Brit.Privateer

accurate pen and ink for period writing

21 posts in this topic

I have searched the forums and nothing really came up that satisfied what I was looking for (it was difficult to think up good search terms for this as well that were specific enough). So here we go:

I am in search of good, historically correct pen and/or quill, ink, and container to keep it in. In particular, I am looking for these items in a form that a sailor who could write (like Esquimelin, Dampier, or any of the other sailors who wrote journals at sea during this time) would have during the GAOP era.

So far, all I have found is a source for period correct paper to write on: http://www.2makepaper.com/

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Peter Goebel is one of the finest makers of writing instruments that I've ever found. I cannot recommend him enough.

http://www.goosebay-workshops.com/WRITING-IMPLEMENTS

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I have searched the forums and nothing really came up that satisfied what I was looking for (it was difficult to think up good search terms for this as well that were specific enough). So here we go:

I am in search of good, historically correct pen and/or quill, ink, and container to keep it in. In particular, I am looking for these items in a form that a sailor who could write (like Esquimelin, Dampier, or any of the other sailors who wrote journals at sea during this time) would have during the GAOP era.

So far, all I have found is a source for period correct paper to write on: http://www.2makepaper.com/

This may not help much but this pen has been found on whydah

1046545094_cnyaM-L.jpg

perhaps replica is done somewhere....I personally think that quill of some oldinary bird would do.... lets say goose....

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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Swashbuckler that is a Porta Crayon from the Wydah. http://jas-townsend....products_id=382 and William's Link above has one also.

I have one and it's nice to have a portable writing option when taking notes for cargo and making manifests for the ship.

The next implement would be a quill. While you can buy quills pre cut, I haven't found them to be of the best quality. Learning to cut your own is probably best.

http://www.flick.com...lls/quills.html Here is a great site for learning how to cut a quill. It takes time and practice to get it right. (I'm still learning myself)

As for the quills, I use turkey feathers from Micheals craft store. Then I temper them. (The process is described in the previous link.)

Now to the ink. From what I've been able to gather the best and most widespread ink for the GAoP would have been Iron Gall Ink.

http://en.wikipedia....i/Iron_gall_ink

I've bought mine from here, http://www.oldworldink.com/index.html

I can vouch for the quality and fineness. I use it for everything in my period handwriting. There are other ink recipes, such as crushed walnut hulls and the like. I've stuck with the Iron gall cause it's the most popular.

I hope that gets you started. Post here if you have any questions. Enjoy!

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So far, all I have found is a source for period correct paper to write on: http://www.2makepaper.com/

I've also ordered his paper before and yes the content is very correct but I've noticed his "sizing" is a weak. The ink tended to bleed. (Sizing is a gletin coating placed on the paper to keep the ink from bleeding into the fibers.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sizing and here http://www.aboutbookbinding.com/Paper/PaperMaking-20.html

Perhaps I obtained a rough batch or the like. If you ordered more please let us know how it turns out. I would like to know how others experiences are.

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Swashbuckler that is a Porta Crayon from the Wydah. http://jas-townsend....products_id=382 and William's Link above has one also.

I have one and it's nice to have a portable writing option when taking notes for cargo and making manifests for the ship.

The next implement would be a quill. While you can buy quills pre cut, I haven't found them to be of the best quality. Learning to cut your own is probably best.

http://www.flick.com...lls/quills.html Here is a great site for learning how to cut a quill. It takes time and practice to get it right. (I'm still learning myself)

As for the quills, I use turkey feathers from Micheals craft store. Then I temper them. (The process is described in the previous link.)

Now to the ink. From what I've been able to gather the best and most widespread ink for the GAoP would have been Iron Gall Ink.

http://en.wikipedia....i/Iron_gall_ink

I've bought mine from here, http://www.oldworldink.com/index.html

I can vouch for the quality and fineness. I use it for everything in my period handwriting. There are other ink recipes, such as crushed walnut hulls and the like. I've stuck with the Iron gall cause it's the most popular.

I hope that gets you started. Post here if you have any questions. Enjoy!

OK interesting.....

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There was a stylus and nib in the Whydah exhibit as well... anyone have a photo of that? We were not permitted to take photos. I was pleased to see it as it looked very much like more modern nibs and the the nib was a separate piece held into a shaft very much like a port-a-crayon...

According to the display, these were made of brass

Edited by Capt. Sterling

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Belated entry into this topic...

I have LOTS of goose quills that I make my own quill pens. But I do have a brass nib pen I obtained from Barnes and Noble that looks much like the old 17th/18th c styles, plus I have a simple wood stylus with interchangible nibs, also... obtained that from Barnes and Noble. But many of the 17th/18th c vendors/Sutlers like Jas. Townsend & Sons, Smiling Fox Forge, and G. Gedney Godwin would have these items, as would the Print Shop in Colonial Williamsburg. From time to time, some historical places MIGHT carry a quill pen. Ink however is in the powder. I obtain my ink from Barnes and Noble then I put it into a period container.

Knowing what to look for... you can then find it anywhere. ;)

~Lady B

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Let me just take the opportunity to comment on the quality of Lady B's quill pens! She sent me one nigh onto 18 months ago- I still use it to sign certificates for my birthday kids and my Buccaneer camp, not to mention the occasional document, and line drawing. It is really remarkable that it has lasted so long, and still has such a fine line. Thanks, Lady B!

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I found a product called Walnut Ink in an art store. It is a medium brown and I've used it in some map work. Is there any historical bases for this ink?

Jas. Hook ;)

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I found a product called Walnut Ink in an art store. It is a medium brown and I've used it in some map work. Is there any historical bases for this ink?

Jas. Hook ;)

I have found no period reference to walnut ink. Oak Gall Ink, Soot Ink, & Carbon Ink were used in Europe, but European walnuts have less tannin, so walnut ink is a product of the New World and the Orient. The North American Walnut was used to produce ink for writing and the printing press, but the question remains. How early was it used?

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I've got nothing to back thus up.... but from my peripheral exposure to later 18th century reenacting, I would guess walnut ink came into usage in the later 18th century. Maybe even as late as the early 19th... but I would be more willing to bet on late 18th century without going to dig into a lot of research on the matter

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I'm still curious to know who has found the most accurate paper. I've used a number of various laid papers in limited rag content, but I'm always on the lookout for something better.

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One thing I've never figured out: during GAOP did people still dry the ink after writing by sanding the letter? Or did they use blotting paper already?

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Sure, Daniel, compound my curiosity with more curiosity.

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The "sand" is actually made of ground up fish bones, cuttlefish iirc. And they were using it through the GAoP, sanders from the 18C still exist.

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Well, it was a good questions, because it forced me to satisfy my curiosity and I found numerous interesting ponce sanders. I own one in brass and one in copper, but I found period examples in earthenware, tin, and wood as well, including some beautiful painted and glazed examples from China.

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I'm still curious to know who has found the most accurate paper. I've used a number of various laid papers in limited rag content, but I'm always on the lookout for something better.

Mega delayed reply. :)

Will, my favorite paper ( my very BEST paperI reserve for VERY special occasions) is the period laid paper from the Print Shop at Colonial Williamsburg.

Also... glad Gertie enjoyed the quills. I still have MANY of the goose quills and they do seem to last forever. You can shape them to make them compact for traveling, too. Don't fool yourself that any kind of quill will work... because it won't. There is a reason why Goose quills were prefered. Otherwise, go with a nib pen.

I have gone with Artistic paper, such as the multi-purpose drawing paper of medium weight in the largest sizes for writing articles and other loose documents.

~Lady B

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On the subject of metal vs quill pens, an excerpt from Daniel Defoe's book "A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain - 1724-26" Letter VII: "the plaster of the ceilings and walls in some rooms is so fine, so firm, so entire, that they break it off in large flakes, and it will bear writing on it with a pencil or steel pen" . The passage is written in such a manner as to suggest that the steel pen was relatively well-known if not altogether common.

Edited by Captain Jim

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::: Nods ::: agreed, Jim. The pencils are not unlike the ones used on the Lewis & Clark expedition. shall have to see if I can put an image on here without putting it on Photobucket.

The steel pen, I can see, too. Again shall have to look for these images. I know I pinned a LOT of period items on my Pinterest board, Pirate Portrayal. Amazing to see how much incredible stuff was at that time frame of the GAoP.

Great find, Jim! :D

~Lady B

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Excellent find, Jim. I did some further searching and found another quote. By 1700, Roger North could write to his sister challenging her to tell the difference between the writing of his new French-made metal pen and the usual quills.

It seems that the early ones were stiff and harder to use, but they have been around a long time.

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