How to Make  a Quill Pen

The following instruction was transcribed from a book "A Young Man's Beft Companion"


George Fisher of London 1795


How to Make a Pen


This is gained fooner by Experience and Obfervation from others that can make a pen well, than by verbal Directions. But Note, that thofe Quills called Seconds are the beft, as being hard, long and round in the barrel; and before you begin to cut the Quill, fcrape off the furperfluous scruf with the back of your penknife: (A penknife is therefore so-namd) fcrape moft on the back of the Quill, that the flit may be the finer, and without ganders teeth, (as the roughnefs in the flit is by fome called).


After you have fcraped the Quill as above faid, cut the Quill at the end, half through, on the back part; and then turning up the belly, cut the other or part quite through, viz. about a quarter, or almost half an inch at the end of the Quill, which will then appear forked; then enter the penknife a little in the back notch, and then putting the peg of the penknife haft (or the end of a Quill) into the back notch, holding your thumb pretty hard on the back of the Quill, (as high as you intend the flit to be ) with a sudden or quick twitch force up the slit; it must be sudden or smart, that the flit may be the clearer.


Then, by several cuts on each side, bring the Quill into equal fhape or form on both fides; and having brought it to a fine point; place the infide of the nib on the nail of your thumb, and enter the knife at the extremity of the nib, and cut it through, a little sloping; then, with an almoft downright cut of the knife, cut off the nib; and then by other proper cuts finifh the pen, bringing it into a handsome fhape, and proper form; but meddle not with the nib again, by giving any trimming or fine cuts, for that caufes a roughnefs, and fpoils it; but if you do, to bring the nib the evener, you must nib it again, as above directed.


Note, That the breath of the nib muft be proportioned to the breath of the body, or downright back ftrokes of the letters, in whatsoever hand you write, whether fmall or text.


Note Also, That in your fitting to write, you place yourfelfe directly againft a fore-right light, or elfe to have it on your left hand, (which I esteem beft) but by no means to have it on your right hand, becaufe the shadow of your writing hand will obftruct your fight.


Thus far for direction. Now for application. I have here fet copies of the moft ufual, fafhionable, and commendable hand for bufinefs; with alphabets of great and fmall letters proper to each. Be fure you make your letters well, (both fmall and great), before you proceed to joining. Be careful in imitation, and obferve the foregoing directions, and without doubt you will gain your end. Command of hand, or the art of ftriking letters, Etc. is gained by frequent practifing after good examples.




Please note also that the letter 'f' was used in 18th century scripts to represent the letter 's' in all instances except when a plural word was required, as can be seen from the foregoing.


This book was the property of a James Lewis in 1818, the hand written letters above the Alphabet examples, being his practicing probably?