writng-inst-lnks – 7/14/06
A set of web links to information on medieval writing instruments by Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: aoife at scatoday.net
Subject: [Aoife-Links] Mightier than the Sword...Medieval writing implements and related topics
Date: February 9, 2005 8:35:50 PM CST
To: aoife-links at scatoday.net
Greetings my Faithful Readers!
Not long ago, near to the date of Epiphany and in an email message to me,
Erlan Nordskald penned: "I don't know if you ever did one (a links list) on
writing implements, not like scribal resources, but actually the history of
things that people wrote with....but, I have interests in knowing about the
pencil, wax crayons, pens.... how early did writing materials come about...
and other than the quill/ink... what was there?"
Of course, this is a terrific idea, picking out specific tools used by the
average Medieval Person in their daily life and researching their medieval
existence. The only question remains...Can Aoife find enough information on
this tricky and esoteric topic? Read on, and you will see (and please feel
free to share this information widely, wherever it will find a ready and
interested audience). This information could be of use to the average
re-enactor, scribes, artisans, and crafts persons. After all, where else can
you find a link to a visual on a medieval paperclip :)
Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon, wanna-be scribe
Canton of Riverouge
Barony of Endless Hills
Kingdom of Aethelmearc
Medieval Writing: The Quill Pen
(Site Excerpt) You can try this at home without creating hazard, but a lot
of practice and patience might be needed to get a good result. Simple
technology is like that. The scribe first selected a feather. It didn't have
to be a particularly exotic variety, but a good strong flight feather from
the wing of a robust bird worked the best. Medieval re-enactors and people
putting on plays please note that there were not many ostriches running
around northern Europe in the middle ages. It was usual to cut back the
plume of the feather and remove the barb, or feathery bits, from at least
the underside of the central barrel of the feather. Despite the loss of
romantic affectation, this made it easier to write with and it didn't scrape
the scribe's hand. Most pictures of scribes show them holding what looks
like a narrow stick rather than something fluffy.
Regia Anglorum: Quills Part 1: Broad Guidelines
(Site Excerpt) If you attempt to cut the quill it could well shatter, so
before cutting immerse the tip into boiling water for a few seconds. This
will give the quill the consistency of a finger nail. You may now cut the
nib, cutting horizontally across the root. Clean out the matter within the
quill, then make two diagonal cuts that come to an apex at the point.
Carefully cut along the centre of the point for approx. 10mm. You can now
chose the width of the nib by simply cutting it.
SEE ALSO: Part 3: INK
(Site Excerpt) Here are some ink recipes:1: (Taken from the twelfth century
manual 'On Divers Arts' by Theophilus)
'When you are going to make ink, cut some pieces of [hawthorn wood in April
or May, before they grow blossoms or leaves. Make little bundles of them and
let them lie in the shade for two, three, or four weeks, until they are
dried out a little. Then you should have wooden mallets with which you
should pound the thorn on another hard piece of wood, until you have
completely removed the bark....
Materials and Techniques of Manuscript Production 5: Pen
(Site Excerpt) Everyone is familiar with the image of the medieval scribe
copying texts with a quill pen: it is quite correct. The inks were thicker
and more glutinous than modern commercial ink, and there are numerous
medieval recipes for their manufacture but there are almost no medieval
instructions for the cutting of pens. All literate people evidently prepared
their own pens and there was thus no merit in writing about how it was done.
Stefan's Florilegium: Scribal Arts
A vast array of collected knowledge. For this topic click on Inks, or
Iwandoc (inkwells and pen cases), Quills, Sealing-wax, Wax-tablets, Writing
Desks and Writing Instruments.
Chester Amphitheatre: Medieval Finds
Scroll down to see a medieval paperclip, and a medieval copper pen
The Roll of the Wax Tablet in Medieval Literacy
(Site Excerpt) In a patch of muddy wasteland a dark brown rectangular (30mm
x 50mm) waterlogged object was spotted lying in what seemed to be a rubbish
pit. It had fallen open to reveal writing!... The first text is written in
Middle English and is part of a poem. Not all has yet been deciphered but
the poem contains a phrase interpreted as '....still she did not answer me,
but she didn't say no...',
The Waxed Tablet Page of Randy Asplund
(Site Excerpt) The stylus you see was made by forging and grinding a nail.
The horizontal smears on the right side are from the spatulate end wiping
the surface back to flat. It can be further smoothed by waving it lightly
over a flame.
Midlaurel Weblinks: Wax Tablets
11 links to articles on Wax Tablets
Making an Illuminated Page
(Site Excerpt) The second step was to draw a fairly complete linear
rendering of the design (see fig. 2) with what a medieval craftsman called
a crayon. The medieval crayon was much like a pencil, being made of hardened
pigment paste, and so I used a .5 mm 2h pencil to emulate it. Lead styluses
were also used in the middle ages to mark a metallic grey line. The next
medieval step would have been to finalize the lines with ink, but I skipped
that step on this one to save time. With modern kneaded erasers there is so
much control over the cleanup of the final lines anyway, that inking before
erasing is unnecessary.
The city on a hill - and on a crayon by Gena Reisner (note: not alot of
crayon information, but interesting to note how some colors are named)
(Site Excerpt) The burnt sienna in every big box of crayons is named for the
color of the earth around Siena, Italy - a reddish-brown hill town of
medieval buildings, narrow alleyways, and old squares surrounded by
vineyards, olive groves, and cypress trees.
The Columbia Encyclopedia: The Pencil
(Site Excerpt) The Egyptians ruled lines with metallic lead, as did medieval
monks. The so-called lead pencil-a rod of graphite encased in wood-came into
use in the 16th cent.
The Ink Compendium
copyright 1998, E. Boucher
(Site Excerpt) The history of writing itself becomes a bit more clear with
the arrival of the first cuniform tablets. By the time we get to our period
of interest, however, we have individuals not only making ink, but writing
the process down for posterity. Ink, the word, derives from incausium,
refering to the product's ability to "burn into" the writing surface.
Different types of ink will have different abilities to sink or soak into
the writing surface; too, different surfaces will allow penetration of some
types of ink, while repelling other types of inks.
How To Cut a Bamboo Pen
A demonstration by Ward Dunham
(Site Excerpt) Reed pens are many centuries old. They are used for
Calligraphy that needs a broad-edged, flexible pen. Ward uses bamboo pens
for Blackletter and other Gothic writing. The pens are about seven inches
long and one half to one inch wide at the tip.