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Thread: Learning to Use a Dip Pen

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Northern Indiana

    Default Progress Update with Photos

    While I did table this for a while during the last three weeks I have been practicing...

    A couple of hours a week I picked up the pen and ink and can, at least, pen a few sentences or so without getting ink all over my fingers, etc. I am keeping a wet rag handy for when I do get ink on my fingers but as time goes by less and less I need it.

    Of the four pens I have I have settled on the wood one in the photos. It fits and feels right and is the easiest to use.

    I do not have the recommended nibs yet but the top line was made with a #4 nib Daler - Rowney, the middle line with a #5 Daler - Rowney, and the last line with a fine nib that has the # 513 on it.

    I am most comfortable with the #4 nib but would like to be able to use the bolder #5 nib at times but it does not seem to be as practical for letter writing for me at this time. I do like the long style of the #513 nib but it is far too fine and I find myself having difficulties with the upstrokes and catching on the paper. I would like to find that style of nib but in a #4 width. So, any suggestions, prefrebly with photos, of what I am looking for would be most appreciative.

    In my wife's family early 1800's Bible there are many entries made by family members over the years and different examples of handwriting. Some very eloquent, some very spartan and irregular. It is obvious the different types of nibs used not to mention the writer's skill. I am trying to use this resource to achieve the best results in achieving an eloquent writing style.

    Hopefully by the new reenacting season's beginning I will have developed enough skill and confidence to ditch the pencil for the most part. I do believe using the dip pen to fill out passes for the educational school presentations will give the students a bit more insight on the writing methods of yesterday.

    Actually I can't wait to sign my first Morning Report with a dip pen at a battalion event and watch the signed passes flow from my field desk.

    Open to comments, tips, and suggestions....!
    Jas. T. Lemon
    Captain, 50th Va. Co. D

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    California People's Republic


    That is quite nice. I've been practicing too, for the same reasons! (Filling out the morning reports with a proper pen and ink.) Fortunately, I was one of the last generations to actually be taught some kind of cursive in school.

    I would also strongly encourage anyone interested in period pen and ink writing to look into making your own iron gall ink. It's very easy and there are period recipes. The result is the lovely black-brown shade of period ink that slowly darkens over time.
    Brett Gibbons
    Sergt., 3d Regt., C.S. Engineers, Co. E

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    I've heard that a great way to practice and also get something field-useful is to write short letters to some of the men in your company. You'll get the practical exercise and then at an event you can hand something out if you do mail calls. If the handwriting is not the prettiest, that's period correct! Throw in some confusing punctuation and creative spelling, and you'll pretty much hit the nail right on the head.

    Good luck!
    Mel Glover
    -GG grandson of Cpl Christian Greener, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, Co. F

    -Rob Weaver is my guru:
    -" of the characteristics of a good reenactor is the willingness to not be bulletproof."
    -"Be more concerned with your own impression than with anyone else's."
    -"Be a joyful and competent warrior and other reenactors will want to be around you."

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006


    Here's a quick and easy way to find models for handwriting and format: go to Google and just type in "images civil war letters."
    M. A. Schaffner
    Midstream Regressive Complainer


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