Tag Archives: cursive

Ink, Dip Pens and Calligraphy

This blog post was prompted by a colleague sharing an picture of ink pen cartridges online….

As a lover of stationery and all things connected to pens and art, I pulled out my calligraphy box. Yes, I discovered there is a fine selection of Osmiroid and Parker ink cartridges, and much more.

My Grandfather gave me his dip-pens and nibs sometime in the 1960s. Quite fascinating collection when you look closely, many with maker’s marks.

To explain: the tiny (1″ long) lightweight silver box and lid has intricate detail around the top, and centre. There is no maker’s mark on it. Within the case are three unused nibs. They are gold plated, and stamped with J (the size) and A & N.C.S. Ltd (the maker), and date to circa 1900.

The others are well-used ink-stained pen nibs, which push into the metal tops of basic wooden pens. Some wooden handles are stamped “Made in England”. The nibs include single and double style with a back plate to hold more ink. The nibs are stamped with various  markers marks. Each has a letter or number to indicate its style or nib-width. Brands include:

  • The Haymarket Metallic Quill, 28 Haymarket, S.W. 1 (London),
  • William Mitchell’s Poster Pens, England, and
  • Reeves manuscript pen, oblique, Made in England.

With cursive handwriting being taught and practices less, calligraphy as an art form has become more popular. My first ink fountain pen used at primary school was an Osmiroid.  Over the years I have bought nib attachments (for various calligraphy styles – copperplate, italic, Gothic etc.,) and a variety ink plungers too.

So, the history…. Osmiroid pen nibs were originally created by James Perry about 1819, an educationalist who patented his nib in 1830. A meandering history continued until eventually a factory was build in Gosport, Hampshire in 1953, which is where the popular Osmiroid 65 pen was designed. E.S. Perry adopted Osmiroid as the company name. The company was sold to  Berol UK in 1989.

Popular in my home-town area in southern Hampshire and available from several small town art shops and newsagents, my favourite calligraphy pen set was made by E.S. Perry Limited, Gosport in 1981. The packaging promotes the set as “easy-change” with “hand-finished nibs with 22 carat gold plating”. I had purchased in a newsagent and tobacconist on Cosham, High Street who were Osmiroid suppliers.

The packet of cartridges, noted as “international” size, was bought in nearby from Russell’s (Havant) Ltd, an art shop.

The bottle of ink has been bought after 1989 as it is marked “Osmiroid is a registered trade mark of Berol Corproration Berol Ltd. Kings Lynn, Norfolk. Empire Berol USA, Brentwood and Berol Canada Inc, Montreal. Made in England” This black water soluble ink, has a health label, and noted in US fluid ounces and millilitres.

The above two calligraphy dip pens, are more modern. The wooden posts are stamped with a size, and “Automatic Pen, Made in England”, likely as the double styled nib holds plenty of ink! These were purchased in the mid 1980s from an art shop and gallery on Stanley Street, Southsea (now called the White Dog Gallery). These wide nibs are used for much larger poster designs and can be used with ink or watercolour paints.

I have been practicing calligraphy for many years and sharing with friends, family, with primary school students, March break camps…. and more recently with seniors at local lunch and learn sessions.

Let’s keep the skill of handwriting going….

Did you know?  A pen knife is folding pocket-knife used to cut and shape the tip of a natural feather quill, to use as a dip-pen.