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Quill and inkwell

The quill and the inkwell are writing and drawing tools. To use a feather quill, you must sharpen its tip into a nib according to the type of writing desired. The nib is then dipped into the inkwell, drawing in ink through capillary action. The ink is then transferred to the paper, or another support, through contact with the nib.

The quill must be trimmed and changed often to allow delicate handwriting. This feather is likely to be that of a goose or swan, but vulture, pelican, duck, and raven feathers are commonly used.

This simple, greenish inkwell is made of soapstone. This stone has long been used for carving and making utilitarian objects in North America, long before the arrival of Europeans, notably by the Inuit. Three holes are carved in it to insert quills.

The production of writing tools was an important industry in Europe and the United States. From the 19th century on, the feather quill was gradually replaced by the dip pen with a metal nib.


Date: Unknown

Origin: Unknown

Owner: Vieux moulin—Hydromellerie et miellerie. “Musée de la Neufve-France” private collection. Sainte-Flavie.


De Jaucourt, L. (1765). Plume à écrire [Writing quill]. In J. L. R. D’Alembert, & D. Diderot (Eds.), L’Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers (vol. 12, p. 800a). http://enccre.academie-sciences.fr/encyclopedie/article/v12-1940-4/?query=Plume%20%C3%A0%20%C3%A9crire

Paillasson, C., & Aubin (sculpt.). (1763). Sur la taille de la plume [On the cutting of the quill]. In J. L. R. D’Alembert, & D. Diderot (Eds.), L’Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Planches, vol. 2, Écritures pl. 4. http://enccre.academie-sciences.fr/encyclopedie/planche/v23-x20?p=v23-g117&vp=y&

Lessard, M. (2014). La nouvelle encyclopédie des antiquités du Québec [The new encyclopedia of Quebec’s antiquities]. Éditions de l’Homme.

Illustration: Quill and inkwell