How do we set down a story for posterity?
Early man recorded his stories by carving, chiseling, and painting on rocks and on cave walls-- immobile objects. Moving forward in time, pictographs wedged into wet clay, were replaced with the earliest instrument similar to a modern pen. A sharp stylus made of bone, ivory, or metal was used to scribe a wax coated clay surface. This allowed finer "writing" and developed along with an early alphabet around 1700-1500 BC.
The Chinese invented "Indian Ink", a mixture of soot from pine
smoke and lamp oil mixed with musk and the gelatin of donkey skin.
Along with development in ink, the method to deliver the ink onto the writing surface--a quill evolved, and the writing surface itself, evolved to the earliest paper.
Papyrus and parchment papers came into use, along with reed pens and bamboo pens. Hollow plants were used to produce a fine script using ink.
The time span of the quill pen ,over one thousand years, dominated that of all other writing instruments. Made from a bird feather, it was introduced around 700 A.D. And not just any bird feathers were used. For the strongest quill, it was a feather taken from a living bird, in the spring. Preferred were the five outer left wing feathers. The left
wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used
by a right-handed writer. Hmm...left-hand and right-hand pens...
Goose feathers were the most common, and swan feathers
were the best--and most costly. For making
fine lines (gasp! Monica Enderle Pierce!) crow feathers were preferred, and then came the feathers of eagles, owls, hawks, and turkeys.
Quill pens lasted for
only a week, then had to be replaced.
Interesting tidbit: The writer needed an especially small knife to sharpen the quill. (origins of the
All in all, it's interesting--and like most connected things, the improved means to set down a story showed that the paint or ink, the delivery method, and the surface on which the story was set all evolved together, relative to each other as need necessitated. Perhaps necessity truly is the mother of invention.
I wonder if keyboards will be included in this history?
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