Friday, 21 November 2014

5 Years of Palimpsest

386 posts and 876,479 views later,Palimpsest finds itself modestly celebrating its 5th year of existence. Prolific writing may not come naturally to its author but nevertheless the blog plods along in good faith and as much consistency its owner can master. Since its inception in November 2009, Palimpsest has had its modest share of "traffic" - people who either purposefully sought out its posts or stumbled accidentally upon its images. Some of its posts like Turning Point and Print Gallery owe their huge popularity to Pinterest and Google images. Others like Churchill's Pens were picked up by the Fountain Pen Network. Some were included in articles on sites like Flavorwise. The Pen Addict is responsible for many hits on many posts, and from here I extend my thanks. 

Throughout these years Palimpsest has augmented its collection of Literary Pens Pencil and Inks - a reference source related to the ways writing instruments are presented or written about in literature and poetry. Palimpsest's existence, a product of its author's long standing interest in writing instruments as material and inspirational objects, spurred also another venture: the opening in 2011 of an Etsy shop called Inklinks, where vintage writing supplies are virtually stockpiled and physically sold to those who appreciate "this sort of thing". It was Palimpsest which provided the words which are handwritten and decoupaged on beach stones, stones themselves palimpsests of time and memory. These palimpsest pebbles are on Inklinx at Folksy.

Most popular posts by category are:

1. Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique 




Literary Pens Pencils Inks

Stationery Stores
1. Pen to Paper of Brighton
2. Hennig of Dusseldorf
3. Akkermann of Amsterdam

Thank you for reading. Here's to the next five years.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Writing in the trenches

Writing in the trenches. Source: Imperial War Museum
Nowhere else would the adage "the pen is mightier than the sword" have less credence than in the trenches of World War I. How anything a pen was able to communicate could stop the horrors which humans have unleashed upon themselves? But in the face of unceasing death, writing went on. Crouched in the muddy crevices of trenches soldiers wrote to their loved ones and even kept diaries recounting their daily lives such as they were in the insanity of war that surrounded them. Pen and ink were the ammunition of the human psyche. 

Pen and ink manufacturers responded to the changed conditions of the market with new advertisements directed less at the soldiers themselves than at their relatives back home who would regularly send them care packages. Mabie, Todd pen and ink makers advertise their "Swan Safety" Military Fount-pen and their ink tablets: their writing kit which included a pocket clip too promised to be sufficient for 250 four-page letters. 

Dunkirk Evening Observer, 20 September 1917

 "There is no ink in the trenches," Mabie Todd proclaimed in their ink tablets ad, "but there is plenty of water."

Take some time off from killing or dying to pen a line to a friend with a Swan fountpen, pre-eminently a Campaigner's pen: 
The Times, 8 November 1917.

For your trenches correspondence, use an Onoto pen:

 The Waterman fountain pen "has indeed proved to be 'ideal' in every sense of the word," a Colonel with the British Expeditionary Force in France allegedly wrote in 23rd June 1916.
Punch, 13 September 1916

And don't forget: "for peace to be permanent it should be signed in permanent ink - Field's Ink, the ink that never, never fades," insisted Caribonum's ad in The Times in 1919. Sadly for Caribonum, the  Treaty of Versailles was signed using Stephens' Ink.

The Times, 10 March 1919

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Ink a Day: Blackwood & Co Ink (wherein scant evidence is explored)

London ink manufacturer Blackwood & Co departed from the pantheon of ink makers without leaving many traces behind. 

An advertisement in The Times attests Blackwood's existence already in 1851. Their "steel pen, copying, writing and other inks" are "contained in the clean registered stone and glass bottles with durable cork" and are "superior to all others in use." At that date Blackwood was based at 26 Long Acre (Covent Garden) and continued to do so three years later in 1854.

Blackwood & Co ad, The Times, 4 November 1851

In May 1856, Blackwood & Co had their ink bottles patented and again in 1871.

Blackwood & Co ad, date unknown. Source: Pinterest

Blackwood's patented syphon bottles. Source: eBay
Blackwood advertising their finest quality free flowing ink in patent syphon bottles, glass or stone. Company is now at 18 Bread Hill. Blackwood ad is placed right above their competitors, Stephens' Ink. Source: The Times, 25 January 1861.

In 1861, another advertisement in The Times gives a different address: the manufacture is now at 18 Bread Street Hill in the City. In 1878, they take part in the Paris exhibition and although no awards were taken back home, Blackwood must have done well for themselves becoming writing ink suppliers to the H.M. Stationery Office.

Palimpsest's research in the National Archives, British History online, Archive. org and did not yield any more fruits. This is work in progress.

Glass paperweight which reads "Blackwood & Co's Standard Writing
Inks as Supplied to H.M. Stationery Office sold by all stationers
18 Bread St Hill London; date unknown
Above and below: Blackwood's light aqua igloo shaped ink bottle
with "Blackwood & Co Patent London" embossed. Private collection

Blackwood & Co light aqua octagonal bottle with "Blackwo[od] & Co London" embossed.
Private collection. See the cleaning process here.

Early post-1850s ceramic Blackwood & Co ink bottle.
Source: Pinterest

Monday, 3 November 2014

Ink a Day

Leaving behind any existential problems Palimpsest may have encountered previously regarding the futility of ink, ink comes back with a vengeance in the new Series Ink a Day. This has been started in Inklinks but Palimpsest hastens to take up the relay and continue the homage to ink old and older than old.

Posts to date at Inklinks:

Waterman's Carnation ink
The Swan Easy-Fill Filler
Stephens' Ink stoneware

In the Ink a Day series Palimpsest will try to dig out information about historic inks: names, bottles, labels, ads. Some inks are extinct, while others, such as Waterman, are produced to this day. Ink making was a thriving trade in 18th and 19th century London. Palimpsest is looking forward to the creation of an ink-tour, a walk where the inkthusiast will stroll along the ghost remnants of writing fluid factories.