Daily prompt: I’ll keep my ballpoint, thanks


Whenever I see auctioneers waxing lyrical about antique inkstands, I’m always slightly bemused.


I know auctioneers are paid to wax lyrical about everything, and I know antique inkstands can be things of beauty in themselves. But I have to wonder how many auctioneers experienced the reality of using a pen that you had to dip in the ink every few words. Did any of them sit at school desks like this




with inkwells like this filling the appropriate hole at the top?


Well I did, you see.




And while I didn’t use a quill (old yes, antique not yet) I did learn to write using a steel-nib pen like this and there wasn’t anything particularly lyrical about the experience. Those pens had minds of their own. They crossed their nibs, spat blots, ran dry mid-word and splayed out like the legs of stubborn donkeys when pushed too hard.

And then there was the ink. It was mixed from powder and inkwells were topped up about once a week. But if the ink was getting low, you were quite likely come up with a glob of sludge when you dipped, with very messy results.

So I can’t get too excited about inkstands and even less excited about the quills that might have dipped into them. They might look romantic in hindsight, but I’m sure they caused their users endless trouble and countless rewrites.


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6 Responses to Daily prompt: I’ll keep my ballpoint, thanks

  1. I would like to own one for the fun of it.

  2. My mom collected antique ink bottles BECAUSE she’d used them in school. I used this kind of pen for drawing. It did not fascinate me but it did my brother who became very skillful with it. I used fountain pens that had cartridges and I think that might still be my favorite pen to write with but I don’t have one. I think they (who are THEY?) still make them, though.

  3. This reminds me of Harry Potter… The ability to perform magic and make life a million times easier, but yet they still wrote with quills. You’d think the economically minded muggle-born would have set up shop with some pens and pencils.

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