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Archive for April 24th, 2013

You’re Doing it Wrong… Oh, Wait.

Posted by Dirck on 24 April, 2013

The correct grip, aka the tripod (old-style, index finger atop)

The correct grip, aka the tripod (old-style, index finger atop)

Those who are familiar with the whole of my work (or at least that which is permanently accessible and admitted to) will have seen me comment in one or two places on the correct way of holding a pen.  I make much of this on my site, devoting several paragraphs and words to the effort.  I’m not alone in this notion of the correct grip;  I can point to German pens have such serious finger-directing shapes that in their cases I capitalize the matter as Correct Grip.  It’s not a new development, either, since this sort of sculpting of pens goes back to at least the Parker VP, and as I point out on that page on my site there are pictures dating back many centuries showing this same grip.  When I say, to myself or others, “Hold your pen properly!” I mean either the sort of thing shown to the right here, or the more modern version the Germans urge, with the middle finger beneath while the thumb and index finger are on the upper curve.

Let us turn from these dry academic matters for a moment.  A while ago, I saw an unfamiliar Lon Chaney film coming up on TV– The Ace of Hearts, and it appeared that it Chaney’s character in it was not predicated on his willingness to tie his arms behind his own back or stick wires into his eye sockets, so I was very interested to see what he’d do without the gimmicks.  There was an element of that sort of self-destructiveness to be seen, as it seems he was subjected to both wind and rain machines for a very long time… and I have suspicions that he may have stapled his hat on in the same way as Harrison Ford did for the chase scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I don’t, I’ll say, particularly recommend it, as it’s a very silly melodrama (although it is interesting to see the notion of a conspiracy to attack the wealthy had currency even a ninety years ago) but I’m glad to have watched it for other reasons.

Technically, still a tripod grip, but that's not quite what we mean.

Technically, still a tripod grip, but that’s not quite what we mean.

Early in the film, the counter-plutocrat brotherhood meets to compare notes on a particularly odious oppressor they mean to slip a bomb under.  Because a good terrorist conspiracy needs to follow Robert’s Rules, Chaney volunteers to keep minutes.  I was dumbfounded by what followed– I had almost never seen someone hold a pen like he was holding it.  It looked comfortable enough, and that “almost” comes about because it was very similar to the grip my son habitually takes when he’s writing, something I was griping about not long before the film was shown.  Amazing!  Even more amazing that I could find a picture of it!

The picture is one I had actually seen before but hadn’t quite registered.  I happened upon it again because someone in a forum had enquired about the meaning of a Waterman point having the word BALLPOINT impressed on the back of it.  I referred to my 1925 catalogue, in which that and a remarkable assortment of other points are available at the time (when’s the last time you heard of a falcon-point in a Waterman, eh?).  The ballpoint was an amendment to make life easier for the left-handed writer, and the page all this appears on has examples of different writing grips which may profit by specialty points.  The Waterman company apparently suggests that Chaney take up an extra-firm point, and offers other suggestions for…



people "afflicted" with left-handedness,...

people “afflicted” with left-handedness,…

and even (shudder) accountants!

and even (shudder) accountants!

So, it appears that my firm stance on grip is… narrow.  Possibly even foolish.  I’ll defend myself by pointing out that the 1920’s were a writhing stew of unconventionality, what with its speakeasies and its flappers, but I’ll also work to be a little less judgemental.  As long as the pen doesn’t mind, I shouldn’t.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Mini
Today’s ink: Pelikan Royal Blue

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