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Yes Or No To A Quill



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AncientWriterAlex

Perhaps some blasphemy to FPN but I was recently looking at expanding my small collection of FPs and I discovered some quills that appear to be just so intriguing. So I was just wondering if anyone has any quills or any advice on buying them.

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The only outfit that I know of that makes a good ready-made quill pen is Lewis Glaser in Charlottesvill, Virginia. He supplies the pens used by the Supreme Court.

 

I think most people get turkey or goose feathers and cut their own nibs in them. If you are right handed, you either want tail feathers or flight feathers from the right wing of the bird. Cutting the nibs is an art not easily learned.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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Around here in early June the Canada Geese are molting and you can pick up quills off the ground if you hit it right. You would want to wash and disinfect them - I'm sure there are places on the web saying how.

 

Or you can walk into a craft store and buy some. Or probably a dozen things in between.

 

Cutting them yourself requires some practice, but, like many "old time" skills it is quick to learn how to get it to work, period, and longer to perfect it. If you just want the experience of making marks on paper with a quill, today, a trip to your local Hobby lobby/AC Moore,/Michaels/whathaveyoucraftstore and a razor knife, along with a quick trawl of the net, would get you doing it.

 

If what you mean is, "How do you get a quill so nicely cut that it's as terrific as my favorite Fountain Pen to write with" that's another story. Until I read this thread I'd never heard of any place to buy them other than souvenir shops near historic sites, and those are no better than you can cut yourself, I suspect.

 

Be aware that most pens that look like quills, and are called quills, are actually metal pen tip holders with a feather coming out the back. Which is perfectly fine if you like writing with metal pen tips, less so if you really wanted a feather quill.

 

T

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Be aware that most pens that look like quills, and are called quills, are actually metal pen tip holders with a feather coming out the back.

 

Or worse, a biro!

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I made my own when I was a kid. They were cool to play with, but frankly horrible to write with. Only much later did I learn that they have to be baked in hot sand to get the ink-repelling oiliness extracted from the shafts, and that there was an advanced skill involved in shaping the tips properly. It was fun, though. I wouldn't mind giving it another try some time, but for now a gold nib beats a feather in my hand by far. I have a few feathers on my desk right now, waiting for some idle time, though.

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”

― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

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I love my quills and dip pens. It adds this old world class to whatever you are writing, it also is really easy to switch nibs for dramatic effect.

The pen is mightier than the sword. The tip of a pen can start or end wars, move resources, and change the lives of billions. Swords blush at the pen's death count.

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I think most people get turkey or goose feathers and cut their own nibs in them. If you are right handed, you either want tail feathers or flight feathers from the right wing of the bird. Cutting the nibs is an art not easily learned.

I believe you've got that exactly backwards: left flight feathers for right-hand writers, right flight feathers for lefties. Visualize the curvature of the feathers and I think you'll see what I mean. The curvature of the left flight feathers wraps the quill around the hand (clockwise), bringing the point in line with the arm (and index finger) and then down toward the page. (BTW, a decent penman could use either.)

Edited by Mickey

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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Or worse, a biro!

 

http://i1128.photobucket.com/albums/m496/gclef1114/Tutuguans/0804131640-1_zpsdbeae36c.jpg

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I have at times used quill pens. Have two "pen knives" (that is why they are called such) that are used for cutting the nib section (called "dressing" the pen). One is a reproduction of the one given to George Washington by his mom when he started school, the other is a late 1700's plain one. I did learn to make the nib.

BTW: in actual use, many heavy writers actually removed the vanes completely, leaving only the shaft. Easier to hold and transport. Most users often left the top 1/3 of the vanes on. They are seldom pictured that way though. They are difficult to find ready made that way, apart from some folks who provision reinactors.

"I am a dancer who walks for a living" Michael Erard

"Reality then, may be an illusion, but the illusion itself is real." Niklas Luhmann

 

 

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I believe you've got that exactly backwards: left flight feathers for right-hand writers, right flight feathers for lefties. Visualize the curvature of the feathers and I think you'll see what I mean. The curvature of the left flight feathers wraps the quill around the hand (clockwise), bringing the point in line with the arm (and index finger) and then down toward the page. (BTW, a decent penman could use either.)

I want the quill to bend to the left, away from my hand. A right wing feather does that.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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I want the quill to bend to the left, away from my hand. A right wing feather does that.

Why would you want that? Most writers want the quill to curve back over the hand to minimize the distraction of having the plume or shaft waving around over the copy (or, in the case of a very long feather, tickling the end of your nose).

 

I checked several reliable sources since my post. They all recommend left flight feathers for right handed writers. None recommend the opposite. You, of course, are entitled to your preference, but it is not orthodox nor, to my mind, entirely sensible.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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Why would you want that? Most writers want the quill to curve back over the hand to minimize the distraction of having the plume or shaft waving around over the copy (or, in the case of a very long feather, tickling the end of your nose).

 

I checked several reliable sources since my post. They all recommend left flight feathers for right handed writers. None recommend the opposite. You, of course, are entitled to your preference, but it is not orthodox nor, to my mind, entirely sensible.

I don't write from the shoulder. Like most people, I write with my fingers and wrist. A quill that curves to the right contacts my index finger forward of the knuckle and exerts a torque on the shaft that makes me grip it tightly. A right wing feather hardly touches my hand at all and doesn't give me hand cramps.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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I don't write from the shoulder. Like most people, I write with my fingers and wrist. A quill that curves to the right contacts my index finger forward of the knuckle and exerts a torque on the shaft that makes me grip it tightly. A right wing feather hardly touches my hand at all and doesn't give me hand cramps.

 

First, regarding how most people write (particularly with quills) you know this how? Methinks you're making an excuse, not a clarification. That business about quill contact exerting enough torque to pervert your grip is, frankly, ludicrous (not the rapper, Ludacris).

 

In either case when dispensing advice or information on a forum such as this, it is better, I believe, not to offer unqualified personal taste as orthodoxy or settled fact. By qualified, I would mean, 'I do X because of Y, while common practice is or was Z.'

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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First, regarding how most people write (particularly with quills) you know this how? Methinks you're making an excuse, not a clarification. That business about quill contact exerting enough torque to pervert your grip is, frankly, ludicrous (not the rapper, Ludacris).

 

In either case when dispensing advice or information on a forum such as this, it is better, I believe, not to offer unqualified personal taste as orthodoxy or settled fact. By qualified, I would mean, 'I do X because of Y, while common practice is or was Z.'

The original poster asked for opinions and I gave mine, along with the reasons I hold them. I am qualified to deliver these opinions because I have actually spent time gathering feathers, cutting and using quill pens. I have actually cut pens from right and left wing feathers and have observed how they behaved in my hand. That qualifies my opinion.

 

As for how people write: I have never seen anyone write from the shoulder. Even historical reenactors don't write with quills this way. I have queried old-timers who were taught to write from the shoulder. None of the ones I spoke to write this way any more.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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Peter Griffin was using a quill and a bottle of ink last night, so if it's good enough for the Family Guy. :)

Long reign the House of Belmont.

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As for how people write: I have never seen anyone write from the shoulder. Even historical reenactors don't write with quills this way. I have queried old-timers who were taught to write from the shoulder. None of the ones I spoke to write this way any more.

This is like White House press corps reporter who couldn't understand how G. W. Bush was elected; she didn't know anyone who had voted for him. Take a look at sites (and consult books) dedicated to the subject of quill preparation. (e.g., http://www.regia.org/quill2.htm) I would be very surprised if you found any which support your approach to quill selection.

 

As for what the OP asked: the request was for advice, not opinion. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and to state it, but when asked for information, one should really attempt first to layout accurately the orthodoxy.

 

BTW, no one (quite sane) writes from the shoulder. That is a descriptor used by folks who mostly don't understand the process of whole arm writing, which could just as accurately be described as 'not just the fingers' writing or 'not excessively active fingers' writing. In any event, discussion of that approach is absolutely irrelevant to the original question.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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This is like White House press corps reporter who couldn't understand how G. W. Bush was elected; she didn't know anyone who had voted for him. Take a look at sites (and consult books) dedicated to the subject of quill preparation. (e.g., http://www.regia.org/quill2.htm) I would be very surprised if you found any which support your approach to quill selection.

 

As for what the OP asked: the request was for advice, not opinion. Of course, you are entitled to your opinion and to state it, but when asked for information, one should really attempt first to layout accurately the orthodoxy.

 

BTW, no one (quite sane) writes from the shoulder. That is a descriptor used by folks who mostly don't understand the process of whole arm writing, which could just as accurately be described as 'not just the fingers' writing or 'not excessively active fingers' writing. In any event, discussion of that approach is absolutely irrelevant to the original question.

I don't need to lay out the orthodoxy for someone. I know how quills behave in the hand because I actually did the work. There is no need to appeal to authority on such a simple subject. If, instead of thumping Diogenes' tub here, you would actually try both kinds of quill, you would see why I made the statement about them. Then you would write with the right-handed feathers and fletch your arrows with the left-handed ones. (And, by the way, I did the work on that subject also.)

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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If, instead of thumping Diogenes' tub here, you would actually try both kinds of quill, you would see why I made the statement about them.

I did, probably 25 years ago. I also cut reed pens. In my opinion, you're all wet. Having the plume (if one leaves part of the vane on the shaft) waving around in the field of vision is an unnecessary distraction. As I hold the quill conventionally and don't try to use it as if it were a ball point pen, I don't have any problem with part of the shaft contacting my index finger. (BTW, the business about fletching is just another red herring, just like the shoulder writing nonsense. It's not relevant.)

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries

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