Quill pens have been in use for more than thousands of years. They were messy, ineffective, and fleeting. Ink needed to continually be trickled into their empty, tubelike regular ink wells and individuals needed more. They wanted a pen with more ink storage. They desired less chaos. They were looking for fulfillment in the writing instruments!
When was the quill pen invented? The quill pen’s limited functionality presented a formidable obstacle for early inventors attempting to imitate it. A writing instrument made of bird feathers was called a quill pen. Between the 6th and 19th centuries, it replaced the reed pen as the primary writing instrument in modern society. The quill pen was initially constructed from either swan or goose feathers. The swan feather was only used when a larger letter was required, so the goose feather was used more frequently. Due to its greater availability over time, turkey feather was utilized. Only in America were feathers from eagles, crows, and owls used to make quill pens. Eagle feathers were prized more in America because they were regarded as of higher quality.
Quill pen vs Fountain Pen:
It turned out that it wasn’t so simple to copy nature’s work. A primitive fountain pen was created in 1709 by a Frenchman by the name of M. Bion. The oldest that is known to have ever existed. In 1809, a Boston shoe salesman by the name of Peregrin Williamson received the first American patent. In 1819, John Scheffer received a British patent for a half-metal, half-quill fountain pen. In addition, the first self-filling fountain pen was patented in 1831 by John Jacob Parker. However, each of these patented pens had issues. They remained extremely unorganized and unreliable. A writing instrument that worked easily and without much effort was needed by the world!
How Does a Quill Pen Work?
The quill maker began the process of making the quill pen with what was known as the pinion feather, which is the primary feather on the bird’s wing. Due to its superior quality and strength, the primary feather was preferred for quilling. Additionally, the quality of the bird’s second and third feathers was deemed satisfactory. Because it would curve over the back of the hand and not block the writer’s line of sight, right-handed people preferred the feather from the left wing. For the same reason, left-handed writers would prefer the right-wing feather.
A very sharp quill knife was used to cut the quill by hand. The quill was sharpened with the same knife when it became worn out. To harden the barrel, the quill was dipped in hot ash and stirred if it was still soft. When the quill pen was finished, its new owner used it by dipping it into an ink-filled small pot. The quill pen’s nib contained the ink, which was released when pressure was applied to it.
Due to the development of the metal pen in 1810, the quill pen’s use had decreased by 1810, and by the beginning of the 1820s, it had decreased even further. This was because the mass-produced metal nib, which was cleaner and lasted longer, was readily available. The quill pen is still widely used today because modern calligraphers prefer it because it is sharper and more flexible. When written with, the modern quill pen still gives the calligrapher a very professional look.
Philip Albert Edmonds-Hunt is from the United Kingdom’s Oxfordshire County. He has traveled throughout the majority of Europe and has lived in Spain multiple times. Philip lives and works as a freelance writer and English teacher in Mexico, where he has also traveled extensively throughout the United States.