Looking Back


Way to Write!

Long before the computers took over written communication, virtually all interpersonal written communication was via pen and ink. Before the fountain pen was the straight pen. This long piece of wood was constructed so that a sharp metal nib was inserted snugly at the end. The writer would dip the nib in a container of ink, write a few words (or until the ink ran out), then dip the nib in the ink again. Over and over and over again. If the writer was very adept, she wouldn't get splashes of ink on the paper or break the nib in a moment of fierce writing.


Ink Bottles
Fine China

Straight pens

The cork at the nib end of the pen absorbed some of the ink that might squirt up as you were writing.

Ink bottles

In about the 1950s, a new ink bottle was designed with
built-in well at the top. These were meant for the new-fangled fountain pens to fill up their cartridges
and thus write without constant dipping.

Fine china

The set consists of an underplate, inkwell
with lid, and straight pen, all decorated with Lady Patricia pattern.

School children in the early until mid-1900s first learned to write using a lead pencil then they graduated to using the straight pen in upper elementary school. Hurrah! That was definitely a sign of advanced education!


For those of the upper social classes, even writing equipment was at a different level. This bone china inkwell sits on milady's desk where she writes thank you notes on fine stationery. Dip the pen in the inkwell, delicately write the message, then rest the pen in one of the holes in the top rim of the inkwell little chance of an ink spot spoiling the letter.

And all this is done sitting at a desk or a table. No chance of thoughtless words escaping you had to concentrate on getting the words on paper with no blots or squiggles so proceed carefully and cautiously!

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Last updated: February 2, 2019