Baboon Ink

Saturday is Husband’s birthday, and last week his younger brother sent a wonderful but puzzling gift. Husband has always liked fountain pens.  Enclosed in the package was a narrow box which contained some writing apparatuses that had belonged to their paternal grandfather.  In the box from a Wheeling, West Virginia jewelry store were a dip pen and a bone pencil and their accoutrements.

We have determined that there is no ink reservoir on the pen. It was manufactured by the Edward Todd company,  and has the number 11 on the nib. The pen is probably gold, either 14 or 18 carat. There is a weird black plunger that appears to serve to hold what we think are steel calligraphy nibs in place. There is also an odd little gold topper that doesn’t fit into anywhere on the pen.

 

The pencil came with tiny round metal canisters containing really thick leads that seem to fit into the larger end of the pencil.

We have done some online research regarding these writing instruments,  but without much luck. Do Baboons have any ideas?  We don’t know if Husband is going to actually  use the pen, but it is a nice piece of family history to have. I have no idea if you can you still purchase bottles of ink.

What are your favorite writing instruments?  What were your experiences learning to write? What is your handwriting like now?

 

91 thoughts on “Baboon Ink”

      1. Judging by the proportion of the pen point to the pen, it appears to be very short. I wonder if it’s extendable? Does that band partway up unscrew?

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        1. No, it doesn’t. I wonder if there is a topper to the pen that is missing. The black thing extends about 3 inches if you pull it out as far as it can go.

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        1. I think a lot of these old fountain pens used a rubber bladder in the reservoir to hold the ink. That’s a lot easier than devising an expandable chamber that won’t leak. Over time, those rubber bladders deteriorated and no longer would hold ink.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. I had one like that from my grandfather, except the bladder was at the top of the pen. This one isn’t constructed like that one.

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        3. I remember fountain pens with a lever on the side you would pull out to fill the bladder and then it would fold back into the side of the pen. The bladder was somewhere in the middle.

          Liked by 3 people

    1. I can tell you from experience, sunking, that if it’s SCRATCHiNG when you’re writing, you’re pressing down too hard. It’s supposed to be a light touch and a flowing motion.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. With a dip pen, that little circular opening at the top of the split in the pen tip is the reservoir that holds onto the ink. It flows down through the split to the paper by (once again) capillary action.

          Liked by 3 people

  1. I used to write quite a bit. Note taking, school work etc. My pencil-holding style raised a callous on the side my middle finger just below the fingernail. It’s mostly gone now due to infrequent use. The only cursive used is on checks which also becoming less frequent. My casual writing is now mostly block lettering as a byproduct of keyboards.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You will probably find, Wes, that block printing has largely replaced cursive. I’ve heard some school systems don’t even bother with cursive now. You’re right to suggest many of us only use cursive to sign checks.

      I’m so wedded to keyboards, partly because my handwriting resembles something a kid would do, that I struggle to write out anything by hand. I sometimes jump back and forth between cursive and block letters, just because writing by hand is so difficult I avoid it. I even do grocery lists on keyboards now.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oi vey, another screwed up post. No, I haven’t hit the wine yet. At this stage of my life I’m utterly dependent on keyboards, and now I’m working with a new keyboard that I hate. Instead of putting out the messages I intend to send, this keyboard puts out what I actually type. And because the “home” typing position isn’t identified by deeply scooped letters, I start off typing with one or both hands out of place.

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        1. The idea of a keyboard that types what you intend rather than what you actually type is intriguing, but when I stop to think about it, that has it’s pitfalls, too. As I contemplate how exactly to word something as gently as possible, when my intent is clearly to put someone on notice that they’re getting on my last nerve, and to please stop the nonsense, I shudder to think what might actually show up on the page.

          Liked by 5 people

        2. Love the comment, PJ. That reminds me of the moment in a Mae West film (My Little Chickadee???) where she says something smartass and a judge says, “Young lady, are you trying to show your contempt for this court?” She replies, “No, your honor, I’m trying to hide it.”

          Liked by 3 people

      2. You are perfectly correct Steve about what they teach in schools these days. Even when YA was in elementary school they were not teaching cursive. Personally I think she has atrocious handwriting. But I’m biased.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I learned cursive writing in Grade 3. My teacher, Mrs. Remme, could have cared less how neatly anyone wrote. I had pretty sloppy penmanship. This pained my mother, also a Grade 3 teacher who had perfect, neat writing. I do a combo of printing/cursive now. Arthritis in my thumbs doesn’t help.

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    1. I attribute my poor penmanship, in part, to my 3rd grade teacher, who believed that poor little 8 year olds were just too young and awkward to learn cursive. Of course when I got to 4th grade (in another school) I was behind, and even with lots of practice, I never caught up.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Husband is a hooky lefthander. That means he tries to position the pen with his left hand as though he is right handed. He should have been made to write with his right hand, I think.

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      1. Whew! Glad I stuck with lefthanded writing then. My penmanship always focused on serviceable, legible. Zero flair. Actually, writing is my least favorite part of being lefthanded. With pencil, my hand would smear the words I just wrote. Pen not so bad, but sometimes the ink would smear.

        Handwriting gets worse as I get older and write less in longhand. I have a favorite pen my Dad made for me out of walnut (I believe) about 20 years ago. But to me it’s all about the ink and the ballpoint and how smoothly the tip moves across the paper. I don’t like rollerball types because the ink tends to smear (at least it does the way I write). But a good quality regular ballpoint pen refill from Cross or Parker–something other than a Bic disposable– that glides across the paper makes me happy.

        I do have a book-signing pen that has a nice glide to it, but I fear I won’t be able to get the same refill when it’s empty. So hard to find refills in the store. And it’s a bloody shame that shipping costs for one or two refills is more than the refills themselves. Wishing I lived closer than 50 miles away from a Staples or Office Max. 😦

        Ain’t modern commerce grand?

        Chris in O-town

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  4. Remember the poster “My name stands for me. I want to write it well.” Underneath that were good to poor examples of cursive writing of that sentence. My writing always resembled the poorer exemplars.

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  5. As someone who spent most of his working life in design, often representing typography in my designs, my handwriting is a hybrid between printing and script with a bias toward printing. I would have to say that my preferred writing instrument is the pencil.

    This spring when I was transcribing the letters of nineteenth century abolitionists, some of the handscripts were a real challenge. We were, of course, converting the letters into a form that could be searchable for key words but we were also aware that we may be the last generation that had the ability to read that stuff.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. I used to buy Pilot Varsity disposable ink pens. They worked well for me and I quite liked the look. I haven’t seen any around for years but apparently they are still available.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. We have some examples of very fancy attempts at cursive by my paternal grandfather who practiced writing his name in the inside covers of some books. The curlicues are impressive. I find old German script hard to read.

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      1. Yes! I have two family Bibles dating from the 1870s. My grandma practiced writing her name over and over inside the front cover of one of them.

        We have a (paternal) family history book that I gave to my cousin. The first several pages were written in German script. It describes my ancestor, Will, leaving Prussia. I was able to read it when I was younger. I recently tried to read German script but I’ve lost the knack.

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    2. It’s a sobering thought that future generations may not be able to read cursive writing. Think of all the historical documents and manuscripts that will no longer be accessible. We can’t let that happen, and I trust that enough people will maintain the skill for it not to be completely lost.

      I learned cursive writing all through school, and the nuns were strict about it. The hours and hours spent on perfecting the letters, both in class and by myself, seemed almost meditative to me. We had a class, twice a week for years and years, dedicated to nothing but penmanship. Of course, note taking in all classes was done in cursive writing, as well, there really was no other quick alternative. In addition, all written homework was submitted in cursive writing. In the lower grades, in pencil, later on it had to be in ink, and ball point pens were not allowed. You were graded not only on the content of the paper, but on the penmanship as well. I remember submitting a paper for an English class my freshman year in college. Apparently the teacher wasn’t impressed with my literary analysis. She offered no constructive criticism or suggestions for improvement, just this terse comment: “Obviously the handwriting is the best part of this paper.”

      I still write cursive letters to Sr. Beth, my 97 year old nun friend in Mankato, because I know she can read it.

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      1. I have tried to transcribe some early 18th century deeds and wills as part of my genealogical research. I can usually read about 90% of them, but some (often crucial) words remain total mysteries. Plus spellings were different back then.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Now that’s a cool gift! I have a friend who used to collect fountain pens, so I’m sending her this link…

    Handwriting was, in the elementary years, the thing I could NOT excel in. My mom had gorgeous handwriting, but she always took her time.
    My current script is starting to resemble my grandma’s, which is kind of alarming. Mostly it could be corrected if I’d just slow down. I’d like to write in my journal more about what life is like during Covid, but it just takes so long, and this typing is so fast, and there are those fonts that looks like script… I can sort of see why cursive is going away, but it makes me sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t know anything at all about fountain pens or mechanical pencils or nubs or ink.

    I’ve been told that my cursive handwriting is beautiful. Sometimes I wonder if anyone can read it at all. I prefer to use a ballpoint pen with a fine point. My handwriting has morphed from strictly cursive to a blend of cursive and printed letters.

    I learn and remember best when I write out in longhand the information I’m trying to retain. I also journal using pen and ink.

    We still use pen and paper for much of our documentation at work. The State of MN hasn’t come up with an electronic version of our residents’ daily progress notes and other routine documentation that everyone is comfortable with. It’s really prehistoric but that’s the way it is. I use cursive writing often for documentation.

    Writing well is important to me. Thank you all for providing a place where I feel challenged to practice using language in creative and meaningful ways without (too much) fear of criticism. I do write from my heart or from personal experience. I am not an expert on anything.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. I got top grades throughout grade school, except for penmanship, and there I was consistently awful. Because I took notes in college with an ink pen, my penmanship at age twenty was about as good as it ever could be. And then I got into typewriters and word processors, and it’s been all downhill since then for my cursive writing. Year by year, I can trace the withering of the little ability I once had. Like any muscle activity, if you stop doing it you lose whatever muscle memory you had. When I write now what I intended to be an “m” might have three humps, an inbred Bactrian camel with a birth defect.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. In the raggedy old book that documents my dad’s seafaring from 1936 to 1972, all of the entries are written in cursive and ink. Despite the fact most entries no doubt were written by different people, there’s an unmistakable similarity to the penmanship. It’s quite beautiful and legible, as well.

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    1. I’m often impressed with the beauty of handwriting from earlier generations. It can be so graceful and elegant. But I don’t think my own father ever mastered cursive. He wrote in block letters, the result looking a bit like speech in a cartoon balloon. He used cursive only for checks, and that might have been the only cursive he knew.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I can’t really call them favorites but carpenter’s pencils were an essential tool. Yes, the typical pencils work but the flat surfaces of carpenter’s pencils have advantages especially in drawing curves with attached lines. There is enough mass there to support a notch into which a chalk line can fit. Sharpening by knife is normal but those sharpeners made to cut carpenters pencils are more efficient.

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  11. Recalling that the script I was taught in grade school was referred to as the Palmer Method, I became curious as to what some of the other methods were. Wikipedia mentions several: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmer_Method

    Looking at the example of Palmer Method script, it was different from what I remember. I think what I was taught was more akin to the Zaner-Bloser Method, which was a modification of Palmer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Apparently the script we were taught was slightly different than the Palmer method, most noticeable on the lower case t, which in the script I was taught does not have a slash through the top of the letter, but rather a little curlycue just below the center of the down stroke. I had one professor at SIU who for some reason could not understand that. She painstakingly would insert a red slash through all of my lower case ts, and lower my grade because of it. And this woman had an MA in English!

      Liked by 3 people

        1. She was actually a good teacher and I liked her, but despite the fact that I took the trouble to demonstrate for her what my lower case ts looked like, she just wasn’t having it. I thought it pretty funny that she’d actually take the time to go through that trouble; perhaps she suffered from OCD.

          Liked by 3 people

  12. I will never use a Sharpie to write my signature. I cannot imagine being so insecure as to spend hours practicing how to sign my name to a document. But a Sharpie does have its usage on weather maps.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Oh, writing utensils, one of my Achilles heels. I have so many pens and pencils in the house it’s ridiculous. My favorite writing utensils are roller/gel pens. There are a couple of different kinds that I like but I particularly like the ones that come in multicolor sets. I’m also fond of number two pencils. But I like regular pencils, not the mechanical kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. OT – The following note was posted on Peter Ostroushko’s FB half an hour ago: “It is with such profound sadness that I share with you that my father Peter passed away this afternoon due to severe heart failure. We have never known a better guy. Please listen to or play some music tonight in his honor. We thank you for respecting our privacy during this time, and are so grateful for your support.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. i went to catholic school and fountain pens were the deal
    i am a lefty and fountain pens leave smeared ink if you’re not paying attention

    i just bought a new fountain pen on amazon and had to go back and buy a bottle of ink
    i love writing with it
    it’s weird that young people today write like they are first graders learning to use cursive

    they don’t know any different

    i was graded on penmanship

    my mom is a calligraphy person

    handwritten notes are a thing of the past

    i hope it doesn’t fade away completely

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