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The History of A.T. Cross Company

The A.T. Cross Company is America’s oldest manufacturer of writing instruments with a history that extends back for almost 170 years.  The era into which the A. T. Cross Company was founded saw great change in the writing instrument industry.  Many writers were still using quill pens or had recently made the transition to more durable dip pens made from a range of precious or durable metals.  Cross’ contribution to this period of pen evolution was the first stylographic pen, often cited as a technological ancestor of the ball point pen in 1879.

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The History of A.T. Cross Company
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The History of the Pencil

Graphite, used in the core of the modern pencil, is not the first example of an element hewn from the ground and used as a mark making tool. This process dates back to the very first examples of human art seen in the prehistoric cave paintings created using charcoal and chalk in the era between 40,000 and 10,000 BC. These substances were ground and mixed into a paste with either saliva or animal fats and smeared onto the porous cave walls.

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The History of the Pencil
Political Graffiti - Kilroy was Here

The Writing on the Wall – Graffiti as Art, History and Politics

In the crypt of the Basilica in Lourdes, south west France, the walls are covered with graffiti. The temporary boundary fences placed around the ruins of the World Trade Center were covered with graffiti within days of the September 11th terrorist attacks. These disparate places and times are connected not just by our common understanding of graffiti, but by our collective need to express often overwhelming emotions and leave our mark for others to identify with. It seems that the tradition of the unsolicited public expression of beliefs and ideas is as old as humanity itself.

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Ballpoint Pen Art by Mark Powell

Dynamic Doodlers – A History of Ballpoint Pen Art

The humble ballpoint pen. Since its introduction to the masses at Gimbel’s New York Department store in 1945, it has become a staple of any office, classroom or study. But whilst John Loud’s original 1888 patent, and the Biro brothers’ later updates in the 1930’s, undoubtedly arrived with the intention of revolutionizing the stationery world, it is unlikely that these innovators could have fathomed the truly marvellous works of pen art that would eventually spring from their bold balled inventions.

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Dynamic Doodlers – A History of Ballpoint Art
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Now You See Me… A History of Erasers

For as long as there has been writing there have been errors and the need of an eraser to correct them.

The first writing implements and surfaces were made for mistakes, as the wet clay used in tablets could simply be smoothed over and new letters formed with the stylus. It is likely that the complexity of the glyphs used in the first written languages seen in Egypt and Sumer (now in southern Iraq) resulted in many mistakes being made as each glyph would be formed individually. It is estimated that Sumerian cuneiform had approximately 1000 different glyphs in its infancy.

In the early Middle Ages, the removal of ink from parchment would be completed with a solution of milk mixed with oat bran. Over time, the original ink would begin to reappear faintly underneath the new writing which has enabled modern scholars to decipher their original contents.

The Victorian era saw the invention of the ink scraper which was a fine pointed and very sharp metal tool used to carefully scrape the ink from the page when mistakes were made.

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Now You See Me… A History of Erasing
IMage of the Zimmerman Telegram

Shhhh! A History of Written Secrets

One of the oldest examples of writing being disguised or changed to hide meaning is seen in a cuneiform tablet dating from 1500 BC. It is believed to contain the recipe for a pottery glaze which the craftsman did not want to share with his fellow artists. By the 5th Century BC, Herodotus, the famous Greek historian, writes of a process that involves the tattooing of a shaved slave’s head and then allowing the hair to regrow before sending the slave to the recipient of the message. The message would then be revealed when the slave was once again shaved.

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A History of Written Secrets
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Pen Beats: Tapping into a New Generation

If you have ever been sat at a desk bored, the likeliness is you have found yourself idly pen tapping away on your desk without even realising. But did you ever become so caught up in the rhythm that you found yourself throwing out fills like a desk-bound Dave Grohl? If the answer is yes, then you are already part of a movement that has taken the internet by storm. Pen Tapping Beats has been a thing since late 2006, but has since grown in popularity with new pen beat tapping videos being uploaded daily.

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Pen Beats
Old Newspaper Adverts for Sheaffer Pen

A History of the Sheaffer Pen Corporation

The founder of the Sheaffer Pen Corporation was a remarkable entrepreneur and spirited salesman. Walter Sheaffer was so determined to impress potential  customers of his piano business that he volunteered to assist them with farming or household duties in exchange for an hour to demonstrate his pianos; having travelled up to 20 miles from his shop with his instrument in tow.

 

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A History of the Sheaffer Pen Corporation
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The Power of Journaling

Almost half of all New Year’s resolutions have a self-improvement or educational theme and yet only a dismal 8% of these resolutions are achieved. One professor’s study has shown that writing down your goals can increase your chance of achieving them by more than 40%.

The oldest examples of diaries date from the 9th century AD, but using a diary to record your personal feelings about events is a relatively new concept that began in the Renaissance. Prior to this time, a diary acted merely as a record of events.

 

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The Power of Journaling