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Postby annis » Sat Dec 20, 2003 9:35 pm

Every single text that appears on aoidoi.org goes through preparation twice. The second round of course is all on the computer, and is probably the most tedious.

The first round of preparation goes through my standard treatment for all texts I read in the trickier literary languages, Greek, Latin should I ever commit to juming into the Metamorphosis, Sanskrit, Chinese, [face=spionic]ktl.[/face]. I grab a large format notebook (by preference the Avery Dennison 43-581, 8x11in college rule lab notebook) and one of my chunky American wide-nibbed fountain pens. By "wide nib" I don't mean a calligraphy nib, but the big squishies that pass for fine points these days. The text will go either in the center of the page, if I don't have many text variants to look up, or at the top. Then I grab super-fine drafting pens with permanent ink and add vocab and grammar notes. These days comments are in blue, alternate readings hover in the margins in green.

Just recently I discovered a small business in the U.S. that imports fountain pens from Europe and... China! I had a friend bring me back a Chinese made "Hero" fountain pen (nice name for a pen for a classicist) once when I was in college. It disappeared one day, and this was a tragedy. It was a sturdy little pen, no frills but had an excellent fine nib and nice weight.

I write very small. On college ruled paper my alpha takes up about 1/4th the height of the space, though of course accenting and phis - which I produce with excessive enthusiasm - fill up the space nicely. With the clunky Parker pen I cannot write this small, but with a Hero, oh, I'm set.

All of this graphomania (I'll spare you a florid disquistion on ink types and colors) is a preface to my main question, which comes in two parts, but is directed at people outside the U.S.

1) what sort of pen or pencil did you use to learn handwriting?
2) what sort of pens are used mostly day to day?

The Hero I was gifted was purchased in India, where I gather they are popular. There seem to be a lot more choices in fountain pens and pen companies in Europe. In the U.S. the really nice fountain pens are absurdly expensive, and it seems to me like they're given as gifts to academics and businessmen as a token of their class and achievement rather than as working tools. The rest of the time, everyone uses disposable ball-points and markers unless their profession involves drawing somehow.

So I'm curious to see of non-disposables are still used regularly in other places. I've heard rumours French kids are still taught handwriting with dip pens, but I find that hard to believe.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Dec 20, 2003 9:48 pm

Well in the first class (junior school) we used huge big blue coloured pencils, then later just normal pencils. At the age of 7 we started to learn to write with a fountain pen, no other pens allowed only fountain pens. Mine was a Pelikan and it had a very very hard nib, for which I could kill my mum now, because I'm terrible with any soft nibs now, I just can't control the pressure easily. Others had Lamy pens or softer Pelikan pens.
Now these are just kid’s fountain pens of course...
Later (at the Latin school) we were still only allowed to write with fountain pens for the first few years. We could use biros with some teachers for homework, but all test and exams had to be in proper ink. Even now all test and exam have to be written with a fountain or similar, biros aren't allowed (except in Maths and Physics).
I have two fountain pens now, one is a Rot Ring and the other is cheap Pelikan, which I use when I'm in a hurry, because it has an indestructible very hard nib :P .
I like Rot Ring pens quite a lot because you can use any normal cheap cartridge and if I do manage to break the nib I can always get spares.
The main difference between the two pens is that the Pelikan uses a lot of ink and my blue writing looks very dark blue nearly black, when I write with it and my writing also seems to look less neat.

Fountain pens are used a lot here, but so are biros, probably something to do with the fact that we're forced to use them at school.
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Postby annis » Sat Dec 20, 2003 10:12 pm

Emma_85 wrote:At the age of 7 we started to learn to write with a fountain pen, no other pens allowed only fountain pens.


Well. That would explain why these are made more in Europe. Schools still require them.

I have two fountain pens now, one is a Rot Ring and the other is cheap Pelikan,


Ah, Rot Ring. I have one (another gift) that approaches the Platonic Ideal for me in shape and heft. If only the nib were just a bit finer.

The main difference between the two pens is that the Pelikan uses a lot of ink and my blue writing looks very dark blue nearly black, when I write with it and my writing also seems to look less neat.


Hmm. Is that from the pen or the ink? I find my handwriting looks much worse in jet black than it does in my usual colors, sepia and a blue-black which I usually dilute a bit.

Fountain pens are used a lot here, but so are biros, probably something to do with the fact that we're forced to use them at school.


Do people still use them when they're out of school, then?
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Dec 20, 2003 10:31 pm

I think my handwriting looks worse with the Pelikan one because it uses more ink and because of the pen. It's very scratchy (probably because of the very hard nib) and it is much better if you can't see every tiny detail in my handwriting, but with the darker thicker ink you can :( . But it was only 10 Euros so who cares :wink: .

In England no one seems to use fountain pens at all at school or out of school, but I bet they do in France.

They do use fountain pens a lot out of school in Germany, but biros are taking over. I don't actally own a biro... :? my dad always used to bring back hotel biros, but they never keep for very long...
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Dec 20, 2003 10:50 pm

My handwriting looks best in green, but normally I write in blue, because blue's cheapest (100 cartridges cost about 2 Euros).

We were all taught how to write with dip pens at school, but they never demanded that we use them at school or for homework, it was just something in the Art curriculum. So a tiny bit of writing and mostly drawing landscapes or the sea.
I love dip pens, though, and there was a time (when I still had time :wink: ) when I would write all my vocab cards with my dip pen in loads of different colours (my mum gave me a set of inks from when she was young). Each chapter a different colour :P ... then I ran out of colours and started writing them with my normal pen again.
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Postby annis » Sat Dec 20, 2003 10:55 pm

Emma_85 wrote: (100 cartridges cost about 2 Euros).

:shock: I get 5 for that price!

I use a plunger that is shaped and sized like a cartridge when I can. The Heros use very old-fashioned built-in bladders.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Dec 20, 2003 11:04 pm

I think maybe you should order them online from Europe ... :?
But that's just what the normal cartridges cost, don't know about special Hero ones.
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Postby Episcopus » Sun Dec 21, 2003 2:09 pm

I have to get a special pen for chinese, but have decided to revert to my normal V5 Pilot black. These are my pens. My writing looks awful in blue.
My handwriting is very old fashioned but I'm not sure that matters with chinese, I hope they work. wo yao yi ge bi!
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Postby Emma_85 » Sun Dec 21, 2003 2:37 pm

I was going to post this in Bickley Script, but I have no idea how to :P . We all learned to write in a beautiful old fashioned style at school, but now my writing is sort of a mix between styles.
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Postby annis » Sun Dec 21, 2003 4:21 pm

Episcopus wrote:I have to get a special pen for chinese,


A brush?

wo yao yi ge bi!


Measure word: yi zhi1 bi.

I studied Chinese for four years, but to my great shame my handwriting was never better than awful, whether in brush or in pen. All but the most simple characters tend to look like they're about to fall down.
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Postby Episcopus » Mon Dec 22, 2003 1:40 pm

haha I just use "ge" for everything, which the chinese will understand, until I arrive at the dedicated measure word chapter :lol:

My book, Learn to Write Chinese Characters, is quite amazing: it recommends that you have a normal fountain pen, but I can't handle them, so I'm taking a thin black rollerball, my favourite pens.

Annis you never cease to amaze me :shock:
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Postby Keesa » Mon Dec 22, 2003 1:45 pm

For my fine work, I usually end up using my Platignum calligraphy pen...it has five different (interchangeable) nibs, but I don't think even the finest would write an alpha that takes up only 1/4 of the space on a college ruled sheet of notepaper. Not in my handwriting, anyway. :wink:

But for my regular writing-letters, stories, poems, Latin, Ancient Greek-I use a liquid ink pen. It is a disposable pen. Even calligraphy pens are hard to find in my part of the world, much less fountain pens. (They still make fountain pens?! :shock: ) But the liquid ink gives the same smooth, dark lines as my calligraphy pens, and that's what I can't live without. My handwriting seems to be better when I write with liquid ink than when I write with a ball point...pretty much the only other choice that I have here for everyday use. I'm one of those people who is very picky what they write with, and it's a shame, because my preferences for writing are all expensive, compared to "normal" writing implements.

As far as ink goes, I love a jet black ink. Every now and then I'll decide that I want to write in blue, and (if I have blue around) I'll write in blue for a day or two, but black is my first love in ink. I've tried writing in green before, but the result, to my eye, at least, was not pretty.

What small business imports fountain pens?
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Postby Episcopus » Mon Dec 22, 2003 3:13 pm

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Postby Emma_85 » Tue Dec 23, 2003 12:16 pm

It's a shame you can't easily buy cheap fountain pens where you live, Keesa, maybe you can buy them online?
I know just what you mean, my writing looks terrible if I use a biro ( uh... somehow I get the feeling you don't use this word in America... :? it's a ball point pen (think it is at least... yeah, biros have a ball sort of thing at the tip :wink: ... )).

What about a few scans of people's handwriting (with different pens)? :)
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Postby Episcopus » Tue Dec 23, 2003 1:08 pm

I would scan so many things in if my scanner worked :( I'll need to make it work one day I know.
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Postby annis » Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:12 pm

Episcopus wrote:Can I recommend this book annis? It should improve your writing tenfold :wink:


I actually got this book last year... about the same time I started the whole house-buying process, which has delayed serious time with it. It's a great little book, though.
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Postby Episcopus » Tue Dec 23, 2003 2:44 pm

Sorry I should have known since it's the only proper guide to writing chinese characters, and you know chinese :wink:
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Postby Keesa » Sat Dec 27, 2003 5:32 pm

I think my brother has been spying on my Textkit conversations. His Christmas present to me this year was a beautiful Sheaffer cartridge pen with three interchangeable nibs and spare cartridges. I've been using it almost nonstop since he gave it to me. I love it! It doesn't get ink on my hands the way my other calligraphy pen did, either, and the cartridges are cheaper than my disposable pen of choice, the liquid ink ones.

So, at least one American can now say that she uses a non-disposable pen on a regular basis.

And I am very, very happy about it, too.

:D
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Postby Keesa » Sat Dec 27, 2003 5:37 pm

Emma_85 wrote:It's a shame you can't easily buy cheap fountain pens where you live, Keesa, maybe you can buy them online?
I know just what you mean, my writing looks terrible if I use a biro ( uh... somehow I get the feeling you don't use this word in America... :? it's a ball point pen (think it is at least... yeah, biros have a ball sort of thing at the tip :wink: ... )).

What about a few scans of people's handwriting (with different pens)? :)


No, we don't use the word biro here. I was wondering if you meant a ball point pen, but I decided I had asked enough dumb-sounding questions for a while.

I'd scan my handwriting, but the scanner is on my sister's computer, and my sister's computer is temporarily out of order. Maybe once we get it fixed...

(By the way, my handwriting looks so much better with my new pen that I almost can't tell it's me. :D )
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Postby annis » Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:18 pm

Keesa wrote:What small business imports fountain pens?


I see I didn't answer this.

I got the Heros from His Nibs (as in "His Highness"). Under Heros::Plated are the ones I got, one hooded, one not.
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Postby Keesa » Sun Dec 28, 2003 4:39 pm

Oh, thank you. I shall certainly look into this. Writing with a non-disposable pen is more fun than I thought it would be, especially now that I don't put more ink on myself than I do on the paper.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 1:52 pm

I think they are called biros here, because the firm that first patented the idea was called Biro. I think all they do now is live off the royalties...
Word doesn't underline it, so maybe it's even in the dictionary.
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:25 pm

Emma_85 wrote:I think they are called biros here, because the firm that first patented the idea was called Biro.


It would make sense...our "slang" term for a ball-point pen is "Bic", which is also the company that makes them (it makes the best ball-points. I don't know that it made them first.).
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:44 pm

If I remember correctly Biro took Bic to court and won, so it's Bic that pays them all the royalties probably.
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Postby bingley » Sat Jan 03, 2004 2:55 pm

The ballpoint pen was invented by Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian. See:

http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa101697.htm
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:20 pm

Biro is still the generic name used for the ballpoint pen in most of the world.


... but not in the US it seems... :wink:
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 3:26 pm

Nope. :D

The thing I don't like about ball-points is that they don't lay down a smooth line. They're all jerky and uneven. The ink doesn't go on smoothly, and sometimes it doesn't go on at all. Liquid ink is better, and my new calligraphy pen is best of all, at least in my opinion.
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Postby mingshey » Sat Jan 03, 2004 4:48 pm

Keesa wrote:Nope. :D

The thing I don't like about ball-points is that they don't lay down a smooth line. They're all jerky and uneven. The ink doesn't go on smoothly, and sometimes it doesn't go on at all. Liquid ink is better, and my new calligraphy pen is best of all, at least in my opinion.


We call the cloggy lump of ink "ball pen dung" here. (And the word for "dung" in Korean is very similar to "dung")
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Postby benissimus » Sat Jan 03, 2004 8:41 pm

Bic actually sucks! I swear I go through a pen every week when I use Bic, and even after the first few days the ink stops coming out and I have to go over every single letter just to make it dark enough. Papermate is more reliable :)
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Postby Keesa » Sat Jan 03, 2004 9:21 pm

And more expensive. :cry:

But Papermate has the same problem as all the other ball-points I've used. Clotting, lumps, jerky writing...I don't care for them.
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