If the pen is mightier than the sword, then for more than 50 years Philip Poole was chief armourer to London’s inky-fingered warriors. Cartoonists, draughtsmen and those who just liked to write with a proper metal nib would come to Poole’s shop near Covent Garden to be fitted. He was penmanship’s version of Ollivander, the wandmaker of the Harry Potter world, eager to match the right tool with the right person, and his customers often wrote in gratitude to demonstrate how well their new weapon was working.
“Thanks for helping me fix my bite,” wrote Peter Schrank, the Swiss political cartoonist, next to a portrait depicting himself as a vampire with two nibs as fangs. It sits at the heart of a collection of letters and drawings by Poole’s customers that were discovered after his death in 1999 at the age of 89.