 2008

A few people have asked me about this from time to time, and since I had a few minutes, I thought I’d answer the question.

The title “Brassing Adds Character” was really derived from two things. 

  • My interest in vintage pens
  • An old Chevy pickup truck commercial

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve figured out that there’s more time spent on fountain pen reviews and the like than most out there (although I do try to mix in a bit on the productivity side, and a few hacks here and there). 

Many of you who know me personally also know that I really enjoy vintage pens, although they’re a bit difficult to review because each one is so different.  If I review a 1945 Dove Grey Parker “51” and urge you to buy it because they’re such outstanding pens, there’s no guarantees that your 1945 Dove Grey will end up being as outstanding as mine.  Vintage pens have been through a lot, and each one has its own story to tell.  The story that mine tells will undoubtedly be different than the one that yours tells.  I think that’s part of the joy of hunting through antique shops and flea markets looking for these things.  Each pen tells a story.

A few years ago (probably 10 or more), there was a TV spot that ran here in the States for Chevy trucks that showed an old rancher/farmer who had a shiny new Silverado hooked up to a big old stump in the ground that he was trying to pull out.  If memory serves me right (and honestly, it’s a bit fuzzy on this commercial), when he gave it a little throttle to get the stump out, the chain came loose from the stump or something, and at any rate, it ended up coming forward pretty hard and denting the tailgate.  The tagline at the end of the ad was “Dents Add Character.”

In my opinion, that’s where the two thought lines converge.  Each pen tells a story.  Most vintage pens (most vintage anything, really) aren’t perfect.  They’ve got dings, dents, and in many cases, spots where the metal has started to wear away (brassing).  That brassing, along with the dents, all tell a story. 

Hence, brassing adds character.

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