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Saturday, 10 June 2017


The quill pen surfaced when papyrus was replaced by animal skins, vellum and parchment, as a writing surface. The smoother surface of skin allowed finer, smaller writing by the quill pen, derived from the flight feather.

Quill pens were the primary writing instrument in the western world from the 6th to the 19th century.

They were the writing instrument of choice during the medieval era due to their compatibility with parchment and vellum.

Quill and a parchment. By Mushki Brichta - Wikipedia

The earliest known reference to a feather quill came in the writings of Spanish theologian St Isidore of Seville in the seventh century.

Magna Carta was written on parchment using quills filled with ink made by mixing iron salts with a caustic liquid extracted from galls on oak trees. But monarchs used a seal to authenticate such documents.

Swans provided the best evidence for quills, although geese were more commonly used.

The tips were dipped in hot sand or acid to harden them but would still need constant re-trimming with a pen knife.

Sharpening a quill. By Philip van Dijk

US President Thomas Jefferson was said to have his own geese specially bred to supply his quills.

Quill pens continued to be used right up until the early 19th century when they were finally replaced by the metal dip pen.

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