As you may know the town of Montmorillon in Vienne features a lot of shops and a museum connected to book making calligraphy and anything literary. It is a Cité de l’Ecrit. It also produces Maccaroons!
My name is Waterman and that is the name of a make of pen – good quality pens I will have you know – not your average Parker or Bic. You can still purchase them today and old ones fetch a good price on E-Bay. Anyway I digress and I am unfortunately only connected to the Waterman’s pens by name. I say unfortunately because I suspect the Waterman pen people have more than a few pennies to rub together. As you can see the company also sold ink.
On the occasion of our visit to Montmorillon it was fairly quiet and some places were closed but as it was in March this was perhaps understandable. However I did see a nice display of old writing materials including some Waterman products.
Do you remember writing with an ink pen? My first school was very little changed from the Victorian days. Even at the age of 6 and 7 we sat in rows of single desks and were not permitted to talk or even look round or from side to side. If you did you might well get a wrap on the knuckles with a ruler. There were ink wells and they were filled with ink from an enamel jug and we had pens made of wood with a nib at the end that had to be dipped into the ink well. If you did not dip it in enough it hardly picked up any ink and all you could write was a couple of letters but if you dipped it in too much it took up lots of ink and as you started to write it made a big blot on the page and you got into trouble so part of the skill was to load up the pen with enough ink so that you could write a few words but not so much as to make a mess of the page. Sometimes you got a pen which had a dodgy nib and that would scratch into the paper and make a mess or it would gradually pick up fibers of paper and after a sentence or two of writing your nib had a small lump of papier-mache soaked in ink on the end which did not make for good calligraphy.
Then came the big break through…. a fountain pen. These had a little rubber sac inside which you could load up with ink by waggling a lever up and down on the side of the pen. These would last for several pages of writing before you needed to refill. Next was the cartridge pen which had a plastic container full of ink and you screwed this into the pen and when it ran out you screwed in another. One cartridge would do quite a lot of writing certainly more than the old fountain pen. However both these types of pen, especially the cheap and cheerful ones we had at school had the knack of leaking ink back on to your finger and thumb so that after a bit of writing you had a blue index finger and thumb.
I can’t remember exactly when I first had a biro but it would have been well into my secondary school career. I do remember there was quite a lot of resistance to our using them and at one stage we were allowed to use them for rough work but anything that had to be given in had to be done ‘properly’ with an ink pen. Oh happy days.
Finally here are a few other photos of Montmorillon that I took on my visit.
For information and photos on other towns and villages in Poitou-Charentes click https://poitoucharentesinphotos.wordpress.com/villages-and-towns/