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Topic – Writing with Ink

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Writing with Ink

Today, many people use ballpoint pens to write. Long ago, people used feathers to write. Pens made from feathers are called quill pens.

Quill Pens

Down the middle of a feather is a hard, hollow tube called the shaft. People cut off the tip of the shaft to make a point. Then they dipped the point into a small bottle of ink. A little bit of the ink went inside the hollow shaft. This ink flowed out of the shaft as people wrote. The shaft did not hold much ink, so people had to dip the shaft in the ink again after writing just a few words.

The ink dried slowly. Touching or folding a paper that had just been written on could smudge the words if the ink was not yet dry. To make the ink dry faster, people used a powder called pounce. Pounce could be made from ground up fish bones or sand. People sprinkled pounce over the writing, and the pounce made the ink dry faster. After a few seconds, the pounce had dried the ink, so people brushed it off the paper.

Ballpoint Pens

Ballpoint pens have a plastic or metal tube inside that is filled with ink. At the tip of the pen is a small hole with a tiny metal ball inside. As you write, the ball turns and spreads ink on the paper. The ball also helps the pen’s tip move smoothly across the paper.

Ballpoint pens use a special ink that dries much faster than the ink used with quill pens. When you write with a ballpoint pen, the ink dries right away and doesn’t smudge. A ballpoint pen contains enough ink to fill many, many pages with writing. You can’t put more ink in many ballpoint pens, so people throw them away when the ink has run out and use a new pen.


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Brain Stretch: What are some ways people use feathers today?