Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Master at Work - Pens and Journals

My kids volunteer at a local living history museum, the Mahaffie stagecoach stop along the original Santa Fe trail.  Their last big event, The Wild West Show, drew participants from all over the Midwest.  This display belongs to a gentleman who participated in the two year reenactment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Along the way, he kept journals with reproduction paper, binding, pens and inks.
Travel writing desk.  The books and paper are made from scratch.  The pressed marbled cover is a period reproduction.
Water reduced carbon black pigment inside.

Travel journal from the Lewis and Clark expedition reenactment.  Notice the compressed paper cover.

Hawk and goose feather quills.  The ends take six precise cuts.

He keeps a separate journal for events.

Reproduction ink and labeling.

So many pens!


  1. That is incredible! I can't spot anything from the 21st century on your photos. Cool.

  2. And I can't spot anything from the 20th or later 19th century, either. Very neat.

  3. I asked if he participated in Civil War reenactments. No, he focuses strictly on 1800-1840. He intimated that the Civil War folks are a different breed.

    Some of the articles are period and some are reproductions. There was a tailor at the show that made reproduction clothing and a felter doing hats.

    The books were handmade by a friend of his using period techniques. The quill pens were cut by a specialist. He had tried it, but it's very hard to get consistent results unless you know what you are doing.

    We're lucky to have a quality living museum 5 minutes from home. My girls love spending time there and both earned a youth volunteer award last year. Hannah apprentices at the cook stove and Claire helps teach kids games and does house tours.

  4. Fascinating! I've always wondered how quills were made into writing utensils. Six cuts! Wonderful to see all this stuff close up.

  5. Amazing! I gotta hand it to anybody who lives 'a vintage life' (as coined by The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman). There is a certain simplicity and ease-of-use with a lot of those things. And not a power-point in sight.
    Thanks for the post.


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