What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

Not Fade Away

Posted by Dirck on 26 September, 2012

Among the diversions of the weekend, by far the least congenial was the salvage operation mounted upon my parents’ basement.  You see, last Friday my mother discovered an unexpected spring in the laundry room; the feed from the main had broken directly under the foundation of the house.  I will do no more than suggest the joys of that evening, and of my father’s subsequent discussion with his insurers.

Happily, there was little of importance that got a fatal dampening.  My main loss was a set of Discover magazines covering roughly 1983 through ’89, and since those were laid aside before the notion of “look it up online” came about, I am able to resign myself to the throwing out.

Well up the list of things of the category, “Thank God that was on the other side of the house!’ is the wedding album, which includes three telegrams of regretted absence and well-wishing.  Next to this on the shelf was a little book bearing the title The Story of Our Baby, illustrations copyrighted 1929.  It was thus ten years in print when my grandparents picked it up to record the birth of my mother.

I’m probably naive in thinking that not including the family names prevents internet predators for… doing something inconvenient to me and my family.

The details are filled in with a fountain pen, of course, as the events being recorded are more than a half-decade ahead of the general emergence of ball-points into the North American market.  I am thus even more fascinated than a normal person at this item of family history.

To ink, first.  That first line, the baby herself, looks somewhat like what I expect modern Quink or Waterman blue-black to work itself into, while the rest are rather more like what a respectable modern blue-black (Sailor springs to mind) holds as.  However, let us recall that these lines were laid down in spring of 1939, and that not months but decades of fading have passed.  I’m not quite sure what to make of that first line; it may, I suppose, be an early example of the Quink formulation I’ve only recently despaired of.  The rest is in what that ante-bellum context called a blue ink.  Possibly even washable blue.  This is why we fanciers of vintage sometimes are found in quiet corners, weeping.

Inevitably, my thoughts turn to the pen, or pens, being used.  If I were like Sherlock Holmes, I might be able to say what was doing the writing (which is to say, if I were fictional; there’s limits to what the lines can tell).  Since my grandfather died before I started Kindergarten, where his pen went is a dark mystery.  I have a notion he used a Parker, founded only on the desk-mount 21 I wrecked during a bout of pre-teen “how’s this work” foolishness.  I can’t imagine that he stuck with the same pen from then until his last days, since he was as moved by fashion as most men of his age.  However… the things he wrote in the wedding album, twenty-five years later, are remarkably similar.

In both line and colour.  Stupid modern inks.

Today’s pen: Waterman 52
Today’s ink: Lamy blue-black (which I exempt from that last bit; this is a deeply 1935ish ink)

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5 Responses to “Not Fade Away”

  1. I have only ever used modern inks, to be honest. Diamine inks, mostly, with the occasional J. Herbin and Pelikan ink. Although recently I’ve become a fan of De Atramentis and the Japanese inks. I need to learn more about the vintage inks.

    For me, today’s pen is my beloved Pelikan M600 green/black stripe, with J. Herbin Cacao de Brasil ink.

    • My experience with vintage inks is mostly accidental; the few I’ve got were stumbled on, not sought out. Herbin Bleu Nuit is a good analog of the old blues, and unless they’ve followed through on the threat to change the formulation, Lamy blue-black is essentially a vintage blue-black; starts out blue, ends black.

  2. Maja said

    What a wonderful find! The ink in which your mother’s name was written reminds me of a darker version of the ubiquitous Sheaffer “Peacock Blue” ink I seem to find in almost every vintage Sheaffer I’ve ever purchased.

  3. […] used the phrase “Stupid modern inks” in connection with the phenomenon when considering documents from just before the start of the Second World War, I am with reflection, and caveats about the afore-named inks, moderating my stance.  Inks last […]

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