Antiques column: quill pen had drawbacks

Part of the large collection of pens in the Chris Clubley and Co December sale.
Part of the large collection of pens in the Chris Clubley and Co December sale.

The traditional quill pen could be a sensitive writing implement, but it had drawbacks, it had to be replenished with ink every few words and needed constant trimming with a penknife.

Attempts to add ink reservoirs to quill pens date back to at least the 17th century, but it was not until the 1880s that the first successful fountain pen was on the market.

This was made possible by the refinement of the steel nib (which at first tended to be unpliable and liable to tear the paper), by the development of new kinds of ink (traditional types often corroded metal or clogged up the workings of the pen) and by the ingenuity of manufactures in overcoming problems relating to filling, leakage and ink flows.

Full article in this week’s (20 November) people’s paper.