The Art of Writing
Neverblot Fountain Pen – 976.1.63 (a-e):
A fountain pen uses an internal reservoir to hold ink, unlike the earlier dip pens which required an external inkwell. Progress in developing reliable versions of this invention was slow until the mid-19th century, as the role of air pressure in the internal operations of a pen was not quite understood previously, and most inks were highly corrosive and full of sedimentary inclusions. But from the 1850s onward, there was a steady stream of fountain pen patents being granted and varieties being produced. Geo. A. Lowe’s advertised their pen as the only fountain pen made in Canada, but known all across the world.
While the origin of the fountain pen is not certain, many attribute its construction to Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance, whose journals contained drawings of what appear to be a reservoir writing utensil. In the 17th century, German inventor Daniel Schwenter described in a magazine article a pen made from two quills, one which served to hold ink, and the other to write.
Fluent Ink Pencil – 976.1.64 (a-f)
Ormiston & Glass was an English manufacturing company established in 1868 by Peter Ormiston and James Glass. As a rather innovative company, they always had a variety of products being made, but it wasn’t until the turn of the century that they began producing fountain and stylographic pens. They also carried a range of other stationary goods, from notebooks to desk blotters.
While this instrument is labelled as a pencil, it is in fact a pen—one quite similar in design to that of the Neverblot. By the early 18th century, the concept of the fountain pen was widely circulating. However, it was only after three key inventions that they became reliably used. Those were the iridium-tipped gold nib, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink.
Typewriter – x969.46
The Oliver Typewriter Company was established in Chicago, Illinois in 1895 by Thomas Oliver. They manufactured one of the first “visible print” typewriters. These machines made the text visible to the typist as it was entered on the keys. The Oliver No. 5 was produced between 1907 and 1914. It was the last model offered by Thomas Oliver himself and is known as a bat-winged typewriter, for the shape of its body. This typewriter would have originally been priced around $100, which would translate to roughly $1000 now. Buying a new typewriter in the early 1900s was an investment that would be the equivalent of purchasing a new computer today.
Inkwell – 2016.19.32
Johann Hoff was a bottle maker from Berlin whose products date back from the mid-19th into the early 20th century. Their bottles carried malt extract to be used as a digestive tonic. This brass inkwell models one of their bottles as a means of advertising. Though Johann Hoff advertised their product as a malt extract, it was essentially alcohol in medicinal packaging. It was a clever method of continuing alcohol production and consumption during that time.
Lap Desk – 983.12.1
Lugsdin and Barnett was established in 1868. The Canadian company was located on Young Street in Toronto. A lap desk was used to make writing more portable, though they did work best when set on a stable surface. This one contains a section for paper, ink, and writing instruments. The lap desk in our collection is also personalized, on both the case and desk itself, with the name James Campbell.