Scholla: Making Quill Pens September 5, 1941

9/5/1941 Making Quill Pens

Richard B. Krick of Sinking Spring attended the octagonal school which still stands at the eastern end of that borough. Among other things that he learned in school was the art of manufacturing quill pens. In 1907 Krick demonstrated the art to the county superintendent of schools, Eli M. Rapp. Rapp recorded the processing from feather to pen and we use the educator’s own words in repeating the description.

“The new quill must be scraped on outside to remove the thin film, a sort of cuticle which enveloped the quill proper.”

“One dexterous stroke cut off what was to become the underside of the pen. A single motion of the knife made the slit. Two quick strokes removed the upper corners, leaving the point.”

“Then came the most delicate part of the process, the point of the pen was placed upon the thumbnail of the left hand. The knife was deftly guided so as to cut off the extreme end of the pen, directly across the slit, leaving a smooth end, not too blunt so as to make too large a mark, and not too fine so as to scratch.”

“Master please mend my pen.” Was among the first English sentences taught the children in school in their writing exercises. The master wrote the copy lines at the top of the copy book and diligent students tried to develop their writing skills to match those of the teacher.

Archival notes: The octagonal school house was built in 1811, and  razed in 1959. For the youth who question the point of cursive writing, it was because of the mechanics of writing with quill pens.

Octagonal Schoolhouse which stood at Mull street and Penn Ave. in Sinking Spring. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society.
Octagonal Schoolhouse which stood at Mull street and Penn Ave. in Sinking Spring. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society.
Octagonal Schoolhouse which stood at Mull street and Penn Ave. in Sinking Spring. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society.
Octagonal Schoolhouse which stood at Mull street and Penn Ave. in Sinking Spring. Courtesy of the Berks County Historical Society.
Quill pen. http://medievaljourney.com/tutorials/making-a-feather-quill-step-by-step-tutorial
Quill pen. http://medievaljourney.com/tutorials/making-a-feather-quill-step-by-step-tutorial
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