Saturday, March 19, 2011

The School Pen Nib.

The school pen nib brings back a lot of memories of writing in ink at Holy Trinity School under the very watchful eye of Mrs. Snapes. Who was bound and determined that every student came up to her standard of Penmanship! Penmanship; now there is a word that has fast slipped out of the English language. It meant that our script writing had to flow in a constant well-formed and readable shape. No broad tip, or “J” nibs were allowed in school at all.

Now the ink was something else. It came in powder form from the Stephens Blue-Black Ink factory in London. It was also available in bottles from stationers like W.H. Smith with a cork stopper. The powder ink was something else as Mrs. Snapes use to mix it with water in an old blue enamel teapot, from which she would pour it into our inkwells that were fitted in our school desks. Having used cold water instead of hot, not all the ink would dissolve and would settle in the bottom of the ink well. In turn it would stick to the tip of our nibs and would make an inky mess of our workbooks, which in turn it was always our fault.

At least by the time I reached the Cookham Rise Secondary Modern School the fountain pen was on the market and so was everyone’s favourite ink called “Quink.”

Then right after the war the Miles-Martin aircraft company switched from building aircraft to producing the ballpoint pen. Which the Hungarian, László Bíró back in 1938, had invented. From what I can remember there was a patent dispute around that time.

1 comment:

Almag said...

patteedI remember the thick bit at the bottom of the ink well. Rather than risk a cuff on the ear from the teacher I would clean the nib on the cuff of my jacket thereby getting into trouble with my mother.

I was an ink monitor and it was my job to collect all the ink wells from each class on a Friday afternoon, wash them and get them ready for filling first thing Monday morning. I was allowed to make up the ink from the powder and I had a little watering can which I used to fill the wells. Early wells were made of porcelain and then they changed over to bakelite ones.