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Restoring Lamp Black in stamps

I am working on some vintage brushes. The lamp black in the stamps is fading pretty severely.

I was thinking about burning a candle and holding a metal plate over it to collect soot. Assuming I use a parrafin candle, this soot should be chemically identical to the lamp black that was originally used to blacken the stamps that were indented into the handles. Then I figured on letting it cool, and using a very fine model paint brush to pick up miniscule amounts at a time, and apply the soot to the interior of the stamped lettering (which is still indented in the bakelite). A light touch with a stiff pencil eraser should then be able to clean up the edges without conforming down into the stamp shape.

When all was said and done, I was going to coat it with Testors clear coat to protect the freshly lamp blacked lettering, but only over the stamping and labels.

Does anyone have a better method of restoring Lamp Black on a vintage brush?
 
This is the first I've heard of using lampblack for this sort of thing, so I'm just winging it.

By "bakelite", do you mean "Catalin"? Because Bakelite is typically black or dark brown, or a brown marbled swirl pattern.

If you're going to use a modern clear coat anyway, then I'd give up on using lampblack and just use Testor's black enamel. Or make your own black enamel wit the Clear and the lampblack.
I would expect the brush with the Testor's Clear would simply scrub the dry lampblack powder out of the grooves.

I wonder if the handle isn't some other plastic that could be melted, and the design applied with a sort of branding iron that has a bit of lampblack on the raised bits, thereby melting it right into the plastic. (Just speculating.)
 
Yes, I believe you are correct, in that I guess it is a Catalin handle. It's a vintage Simpson brush that has aged to a very nice deep butterscotch.

The clear was only to protect the stamping and labels, which I am trying to get as close to factory original as humanly possible. I have an inquiry in to Simpsons to see if they have any of the older style decals which say "Made in England Sterilized" as that was the correct wording when this brush was produced.

I have read where some folks tried using clear nail polish for protecting the stamps and labels, but the Testors clear coat was recommended as a superior solution - it dries with less texture and is more integrated to the original brush shape.

Maybe I am just spinning my wheels, but I want as much of the restoration phase on this brush to be as true to the original as I can - though I am having it knotted by someone else, so maybe I should just punt and polish away the stamps when I polish the rest of the handle?
 
Did they use the lamp black dry? or did they mix it into either a ink or a paint?

Lamp black + water + shellac = India ink

Using a different binder could make it a paint as well.
 
What I was able to find was that the original was the stamp was blacked by sooting directly on to the stamp with a burning paraffin wick. The blackened stamp was then impressed into the catalin which would leave behind the black.
 

nemo

Moderator Emeritus
Does anyone have a better method of restoring Lamp Black on a vintage brush?
Not sure about better but I simply pick up some fine soot from inside my woodstove and rub it in my Simpsons with my finger, wiping off excess. Looks original and lasts for a good while, then repeat when needed. I refuse to paint nail polish or clear lacquer on my handles, period.
 
So basic soot seems to work? That's great news. Maybe I wont need to protect it any more than usual, though the stamping is a little shallow. I've been too busy to actually work on these for the last few days, but really want to have an idea of exactly what my next step is going to be before I do anything.
 

nemo

Moderator Emeritus
Just looked at my Somerset brushes and their stamping is very shallow. I misread your post and was thinking of newer brushes with deeper engraving, Dan.
 
Hmm...

I’ll have to experiment and see how it goes. Non destructive methods only, but we’ll see what I can get done, either basic soot or lamp black. If they all turn out to be super fragile in the shallow stamping, I may have to resort to clear coat.
 

REV579

Contributor
Hmm...

I’ll have to experiment and see how it goes. Non destructive methods only, but we’ll see what I can get done, either basic soot or lamp black. If they all turn out to be super fragile in the shallow stamping, I may have to resort to clear coat.
How'd it go?
 
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