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Stones, styli, reeds, pens

A short, short history of writing

Stones, styli, reeds, pens
A short, short history of writing

Just as tourists pen postcards to share their Bahamian vacation with friends and family, so too did early man set down records–although his were rudimentary symbols and pictures, inscribed on cave walls using primitive tools. The pen is a mightier weapon than the sword, as the saying goes, and, from the stone implements used by early man to the high-tech pens of today, writers have selected their favourite weapons with care.

The earliest form of writing was simply a way of keeping accounts. A scribe would make marks with a pointed stylus in a soft clay tablet that would harden into a semi-permanent record, keeping track of such goods as grain and cattle. The earliest examples date back to Egypt around 3300 BC. Later, this form of writing evolved into more sophisticated communications–letters, legal tracts and stories. Clay was replaced by papyrus paper, which was more portable and could carry longer messages. The scribes gave up styli and switched to thin reed brushes to mark the delicate papyrus rolls with sophisticated hieroglyphics.

Early inks were concocted from whatever was available–including soot. With ink came pens and it may have been the Romans who invented the first fountain pen–a hollow bamboo shoot filled with ink.

The first capillary feed fountain pen was invented in 1884 by Lewis Edson Waterman. Since then the pen has been through many incarnations. In 1967 it even made it into outer space after American pen manufacturer Paul Fisher came up with a ballpoint pen with a pressurized ink cartridge that worked in zero gravity.

Luxury goods retailer John Bull carries a line of high-end AT Cross pens. The range includes fountain pens, ballpoints, pencils and roller balls. Buyer Sabrina Lobosky says: “These are a very affordable gift and renowned worldwide. The mechanical engineering behind Cross products is one of the best in the world.”

At Quantum Duty Free, which has stores downtown and in the Marina Village on Paradise Island, you’ll find the famous Montblanc range of quality writing instruments. These include two special edition pens–John Lennon and a Tribute to the Mont Blanc. On the John Lennon, the gold nib is inscribed with a peace sign and the platinum plated clip is shaped like the neck of a guitar. The Tribute to the Mont Blanc fountain pen is white with a rhodium-plated 18K gold nib.

At Little Switzerland on Bay St, aficionados can find an unusual pen with a special sparkle. Swarovski ballpoint pens come in a range of colours from eggshell, black and stainless steel to a pearlized finish. The casing features the signature Swarovski crystals. Belthine Campbell, assistant manager at Little Switzerland, says: "It’s a simple design that looks nice. Everybody wants crystals and now you can get them in a pen.”

At Cartier, on Bay St and Crystal Court at Atlantis on Paradise Island, find elegant new pens that reflect the latest innovations in pen design including the limited-edition red Art Deco Style ballpoint, right. All Cartier pens, fashioned from precious metals, quality lacquer, or durable composite materials, make beautiful gifts.



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