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The FP of H.P. Lovecraft



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Polyhistor
Thus far I have Aol'ed, Yahoo'ed and Googled, but to no avail. I have even attempted inquiries to the editor of the on-line A. H. Lovecraft Archive, but they keep coming back undelivered. However, I have succeeded in rekindling my interest in Lovecraft, so this thread has been both fun and enlightening.

 

I think it has been established that A. H. L. had at least one mechanical pencil. For as expensive as they were in his day it is likely he might have had a self-filling fountain pen. Such writing instruments might have been gifts from one among his correspondents.

 

The character of his correspondence has led me to believe he used a pen quite a bit, whether a dip pen or a self filler. So many references have been make to his miniscule handwriting! One can manage small handwriting with a standard pencil as long as he keeps sharpening it. The mechnical pencils of A. H. L.'s day had at the smallest 0.9mm lead, which might not be too friendly to one writing as small as he did. A pen with a razor point, EF or an accountant nib, probably would have suited his writing style. - This research is fun. I shall keep at it for a while.

Thus far I have Aol'ed, Yahoo'ed and Googled, but to no avail.  I have even attempted inquiries to the editor of the on-line A. H. Lovecraft Archive, but they keep coming back undelivered.  However, I have succeeded in rekindling my interest in Lovecraft, so this thread has been both fun and enlightening.

 

:doh: Why didn´t I think of that! I´ve just sent my question to the webmaster of The HP Lovecraft Archive, so far I´ve not received an error message. We´ll see what becomes of this.

 

And I´ll definitely order some English books on him in the near future, most of all I´m looking forward to finally reading HPL´s letters.

 

For as expensive as they were in his day it is likely he might have had a self-filling fountain pen. Such writing instruments might have been gifts from one among his correspondents.

 

That seems a likely possibility, I know of at least two occasions when he received gifts (a prehistoric knife made of flint and a petroleum lamp in Arabic style).

 

So many references have been make to his miniscule handwriting!  One can manage small handwriting with a standard pencil as long as he keeps sharpening it.  The mechnical pencils of A. H. L.'s day had at the smallest 0.9mm lead, which might not be too friendly to one writing as small as he did.  A pen with a razor point, EF or an accountant nib, probably would have suited his writing style.  -  This research is fun.  I shall keep at it for a while.

 

Brilliant thought! And again: :doh: :D

I´m having exactly the same problem every time I´m using a pencil (my handwriting is very small and old fashioned too, that´s probably what happens when people like HPL become the heroes of your adolescence! ;) ).

 

The pencil didn't rub off, and even a hundred years later it's perfectly legible (although probably a lot lighter than it was when written). The oldest letters and postcards are from relatives who lived in West Texas, from Wichita Falls across almost to Lubbock, and points south. Some of the postcards are photographs of the family members, neighbors, their houses, etc.

 

user posted image

 

(Gathering of some kind, 1904 -- front of postcard, back has nothing to do with fountain pens and is only interesting in that it's written in pencil.)

 

For what it's worth, my mother's family (the well-off folks) emigrated from Bavaria in 1843, to Louisville, Kentucky by way of New Orleans. The family was originally from Switzerland, and intermarried here with Austrians and Hungarians from Wien. It's a small world, isn't it?

 

That photograph looks very interesting! Apart from being an invaluable memory it tells a lot about the time of its origin, without even intending to do so...

Today I´ve been browsing through some old photographs and many of them too had something written on the back in pencil.

 

Seems I have to get into genealogy a bit. Though I don´t know of anyone from my family emigrating to the US at some time, I was surprised to see how many people there are who have the same last name as I do (anglicized, as there´s an umlaut in it). The world is a village. :)

 

 

Regards, A.

13968229573_ae23c291d7_m.jpg

My adventures in leatherwork (now also partly in English! :) ).

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  • 8 months later...
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Breaking news! laugh.gif

 

I emailed Mr. Chris Perridas about HPL's FP, and he found for me a letter from Clark Ashton Smith to HPL:

 

(c. mid-March 1932)

The marble, demon-haunted house of Avyctes, at the hour of the impingement of the Shadow.

 

Dear E'ch-Pi-El:

 

I certainly share your despair in regard to ever finding a serviceable fountain-pen — it's the main reason why I have taken to typing most of my letters. I, too, often employ pencils in making the first draft of a story — though such drafts, with me, are likely to get themselves done any old way. Sometimes I start 'em on the machine -- and then finish up or alternate with all the available mediums of scripture. I don't dare leave the resultant mass lying around too long before making the final typed version — or even I would be powerless to unscramble it!

(. . .)

(. . .) My new weird, "The Double Shadow", will come to you presently, "in turn", even as the shadow came to the sorcerers in the tale; and you can send it along to the third guardian of the baleful triangle.

(. . .)

Yrs, hoping that the ellipse of Oumor

will remain unbroken in the hour of need,

Klarkash-Ton

 

---------

Thank you, Mr. Perridas! He said he might have more later. (His HPL blog is here.)

 

-Hana

Edited by umenohana

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Up until Hana's post, I was surprised nobody had mentioned the possibility of an Esterbrook. Cheap, reliable and some of the accountant nibs are as needly pointed as you might find on any dip pen of the era...

 

Hana, and all of you, have done masterful jobs of research...

 

Bill

 

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This just in:

 

"You'll recall that I obtained a pen a piece for SH (Sonia) & myself last October at a price of $1.28 ... we found the sale still on {&} the salesman still willing to make exchanges. ...to obtain real satisfaction one must invest in a real Waterman ... I did not escape from the emporium till a $6.25 Waterman reposed in my pocket - a modern self-filler corresponding to the ancient $6.00 type which I bought in 1906 & lost seventeen years later amidst the sands of Marblehead in the summer of 1923 ... the feed is certainly a relief after sundry makeshifts - tho' I think I'll change this especial model tomorrow for one with a slightly coarser point - one less likely to scratch on rough paper. It is certainly good to be back among the Watermans again ..."

 

Letter of 30 January 1926 to Lillian Clark, p. 276-277, Letters From New York, Joshi & Schultz, 2005.

 

-------

 

Thank you ever so much, Mr. Perridas!

 

-Hana

 

P.S. Now--to find an image! x_X Please someone help-- a Waterman expert?

 

P.P.S. $1.28 in 1925 would be $14.62 in 2006 dollars according to The Inflation Calculator. 1926 $6.25 is $69.63 in 2006 dollars. $6 in 1906 is $129.83 in 2006 dollars!-- Quite a splurge for a sixteen year old! tongue.gif

Edited by umenohana

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I found a Waterman ad from 1906 on eBay:

post-4-1172649399_thumb.jpg

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Here's an ad from 1926:

post-4-1172649528_thumb.jpg

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& he used some sort of wonderful blue-black ink on this postcard to CAS (Image taken from www.eldritchdark.com):

 

edit: rotated image for easy reading wink.gif

post-4-1172652482_thumb.jpg

Edited by umenohana

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One would think that he may have used Waterman, but it looks more like Skrip to me! Or could the ink have simply yellowed over the years? (Or is it the yellowed paper that makes it look so green?)

 

-Hana

 

P.S. Yikes, I've been acting like Charles Dexter Ward with this research! So many posts by me alone! lticaptd.gif

Edited by umenohana

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Impressive that you found The Answer in such detail, Hana! This is a fascinating thread. Thanks for resurrecting it.

http://img356.imageshack.us/img356/8703/letterminizk9.png
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Johnny Appleseed

I have a 1906 Waterman ad on the wall of my cube at work right now - it has more extensive price list info. A $6.00 model could be a No. 16 eydropper, or a #5 or 15 eydropper with 2 gold bands - so probably a pen with either a #5 or #6 nib. Would Lovecraft have preffered an unadorned pen with a larger ink capacity? Or would he have gone for the GF trim?

 

In 1926 - the one in the ad you found looks like a 56 in RMHR (or Red Ripple, but I am not sure when the red ripples first came out - I think a year or two later) for $7.50. I am not sure which model would have been 6.25 - maybe a 55 or a bandless BCHR 56. Hard to know what exactly he meant by "a modern self-filler corresponding to the ancient $6.00 type". The older eyedropper pens were thinner than the lever-fillers, so he could as easily have meant a lever filler 52, which had roughly the same width as a 16 but a smaller nib and ink capacity, or he could have meant a 56 which was the official "corresponding model" to a 16 (same nib size, but the 56 is much wider to allow for the sack and lever).

 

John

So if you have a lot of ink,

You should get a Yink, I think.

 

- Dr Suess

 

Always looking for pens by Baird-North, Charles Ingersoll, and nibs marked "CHI"

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QUOTE (Polyhistor @ May 25 2006, 11:54 AM)
So my question is, does anyone have any clue of what model/brand FP he used or could have used, being a relatively poor (and extremely conservative and old fashioned) guy in the 1920s/30s.

I would like to think a little blood mixed with a very thin viscus oil. That should work well with a dip pen.

 

 

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

H. P. Lovecraft

US horror & supernatural author (1890 - 1937)

 

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

Isaac Asimov, Salvor Hardin in "Foundation"

US science fiction novelist & scholar (1920 - 1992)

 

There is probably no more terrible instant of enlightenment than the one in which you discover your father is a man--with human flesh.

Frank Herbert, Dune

US science fiction novelist (1920 - 1986)

 

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QUOTE (lefty928 @ Feb 28 2007, 04:31 AM)
Impressive that you found The Answer in such detail, Hana! This is a fascinating thread. Thanks for resurrecting it.

My pleasure! laugh.gif

 

-Hana

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Last updated Saturday, 24 Feb. 2007.<br>(Two new H. P. Lovecraft links have been added.)<br>Wow-- I've 2000 hits, thanks to all the wonderful visitors from over 30 different countries!</center>

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Nice research in this thread.

Go Lovecraft!

 

"In youth he had felt the hidden beauty and ecstasy of things, and had been a poet; but poverty and sorrow and exile had turned his gaze in darker directions, and he had thrilled at the imputations of evil in the world around." - The Horror At Red Hook

Censors tend to do what only psychotics do: they confuse reality with illusion. - David Cronenberg

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  • 8 months later...

Hello FPNers and Lovecraft fans,

 

I recalled having seen this thread some time ago, so when I came across this very interesting passage in a biographical work on H.P. Lovecraft I could hardly wait to share. The following is an excerpt from Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Nightside, by Frank Belknap Long, a close friend of Lovecraft's.

 

-----------------------

 

Howard was fascinated by small articles of stationery -- writing pads, rubber bands of assorted sizes, phials of India ink, unusual letterheads, erasers, mechanical pencils, and particularly fountain pens.

 

He used one pen, chosen with the most painstaking care, until it wore out, and several important factors entered into his purchase of a writing instrument. It had to have just the right kind of ink flow, molding itself to his hand in such a way that he was never conscious of the slightest strain as he filled page after page with his often minute calligraphy. It also had to be a black Waterman; a pen of another color or make would have been unthinkable.

 

When a pen he had used for several years wore out, the purchase of a new one became an event -- lamentable in some respects, but presenting a challenge which I am sure he secretly enjoyed. We were walking northward from Battery Park [NYC], where I had met him at noon, stopping occasionally to admire one of the very old houses which still could be found scattered throughout the financial district in the 1920s, when he told me that he intended to purchase a new pen at the first stationery store that had a well-stocked reliable appearance. He removed the old one from his vest pocket and showed me how worn the point had become. I found myself wondering just how many letters and postcards he had written with it, for it did have a ground-down aspect.

 

We walked on for three or four blocks, found the kind of store he had in mind, and I accompanied him inside. The clerk who waited on him was amiable and greeted him with a smile when he asked to try out a number of pens.

 

"The point has to be just right," Howard said. "If it won't put you to too much inconvenience, I'd like to test out at least twenty pens."

 

The clerk's smile did not vanish when Howard turned to me and said, "I'm afraid this will take some time."

 

It was just a guess, but I felt somehow that he had made the kind of understatment that would strain the clerk's patience almost beyond endurance.

 

:w"We just passed a pipe store," I said. "I'd like to go back and look at the window again. I may just possibly decide to buy a new pipe. I can be back in fifteen or twenty minutes."

 

"No need to hurry," he said. "I'll probably be here much longer than that."

 

I was gone for forty-five minutes. It was inexcusable, I suppose, but it was a clear, bright day, a wind with a the tang of the sea was blowing in from one of the East River wharves where several four-masted sailing ships were tied, and I decided to go for quite a long walk instead of returning to the pipe shop.

 

When I got back to the stationery store, there were at least fifty pens lying about on the counter and Howard was still having difficulty in finding one with just the right balance and smoothness of ink flow. The clerk looked a little haggard-eyed but he was still smiling, wanly.

 

The careful choice of a fountain pen may sweem a minor matter and hardly one that merits dwelling on at considerable length. But to me it has always seemed a vtally important key to the basic personality of HPL in more than one respect. He liked small objects of great beauty, symmetrical in design and superbly crafted, and by the same token larger objects that exhibited a similar kind of artistic perfection. And the raven-black Waterman he finally selected was both somber and non-ornate, with not even a small gold band encircling it. That appealed to him in another way and was entirely in harmony with his choice of attire.

 

------------------

 

Yours by the Elder Sign,

Andrew

 

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I went to my university's archive collection, the Harry Ransom Center, and looked at a postcard he wrote. It was in pen. Something with a wide nib but I know nothing else about pens, ie how to tell the difference between a dip pen and a fountain pen. I read another letter of his that he typed.

 

Procrastination is fun,

 

D

Edited by dmiracle
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Hi dmiracle; indeed procrastination is fun -- but this isn't procrastination, this is first business! Anyhow I wanted to bump to draw proper attention to my last post in this thread, which while it contains a long excerpt, is fairly definitive on this topic. Although I somehow managed to miss pages 2 and 3 of this before posting, I think it still adds information. I believe the pen mentioned in the HPL letter umenohana quotes from (Feb. 28 post) is the one he bought on the outing detailed in my quote!

-Andru

 

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Lovecraft hated typewriters and I am not sure about whether he even owned one himself. In several letters he complains about typing as being not quite appropriate for a gentleman - most likely because he was terribly bad at it.

 

Actually, typewriting was considered a female occupation very early one. I would suspect <i>that</i> is why he did not see it fit a gentleman.

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Actually, typewriting was considered a female occupation very early one. I would suspect <i>that</i> is why he did not see it fit a gentleman.

 

Be that as it may, the fact is he wrote an estimated ten million words with his fountain pens in his correspondence alone. Obviously he was happy enough with fountain pens to make great use of them, and -- as detailed in my quote from Long above -- once thoroughly worn out, would take great pains in the selection of his next pen (always a black Waterman without gold decoration). He also liked to write while sitting in parks or on stone walls, activities to which typewriters don't lend themselves. He liked to doodle in the margins. Most of his experience with typescript was probably in the form of sheets given to him for revision work -- again, work for a pen or pencil, not a typewriter. As this is a writing instruments forum, it seems appropriate to celebrate his copious use of fountain pens, and the importance he placed on them, rather than degenerate to gender-politics and unsubstantiated assertions. If you want to take it off-topic, start a topic in Chatter and I'll join you there with the facts. -Andru

 

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