Writing with a Dip Pen

Today, while I was solving a crossword puzzle in the newspaper a small globule of ink oozed out at the point of my ballpoint pen, and made a blot on the paper.  I was suddenly transported back to the long ago time in elementary school when we began using dip pens to write – a major transition from pencil.

We were not allowed to use the newfangled ballpoint pen.  In those days banks would not honor checks written in ballpoint, nor were ballpoints permitted for signatures on legal documents.  Obviously the ballpoint was just a fad and not a threat to the dip pen!  😀

Nor were we permitted to use fountain pens.  We were issued dip pens,  a quantity of pen points (nibs) and little bottles of very dark blue ink to place in the ink wells in our desks.  Oh, and several blotters.  We would shove a nib into the wooden pen holder and dip the nib into the ink bottle and write until there was no more ink coming from the point – then dip into the ink bottle again, etc., etc.  Too ensure that the ink would not run on the paper we would often press a blotter on what we had written.  Soon, as a result of the pressure we exerted on the nib it would no longer produce a proper line, often making a mess on the paper – and we would have to pull the nib out and replace it.  If you weren’t careful, and pressed too hard, the tiny channel the ink flowed through would spread and too much ink would flow, creating an unsightly inkblot.  In the whole process it was almost impossible to avoid getting ink on your fingers.

I had been a very neat writer with a pencil, but with those dip pens my work became quite messy and unsightly.  And for several years until we were allowed to use fountain pens (and later, ballpoints) between September and June my right thumb and the next three fingers would be dark blue from the tip almost up to the first knuckle.



Filed under Reminiscences

3 responses to “Writing with a Dip Pen

  1. Sethboyardee

    I remember seeing some of the older wooden desks with the ink wells in them. I can’t say that I have ever used a pen like that.

    In fact, they just let me switch from the big crayons to the little crayons. In a few years I might get to use a pencil.


    • Ed

      Heeheehee…… Well of course I am of another generation not all that removed from the days of the quill pen!

      I had forgotten all about my blue fingers until the memory was triggered the other day. I remember being so embarrassed that I usually walked around with a closed right fist outside of the classroom. Incidentally, the pens we used were exactly like the one in the photo, except they were black.

      Hey – eagerly awaiting the return of Sethboyardee to blogland!!

  2. judy

    our pens were red. we referred to them as “scratch pens”. i also remember not being allowed to use a ball point. i’m sure the teachers thought they were useless fads.

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