This post is just to show of my latest eBay splurge; a collection of dip pens. I have been thinking about getting a dip pen for a while now, particularly to explore more asemic writing techniques. I had been to my local art supply store and looked around online, but the modern dip pens all seem to be aimed at ‘the hobby calligrapher’ or ‘Wiccan Spellwriter’ market, and I couldn’t bring myself to buy into either. Plus, they were are all largely without any character; not something I had really considered before, but seemed to be quite important as I was looking around. So I had a look on eBay and tentatively bid on a few old examples that I thought might lend themselves to my use. I bid on some silver pens, as well as ebony and bone, but all went for (unsurprisingly) more than I was willing to pay. Until this lot came up that is:
Eleven pens in total; seven wood, one plastic, two steel and one steel with a mother of pearl letter opener at the other end:
I don’t know much about pens although I understand that there is a collectors market and that some can be valuable. I doubt any of these are worth any more than I paid, but I think that I have added something interesting (and useful) to my kitbox.
The pens have a very unique quality in that they are the grandfather of all modern western pens, but on closer inspection there are other details that have a different sort of attraction. Some of the pens have manufacturers names or model numbers stamped into the nib-holder, like this one (shown twice at different angles)
The nibs themselves are also marked, and each has a small hole called a reservoir to hold a small amount of ink, this one is heart-shaped.
This one also has a decorative floral symbol as well as the manufacturers information.
There are a couple of very fine pointed nibs too, especially this one, which is significantly smaller than the rest. I believe that this is a ‘mapping pen’ and was intended for use in inscribing the finer details and text.
So, with a fresh bottle of Windsor & Newtons black indian ink, I tried them all out. Let me say here that I am no calligrapher – my own handwriting has been likened to ‘prescriptions written by a senile Doctor with palsy’ – so please, no comments on the quality – if it’s fine calligraphy that you want, look no further than Paul Antonio…
I had a little go with each of the pens – there were a couple of broad nips for calligraphy, and some that appeared to be better for writing, others for drawing etc. I have a couple of early favourites, but this one gave me a lot of satisfaction as I transcribed a few lines from Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ – I am a little infatuated by Ginsberg at the moment…
Once I felt comfortable with the pens and their constant refilling (a few words at a time) I tried a little asemic writing. Oh boy, I am smitten:
I have written loads over the last few days, and am beginning to feel the pens are dictating the style. Also I am working on a much smaller scale with the mapping nips, mimicking the tiny ghubari scripts that are found in ancient copies of the Quran.
I have deliberately posted this image at a very large size – the original is just under 5cm in height.
I did this page about fifteen minutes before I started writing this post.
This last image shows all of the pen nibs at a larger size – I know that there are people out there who like to look at the details…
My asemic writing continues to develop apace whilst my arm gets better. I am in the middle of several projects right now, all of which need my right arm to be fully mobile and pain free – I removed my sling to early and got back into things a little too energetically – I am now paying the price…