Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Pen and paper and

From Judith Flanders’s A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order (New York: Basic Books, 2020):

To write in ink required a great deal of equipment, far more than today’s pen and paper: paper and a pen, to be sure, but also a knife to sharpen the pen’s nib; ink in an inkwell; sand or pounce (pumice) in a shaker to dry the ink; a cloth to wipe excess ink from the pen; wax or wafers to seal documents, a seal; and a candle or other type of fire to heat the wax. In 1663, Samuel Pepys heard news of “a Silver pen . . . to carry inke in,” which was likely an early prototype of the fountain pen, but either he never got his hands on one or it was unsatisfactory, for two years later he reported that on a hackney-coach journey, suddenly “thinking of some business, I did [a]light and . . . by the help of a candle at a [market] Stall . . . I wrote a letter . . . and never knew so great an instance of the usefulness of carrying pen and ink and wax about one.”
Also from this book
On “the preeminence of ABC” : Meaningful letters

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