What if you did not have pen and paper but had to use an iron stylus to press into a clay tablet?

A correspondent sent me this clipping (below) from an archeology magazine. Imagine if you had to use an iron stylus to press letters into a clay tablet! You can click on the article to enlarge it and read it.

We have it so easy – a huge selection of pens and plentiful paper! So, what is your excuse for not writing a letter? Write a letter today! Here is a review of my favorite pen that I wrote a while back. It remains my favorite pen!

Also, if you end up staying home more to avoid the flu or coronavirus, why not utilize the time by writing some letters? Perhaps write notes to people besides your pen pals. In recent years, I mostly write letters to my pen friends, and I need to write notes to others more often. Here is a sensible article from Scientific American about preparing for the coronavirus.

Postcards and fountain pens…

My last post (in August! where did September go?) featured two newspaper articles from the east coast of the US (North Carolina) about cursive handwriting and typewriters making a comeback. This post features two newspaper articles from the west coast of the US (California) about fountain pens and postcards. These articles were full or multi-page spreads so I could not nicely scan to share with you. However, I have partial photos below. Thanks to a postal correspondent who sent these clippings to me. First one…While the mailing of postcards is at an all-time low, there are still fans of postcards. October marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of the postcard and enthusiasts gathered in various cities around the world. The article mentioned postcrossing, which I had a post about: see here. Something that caught my eye in the article was that postcards peaked during the years of 1900-1915 and billions were mailed. Why did this catch my eye? I possess my grandmother’s childhood postcard collection which is postcards from about 1905 to 1918. Many of them contain brief words of communication about everyday life, as many would today send a text message.

The next article is about fountain pens, specifically a 3 day International Pen Show in San Francisco. Fountain pens are making a comeback!

The article states:  “Fountain pens, the things people once wrote with, are getting written with all over again. That’s a fairly revolutionary thing for fountain pens, which for years were locked up in display cases and tucked into storage. Fountain pens are coming out of the closet. These days, people are putting ink in them and not all the ink is leaking into their shirt pockets. It’s the dawn of another golden age, say the hundreds of fountain pen fans who jammed…the Pen Show.”

The article briefly wonders why fountain pens are popular again. “Maybe…it’s a backlash from the fast digital world to the slower world of five digits and a wrist. Maybe everything old is new again, especially to a young person with dough.”

Of interest, there were no fewer than 780 inks to try at the show!

Cursive and typewriters…making a comeback?

Cursive and typewriters…making a comeback? I handwrite almost all my pen pal letters. Although I must say my cursive is a bit of a hybrid between cursive and print. I do own an old typewriter, in good condition and working order, however I have it on display in my den. An “antique object” to admire. Maybe one of these days I will try using it again!

Someone who gets The News & Observer newspaper (Raleigh, NC) sent me these clippings. One is about a 12 year old who loves cursive handwriting and excels at it. She was recognized as the sixth grade national champion in the 2019 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest. She often writes notes and cards to her friends in cursive. “There’s so much more that you can do with handwriting than texting…” The next article is entitled: “New generation discovers wonders of the typewriter.”  Typewriters are being re-discovered by the younger generation, bringing business to the few remaining typewriter repair shops in the nation. “There’s an irresistible tactility to typing on a typewriter, a satisfying sound, a feeling of authentic authorship. No one can spy on you and there are no distractions.”  One fifth-grader seeing a typewriter for the first time exclaimed: “Wow, this is great! It’s an instant printer!”

Links: silverware pens, journals made from old books, mail a letter with no envelope.

This post is just to share some interesting links and ideas.

♦ I was recently at a vintage/antique/handcraft show and saw re-purposed silverware! It had been altered for varying uses, such as a pen! Yes. They cut off the end of utensil, inserted the needed pen parts, and there you have it – a pen! I’m not sure it would be comfortable for longer episodes of writing, but nonetheless a unique writing instrument. If you google search for “silverware made into pen” you will find examples. (I failed to get a business card or note the name of the actual business at the show.)

♦ There was also a booth called Revival Journals. I loved these! They took the front and back cover of an old book, and turned it into a journal. They also incorporated a handful of pages of the original book scattered throughout the journal pages. They did this with a wide variety of old books. Hymn books caught my eye! Since pen pals have a tendency to also like other forms of writing and paper, I thought I’d share these unique journals with you.

♦ Finally, a pen pal told me to check out this link: letterfu.com  – Write a letter without envelopes, cutting, or glue by printing the template on your computer printer!


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Handwriting

I handwrite the majority of my pen pal letters, and my handwriting has gotten worse over the years. Not just more sloppy, but I noticed my cursive had actually become a bit of a hybrid between cursive and print. Certain letters of the alphabet I print, despite the other letters being cursive. For example, somewhere along the line I began printing the letter S no matter where it fell in a word. A while back I tried to start using a cursive S again, and I have mostly got back in the habit.

My handwriting isn’t that sloppy though, as I have asked several pen pals if they read my writing okay and all have said they read my letters fine. Phew. But I have thought that I’d like to improve my handwriting, and I came across this article with tips on improving your handwriting. It even includes a worksheet to help you.

Check it out here: 8 Tips to Improve Your Handwriting

Many posts could be written about handwriting! For example:

♦Graphology is the study of handwriting, and it can reveal interesting things about people.
♦It is sad that cursive stopped being taught in many schools.
♦The pen pal “debate” over handwritten versus typed letters.

But those topics can wait for a future time. Meanwhile, maybe the article can help you improve your handwriting!

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Rambles about pens, and a Fisher space pen review

This is my second pen review, but before I review it, some thoughts on pens in general. I think what constitutes a great pen involves subjectivity. A pen that one person loves, may be disliked by another. Like bed pillows! I like a firm and thick pillow, while someone I know likes a feather pillow where your head sinks down into it. A feather pillow is useless to me – no support at all.

My first pen review was of Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity, and it remains my favorite pen. It is a combination of factors about this pen, for me. It is ergonomically designed (approved by the Arthritis Foundation), with a rubberized grip, and has hybrid ink. It is both comfortable to hold and writes very smoothly. That doesn’t mean other pens can’t write smoothly too. That doesn’t mean other pens can’t be ergonomic too. Etc.

If you have a favorite pen, feel free to share which one it is and why you like it so much.

Okay, finally to the pen review. This is a special pen, designed for unique writing situations. Years ago I’d heard of this type of pen, and was pleased to recently acquire one as a gift. The one I received is similar to this model on amazon. For a history of Fisher pens, see here.

“The founder Paul Fisher invented a retractable, pressurized pen called the Anti-Gravity 7 (#AG7) that worked flawlessly in zero gravity aboard the first manned Apollo mission in 1968.”

So, why would anyone else want such a pen?

“All Fisher Space Pens are handcrafted and able to write underwater, over grease, at any angle, upside down, 3-times longer than the average pen, in extreme temperatures ranging from (-30°F to +250°F), and in zero gravity.”

If you think you’ll need a pen to work in unusual situations, this pen is for you!

I am not one to do “experiments” but I did try using my pen at different angles and while writing on a paper on the wall – it worked well. As for everyday use, the ink comes out smoothly and easily. For longer episodes of writing, such as writing a letter or taking notes for a class, I don’t think it would remain comfortable in my hand. It is a bit “slippery” and I felt like I needed something wrapped around the lower part of the barrel to get a proper grip. Perhaps I’ve become so accustomed to the rubberized grip on my Pilot Dr Grip, that without it, a pen isn’t the same.

However, for brief times of writing, the Fisher space pen will be fine to use. Plus it is good to know I have such a pen on hand for any unusual situations in the future! I was appreciative to receive this unique pen.

Pen review: Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity

I’ve actually never wrote a pen review before. Back when I published a print pen pal newsletter, one subscriber wrote pen reviews on occasion. I’ve always used cheap ballpoint or freebie pens, but about 4 years ago I decided I wanted a “nice” pen. Nice is in quotes as I did not want a luxury pen, but simply a better one that wrote smoothly.

I found the Pilot Dr. Grip Center of Gravity, and decided to give it a try. I’m so glad I did, as I love this pen, even bought a second one, and have used them ever since. I’m frugal, and the cost of about $8 was reasonable. One worry I had when I purchased it was how long the ink would last before I needed a refill. That proved to be an unneeded worry, as the ink lasts a long time. I did not record the time frame, but it lasts longer than I anticipate and I think I’ve only used 3 refills in about 4 years.

This pen is approved by the Arthritis Foundation. I don’t have arthritis in my fingers, but I figured this would be a good indicator that it does write easily. And, yes, it does! The pen is comfortable to hold, with a rubberized grip, and the ink lays smoothly on the paper – so smoothly! For these aspects combined, I find it a great pen.

After using this pen for awhile, I can NOT stand a cheap ballpoint pen anymore!

Another worry when I bought the pen was what the ink was like. I do not like gel ink pens! I also hate it when ink blobs, and I read that Dr. Grip can sometimes blob ink. I have not had a problem with this – perhaps 3 or 4 random times in about 4 years has there been an ink blob! I am puzzled by some complaints about this pen consistently blobbing ink.

The ink is described as “hybrid ink” and I was not sure what that meant, but I found that this means it provides the best features of ballpoint pens and the best of gel ink rollerballs. See here for a more detailed explanation.

I highly recommend this pen. It makes writing a pleasure. Maybe I will get a third one eventually! The photo at the top of my blog shows my 2 Dr. Grip pens.