Regency Write Stuff

Boy writer“I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.”


—Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice

Andrea/Cara here, These days, the clack, clack of a keyboard has replaced the feathery whisper of a pen dancing over paper for many of us writers. But in my current WIP, the heroine is a satirical cartoonist, and she sees the world through the cutting-edge strokes of her pen. She’s constantly drawing, and all the constant attention to detail—the fine cross-hatchings, the clever commentary—demands a dexterity that is a dying art in our day. I found myself thinking of the rhythm of Regency writing, and as she needs to occasionally sharpen her quill, both literally and metaphorically, I wondered, “How does she do that?”



Domestic_GooseAh, research. Not only is it a perfect excuse to procrastinate, but I also find it such fun to discover the sort of arcane facts that only a history geek can love. So, let’s fly through a quick primer on how a goose feather could end up in Jane Austen’s hand.

3quillsIt’s thought that quill pens originated in Seville, Spain, around 600 AD. Their use quickly spread throughout Europe as they produced a finer writing on vellum that the older reed pens used before that time. Many of our most historic documents, including the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, were written with a quill pen. While it’s true that a patent was issued in 1803 for a metal nib, it wasn’t until 1830 that steel-tipped pens became commercially available. Their quality was further enhanced as technology allowed the steel to be tipped with harder metals, such as iridium and osmium, and by 1850 the quill pen was going the way of the Dodo bird.

Row 2But in the Regency era, “quill” was synonymous with “pen” in Great Britain. (The Latin word for feather is penna) Goose feathers were the most popular, and it’s said that the best ones came from Lincolnshire. Only the “flight” feathers are used. A single goose provides about five per wing during a molt, and perhaps 20 during the course of a year. In addition to domestic production, millions of feathers were imported from all over Europe to meet the demand. Because of the natural curve of a feather, it’s said that right-handed people favor ones from the left wing, and vice versa. (That’s because a writer doesn’t want the feather to curve over the writing hand and obscure the line of sight to the paper.

Ba-1A freshly plucked Regency feather was not nearly ready for its first dip into ink. It required an elaborate process by a quill dresser to turn it into a reliable writing instrument. Though tough, the barrel of an untreated feather is too flexible for writing. There’s also a membrane inside it which needs to be removed in order for the finished pen to function more efficiently. So the quills were plunged into hot sand—a process called quill dutching, as it’s believed to have originated in Holland. This dries up the inner membrane, allowing it to be removed. It also hardens the barrel. For higher quality pens, the process was repeated several times.

Ba-2Then it was on to a bath in diluted acqua fortis (known today as nitric acid.) This gave them a uniform yellowish color and made them easier to split. The quills were then shipped in bulk to stationery stores around the country. It was the stationer who would hire a pen cutter to turn a dressed quill into a pen. A good cutter could prepare about 600 pens per day. First comes a steeply angled cut to put a basic point on the quill. A vertical cut of perhaps 3/8 inch is added to gives flexibility, and then the point is trimmed straight across and tapered to a fine writing point.

Lady authorSwan feathers are larger and stronger than goose feathers. Their points tend to be broader, so they are used when large letters are requires. Crow feathers became the pen of choice for ladies during the era because its smaller barrel tapers to a very fine point, which suited the style of tiny handwriting. They were also popular with artists and mapmakers for the fineness of their line.

Scholar_sharpening_a_quill_penI love the look of writing done with a fine nib and real ink. I don’t have a quill pen but I do have a special fountain pen that I use for special letters. What about you? Do you like writing with a fine pen—or receiving letters written with them? I fear handwriting and the stylish nuances of pens and copperplate script are becoming a dying art, though there does seem to be a revival of interest in traditional ways of doing things. Hey, if it was good enough for Jane Austen . . .

205 thoughts on “Regency Write Stuff”

  1. You ladies have a way of turning the most mundane things into the most interesting topics. I didn’t realize so much was involved in producing a proper quill pen. I guess I just assumed they went to the barnyard, grabbed a feather off the nearest goose, dipped it in ink and started writing. (smile)
    I remember using fountain pens in my youth. They could get a little messy sometimes when they started leaking. But they did produce such lovely script.
    It is sad they we have lost the art of letter writing. When you wrote a letter, you actually thought about what you were trying to convey. You put some thought into what you were trying to say so that you were not misunderstood. That is something that is often lacking in e-mails and especially in (UGH!) tweets.

    Reply
  2. You ladies have a way of turning the most mundane things into the most interesting topics. I didn’t realize so much was involved in producing a proper quill pen. I guess I just assumed they went to the barnyard, grabbed a feather off the nearest goose, dipped it in ink and started writing. (smile)
    I remember using fountain pens in my youth. They could get a little messy sometimes when they started leaking. But they did produce such lovely script.
    It is sad they we have lost the art of letter writing. When you wrote a letter, you actually thought about what you were trying to convey. You put some thought into what you were trying to say so that you were not misunderstood. That is something that is often lacking in e-mails and especially in (UGH!) tweets.

    Reply
  3. You ladies have a way of turning the most mundane things into the most interesting topics. I didn’t realize so much was involved in producing a proper quill pen. I guess I just assumed they went to the barnyard, grabbed a feather off the nearest goose, dipped it in ink and started writing. (smile)
    I remember using fountain pens in my youth. They could get a little messy sometimes when they started leaking. But they did produce such lovely script.
    It is sad they we have lost the art of letter writing. When you wrote a letter, you actually thought about what you were trying to convey. You put some thought into what you were trying to say so that you were not misunderstood. That is something that is often lacking in e-mails and especially in (UGH!) tweets.

    Reply
  4. You ladies have a way of turning the most mundane things into the most interesting topics. I didn’t realize so much was involved in producing a proper quill pen. I guess I just assumed they went to the barnyard, grabbed a feather off the nearest goose, dipped it in ink and started writing. (smile)
    I remember using fountain pens in my youth. They could get a little messy sometimes when they started leaking. But they did produce such lovely script.
    It is sad they we have lost the art of letter writing. When you wrote a letter, you actually thought about what you were trying to convey. You put some thought into what you were trying to say so that you were not misunderstood. That is something that is often lacking in e-mails and especially in (UGH!) tweets.

    Reply
  5. You ladies have a way of turning the most mundane things into the most interesting topics. I didn’t realize so much was involved in producing a proper quill pen. I guess I just assumed they went to the barnyard, grabbed a feather off the nearest goose, dipped it in ink and started writing. (smile)
    I remember using fountain pens in my youth. They could get a little messy sometimes when they started leaking. But they did produce such lovely script.
    It is sad they we have lost the art of letter writing. When you wrote a letter, you actually thought about what you were trying to convey. You put some thought into what you were trying to say so that you were not misunderstood. That is something that is often lacking in e-mails and especially in (UGH!) tweets.

    Reply
  6. I love love LOVE this kind of historical detail! It makes the era seem so much more real to me. I hadn’t heard about crow feathers as pens. Fascinating.
    I do have a minor pen habit. My favorite for writing is the Cross Calais, which is basically just a very nice ballpoint. I’ve also got several fountain pens — a black Cross Bailey and a Waterman that came in a calligraphy set. These are all in the < $50 range. I know pens can go for a TON more than that. 🙂 I agree -- there's something special about writing with a fountain pen. I think it makes me pay more attention somehow. This post makes me very curious about trying a quill pen! I suspect I'd make a huge mess, but it'd be interesting, for sure.

    Reply
  7. I love love LOVE this kind of historical detail! It makes the era seem so much more real to me. I hadn’t heard about crow feathers as pens. Fascinating.
    I do have a minor pen habit. My favorite for writing is the Cross Calais, which is basically just a very nice ballpoint. I’ve also got several fountain pens — a black Cross Bailey and a Waterman that came in a calligraphy set. These are all in the < $50 range. I know pens can go for a TON more than that. 🙂 I agree -- there's something special about writing with a fountain pen. I think it makes me pay more attention somehow. This post makes me very curious about trying a quill pen! I suspect I'd make a huge mess, but it'd be interesting, for sure.

    Reply
  8. I love love LOVE this kind of historical detail! It makes the era seem so much more real to me. I hadn’t heard about crow feathers as pens. Fascinating.
    I do have a minor pen habit. My favorite for writing is the Cross Calais, which is basically just a very nice ballpoint. I’ve also got several fountain pens — a black Cross Bailey and a Waterman that came in a calligraphy set. These are all in the < $50 range. I know pens can go for a TON more than that. 🙂 I agree -- there's something special about writing with a fountain pen. I think it makes me pay more attention somehow. This post makes me very curious about trying a quill pen! I suspect I'd make a huge mess, but it'd be interesting, for sure.

    Reply
  9. I love love LOVE this kind of historical detail! It makes the era seem so much more real to me. I hadn’t heard about crow feathers as pens. Fascinating.
    I do have a minor pen habit. My favorite for writing is the Cross Calais, which is basically just a very nice ballpoint. I’ve also got several fountain pens — a black Cross Bailey and a Waterman that came in a calligraphy set. These are all in the < $50 range. I know pens can go for a TON more than that. 🙂 I agree -- there's something special about writing with a fountain pen. I think it makes me pay more attention somehow. This post makes me very curious about trying a quill pen! I suspect I'd make a huge mess, but it'd be interesting, for sure.

    Reply
  10. I love love LOVE this kind of historical detail! It makes the era seem so much more real to me. I hadn’t heard about crow feathers as pens. Fascinating.
    I do have a minor pen habit. My favorite for writing is the Cross Calais, which is basically just a very nice ballpoint. I’ve also got several fountain pens — a black Cross Bailey and a Waterman that came in a calligraphy set. These are all in the < $50 range. I know pens can go for a TON more than that. 🙂 I agree -- there's something special about writing with a fountain pen. I think it makes me pay more attention somehow. This post makes me very curious about trying a quill pen! I suspect I'd make a huge mess, but it'd be interesting, for sure.

    Reply
  11. I remember when I was learning “joined-up writing” (i.e. copperplate) at the age of about eight, the incentive was that when you were good enough you were promoted from using a pencil to using a fountain pen! But in those days all fountain pens seemed to leak, which is why there was such a thing as a pen-wiper, which could be embroidered for a present. And pumice stones were good (if a bit painful) for getting the inevitable ink stains off fingers.
    I had a lovely Waterman fountain pen for work which I used to use to sign letters. I loved the effect of real ink. I did use it for taking notes, too, but sometimes switched to ball-points or pencils if the meeting was a long one, because a sore place developed on my finger if I used the same implement for too long.
    I have tried using a metal-tipped dipping pen (for interest), and I suspect that one of the tricks of writing with a quill pen is to learn how far to dip, and how to shake off excess ink and not blot the paper. The whole subject of ink could no doubt be a topic for another blog post!

    Reply
  12. I remember when I was learning “joined-up writing” (i.e. copperplate) at the age of about eight, the incentive was that when you were good enough you were promoted from using a pencil to using a fountain pen! But in those days all fountain pens seemed to leak, which is why there was such a thing as a pen-wiper, which could be embroidered for a present. And pumice stones were good (if a bit painful) for getting the inevitable ink stains off fingers.
    I had a lovely Waterman fountain pen for work which I used to use to sign letters. I loved the effect of real ink. I did use it for taking notes, too, but sometimes switched to ball-points or pencils if the meeting was a long one, because a sore place developed on my finger if I used the same implement for too long.
    I have tried using a metal-tipped dipping pen (for interest), and I suspect that one of the tricks of writing with a quill pen is to learn how far to dip, and how to shake off excess ink and not blot the paper. The whole subject of ink could no doubt be a topic for another blog post!

    Reply
  13. I remember when I was learning “joined-up writing” (i.e. copperplate) at the age of about eight, the incentive was that when you were good enough you were promoted from using a pencil to using a fountain pen! But in those days all fountain pens seemed to leak, which is why there was such a thing as a pen-wiper, which could be embroidered for a present. And pumice stones were good (if a bit painful) for getting the inevitable ink stains off fingers.
    I had a lovely Waterman fountain pen for work which I used to use to sign letters. I loved the effect of real ink. I did use it for taking notes, too, but sometimes switched to ball-points or pencils if the meeting was a long one, because a sore place developed on my finger if I used the same implement for too long.
    I have tried using a metal-tipped dipping pen (for interest), and I suspect that one of the tricks of writing with a quill pen is to learn how far to dip, and how to shake off excess ink and not blot the paper. The whole subject of ink could no doubt be a topic for another blog post!

    Reply
  14. I remember when I was learning “joined-up writing” (i.e. copperplate) at the age of about eight, the incentive was that when you were good enough you were promoted from using a pencil to using a fountain pen! But in those days all fountain pens seemed to leak, which is why there was such a thing as a pen-wiper, which could be embroidered for a present. And pumice stones were good (if a bit painful) for getting the inevitable ink stains off fingers.
    I had a lovely Waterman fountain pen for work which I used to use to sign letters. I loved the effect of real ink. I did use it for taking notes, too, but sometimes switched to ball-points or pencils if the meeting was a long one, because a sore place developed on my finger if I used the same implement for too long.
    I have tried using a metal-tipped dipping pen (for interest), and I suspect that one of the tricks of writing with a quill pen is to learn how far to dip, and how to shake off excess ink and not blot the paper. The whole subject of ink could no doubt be a topic for another blog post!

    Reply
  15. I remember when I was learning “joined-up writing” (i.e. copperplate) at the age of about eight, the incentive was that when you were good enough you were promoted from using a pencil to using a fountain pen! But in those days all fountain pens seemed to leak, which is why there was such a thing as a pen-wiper, which could be embroidered for a present. And pumice stones were good (if a bit painful) for getting the inevitable ink stains off fingers.
    I had a lovely Waterman fountain pen for work which I used to use to sign letters. I loved the effect of real ink. I did use it for taking notes, too, but sometimes switched to ball-points or pencils if the meeting was a long one, because a sore place developed on my finger if I used the same implement for too long.
    I have tried using a metal-tipped dipping pen (for interest), and I suspect that one of the tricks of writing with a quill pen is to learn how far to dip, and how to shake off excess ink and not blot the paper. The whole subject of ink could no doubt be a topic for another blog post!

    Reply
  16. What a fascinating post! I remember in about third grade (Australia) that we began using fountain pens. We called the style of writing that we did “running writing”; now, having moved across the world, I’d call that cursive. I enjoyed using a fountain pen, with purple ink naturally, in college. One college era friend still uses a fountain pen himself, and he gave my daughter one as a high school graduation gift.

    Reply
  17. What a fascinating post! I remember in about third grade (Australia) that we began using fountain pens. We called the style of writing that we did “running writing”; now, having moved across the world, I’d call that cursive. I enjoyed using a fountain pen, with purple ink naturally, in college. One college era friend still uses a fountain pen himself, and he gave my daughter one as a high school graduation gift.

    Reply
  18. What a fascinating post! I remember in about third grade (Australia) that we began using fountain pens. We called the style of writing that we did “running writing”; now, having moved across the world, I’d call that cursive. I enjoyed using a fountain pen, with purple ink naturally, in college. One college era friend still uses a fountain pen himself, and he gave my daughter one as a high school graduation gift.

    Reply
  19. What a fascinating post! I remember in about third grade (Australia) that we began using fountain pens. We called the style of writing that we did “running writing”; now, having moved across the world, I’d call that cursive. I enjoyed using a fountain pen, with purple ink naturally, in college. One college era friend still uses a fountain pen himself, and he gave my daughter one as a high school graduation gift.

    Reply
  20. What a fascinating post! I remember in about third grade (Australia) that we began using fountain pens. We called the style of writing that we did “running writing”; now, having moved across the world, I’d call that cursive. I enjoyed using a fountain pen, with purple ink naturally, in college. One college era friend still uses a fountain pen himself, and he gave my daughter one as a high school graduation gift.

    Reply
  21. Thank you, Mary! Glad you find it interesting. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to research quills, and was so fascinated too! I didn’t realize all the steps it took to prepare the feather barrel for writing. That’s the fun of research, which I truly love!
    You make a lovely point about real letterwriting. Expression was an artform, along with the penmanship. One took care with words and cadence. Today’s e-mails can’t hold a candle to many old leters. That’s why I try to handwrite important notes. It matters.
    Don’t get me started on tweets . . .

    Reply
  22. Thank you, Mary! Glad you find it interesting. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to research quills, and was so fascinated too! I didn’t realize all the steps it took to prepare the feather barrel for writing. That’s the fun of research, which I truly love!
    You make a lovely point about real letterwriting. Expression was an artform, along with the penmanship. One took care with words and cadence. Today’s e-mails can’t hold a candle to many old leters. That’s why I try to handwrite important notes. It matters.
    Don’t get me started on tweets . . .

    Reply
  23. Thank you, Mary! Glad you find it interesting. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to research quills, and was so fascinated too! I didn’t realize all the steps it took to prepare the feather barrel for writing. That’s the fun of research, which I truly love!
    You make a lovely point about real letterwriting. Expression was an artform, along with the penmanship. One took care with words and cadence. Today’s e-mails can’t hold a candle to many old leters. That’s why I try to handwrite important notes. It matters.
    Don’t get me started on tweets . . .

    Reply
  24. Thank you, Mary! Glad you find it interesting. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to research quills, and was so fascinated too! I didn’t realize all the steps it took to prepare the feather barrel for writing. That’s the fun of research, which I truly love!
    You make a lovely point about real letterwriting. Expression was an artform, along with the penmanship. One took care with words and cadence. Today’s e-mails can’t hold a candle to many old leters. That’s why I try to handwrite important notes. It matters.
    Don’t get me started on tweets . . .

    Reply
  25. Thank you, Mary! Glad you find it interesting. Out of idle curiosity, I decided to research quills, and was so fascinated too! I didn’t realize all the steps it took to prepare the feather barrel for writing. That’s the fun of research, which I truly love!
    You make a lovely point about real letterwriting. Expression was an artform, along with the penmanship. One took care with words and cadence. Today’s e-mails can’t hold a candle to many old leters. That’s why I try to handwrite important notes. It matters.
    Don’t get me started on tweets . . .

    Reply
  26. Dana, so glad you find this sort of post as fun as I do. I love learning arcane details about the era. It definitely makes the world come alive.
    I, too, find handwriting makes me pay much more attention to composing my words. And I like that. I just wish I had better penmanship. My mother was a wonderful artist and wrote the most beautiful letters. But good ink and a real nib add a special quality, even to sloppy writing!
    I loved learning about the crow feathers, which I had never known before. There are a gaggle of crows in my area. if I find a fallen feather, hmmm. Yes, it might get messy but it would be fun to try making a real quill!

    Reply
  27. Dana, so glad you find this sort of post as fun as I do. I love learning arcane details about the era. It definitely makes the world come alive.
    I, too, find handwriting makes me pay much more attention to composing my words. And I like that. I just wish I had better penmanship. My mother was a wonderful artist and wrote the most beautiful letters. But good ink and a real nib add a special quality, even to sloppy writing!
    I loved learning about the crow feathers, which I had never known before. There are a gaggle of crows in my area. if I find a fallen feather, hmmm. Yes, it might get messy but it would be fun to try making a real quill!

    Reply
  28. Dana, so glad you find this sort of post as fun as I do. I love learning arcane details about the era. It definitely makes the world come alive.
    I, too, find handwriting makes me pay much more attention to composing my words. And I like that. I just wish I had better penmanship. My mother was a wonderful artist and wrote the most beautiful letters. But good ink and a real nib add a special quality, even to sloppy writing!
    I loved learning about the crow feathers, which I had never known before. There are a gaggle of crows in my area. if I find a fallen feather, hmmm. Yes, it might get messy but it would be fun to try making a real quill!

    Reply
  29. Dana, so glad you find this sort of post as fun as I do. I love learning arcane details about the era. It definitely makes the world come alive.
    I, too, find handwriting makes me pay much more attention to composing my words. And I like that. I just wish I had better penmanship. My mother was a wonderful artist and wrote the most beautiful letters. But good ink and a real nib add a special quality, even to sloppy writing!
    I loved learning about the crow feathers, which I had never known before. There are a gaggle of crows in my area. if I find a fallen feather, hmmm. Yes, it might get messy but it would be fun to try making a real quill!

    Reply
  30. Dana, so glad you find this sort of post as fun as I do. I love learning arcane details about the era. It definitely makes the world come alive.
    I, too, find handwriting makes me pay much more attention to composing my words. And I like that. I just wish I had better penmanship. My mother was a wonderful artist and wrote the most beautiful letters. But good ink and a real nib add a special quality, even to sloppy writing!
    I loved learning about the crow feathers, which I had never known before. There are a gaggle of crows in my area. if I find a fallen feather, hmmm. Yes, it might get messy but it would be fun to try making a real quill!

    Reply
  31. Yes, the downside to fountain pens is that they do seem to be messy. I love the look of the writing (there truly is something special about the flow of liquid ink) But I sue mine infrequently enough, that’s its always a process cleaning the dried ink out of it and refilling—hoping not to get ink-stained fingers. (Pumice stone! An excellent idea!)
    The trick of know how not to blot is an excellent one. Will think about that!

    Reply
  32. Yes, the downside to fountain pens is that they do seem to be messy. I love the look of the writing (there truly is something special about the flow of liquid ink) But I sue mine infrequently enough, that’s its always a process cleaning the dried ink out of it and refilling—hoping not to get ink-stained fingers. (Pumice stone! An excellent idea!)
    The trick of know how not to blot is an excellent one. Will think about that!

    Reply
  33. Yes, the downside to fountain pens is that they do seem to be messy. I love the look of the writing (there truly is something special about the flow of liquid ink) But I sue mine infrequently enough, that’s its always a process cleaning the dried ink out of it and refilling—hoping not to get ink-stained fingers. (Pumice stone! An excellent idea!)
    The trick of know how not to blot is an excellent one. Will think about that!

    Reply
  34. Yes, the downside to fountain pens is that they do seem to be messy. I love the look of the writing (there truly is something special about the flow of liquid ink) But I sue mine infrequently enough, that’s its always a process cleaning the dried ink out of it and refilling—hoping not to get ink-stained fingers. (Pumice stone! An excellent idea!)
    The trick of know how not to blot is an excellent one. Will think about that!

    Reply
  35. Yes, the downside to fountain pens is that they do seem to be messy. I love the look of the writing (there truly is something special about the flow of liquid ink) But I sue mine infrequently enough, that’s its always a process cleaning the dried ink out of it and refilling—hoping not to get ink-stained fingers. (Pumice stone! An excellent idea!)
    The trick of know how not to blot is an excellent one. Will think about that!

    Reply
  36. A few years back I was in the chain library at Hereford cathedral (UK). I was actually there to admire the Mappa Mundi (Ancient map of the world), but at the time they were photographing some old manuscripts prior to digitising to make them more accessible by scholars. I don’t know when quills were introduced, but the earliest manuscripts (Hereford Gospels) went back to the eighth century. Some of the penmanship was exquisite.
    Afraid my courting days are long gone, but if I was writing a love letter today, I would definitely use pen and ink.I am a big fan of modern technology, but for a personal touch the old technologies are definitely hard to beat!

    Reply
  37. A few years back I was in the chain library at Hereford cathedral (UK). I was actually there to admire the Mappa Mundi (Ancient map of the world), but at the time they were photographing some old manuscripts prior to digitising to make them more accessible by scholars. I don’t know when quills were introduced, but the earliest manuscripts (Hereford Gospels) went back to the eighth century. Some of the penmanship was exquisite.
    Afraid my courting days are long gone, but if I was writing a love letter today, I would definitely use pen and ink.I am a big fan of modern technology, but for a personal touch the old technologies are definitely hard to beat!

    Reply
  38. A few years back I was in the chain library at Hereford cathedral (UK). I was actually there to admire the Mappa Mundi (Ancient map of the world), but at the time they were photographing some old manuscripts prior to digitising to make them more accessible by scholars. I don’t know when quills were introduced, but the earliest manuscripts (Hereford Gospels) went back to the eighth century. Some of the penmanship was exquisite.
    Afraid my courting days are long gone, but if I was writing a love letter today, I would definitely use pen and ink.I am a big fan of modern technology, but for a personal touch the old technologies are definitely hard to beat!

    Reply
  39. A few years back I was in the chain library at Hereford cathedral (UK). I was actually there to admire the Mappa Mundi (Ancient map of the world), but at the time they were photographing some old manuscripts prior to digitising to make them more accessible by scholars. I don’t know when quills were introduced, but the earliest manuscripts (Hereford Gospels) went back to the eighth century. Some of the penmanship was exquisite.
    Afraid my courting days are long gone, but if I was writing a love letter today, I would definitely use pen and ink.I am a big fan of modern technology, but for a personal touch the old technologies are definitely hard to beat!

    Reply
  40. A few years back I was in the chain library at Hereford cathedral (UK). I was actually there to admire the Mappa Mundi (Ancient map of the world), but at the time they were photographing some old manuscripts prior to digitising to make them more accessible by scholars. I don’t know when quills were introduced, but the earliest manuscripts (Hereford Gospels) went back to the eighth century. Some of the penmanship was exquisite.
    Afraid my courting days are long gone, but if I was writing a love letter today, I would definitely use pen and ink.I am a big fan of modern technology, but for a personal touch the old technologies are definitely hard to beat!

    Reply
  41. I was pointed to your lovely blog by a friend who knows my penchant for old writing implements. Thank you for the wonderful overview of the writing quill. There is actually a lot of very interesting history of both the quill as well as the steel pen left to write. I’ve done a bit of research, mainly around the early years of the steel dip pen, and find it fascinating. One fact that may be found interesting by your readers is that the main reason that steel pens were so quickly adopted is that very few people were good at cutting quills. Caroline Bingley, in your introductory quote, claims to mend pens remarkably well. But very few were actually very good at it. (and they used a “pen knife” which is where we get the name for a small-bladed, folding knife to this day)
    Even most school masters relied upon either a specialist in a larger school, or the stationer to cut and mend their pens. It was a specialized skill, rather like an IT specialist today who may be the only one in an organization with the skill and esoteric knowledge needed to mend the computers.
    In an article in “American Stationer” in 1889, it states that reviewing orders from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office one can see that “the proportion of quills to steel pens…is about one to four” and “[the use of] quills as writing utensils will die hard, as the mending of them is said to constitute the principle occupation of some of the clerks.” It seems that by the early 20th-century, fountain pens and typewriters put the final nails in the coffin of the quill pen.
    I personally started with fountain pens some 20 years ago and only last year began writing regularly with dip pens. Now I write all my letters and even pay my bills with vintage dip pens. If I’m going to write a check, it may as well look nice. My meeting notes at work are still with fountain pens as the office manager still stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to supply ink wells in the conference rooms.
    I’ve read a bit of this wonderful blog, and now I shall get back to avoiding my work and read some more. Quite enjoyable!

    Reply
  42. I was pointed to your lovely blog by a friend who knows my penchant for old writing implements. Thank you for the wonderful overview of the writing quill. There is actually a lot of very interesting history of both the quill as well as the steel pen left to write. I’ve done a bit of research, mainly around the early years of the steel dip pen, and find it fascinating. One fact that may be found interesting by your readers is that the main reason that steel pens were so quickly adopted is that very few people were good at cutting quills. Caroline Bingley, in your introductory quote, claims to mend pens remarkably well. But very few were actually very good at it. (and they used a “pen knife” which is where we get the name for a small-bladed, folding knife to this day)
    Even most school masters relied upon either a specialist in a larger school, or the stationer to cut and mend their pens. It was a specialized skill, rather like an IT specialist today who may be the only one in an organization with the skill and esoteric knowledge needed to mend the computers.
    In an article in “American Stationer” in 1889, it states that reviewing orders from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office one can see that “the proportion of quills to steel pens…is about one to four” and “[the use of] quills as writing utensils will die hard, as the mending of them is said to constitute the principle occupation of some of the clerks.” It seems that by the early 20th-century, fountain pens and typewriters put the final nails in the coffin of the quill pen.
    I personally started with fountain pens some 20 years ago and only last year began writing regularly with dip pens. Now I write all my letters and even pay my bills with vintage dip pens. If I’m going to write a check, it may as well look nice. My meeting notes at work are still with fountain pens as the office manager still stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to supply ink wells in the conference rooms.
    I’ve read a bit of this wonderful blog, and now I shall get back to avoiding my work and read some more. Quite enjoyable!

    Reply
  43. I was pointed to your lovely blog by a friend who knows my penchant for old writing implements. Thank you for the wonderful overview of the writing quill. There is actually a lot of very interesting history of both the quill as well as the steel pen left to write. I’ve done a bit of research, mainly around the early years of the steel dip pen, and find it fascinating. One fact that may be found interesting by your readers is that the main reason that steel pens were so quickly adopted is that very few people were good at cutting quills. Caroline Bingley, in your introductory quote, claims to mend pens remarkably well. But very few were actually very good at it. (and they used a “pen knife” which is where we get the name for a small-bladed, folding knife to this day)
    Even most school masters relied upon either a specialist in a larger school, or the stationer to cut and mend their pens. It was a specialized skill, rather like an IT specialist today who may be the only one in an organization with the skill and esoteric knowledge needed to mend the computers.
    In an article in “American Stationer” in 1889, it states that reviewing orders from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office one can see that “the proportion of quills to steel pens…is about one to four” and “[the use of] quills as writing utensils will die hard, as the mending of them is said to constitute the principle occupation of some of the clerks.” It seems that by the early 20th-century, fountain pens and typewriters put the final nails in the coffin of the quill pen.
    I personally started with fountain pens some 20 years ago and only last year began writing regularly with dip pens. Now I write all my letters and even pay my bills with vintage dip pens. If I’m going to write a check, it may as well look nice. My meeting notes at work are still with fountain pens as the office manager still stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to supply ink wells in the conference rooms.
    I’ve read a bit of this wonderful blog, and now I shall get back to avoiding my work and read some more. Quite enjoyable!

    Reply
  44. I was pointed to your lovely blog by a friend who knows my penchant for old writing implements. Thank you for the wonderful overview of the writing quill. There is actually a lot of very interesting history of both the quill as well as the steel pen left to write. I’ve done a bit of research, mainly around the early years of the steel dip pen, and find it fascinating. One fact that may be found interesting by your readers is that the main reason that steel pens were so quickly adopted is that very few people were good at cutting quills. Caroline Bingley, in your introductory quote, claims to mend pens remarkably well. But very few were actually very good at it. (and they used a “pen knife” which is where we get the name for a small-bladed, folding knife to this day)
    Even most school masters relied upon either a specialist in a larger school, or the stationer to cut and mend their pens. It was a specialized skill, rather like an IT specialist today who may be the only one in an organization with the skill and esoteric knowledge needed to mend the computers.
    In an article in “American Stationer” in 1889, it states that reviewing orders from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office one can see that “the proportion of quills to steel pens…is about one to four” and “[the use of] quills as writing utensils will die hard, as the mending of them is said to constitute the principle occupation of some of the clerks.” It seems that by the early 20th-century, fountain pens and typewriters put the final nails in the coffin of the quill pen.
    I personally started with fountain pens some 20 years ago and only last year began writing regularly with dip pens. Now I write all my letters and even pay my bills with vintage dip pens. If I’m going to write a check, it may as well look nice. My meeting notes at work are still with fountain pens as the office manager still stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to supply ink wells in the conference rooms.
    I’ve read a bit of this wonderful blog, and now I shall get back to avoiding my work and read some more. Quite enjoyable!

    Reply
  45. I was pointed to your lovely blog by a friend who knows my penchant for old writing implements. Thank you for the wonderful overview of the writing quill. There is actually a lot of very interesting history of both the quill as well as the steel pen left to write. I’ve done a bit of research, mainly around the early years of the steel dip pen, and find it fascinating. One fact that may be found interesting by your readers is that the main reason that steel pens were so quickly adopted is that very few people were good at cutting quills. Caroline Bingley, in your introductory quote, claims to mend pens remarkably well. But very few were actually very good at it. (and they used a “pen knife” which is where we get the name for a small-bladed, folding knife to this day)
    Even most school masters relied upon either a specialist in a larger school, or the stationer to cut and mend their pens. It was a specialized skill, rather like an IT specialist today who may be the only one in an organization with the skill and esoteric knowledge needed to mend the computers.
    In an article in “American Stationer” in 1889, it states that reviewing orders from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office one can see that “the proportion of quills to steel pens…is about one to four” and “[the use of] quills as writing utensils will die hard, as the mending of them is said to constitute the principle occupation of some of the clerks.” It seems that by the early 20th-century, fountain pens and typewriters put the final nails in the coffin of the quill pen.
    I personally started with fountain pens some 20 years ago and only last year began writing regularly with dip pens. Now I write all my letters and even pay my bills with vintage dip pens. If I’m going to write a check, it may as well look nice. My meeting notes at work are still with fountain pens as the office manager still stubbornly and inexplicably refuses to supply ink wells in the conference rooms.
    I’ve read a bit of this wonderful blog, and now I shall get back to avoiding my work and read some more. Quite enjoyable!

    Reply
  46. Quantum, the Gospels were likely written with quills. I came across reference to quills originating in Spain during the seventh century, so likely they were in England by the eighth century.
    I like modern technology too. I fiddle a lot with my pages as I write, and handwritten notebooks of my WIPs became pretty illegible. A digital file is wonderful for constant editing. But personal letters are more, well, personal in ink and paper, It gives them “heft” in every sense of the word.
    And you are never too old for writing love letters!

    Reply
  47. Quantum, the Gospels were likely written with quills. I came across reference to quills originating in Spain during the seventh century, so likely they were in England by the eighth century.
    I like modern technology too. I fiddle a lot with my pages as I write, and handwritten notebooks of my WIPs became pretty illegible. A digital file is wonderful for constant editing. But personal letters are more, well, personal in ink and paper, It gives them “heft” in every sense of the word.
    And you are never too old for writing love letters!

    Reply
  48. Quantum, the Gospels were likely written with quills. I came across reference to quills originating in Spain during the seventh century, so likely they were in England by the eighth century.
    I like modern technology too. I fiddle a lot with my pages as I write, and handwritten notebooks of my WIPs became pretty illegible. A digital file is wonderful for constant editing. But personal letters are more, well, personal in ink and paper, It gives them “heft” in every sense of the word.
    And you are never too old for writing love letters!

    Reply
  49. Quantum, the Gospels were likely written with quills. I came across reference to quills originating in Spain during the seventh century, so likely they were in England by the eighth century.
    I like modern technology too. I fiddle a lot with my pages as I write, and handwritten notebooks of my WIPs became pretty illegible. A digital file is wonderful for constant editing. But personal letters are more, well, personal in ink and paper, It gives them “heft” in every sense of the word.
    And you are never too old for writing love letters!

    Reply
  50. Quantum, the Gospels were likely written with quills. I came across reference to quills originating in Spain during the seventh century, so likely they were in England by the eighth century.
    I like modern technology too. I fiddle a lot with my pages as I write, and handwritten notebooks of my WIPs became pretty illegible. A digital file is wonderful for constant editing. But personal letters are more, well, personal in ink and paper, It gives them “heft” in every sense of the word.
    And you are never too old for writing love letters!

    Reply
  51. So glad you enjoyed the post, AA, but it sounds like I should hand my pen over to you! For the sake of length, I decided to keep the blog on regency quills, but I’m fascinated by the advent of metal nibs too. It may well be a future topic here!
    It makes great sense that cutting a quill is a specialized skill. I can imagine there’s an art to squaring the tip so the pen glides without snags or an angled line. Plus tapering a point to suit an individual’s preference for line width is also demanding.
    I used to use dip pens for drawing a lot when I was younger. I know I have a box of points packed away somewhere and you’ve now inspired me too look for them. Love the idea of writing mundane things like checks with an elegant hand!

    Reply
  52. So glad you enjoyed the post, AA, but it sounds like I should hand my pen over to you! For the sake of length, I decided to keep the blog on regency quills, but I’m fascinated by the advent of metal nibs too. It may well be a future topic here!
    It makes great sense that cutting a quill is a specialized skill. I can imagine there’s an art to squaring the tip so the pen glides without snags or an angled line. Plus tapering a point to suit an individual’s preference for line width is also demanding.
    I used to use dip pens for drawing a lot when I was younger. I know I have a box of points packed away somewhere and you’ve now inspired me too look for them. Love the idea of writing mundane things like checks with an elegant hand!

    Reply
  53. So glad you enjoyed the post, AA, but it sounds like I should hand my pen over to you! For the sake of length, I decided to keep the blog on regency quills, but I’m fascinated by the advent of metal nibs too. It may well be a future topic here!
    It makes great sense that cutting a quill is a specialized skill. I can imagine there’s an art to squaring the tip so the pen glides without snags or an angled line. Plus tapering a point to suit an individual’s preference for line width is also demanding.
    I used to use dip pens for drawing a lot when I was younger. I know I have a box of points packed away somewhere and you’ve now inspired me too look for them. Love the idea of writing mundane things like checks with an elegant hand!

    Reply
  54. So glad you enjoyed the post, AA, but it sounds like I should hand my pen over to you! For the sake of length, I decided to keep the blog on regency quills, but I’m fascinated by the advent of metal nibs too. It may well be a future topic here!
    It makes great sense that cutting a quill is a specialized skill. I can imagine there’s an art to squaring the tip so the pen glides without snags or an angled line. Plus tapering a point to suit an individual’s preference for line width is also demanding.
    I used to use dip pens for drawing a lot when I was younger. I know I have a box of points packed away somewhere and you’ve now inspired me too look for them. Love the idea of writing mundane things like checks with an elegant hand!

    Reply
  55. So glad you enjoyed the post, AA, but it sounds like I should hand my pen over to you! For the sake of length, I decided to keep the blog on regency quills, but I’m fascinated by the advent of metal nibs too. It may well be a future topic here!
    It makes great sense that cutting a quill is a specialized skill. I can imagine there’s an art to squaring the tip so the pen glides without snags or an angled line. Plus tapering a point to suit an individual’s preference for line width is also demanding.
    I used to use dip pens for drawing a lot when I was younger. I know I have a box of points packed away somewhere and you’ve now inspired me too look for them. Love the idea of writing mundane things like checks with an elegant hand!

    Reply
  56. Fascinating….Thanks so much for your investigations.
    When I was in college in the late 70’s, I took cartography (I was a Geography major) so had to use a specialized pen to draw and letter the maps.
    True it was nothing like using a quill pen but it really made you slow down and appreciate NOT making mistakes. As well as the finished look of the map.
    Later on I took a Calligraphy class which was a lot of fun. Again, not a quill but much more like the old dipping pens. That made me appreciate all those long letters and diaries even more. So much practice to get a decent result! We had lots of different sized nibs as well.
    For fun one year I had my nieces and nephews make their own ink and if I remember correctly, we did use feathers to write with. It was a pain in the patootie! Using the feathers that is.
    I think they were bought from the store feathers so they weren’t treated properly. As well as the fact I didn’t do a good job making them pointy. I do remember having to put the slit in so the ink would draw properly.
    Now I understand why we didn’t have a great success. But it was a very interesting experiment.

    Reply
  57. Fascinating….Thanks so much for your investigations.
    When I was in college in the late 70’s, I took cartography (I was a Geography major) so had to use a specialized pen to draw and letter the maps.
    True it was nothing like using a quill pen but it really made you slow down and appreciate NOT making mistakes. As well as the finished look of the map.
    Later on I took a Calligraphy class which was a lot of fun. Again, not a quill but much more like the old dipping pens. That made me appreciate all those long letters and diaries even more. So much practice to get a decent result! We had lots of different sized nibs as well.
    For fun one year I had my nieces and nephews make their own ink and if I remember correctly, we did use feathers to write with. It was a pain in the patootie! Using the feathers that is.
    I think they were bought from the store feathers so they weren’t treated properly. As well as the fact I didn’t do a good job making them pointy. I do remember having to put the slit in so the ink would draw properly.
    Now I understand why we didn’t have a great success. But it was a very interesting experiment.

    Reply
  58. Fascinating….Thanks so much for your investigations.
    When I was in college in the late 70’s, I took cartography (I was a Geography major) so had to use a specialized pen to draw and letter the maps.
    True it was nothing like using a quill pen but it really made you slow down and appreciate NOT making mistakes. As well as the finished look of the map.
    Later on I took a Calligraphy class which was a lot of fun. Again, not a quill but much more like the old dipping pens. That made me appreciate all those long letters and diaries even more. So much practice to get a decent result! We had lots of different sized nibs as well.
    For fun one year I had my nieces and nephews make their own ink and if I remember correctly, we did use feathers to write with. It was a pain in the patootie! Using the feathers that is.
    I think they were bought from the store feathers so they weren’t treated properly. As well as the fact I didn’t do a good job making them pointy. I do remember having to put the slit in so the ink would draw properly.
    Now I understand why we didn’t have a great success. But it was a very interesting experiment.

    Reply
  59. Fascinating….Thanks so much for your investigations.
    When I was in college in the late 70’s, I took cartography (I was a Geography major) so had to use a specialized pen to draw and letter the maps.
    True it was nothing like using a quill pen but it really made you slow down and appreciate NOT making mistakes. As well as the finished look of the map.
    Later on I took a Calligraphy class which was a lot of fun. Again, not a quill but much more like the old dipping pens. That made me appreciate all those long letters and diaries even more. So much practice to get a decent result! We had lots of different sized nibs as well.
    For fun one year I had my nieces and nephews make their own ink and if I remember correctly, we did use feathers to write with. It was a pain in the patootie! Using the feathers that is.
    I think they were bought from the store feathers so they weren’t treated properly. As well as the fact I didn’t do a good job making them pointy. I do remember having to put the slit in so the ink would draw properly.
    Now I understand why we didn’t have a great success. But it was a very interesting experiment.

    Reply
  60. Fascinating….Thanks so much for your investigations.
    When I was in college in the late 70’s, I took cartography (I was a Geography major) so had to use a specialized pen to draw and letter the maps.
    True it was nothing like using a quill pen but it really made you slow down and appreciate NOT making mistakes. As well as the finished look of the map.
    Later on I took a Calligraphy class which was a lot of fun. Again, not a quill but much more like the old dipping pens. That made me appreciate all those long letters and diaries even more. So much practice to get a decent result! We had lots of different sized nibs as well.
    For fun one year I had my nieces and nephews make their own ink and if I remember correctly, we did use feathers to write with. It was a pain in the patootie! Using the feathers that is.
    I think they were bought from the store feathers so they weren’t treated properly. As well as the fact I didn’t do a good job making them pointy. I do remember having to put the slit in so the ink would draw properly.
    Now I understand why we didn’t have a great success. But it was a very interesting experiment.

    Reply
  61. I grew up in India where 50 years ago penmanship was considered as a sign of a cultured person. We used the fountain pens from fifth grade and ball-point pens were banned as evil and warned that they would spoil our handwriting for ever.
    Every month we would clean out our fountain pens which was elaborate. Soaking the nibs in water and undoing all the bits and making sure they were clean.
    Writing after the cleanse was a pleasure –the ink flowed smoothly. It was like the whiff of new paper that still reminds me of new beginnings of projects and happy thoughts!! 🙂

    Reply
  62. I grew up in India where 50 years ago penmanship was considered as a sign of a cultured person. We used the fountain pens from fifth grade and ball-point pens were banned as evil and warned that they would spoil our handwriting for ever.
    Every month we would clean out our fountain pens which was elaborate. Soaking the nibs in water and undoing all the bits and making sure they were clean.
    Writing after the cleanse was a pleasure –the ink flowed smoothly. It was like the whiff of new paper that still reminds me of new beginnings of projects and happy thoughts!! 🙂

    Reply
  63. I grew up in India where 50 years ago penmanship was considered as a sign of a cultured person. We used the fountain pens from fifth grade and ball-point pens were banned as evil and warned that they would spoil our handwriting for ever.
    Every month we would clean out our fountain pens which was elaborate. Soaking the nibs in water and undoing all the bits and making sure they were clean.
    Writing after the cleanse was a pleasure –the ink flowed smoothly. It was like the whiff of new paper that still reminds me of new beginnings of projects and happy thoughts!! 🙂

    Reply
  64. I grew up in India where 50 years ago penmanship was considered as a sign of a cultured person. We used the fountain pens from fifth grade and ball-point pens were banned as evil and warned that they would spoil our handwriting for ever.
    Every month we would clean out our fountain pens which was elaborate. Soaking the nibs in water and undoing all the bits and making sure they were clean.
    Writing after the cleanse was a pleasure –the ink flowed smoothly. It was like the whiff of new paper that still reminds me of new beginnings of projects and happy thoughts!! 🙂

    Reply
  65. I grew up in India where 50 years ago penmanship was considered as a sign of a cultured person. We used the fountain pens from fifth grade and ball-point pens were banned as evil and warned that they would spoil our handwriting for ever.
    Every month we would clean out our fountain pens which was elaborate. Soaking the nibs in water and undoing all the bits and making sure they were clean.
    Writing after the cleanse was a pleasure –the ink flowed smoothly. It was like the whiff of new paper that still reminds me of new beginnings of projects and happy thoughts!! 🙂

    Reply
  66. Thank you for this addition to Andrea’s marvelous blog! I admit to being curious about quills but too lazy to go into the research, but now that I know… I could be dangerous!

    Reply
  67. Thank you for this addition to Andrea’s marvelous blog! I admit to being curious about quills but too lazy to go into the research, but now that I know… I could be dangerous!

    Reply
  68. Thank you for this addition to Andrea’s marvelous blog! I admit to being curious about quills but too lazy to go into the research, but now that I know… I could be dangerous!

    Reply
  69. Thank you for this addition to Andrea’s marvelous blog! I admit to being curious about quills but too lazy to go into the research, but now that I know… I could be dangerous!

    Reply
  70. Thank you for this addition to Andrea’s marvelous blog! I admit to being curious about quills but too lazy to go into the research, but now that I know… I could be dangerous!

    Reply
  71. And anyone who is writing anything historical set in the US in the colonial or early 19th-century (Regency anyone?) I would highly recommend a wonderful book by Tamara Plakins Thornton called “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History.” It really opens up the significance of handwriting and handwriting styles in pre-industrial revolution America. Especially in the early years, what was happening here was a reflection of values and opinions that were true in England as well. As I read the book I kept thinking to that scene referenced in the quote from Pride and Prejudice above where they talk about Bingley’s careless hand. That, according to the book, was a sign of a gentleman. Only ladies and clerks wrote cleanly and neatly. But a writing master was as important for a young gentleman as a dancing master.
    It’s quite interesting and well written and a great resource if you’re writing a book with a lot of correspondence in it.
    And if you’re interested, here are some of the fountain pens I use regularly, ranging from the 1940’s (bottom), 50’s (top) and 60’s (middle). http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1464279618__image.jpeg
    And what my correspondence hand looks like:
    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1462283881__image.jpeg
    Always happy to geek out about writing implements. 🙂

    Reply
  72. And anyone who is writing anything historical set in the US in the colonial or early 19th-century (Regency anyone?) I would highly recommend a wonderful book by Tamara Plakins Thornton called “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History.” It really opens up the significance of handwriting and handwriting styles in pre-industrial revolution America. Especially in the early years, what was happening here was a reflection of values and opinions that were true in England as well. As I read the book I kept thinking to that scene referenced in the quote from Pride and Prejudice above where they talk about Bingley’s careless hand. That, according to the book, was a sign of a gentleman. Only ladies and clerks wrote cleanly and neatly. But a writing master was as important for a young gentleman as a dancing master.
    It’s quite interesting and well written and a great resource if you’re writing a book with a lot of correspondence in it.
    And if you’re interested, here are some of the fountain pens I use regularly, ranging from the 1940’s (bottom), 50’s (top) and 60’s (middle). http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1464279618__image.jpeg
    And what my correspondence hand looks like:
    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1462283881__image.jpeg
    Always happy to geek out about writing implements. 🙂

    Reply
  73. And anyone who is writing anything historical set in the US in the colonial or early 19th-century (Regency anyone?) I would highly recommend a wonderful book by Tamara Plakins Thornton called “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History.” It really opens up the significance of handwriting and handwriting styles in pre-industrial revolution America. Especially in the early years, what was happening here was a reflection of values and opinions that were true in England as well. As I read the book I kept thinking to that scene referenced in the quote from Pride and Prejudice above where they talk about Bingley’s careless hand. That, according to the book, was a sign of a gentleman. Only ladies and clerks wrote cleanly and neatly. But a writing master was as important for a young gentleman as a dancing master.
    It’s quite interesting and well written and a great resource if you’re writing a book with a lot of correspondence in it.
    And if you’re interested, here are some of the fountain pens I use regularly, ranging from the 1940’s (bottom), 50’s (top) and 60’s (middle). http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1464279618__image.jpeg
    And what my correspondence hand looks like:
    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1462283881__image.jpeg
    Always happy to geek out about writing implements. 🙂

    Reply
  74. And anyone who is writing anything historical set in the US in the colonial or early 19th-century (Regency anyone?) I would highly recommend a wonderful book by Tamara Plakins Thornton called “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History.” It really opens up the significance of handwriting and handwriting styles in pre-industrial revolution America. Especially in the early years, what was happening here was a reflection of values and opinions that were true in England as well. As I read the book I kept thinking to that scene referenced in the quote from Pride and Prejudice above where they talk about Bingley’s careless hand. That, according to the book, was a sign of a gentleman. Only ladies and clerks wrote cleanly and neatly. But a writing master was as important for a young gentleman as a dancing master.
    It’s quite interesting and well written and a great resource if you’re writing a book with a lot of correspondence in it.
    And if you’re interested, here are some of the fountain pens I use regularly, ranging from the 1940’s (bottom), 50’s (top) and 60’s (middle). http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1464279618__image.jpeg
    And what my correspondence hand looks like:
    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1462283881__image.jpeg
    Always happy to geek out about writing implements. 🙂

    Reply
  75. And anyone who is writing anything historical set in the US in the colonial or early 19th-century (Regency anyone?) I would highly recommend a wonderful book by Tamara Plakins Thornton called “Handwriting in America: A Cultural History.” It really opens up the significance of handwriting and handwriting styles in pre-industrial revolution America. Especially in the early years, what was happening here was a reflection of values and opinions that were true in England as well. As I read the book I kept thinking to that scene referenced in the quote from Pride and Prejudice above where they talk about Bingley’s careless hand. That, according to the book, was a sign of a gentleman. Only ladies and clerks wrote cleanly and neatly. But a writing master was as important for a young gentleman as a dancing master.
    It’s quite interesting and well written and a great resource if you’re writing a book with a lot of correspondence in it.
    And if you’re interested, here are some of the fountain pens I use regularly, ranging from the 1940’s (bottom), 50’s (top) and 60’s (middle). http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1464279618__image.jpeg
    And what my correspondence hand looks like:
    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/uploads/imgs/fpn_1462283881__image.jpeg
    Always happy to geek out about writing implements. 🙂

    Reply
  76. Vicki, it’s so true that a dip pen requires practice and dexterity to get the lovely results one sees in regency writing. And yes, one does tend to think before scribbling in order to avoid a mistake. That’s probably a good thing! We all should take our time in composing letters. (Though I do rue that I’m such a slow writer when it comes to my books.)
    I had to laugh about your story of ink and pen making. (Note to self: making ink sounds intriguing!) I have a feeling creating a quill is not for the faint of heart. But as you say, experiencing history first hand is always fascinating!

    Reply
  77. Vicki, it’s so true that a dip pen requires practice and dexterity to get the lovely results one sees in regency writing. And yes, one does tend to think before scribbling in order to avoid a mistake. That’s probably a good thing! We all should take our time in composing letters. (Though I do rue that I’m such a slow writer when it comes to my books.)
    I had to laugh about your story of ink and pen making. (Note to self: making ink sounds intriguing!) I have a feeling creating a quill is not for the faint of heart. But as you say, experiencing history first hand is always fascinating!

    Reply
  78. Vicki, it’s so true that a dip pen requires practice and dexterity to get the lovely results one sees in regency writing. And yes, one does tend to think before scribbling in order to avoid a mistake. That’s probably a good thing! We all should take our time in composing letters. (Though I do rue that I’m such a slow writer when it comes to my books.)
    I had to laugh about your story of ink and pen making. (Note to self: making ink sounds intriguing!) I have a feeling creating a quill is not for the faint of heart. But as you say, experiencing history first hand is always fascinating!

    Reply
  79. Vicki, it’s so true that a dip pen requires practice and dexterity to get the lovely results one sees in regency writing. And yes, one does tend to think before scribbling in order to avoid a mistake. That’s probably a good thing! We all should take our time in composing letters. (Though I do rue that I’m such a slow writer when it comes to my books.)
    I had to laugh about your story of ink and pen making. (Note to self: making ink sounds intriguing!) I have a feeling creating a quill is not for the faint of heart. But as you say, experiencing history first hand is always fascinating!

    Reply
  80. Vicki, it’s so true that a dip pen requires practice and dexterity to get the lovely results one sees in regency writing. And yes, one does tend to think before scribbling in order to avoid a mistake. That’s probably a good thing! We all should take our time in composing letters. (Though I do rue that I’m such a slow writer when it comes to my books.)
    I had to laugh about your story of ink and pen making. (Note to self: making ink sounds intriguing!) I have a feeling creating a quill is not for the faint of heart. But as you say, experiencing history first hand is always fascinating!

    Reply
  81. Wonderful memories, Prema! Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that good penmanship is a wonderfully “civilized” skill to have. (Though mine does not reach those lofty standards.) This exchange really is inspiring me to go back and practice!

    Reply
  82. Wonderful memories, Prema! Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that good penmanship is a wonderfully “civilized” skill to have. (Though mine does not reach those lofty standards.) This exchange really is inspiring me to go back and practice!

    Reply
  83. Wonderful memories, Prema! Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that good penmanship is a wonderfully “civilized” skill to have. (Though mine does not reach those lofty standards.) This exchange really is inspiring me to go back and practice!

    Reply
  84. Wonderful memories, Prema! Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that good penmanship is a wonderfully “civilized” skill to have. (Though mine does not reach those lofty standards.) This exchange really is inspiring me to go back and practice!

    Reply
  85. Wonderful memories, Prema! Thanks for sharing.
    I agree that good penmanship is a wonderfully “civilized” skill to have. (Though mine does not reach those lofty standards.) This exchange really is inspiring me to go back and practice!

    Reply
  86. Thank you SO much for the book recommendation. It sounds fabulous. And I love your links! Oh, what glorious writing. I’m green with envy! (As would be Jane Austen.)
    I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor here. It’s always delightful to chat with a fellow history geek.

    Reply
  87. Thank you SO much for the book recommendation. It sounds fabulous. And I love your links! Oh, what glorious writing. I’m green with envy! (As would be Jane Austen.)
    I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor here. It’s always delightful to chat with a fellow history geek.

    Reply
  88. Thank you SO much for the book recommendation. It sounds fabulous. And I love your links! Oh, what glorious writing. I’m green with envy! (As would be Jane Austen.)
    I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor here. It’s always delightful to chat with a fellow history geek.

    Reply
  89. Thank you SO much for the book recommendation. It sounds fabulous. And I love your links! Oh, what glorious writing. I’m green with envy! (As would be Jane Austen.)
    I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor here. It’s always delightful to chat with a fellow history geek.

    Reply
  90. Thank you SO much for the book recommendation. It sounds fabulous. And I love your links! Oh, what glorious writing. I’m green with envy! (As would be Jane Austen.)
    I hope you’ll be a frequent visitor here. It’s always delightful to chat with a fellow history geek.

    Reply
  91. This is fascinating. I can remember as a child being taught to write using a dip pen—that’s what we called them anyway, a steel nib stuck into a wooden holder. Nobody used them in “real life” anymore, but the school curriculum hadn’t caught up with modern inventions like fountain pens or—Oh Horrors!—ball point pens. I mainly remember those dip pens being very messy. Probably a lot like quills.
    I do love my computer.

    Reply
  92. This is fascinating. I can remember as a child being taught to write using a dip pen—that’s what we called them anyway, a steel nib stuck into a wooden holder. Nobody used them in “real life” anymore, but the school curriculum hadn’t caught up with modern inventions like fountain pens or—Oh Horrors!—ball point pens. I mainly remember those dip pens being very messy. Probably a lot like quills.
    I do love my computer.

    Reply
  93. This is fascinating. I can remember as a child being taught to write using a dip pen—that’s what we called them anyway, a steel nib stuck into a wooden holder. Nobody used them in “real life” anymore, but the school curriculum hadn’t caught up with modern inventions like fountain pens or—Oh Horrors!—ball point pens. I mainly remember those dip pens being very messy. Probably a lot like quills.
    I do love my computer.

    Reply
  94. This is fascinating. I can remember as a child being taught to write using a dip pen—that’s what we called them anyway, a steel nib stuck into a wooden holder. Nobody used them in “real life” anymore, but the school curriculum hadn’t caught up with modern inventions like fountain pens or—Oh Horrors!—ball point pens. I mainly remember those dip pens being very messy. Probably a lot like quills.
    I do love my computer.

    Reply
  95. This is fascinating. I can remember as a child being taught to write using a dip pen—that’s what we called them anyway, a steel nib stuck into a wooden holder. Nobody used them in “real life” anymore, but the school curriculum hadn’t caught up with modern inventions like fountain pens or—Oh Horrors!—ball point pens. I mainly remember those dip pens being very messy. Probably a lot like quills.
    I do love my computer.

    Reply
  96. Lillian, I can well imagine that dip pens could be very messy in the hands of children—probably deliberately so at times! But they do create a lovely script when handled properly. The principle is much the same as a quill.
    Like you, I love my computer. For me it’s invaluable for a manuscript as I’m constantly fiddling/editing, moving things around. And then of course there is the research capabilities, like learning all about quills without having to fly off to libraries or goose farms!

    Reply
  97. Lillian, I can well imagine that dip pens could be very messy in the hands of children—probably deliberately so at times! But they do create a lovely script when handled properly. The principle is much the same as a quill.
    Like you, I love my computer. For me it’s invaluable for a manuscript as I’m constantly fiddling/editing, moving things around. And then of course there is the research capabilities, like learning all about quills without having to fly off to libraries or goose farms!

    Reply
  98. Lillian, I can well imagine that dip pens could be very messy in the hands of children—probably deliberately so at times! But they do create a lovely script when handled properly. The principle is much the same as a quill.
    Like you, I love my computer. For me it’s invaluable for a manuscript as I’m constantly fiddling/editing, moving things around. And then of course there is the research capabilities, like learning all about quills without having to fly off to libraries or goose farms!

    Reply
  99. Lillian, I can well imagine that dip pens could be very messy in the hands of children—probably deliberately so at times! But they do create a lovely script when handled properly. The principle is much the same as a quill.
    Like you, I love my computer. For me it’s invaluable for a manuscript as I’m constantly fiddling/editing, moving things around. And then of course there is the research capabilities, like learning all about quills without having to fly off to libraries or goose farms!

    Reply
  100. Lillian, I can well imagine that dip pens could be very messy in the hands of children—probably deliberately so at times! But they do create a lovely script when handled properly. The principle is much the same as a quill.
    Like you, I love my computer. For me it’s invaluable for a manuscript as I’m constantly fiddling/editing, moving things around. And then of course there is the research capabilities, like learning all about quills without having to fly off to libraries or goose farms!

    Reply
  101. Well, I’ll never read the word “quill” with the same mind set again, ever! No wonder mine didn’t work well as a child when I tried writing with a turkey feather. In high school and college, it was cartridge pens for me. Not as leaky as a fountain pen but not inexpensive during college. A syringe and a bottle of ink saved a lot of money. As for handwriting, I started school at a very young age; certainly before my fine motor skills were developed enough for good penmanship and that problem stayed with me until I began to teach. To solve the problem, though I was right-handed, I wrote a backhand, much as a left-hander without proper handwriting instruction would. I can remember as a child in a country school with one teacher and eight grades, wondering what those funny red lines and arrows meant in the cursive writing workbooks. I don’t think the teacher ever had time to really instruct in handwriting. My mother had exquisite handwriting which I tried hard to emulate before finding the backhand that allowed me to control the fine motor muscles required for writing. When I graduated from college and began to teach, I used a black board and chalk A LOT. Funnily enough (not at all surprising if you think about neurological development and gross motor preceding fine motor) the more I wrote at the blackboard, the more my handwriting improved and as I was teaching it to my students, I had to finally learn what those red arrows meant and write with a forward slant. I did finally, much to my satisfaction, reach the point where my sibs couldn’t tell the difference between my mother’s writing and mine. Did I say she was an elementary school teacher? LOL

    Reply
  102. Well, I’ll never read the word “quill” with the same mind set again, ever! No wonder mine didn’t work well as a child when I tried writing with a turkey feather. In high school and college, it was cartridge pens for me. Not as leaky as a fountain pen but not inexpensive during college. A syringe and a bottle of ink saved a lot of money. As for handwriting, I started school at a very young age; certainly before my fine motor skills were developed enough for good penmanship and that problem stayed with me until I began to teach. To solve the problem, though I was right-handed, I wrote a backhand, much as a left-hander without proper handwriting instruction would. I can remember as a child in a country school with one teacher and eight grades, wondering what those funny red lines and arrows meant in the cursive writing workbooks. I don’t think the teacher ever had time to really instruct in handwriting. My mother had exquisite handwriting which I tried hard to emulate before finding the backhand that allowed me to control the fine motor muscles required for writing. When I graduated from college and began to teach, I used a black board and chalk A LOT. Funnily enough (not at all surprising if you think about neurological development and gross motor preceding fine motor) the more I wrote at the blackboard, the more my handwriting improved and as I was teaching it to my students, I had to finally learn what those red arrows meant and write with a forward slant. I did finally, much to my satisfaction, reach the point where my sibs couldn’t tell the difference between my mother’s writing and mine. Did I say she was an elementary school teacher? LOL

    Reply
  103. Well, I’ll never read the word “quill” with the same mind set again, ever! No wonder mine didn’t work well as a child when I tried writing with a turkey feather. In high school and college, it was cartridge pens for me. Not as leaky as a fountain pen but not inexpensive during college. A syringe and a bottle of ink saved a lot of money. As for handwriting, I started school at a very young age; certainly before my fine motor skills were developed enough for good penmanship and that problem stayed with me until I began to teach. To solve the problem, though I was right-handed, I wrote a backhand, much as a left-hander without proper handwriting instruction would. I can remember as a child in a country school with one teacher and eight grades, wondering what those funny red lines and arrows meant in the cursive writing workbooks. I don’t think the teacher ever had time to really instruct in handwriting. My mother had exquisite handwriting which I tried hard to emulate before finding the backhand that allowed me to control the fine motor muscles required for writing. When I graduated from college and began to teach, I used a black board and chalk A LOT. Funnily enough (not at all surprising if you think about neurological development and gross motor preceding fine motor) the more I wrote at the blackboard, the more my handwriting improved and as I was teaching it to my students, I had to finally learn what those red arrows meant and write with a forward slant. I did finally, much to my satisfaction, reach the point where my sibs couldn’t tell the difference between my mother’s writing and mine. Did I say she was an elementary school teacher? LOL

    Reply
  104. Well, I’ll never read the word “quill” with the same mind set again, ever! No wonder mine didn’t work well as a child when I tried writing with a turkey feather. In high school and college, it was cartridge pens for me. Not as leaky as a fountain pen but not inexpensive during college. A syringe and a bottle of ink saved a lot of money. As for handwriting, I started school at a very young age; certainly before my fine motor skills were developed enough for good penmanship and that problem stayed with me until I began to teach. To solve the problem, though I was right-handed, I wrote a backhand, much as a left-hander without proper handwriting instruction would. I can remember as a child in a country school with one teacher and eight grades, wondering what those funny red lines and arrows meant in the cursive writing workbooks. I don’t think the teacher ever had time to really instruct in handwriting. My mother had exquisite handwriting which I tried hard to emulate before finding the backhand that allowed me to control the fine motor muscles required for writing. When I graduated from college and began to teach, I used a black board and chalk A LOT. Funnily enough (not at all surprising if you think about neurological development and gross motor preceding fine motor) the more I wrote at the blackboard, the more my handwriting improved and as I was teaching it to my students, I had to finally learn what those red arrows meant and write with a forward slant. I did finally, much to my satisfaction, reach the point where my sibs couldn’t tell the difference between my mother’s writing and mine. Did I say she was an elementary school teacher? LOL

    Reply
  105. Well, I’ll never read the word “quill” with the same mind set again, ever! No wonder mine didn’t work well as a child when I tried writing with a turkey feather. In high school and college, it was cartridge pens for me. Not as leaky as a fountain pen but not inexpensive during college. A syringe and a bottle of ink saved a lot of money. As for handwriting, I started school at a very young age; certainly before my fine motor skills were developed enough for good penmanship and that problem stayed with me until I began to teach. To solve the problem, though I was right-handed, I wrote a backhand, much as a left-hander without proper handwriting instruction would. I can remember as a child in a country school with one teacher and eight grades, wondering what those funny red lines and arrows meant in the cursive writing workbooks. I don’t think the teacher ever had time to really instruct in handwriting. My mother had exquisite handwriting which I tried hard to emulate before finding the backhand that allowed me to control the fine motor muscles required for writing. When I graduated from college and began to teach, I used a black board and chalk A LOT. Funnily enough (not at all surprising if you think about neurological development and gross motor preceding fine motor) the more I wrote at the blackboard, the more my handwriting improved and as I was teaching it to my students, I had to finally learn what those red arrows meant and write with a forward slant. I did finally, much to my satisfaction, reach the point where my sibs couldn’t tell the difference between my mother’s writing and mine. Did I say she was an elementary school teacher? LOL

    Reply
  106. Fascinating, and what beautiful penmanship AAAndrew has! My rural school taught us with dip pens and yes, they are messy. My handwriting was never very good. It still isn’t. *G* I give thanks for computers and word processing all the time!

    Reply
  107. Fascinating, and what beautiful penmanship AAAndrew has! My rural school taught us with dip pens and yes, they are messy. My handwriting was never very good. It still isn’t. *G* I give thanks for computers and word processing all the time!

    Reply
  108. Fascinating, and what beautiful penmanship AAAndrew has! My rural school taught us with dip pens and yes, they are messy. My handwriting was never very good. It still isn’t. *G* I give thanks for computers and word processing all the time!

    Reply
  109. Fascinating, and what beautiful penmanship AAAndrew has! My rural school taught us with dip pens and yes, they are messy. My handwriting was never very good. It still isn’t. *G* I give thanks for computers and word processing all the time!

    Reply
  110. Fascinating, and what beautiful penmanship AAAndrew has! My rural school taught us with dip pens and yes, they are messy. My handwriting was never very good. It still isn’t. *G* I give thanks for computers and word processing all the time!

    Reply
  111. Miss Bingley: Word of advice: Don’t hover. Guys hate hoverers. Make him come to you. That’s how Elizabeth beat you out with that guy 😉

    Reply
  112. Miss Bingley: Word of advice: Don’t hover. Guys hate hoverers. Make him come to you. That’s how Elizabeth beat you out with that guy 😉

    Reply
  113. Miss Bingley: Word of advice: Don’t hover. Guys hate hoverers. Make him come to you. That’s how Elizabeth beat you out with that guy 😉

    Reply
  114. Miss Bingley: Word of advice: Don’t hover. Guys hate hoverers. Make him come to you. That’s how Elizabeth beat you out with that guy 😉

    Reply
  115. Miss Bingley: Word of advice: Don’t hover. Guys hate hoverers. Make him come to you. That’s how Elizabeth beat you out with that guy 😉

    Reply
  116. Fascinating article, Cara/Andrea. I didn’t know about the difference between swans’ and crows’ feathers, for instance. Nor about how the feathers were tempered. I tried to write with feathers when I was a kid, but really, I think I only dipped them in ink, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. We were taught to write with a dip pen and inkwell when I was in primary school (also a small rural school, Mary Jo) but I never did shine at penmanship 🙂 I love my gel pens these days, and write most scenes for my books by hand first. I call it “scribble” and it’s a fairly accurate description. Nothing like AAAndrew’s examples.

    Reply
  117. Fascinating article, Cara/Andrea. I didn’t know about the difference between swans’ and crows’ feathers, for instance. Nor about how the feathers were tempered. I tried to write with feathers when I was a kid, but really, I think I only dipped them in ink, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. We were taught to write with a dip pen and inkwell when I was in primary school (also a small rural school, Mary Jo) but I never did shine at penmanship 🙂 I love my gel pens these days, and write most scenes for my books by hand first. I call it “scribble” and it’s a fairly accurate description. Nothing like AAAndrew’s examples.

    Reply
  118. Fascinating article, Cara/Andrea. I didn’t know about the difference between swans’ and crows’ feathers, for instance. Nor about how the feathers were tempered. I tried to write with feathers when I was a kid, but really, I think I only dipped them in ink, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. We were taught to write with a dip pen and inkwell when I was in primary school (also a small rural school, Mary Jo) but I never did shine at penmanship 🙂 I love my gel pens these days, and write most scenes for my books by hand first. I call it “scribble” and it’s a fairly accurate description. Nothing like AAAndrew’s examples.

    Reply
  119. Fascinating article, Cara/Andrea. I didn’t know about the difference between swans’ and crows’ feathers, for instance. Nor about how the feathers were tempered. I tried to write with feathers when I was a kid, but really, I think I only dipped them in ink, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. We were taught to write with a dip pen and inkwell when I was in primary school (also a small rural school, Mary Jo) but I never did shine at penmanship 🙂 I love my gel pens these days, and write most scenes for my books by hand first. I call it “scribble” and it’s a fairly accurate description. Nothing like AAAndrew’s examples.

    Reply
  120. Fascinating article, Cara/Andrea. I didn’t know about the difference between swans’ and crows’ feathers, for instance. Nor about how the feathers were tempered. I tried to write with feathers when I was a kid, but really, I think I only dipped them in ink, and that wasn’t very satisfactory. We were taught to write with a dip pen and inkwell when I was in primary school (also a small rural school, Mary Jo) but I never did shine at penmanship 🙂 I love my gel pens these days, and write most scenes for my books by hand first. I call it “scribble” and it’s a fairly accurate description. Nothing like AAAndrew’s examples.

    Reply
  121. It’s interesting what you say about left and right handed writers and left and right handed feathers. Do you know if there was a general discrimination against left-handers during the Regency as there has been in other eras including the 20th century?

    Reply
  122. It’s interesting what you say about left and right handed writers and left and right handed feathers. Do you know if there was a general discrimination against left-handers during the Regency as there has been in other eras including the 20th century?

    Reply
  123. It’s interesting what you say about left and right handed writers and left and right handed feathers. Do you know if there was a general discrimination against left-handers during the Regency as there has been in other eras including the 20th century?

    Reply
  124. It’s interesting what you say about left and right handed writers and left and right handed feathers. Do you know if there was a general discrimination against left-handers during the Regency as there has been in other eras including the 20th century?

    Reply
  125. It’s interesting what you say about left and right handed writers and left and right handed feathers. Do you know if there was a general discrimination against left-handers during the Regency as there has been in other eras including the 20th century?

    Reply
  126. Jeanette, so glad you enjoyed this “on the fly” overview of quills. I was fascinated once I started reading about it.
    Development of motor skills is so interesting, and how one gets the first lessons is hugely important, I think. Left to figure it out. we tend to be very creative creatures—love how you found a system that worked for you.
    I’m still looking for the secret to good penmanship! I think part of my problem is I’m impatient when I start writing. (My brain goes faster than my hand) so my writing gets worse and worse.

    Reply
  127. Jeanette, so glad you enjoyed this “on the fly” overview of quills. I was fascinated once I started reading about it.
    Development of motor skills is so interesting, and how one gets the first lessons is hugely important, I think. Left to figure it out. we tend to be very creative creatures—love how you found a system that worked for you.
    I’m still looking for the secret to good penmanship! I think part of my problem is I’m impatient when I start writing. (My brain goes faster than my hand) so my writing gets worse and worse.

    Reply
  128. Jeanette, so glad you enjoyed this “on the fly” overview of quills. I was fascinated once I started reading about it.
    Development of motor skills is so interesting, and how one gets the first lessons is hugely important, I think. Left to figure it out. we tend to be very creative creatures—love how you found a system that worked for you.
    I’m still looking for the secret to good penmanship! I think part of my problem is I’m impatient when I start writing. (My brain goes faster than my hand) so my writing gets worse and worse.

    Reply
  129. Jeanette, so glad you enjoyed this “on the fly” overview of quills. I was fascinated once I started reading about it.
    Development of motor skills is so interesting, and how one gets the first lessons is hugely important, I think. Left to figure it out. we tend to be very creative creatures—love how you found a system that worked for you.
    I’m still looking for the secret to good penmanship! I think part of my problem is I’m impatient when I start writing. (My brain goes faster than my hand) so my writing gets worse and worse.

    Reply
  130. Jeanette, so glad you enjoyed this “on the fly” overview of quills. I was fascinated once I started reading about it.
    Development of motor skills is so interesting, and how one gets the first lessons is hugely important, I think. Left to figure it out. we tend to be very creative creatures—love how you found a system that worked for you.
    I’m still looking for the secret to good penmanship! I think part of my problem is I’m impatient when I start writing. (My brain goes faster than my hand) so my writing gets worse and worse.

    Reply
  131. I don’t for sure, Laura. But certainly throughout history left-handers had to battle the stigma of “evil.” My mother grew up in Switzerland, and she was NOT permitted to write with her left hand, and to learn right-handed. (She could write beautifully with BOTH hands, which makes me feel even more like a messy scribbler )
    So I would guess that left-handed writing was frowned upon—but would be an interesting research point.

    Reply
  132. I don’t for sure, Laura. But certainly throughout history left-handers had to battle the stigma of “evil.” My mother grew up in Switzerland, and she was NOT permitted to write with her left hand, and to learn right-handed. (She could write beautifully with BOTH hands, which makes me feel even more like a messy scribbler )
    So I would guess that left-handed writing was frowned upon—but would be an interesting research point.

    Reply
  133. I don’t for sure, Laura. But certainly throughout history left-handers had to battle the stigma of “evil.” My mother grew up in Switzerland, and she was NOT permitted to write with her left hand, and to learn right-handed. (She could write beautifully with BOTH hands, which makes me feel even more like a messy scribbler )
    So I would guess that left-handed writing was frowned upon—but would be an interesting research point.

    Reply
  134. I don’t for sure, Laura. But certainly throughout history left-handers had to battle the stigma of “evil.” My mother grew up in Switzerland, and she was NOT permitted to write with her left hand, and to learn right-handed. (She could write beautifully with BOTH hands, which makes me feel even more like a messy scribbler )
    So I would guess that left-handed writing was frowned upon—but would be an interesting research point.

    Reply
  135. I don’t for sure, Laura. But certainly throughout history left-handers had to battle the stigma of “evil.” My mother grew up in Switzerland, and she was NOT permitted to write with her left hand, and to learn right-handed. (She could write beautifully with BOTH hands, which makes me feel even more like a messy scribbler )
    So I would guess that left-handed writing was frowned upon—but would be an interesting research point.

    Reply
  136. Oh… Seville is about my favourite place in the world! I keep changing trip itineraries just to visit there again.
    What was really strange was that one of my mother’s friends (in her sixties) laughed at me (in my thirties) for still writing postcards. I thought that the younger the generation, the less people used “real” post…

    Reply
  137. Oh… Seville is about my favourite place in the world! I keep changing trip itineraries just to visit there again.
    What was really strange was that one of my mother’s friends (in her sixties) laughed at me (in my thirties) for still writing postcards. I thought that the younger the generation, the less people used “real” post…

    Reply
  138. Oh… Seville is about my favourite place in the world! I keep changing trip itineraries just to visit there again.
    What was really strange was that one of my mother’s friends (in her sixties) laughed at me (in my thirties) for still writing postcards. I thought that the younger the generation, the less people used “real” post…

    Reply
  139. Oh… Seville is about my favourite place in the world! I keep changing trip itineraries just to visit there again.
    What was really strange was that one of my mother’s friends (in her sixties) laughed at me (in my thirties) for still writing postcards. I thought that the younger the generation, the less people used “real” post…

    Reply
  140. Oh… Seville is about my favourite place in the world! I keep changing trip itineraries just to visit there again.
    What was really strange was that one of my mother’s friends (in her sixties) laughed at me (in my thirties) for still writing postcards. I thought that the younger the generation, the less people used “real” post…

    Reply
  141. That was very interesting reading about how quill pens were made. Years ago, in the late 1960s, I lived in London and had a bank account at a particular bank on a corner of Trafalgar Square. that bank had quill pens! I tried to use the pens but was hopeless. Ink everywhere and fairly unreadable. Luckily they also had fountain pens for those who couldn’t use the quill. I also used the nib pen at primary school. Yes, in Austrlalia it was running writing. We had an ink monitor who had to fill the ink well with ink, then it was the practice to fill the ink well with as much blotting paper as it would hold, and then, when the teacher was not looking, flick the ink sodden paper wherever. Consequently there was plenty of ink on the child and clothes, and the classroom. What memories.

    Reply
  142. That was very interesting reading about how quill pens were made. Years ago, in the late 1960s, I lived in London and had a bank account at a particular bank on a corner of Trafalgar Square. that bank had quill pens! I tried to use the pens but was hopeless. Ink everywhere and fairly unreadable. Luckily they also had fountain pens for those who couldn’t use the quill. I also used the nib pen at primary school. Yes, in Austrlalia it was running writing. We had an ink monitor who had to fill the ink well with ink, then it was the practice to fill the ink well with as much blotting paper as it would hold, and then, when the teacher was not looking, flick the ink sodden paper wherever. Consequently there was plenty of ink on the child and clothes, and the classroom. What memories.

    Reply
  143. That was very interesting reading about how quill pens were made. Years ago, in the late 1960s, I lived in London and had a bank account at a particular bank on a corner of Trafalgar Square. that bank had quill pens! I tried to use the pens but was hopeless. Ink everywhere and fairly unreadable. Luckily they also had fountain pens for those who couldn’t use the quill. I also used the nib pen at primary school. Yes, in Austrlalia it was running writing. We had an ink monitor who had to fill the ink well with ink, then it was the practice to fill the ink well with as much blotting paper as it would hold, and then, when the teacher was not looking, flick the ink sodden paper wherever. Consequently there was plenty of ink on the child and clothes, and the classroom. What memories.

    Reply
  144. That was very interesting reading about how quill pens were made. Years ago, in the late 1960s, I lived in London and had a bank account at a particular bank on a corner of Trafalgar Square. that bank had quill pens! I tried to use the pens but was hopeless. Ink everywhere and fairly unreadable. Luckily they also had fountain pens for those who couldn’t use the quill. I also used the nib pen at primary school. Yes, in Austrlalia it was running writing. We had an ink monitor who had to fill the ink well with ink, then it was the practice to fill the ink well with as much blotting paper as it would hold, and then, when the teacher was not looking, flick the ink sodden paper wherever. Consequently there was plenty of ink on the child and clothes, and the classroom. What memories.

    Reply
  145. That was very interesting reading about how quill pens were made. Years ago, in the late 1960s, I lived in London and had a bank account at a particular bank on a corner of Trafalgar Square. that bank had quill pens! I tried to use the pens but was hopeless. Ink everywhere and fairly unreadable. Luckily they also had fountain pens for those who couldn’t use the quill. I also used the nib pen at primary school. Yes, in Austrlalia it was running writing. We had an ink monitor who had to fill the ink well with ink, then it was the practice to fill the ink well with as much blotting paper as it would hold, and then, when the teacher was not looking, flick the ink sodden paper wherever. Consequently there was plenty of ink on the child and clothes, and the classroom. What memories.

    Reply
  146. Great post, Andrea/Cara! I’ve actually been experimenting with quill writing the past couple of months, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I started with some (possibly goose) feathers from a local cheap shop and a craft knife for cutting them. I’m not as expert as Miss Bingley, and my middle-aged eyesight limits how fine I can cut the point, but I have been writing tolerably well with my various quils – and am having lovely fun experimenting with a range of inks I’ve bought. I am inflicting quill-written, wax-sealed letters on some of my friends – who don’t seem to mind! I’ve also found quill writing a good antidote to writer’s block; as I’m currently working on a novella set in 1816 it seems very appropriate to ‘write like Jane Austen’ 🙂

    Reply
  147. Great post, Andrea/Cara! I’ve actually been experimenting with quill writing the past couple of months, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I started with some (possibly goose) feathers from a local cheap shop and a craft knife for cutting them. I’m not as expert as Miss Bingley, and my middle-aged eyesight limits how fine I can cut the point, but I have been writing tolerably well with my various quils – and am having lovely fun experimenting with a range of inks I’ve bought. I am inflicting quill-written, wax-sealed letters on some of my friends – who don’t seem to mind! I’ve also found quill writing a good antidote to writer’s block; as I’m currently working on a novella set in 1816 it seems very appropriate to ‘write like Jane Austen’ 🙂

    Reply
  148. Great post, Andrea/Cara! I’ve actually been experimenting with quill writing the past couple of months, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I started with some (possibly goose) feathers from a local cheap shop and a craft knife for cutting them. I’m not as expert as Miss Bingley, and my middle-aged eyesight limits how fine I can cut the point, but I have been writing tolerably well with my various quils – and am having lovely fun experimenting with a range of inks I’ve bought. I am inflicting quill-written, wax-sealed letters on some of my friends – who don’t seem to mind! I’ve also found quill writing a good antidote to writer’s block; as I’m currently working on a novella set in 1816 it seems very appropriate to ‘write like Jane Austen’ 🙂

    Reply
  149. Great post, Andrea/Cara! I’ve actually been experimenting with quill writing the past couple of months, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I started with some (possibly goose) feathers from a local cheap shop and a craft knife for cutting them. I’m not as expert as Miss Bingley, and my middle-aged eyesight limits how fine I can cut the point, but I have been writing tolerably well with my various quils – and am having lovely fun experimenting with a range of inks I’ve bought. I am inflicting quill-written, wax-sealed letters on some of my friends – who don’t seem to mind! I’ve also found quill writing a good antidote to writer’s block; as I’m currently working on a novella set in 1816 it seems very appropriate to ‘write like Jane Austen’ 🙂

    Reply
  150. Great post, Andrea/Cara! I’ve actually been experimenting with quill writing the past couple of months, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I started with some (possibly goose) feathers from a local cheap shop and a craft knife for cutting them. I’m not as expert as Miss Bingley, and my middle-aged eyesight limits how fine I can cut the point, but I have been writing tolerably well with my various quils – and am having lovely fun experimenting with a range of inks I’ve bought. I am inflicting quill-written, wax-sealed letters on some of my friends – who don’t seem to mind! I’ve also found quill writing a good antidote to writer’s block; as I’m currently working on a novella set in 1816 it seems very appropriate to ‘write like Jane Austen’ 🙂

    Reply
  151. Oh, love the story of the bank! That is very cool! (I read recently that the U. S. Supreme Court justices still have quill pens supplied on their desks.)
    And love the stories of ink wads. Why does that not surprise me. Isn’t the classic trick also to dip a girl’s braid into an inkwell?

    Reply
  152. Oh, love the story of the bank! That is very cool! (I read recently that the U. S. Supreme Court justices still have quill pens supplied on their desks.)
    And love the stories of ink wads. Why does that not surprise me. Isn’t the classic trick also to dip a girl’s braid into an inkwell?

    Reply
  153. Oh, love the story of the bank! That is very cool! (I read recently that the U. S. Supreme Court justices still have quill pens supplied on their desks.)
    And love the stories of ink wads. Why does that not surprise me. Isn’t the classic trick also to dip a girl’s braid into an inkwell?

    Reply
  154. Oh, love the story of the bank! That is very cool! (I read recently that the U. S. Supreme Court justices still have quill pens supplied on their desks.)
    And love the stories of ink wads. Why does that not surprise me. Isn’t the classic trick also to dip a girl’s braid into an inkwell?

    Reply
  155. Oh, love the story of the bank! That is very cool! (I read recently that the U. S. Supreme Court justices still have quill pens supplied on their desks.)
    And love the stories of ink wads. Why does that not surprise me. Isn’t the classic trick also to dip a girl’s braid into an inkwell?

    Reply
  156. Thanks SO much for the link, Bronwyn! I’ve never heard of this store, but it’s going on the reference list—very cool!
    And thanks for the quill prep advice. I was out on the golf course last night, and lo and behold—like manna from heaven—I found a handful of perfect goose feathers lying there (we have a family of foxes living there, so I can speculate what happened!) I grabbed a few. I may try the hot sand!

    Reply
  157. Thanks SO much for the link, Bronwyn! I’ve never heard of this store, but it’s going on the reference list—very cool!
    And thanks for the quill prep advice. I was out on the golf course last night, and lo and behold—like manna from heaven—I found a handful of perfect goose feathers lying there (we have a family of foxes living there, so I can speculate what happened!) I grabbed a few. I may try the hot sand!

    Reply
  158. Thanks SO much for the link, Bronwyn! I’ve never heard of this store, but it’s going on the reference list—very cool!
    And thanks for the quill prep advice. I was out on the golf course last night, and lo and behold—like manna from heaven—I found a handful of perfect goose feathers lying there (we have a family of foxes living there, so I can speculate what happened!) I grabbed a few. I may try the hot sand!

    Reply
  159. Thanks SO much for the link, Bronwyn! I’ve never heard of this store, but it’s going on the reference list—very cool!
    And thanks for the quill prep advice. I was out on the golf course last night, and lo and behold—like manna from heaven—I found a handful of perfect goose feathers lying there (we have a family of foxes living there, so I can speculate what happened!) I grabbed a few. I may try the hot sand!

    Reply
  160. Thanks SO much for the link, Bronwyn! I’ve never heard of this store, but it’s going on the reference list—very cool!
    And thanks for the quill prep advice. I was out on the golf course last night, and lo and behold—like manna from heaven—I found a handful of perfect goose feathers lying there (we have a family of foxes living there, so I can speculate what happened!) I grabbed a few. I may try the hot sand!

    Reply
  161. Well what do you know….I went to get the mail today and when I walked back, there was a perfect crow feather lying on the side of the driveway.
    Whoo hooo….I have a project ahead of me for next week.

    Reply
  162. Well what do you know….I went to get the mail today and when I walked back, there was a perfect crow feather lying on the side of the driveway.
    Whoo hooo….I have a project ahead of me for next week.

    Reply
  163. Well what do you know….I went to get the mail today and when I walked back, there was a perfect crow feather lying on the side of the driveway.
    Whoo hooo….I have a project ahead of me for next week.

    Reply
  164. Well what do you know….I went to get the mail today and when I walked back, there was a perfect crow feather lying on the side of the driveway.
    Whoo hooo….I have a project ahead of me for next week.

    Reply
  165. Well what do you know….I went to get the mail today and when I walked back, there was a perfect crow feather lying on the side of the driveway.
    Whoo hooo….I have a project ahead of me for next week.

    Reply
  166. I learned to write with a dip-pen in the 50’s in London. We were not allowed to use pen till we could write without many mistakes. We sat at paired desks with sloping lids, which made writing much easier. Along the top was a groove for your writing materials and an inset ink-well.The ink was dire, made up from powder, and distributed in a grey enamelled ink-kettle by a monitor who was once tripped up! In boring lessons you would excavate the ink wells which had pencil-sharpenings, bits of chalk etc added. This meant it was necessary to carry a bottle of ink round with you. My daughter flooded her bag and coated a history exercise book, (the teacher said it was The Black Death.) Essays and exam scripts had to be written in ink not ballpoint. The Post Office continued to have dip pens long after ballpoints were introduced and they invariably had crossed nibs.

    Reply
  167. I learned to write with a dip-pen in the 50’s in London. We were not allowed to use pen till we could write without many mistakes. We sat at paired desks with sloping lids, which made writing much easier. Along the top was a groove for your writing materials and an inset ink-well.The ink was dire, made up from powder, and distributed in a grey enamelled ink-kettle by a monitor who was once tripped up! In boring lessons you would excavate the ink wells which had pencil-sharpenings, bits of chalk etc added. This meant it was necessary to carry a bottle of ink round with you. My daughter flooded her bag and coated a history exercise book, (the teacher said it was The Black Death.) Essays and exam scripts had to be written in ink not ballpoint. The Post Office continued to have dip pens long after ballpoints were introduced and they invariably had crossed nibs.

    Reply
  168. I learned to write with a dip-pen in the 50’s in London. We were not allowed to use pen till we could write without many mistakes. We sat at paired desks with sloping lids, which made writing much easier. Along the top was a groove for your writing materials and an inset ink-well.The ink was dire, made up from powder, and distributed in a grey enamelled ink-kettle by a monitor who was once tripped up! In boring lessons you would excavate the ink wells which had pencil-sharpenings, bits of chalk etc added. This meant it was necessary to carry a bottle of ink round with you. My daughter flooded her bag and coated a history exercise book, (the teacher said it was The Black Death.) Essays and exam scripts had to be written in ink not ballpoint. The Post Office continued to have dip pens long after ballpoints were introduced and they invariably had crossed nibs.

    Reply
  169. I learned to write with a dip-pen in the 50’s in London. We were not allowed to use pen till we could write without many mistakes. We sat at paired desks with sloping lids, which made writing much easier. Along the top was a groove for your writing materials and an inset ink-well.The ink was dire, made up from powder, and distributed in a grey enamelled ink-kettle by a monitor who was once tripped up! In boring lessons you would excavate the ink wells which had pencil-sharpenings, bits of chalk etc added. This meant it was necessary to carry a bottle of ink round with you. My daughter flooded her bag and coated a history exercise book, (the teacher said it was The Black Death.) Essays and exam scripts had to be written in ink not ballpoint. The Post Office continued to have dip pens long after ballpoints were introduced and they invariably had crossed nibs.

    Reply
  170. I learned to write with a dip-pen in the 50’s in London. We were not allowed to use pen till we could write without many mistakes. We sat at paired desks with sloping lids, which made writing much easier. Along the top was a groove for your writing materials and an inset ink-well.The ink was dire, made up from powder, and distributed in a grey enamelled ink-kettle by a monitor who was once tripped up! In boring lessons you would excavate the ink wells which had pencil-sharpenings, bits of chalk etc added. This meant it was necessary to carry a bottle of ink round with you. My daughter flooded her bag and coated a history exercise book, (the teacher said it was The Black Death.) Essays and exam scripts had to be written in ink not ballpoint. The Post Office continued to have dip pens long after ballpoints were introduced and they invariably had crossed nibs.

    Reply

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