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Antique Fountain Pens: where to buy and how to use them.

Published September 30, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

Writing is difficult enough as is nowadays. Can you imagine that somewhere during 1955 through the 60s all public school children were taught how to use a fountain pen and ink well? According to one such tutorial website I gleaned some helpful insight into the often ignored bygone use of a fountain pen.

Oh… are those the fancy quill pens with a beautiful, graceful feather, right?

 

Well, okay, maybe those can be included too…but I was more inclined to add the Calligraphy pen/ fountain pen, and one thing that had always piqued my interest was whenever my great grandmother would write me snail mail letters. She would always write in this extremely fine penmanship that was lost to my generation. How can I describe her penmanship? It was dainty-like. Her cursive always straight even in cards and pages that weren’t notebook paper. Her penmanship was always graceful and it  always garnered my interest. It was always the same ‘sepia-tone’ brown ink, sort of faded that I knew wasn’t possible from a standard ball point pen. And I knew that no writing pen no matter how cheap or crappy could produce such eye-catching legible lines. In fact, it had me so curious and I never did ask in my letters to my great grandmother what type of pen and brand of ink she used. And for the life of me, I don’t know why I never asked. I only recall one time when she wrote to me in pencil and that was something that was very out of character for my great grandmother to do when corresponding in all the years we wrote to each other. I knew then something wasn’t right and my intuition was correct, sadly.

When my great grandmother could no longer write me back, I continued to write to her (wishing, hoping and praying) for a response only to no avail. By this point I had no idea how badly her mental health had declined. I was kept in the dark about a lot of the horrendous details of what went on while she was still alive. She required the assistance of a caregiver who didn’t look after her well at all. Were my letters thrown in the trash unread? I began to think to myself. They were getting delivered to somebody since I never had one returned to me during the entire time, so who knows.

I was intrigued, and me being… well, me wanted to teach myself this lost form of fountain pen penmanship, and as luck would have it, I purchased an old antique Palmer’s fountain pen writing instruction red soft-cover book. The book had been around with black ink stains on the cover, and a partial missing corner from its cover. I was missing two more things: a fountain pen and ink. The ink I use is India ink and a very helpful antique store owner told me to always water down the ink with cold water prior to use or else the nib of the fountain pen will get gummed up and the writing won’t appear as fluent nor clean, and always allow the page to completely dry first before folding it and cramming it into an envelope. I thanked the antique store owner (her name is Carol), but she couldn’t help me track down a bottle of brown ink and didn’t know if any even existed or not. So, the curiosity regarding where my great grandmother’s mysterious ‘sepia-toned’ brown ink came from will forever remain a mystery since my great grandmother is no longer alive to tell me or even show me.

It still didn’t stop me from picking up something a new form of long lost writing. And oh yes, I LOVE to write. I love it so much that I’m known to write incredibly long snail mail letters to family and friends and always have loved doing so. I’ve been told by strangers even that my penmanship is beautiful, graceful and very legible.

“Legible?” I think to myself. “Why wouldn’t my penmanship be otherwise?”

And here again my quest for knowledge was never-ending and I wanted to know why. I don’t ask, silly me. 😛

Instead, the answers I sought was a long time in coming, but eventually I would see why. I see a younger generation’s writing and doesn’t just stun me, it makes me nervous. It makes me crook my eyebrow and scrutinize every word and line. I cool it on my inner need to ‘proofread’ what they wrote. That isn’t part of my job requirements, but making sense of their writing is important, and if I can’t understand it, then miscommunication often occurs. And not to down on anybody that was born during the 1980s and are part of the millennial crowd, but boy howdy, I never knew chicken scratch was a perquisite to learning how to read and write while in elementary school nowadays. Actually, most of it I can’t even say is chicken scratch, it’s likened to pre-school scribbling and its coming from a twenty-something youngster.

So maybe it will sound as though I’m being hard on these millennials, but their writing is atrocious. Any English teacher would cringe if they saw it turned in on a hand-written assignment and their butts would be served to them on a silverplate platter because of it.

In my line of work I have to jot down any information that would be pertinent if ever a situation arises while I’m on the clock. There are days when nothing happens, and then there’s the hectic days where anything can happen and it needs to be logged.

And then there’s the pre-school scribbles that often appears and misspelled words. I try to decipher it the best I can, but the writing is often very illegible. Now I see why I’m told my penmanship is legible and this is thanks in part to my older brother who taught me cursive writing when I was young as four or five years old. Yes, that young believe it or not because he didn’t want me to go through life not knowing how to read or write since public schools would barely cover the bare bone basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic (a bygone name for mathematics). My older brother was already in school at the time and was a few grades a head of me.

In retrospect, I sincerely believe we came from the last generation that was taught cursive writing when it was still being taught in public schools during the 1980s. I later read that anybody that attended public school post 1955-60s lost out on learning how to use a fountain pen and ink well though. And it brings me back to the antique writing instruments of yesteryear. They can range in price from a dollar on up to a few hundred. And it depends on the make of fountain pen and when it was produced.

When I attended college in 2013 (per my course requirement), I had to log into a message board to converse with the instructor and fellow students, and while on there, somebody chimed in how excited they were to receive a fancy pen with a very fluent, sensitive response. Well, they weren’t talking about a pen you write with. They referred to a stylus pen for their Kindle or some other technological touch-screen device.

I barely batted an eyelash when I figured out it was a pen for a touch screen device.

I don’t get all s**** and giggles over technology. In fact, I don’t find myself running out to buy the newest updated computer setup. I don’t have any new generation Kindles on my wish list and all of my stylus touch-screen pens came straight from the Dollar Tree where everything’s a dollar. However, I do collect antique fountain pens and antique ink wells. Some are very basic heavy glass, I’d say likely used in the rural public schools way, way back when. And other ink wells I have are slightly more fancy with a pen holder and two ink wells with silver caps. And another one I turned up recently has a brass design around it. I don’t know the specific dates when these ink wells were produced, but the fancier ones I’d guess were produced in the 1800s or very early 1900s. The basic no bells or whistles ink wells could likely date anywhere in that same time frame. The antique fountain pens I have scattered in an old wooden cigar box are plastic with brass nibs, which tells me they were produced post- 1930’s probably in the 60s or 70s maybe. I have about four or five fountain pens that go way back to the early 1900s and these I didn’t acquire all at once. I would occasionally run across them in the antique stores from time to time, and if they appealed to me, I’d buy them. At least fountain pens are a light-weight antique item to collect unlike my Bavaria porcelain dishes and silverplate.

And so I’ve returned to practicing my fountain pen writing. This is something I enjoy doing in my spare time when I can make the time that is. I do it mostly for fun nowadays and I’ve read that it isn’t so much what you write but how you hold the pen which is balanced on your knuckles and not clutched between the thumb and index finger. It was awkward for me to try at first, but once I quickly got accustomed to it, my writing was less complicated and flowed onto the page a lot easier. And this is all for my blog about antique fountain pens and ink wells. If interested I’m sure places like eBay, Etsy, and Ruby Lane might have fountain pens and ink wells for sale. Thanks as always for reading, liking, blogging, commenting and sharing. I truly appreciate it.  🙂

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High Heels: pretty dangerous, but oh, so gorgeous!

Published July 13, 2016 by AntiqueMystique1

I’ve lost count somewhere between twenty four and twenty seven pairs of high heels that I have bought over the span of a few years. This excludes my flat sandals/ flat heels. Throughout the years there have been some nice dress shoes I bought second hand and made a painful (and blistering) realization as to why the previous shoe owner donated a great looking pair of heels/ sandals /shoes.

 

I believe women have a right to own as many pairs of high heels, sandals, tennis shoes, flip flops (in my day we used to call them ‘thongs’) that she sees fit so long as she has a closet to store all of them. And mine? They’re stored away in shoe bags.

 

What’s a ball park average for say a pair of authentic Valentino stilettos? Well, if you’re a woman who’s beyond ridiculously high maintenance, then $1,000 (USD) for a pair of those original bad boys wouldn’t be an issue.

 

Now for the more *cough*, practical and seasoned shoe shopper that just happens to find a pair of Valentino knock-offs as a lucky thrift store find or perhaps does price-comparison shopping will tell you, sometimes the real deal doesn’t look or feel so sexy after all when comfort is concerned.

 

High heels are fairly standard wardrobe accessories for most women, although not all because others prefer flats as opposed to high heels. Men, don’t feel left out. Perhaps you can glean some gift-giving ideas for that special lady. And it never hurts to ask around, either.

 

It all began with a pair of open-toed high heels I purchased in a thrift store some number of years back. They’re a small size which is likely why nobody else bought them. They fit me nearly perfect. But why did I want to add high heels to my wardrobe when I seldom ever wear them? At least I never wore them daily and don’t plan to because I want to keep my feet and arches in good shape. Secondly, I don’t want to break an ankle while wearing them. And third, I want to keep them looking nice for those special occasions.

 

As a rule when thrift store shopping; if you happen upon a great find, and you’re in a financial position to do so, buy said item(s). Many times over I would happen upon a great find, and reason with myself that said items will still be there tomorrow. Well, in most of those instances the items sold in less than an hour the very same day.

 

I’ll never forget the time I was in the dressing room and my shopping cart was full, and I found a deal on one of those high brand mops with the twist handle so I wouldn’t have to wring out a mop by hand anymore. I thought $2 was a bargain considering these mops sell brand new for about $20… Anywho—I return to my cart and my mop is missing. Some random shopper had the gallbladder stones to snatch it out of my cart. Lesson learned the hard way: when thrift store shopping take somebody along with you to watch your cart contents while in the dressing room. I can’t count how many times shoppers will just take stuff out of other shopper’s carts all the time. If you’re a regular shopper of thrift stores always watch your thrift store hauls like a hawk.

 

I found some good high heels in thrift stores anywhere from .29 cents a pair up to $3. That’s the most I’d ever spend on a pair of high heels, or so I thought before I purchased three pairs of discounted new high heels from K-Mart. Now, I know what the reader might be thinking, “K-Mart? You’re kidding, right?” Nope. I had reward points that expired soon and wanted to use those. I detest Wally world with a passion for reasons I won’t get into and K-Mart has slightly better quality items and fashions. Plus I love the outdated look of K-Mart. It’s all about creature comforts and the layout hasn’t changed much over the decades, either. Whew! 🙂

 

Do I know who Jaclyn Smith is? No, but she broke off my toe nail today as I did a hobble to my vehicle after running errands. I might have spouted off how much I disliked her (brand) of high heel at first before I had a chance to appreciate the comfort level of said high heels. It’s not Jaclyn’s fault K-Mart only stocked one size of her high heels in the discount section and had no half sizes for slender footed women out there. The size I wound up purchasing do fit with ankle cushion inserts so my feet don’t slide and I haven’t experienced any further problems. And the other brand “Attractions” was out of the sleek black shinny “Zoey” high heel on K-Mart’s discount shoe section. The toe was slightly pointy not rounded and caught my eye instantly so that says something about the overall style.

I’m not trashing Jaclyn Smith’s heels nor that of her clothing line. Now some of her clothes do appeal to me. But I can’t find anything of hers that fits me. I mean it’s all very casual and still gives off a sense of “youthfulness” and class that is tailored to just about every woman of any age and income. But her clothes are very cookie cutter ‘one size fits all’ mass-produced a lot of the time.

Since I’ve made it to my weigh loss goal I now fall into the ‘hard to buy for’ petite/ misses category almost veering into a ‘late’ teenager wardrobe section, I sorted through my old jeans and donated all but one pair I saved for when I’m working. The skinny jeans are the way to go for me nowadays because unlike regular jeans, there’s not a massive amount of leg material that needs to either be hemmed or rolled up. I also like the tapered leg of the skinny jeans and jeggings although I always told myself (negatively that is something I really must break myself of), I’d never be able to ‘rock’ a pair of those skinny jeans/jeggings in my lifetime. And as it turns out I’ve been able to find my size without any problems and they fit comfortably, but some good advice when jeggings/ skinny jean shopping; what might fit you great in your average size, may not fit well at all in another brand, so always take the time to try on a few different sizes. I discovered this helpful advice online some number of years ago.

And for the longest time I did my homework when it comes to these impressive, beautiful, sexy, yet somewhat dangerous high heels and what colors go well with both skinny jeans, dresses, and/ or shorts. And the result?

Well, for starters, I pounded the pavement in a pair of chunky sandals that could pass for heels. I tried this because I knew I’d likely break an ankle in stilettos my first time out. Until a woman gets her stride down wearing a pair of those, it’s strongly encouraged to start small with either chunky heels and/or wedge shoes that have more range of stability. So, I started out small and don’t plan to make a career of walking in high heels on a daily basis because I found they are very hard on the arches, ball of the feet, back, legs, etc. Also, keep in mind those thin stilettos have to bare the brunt of a woman’s full body weight, so its no wonders our feet, arches and other parts ache and break after a long day at the office or being on the go.

Well, until you’ve mastered walking in high heels without doing the banana splits or breaking an ankle, practice, practice, practice! Practice walking at home in high heels, at least this was highly advisable by some high heel wearing pros on Youtube. And try to walk on all surfaces like hardwood floors, tile, carpet, grass is quite tricky and the heels just sink into the ground. Always use the handrails when walking up and down the stairs and take it very slow. One other helpful tip: take baby steps and its heel to toe. Your heel is suppose to go down first, then the ball of your foot. Your stride will be different and slowed down considerably in high heels as opposed to tennis shoes. And carry those emergency booties, ladies. I’ve seen these compact ‘shoes’ in Dollar General and really it does sound like good advice even if a woman doesn’t wear high heels. Never know when you might need a pair of them.

I have one little black dress that *sigh* is made of that nasty 100 percent polyester. Until I can find another dress similar in style to it in cotton and a little less “swim suit” feeling against my skin, I’ll hang onto it. I highly doubt I’ll ever don that plastic skin-tight garment anytime soon, (if ever), but it’s made by a company called “Taboo”. Don’t know the exact age of said black dress or if it was expensive. I bought it used.

What other shoe hauls other than Jaclyn Smith and Attraction from K-Mart did I find?

Let’s see here… (sorts through her shoe bags)… I have some Charlotte Russe which retail for $35 new. I bought all of mine used in ‘like new’ condition for about $4 a pair and sometimes at a discount for around $2.00 per pair. And I have some by Fioni and “Fioni Nights” which are a Payless Shoe store brand from my research and retail for about $18 new. They look sexy and sophisticated for being an inexpensive high heel. I even have a pair of Apt. 9 high heels in one size up than what I normally wear. But again, it was the color and style that appealed to me the most and they were a dollar at the thrift store.

I purchased all of my Finoni high heels for about $1-3 each from thrift stores. And there’s another brand I picked up, and even though they’re one size larger than what I usually wear, but when I seen them, I couldn’t put them down! I loved everything about those Antonio Melani high heels, a Dillard’s brand of high heel that retails between $35-109. I bought my pair second hand for $3. And even though it would take a few of those ankle cushion inserts to ever wear these beautiful high heels, I doubt I will because they’re just too ‘Cinderella’-ish to be an ‘everyday’ type of heel, I feel. That, and I have no exceptionally nice outfits or dresses beautiful enough that would compliment said expensive Antonio high heels. And then I have a pair of Gianni Bini high heels that retail for $69-98 at Dillard’s. I bought my pair for $3 second-hand. I plan to reserve those for special occasions and when I gain more practice walking in high heels.

I have some lesser expensive high heels that are a no-frills kind that likely came from a department store for under $10. But its finding these high heels in the right size that won’t make my feet slip or break off a toe nail that’s a challenge. I did see a pair of Fredrick’s of Hollyweird, err, “Hollywood” pair of French Maid/ Role play shoes for $4.99 used. I didn’t buy those because they were gigantic on my slender feet and just fell off. I have heard that Fredrick’s of Hollywood is a famous lingerie store in California. I’ve only seen maybe two other Fredrick’s of Hollywood lingerie pieces ever surface in thrift stores and it’s not often those stick around. And I’ve also seen a ton of Victoria’s Secret lingerie at thrift stores. Some good advice: leave those teddies alone. Don’t know who wore them before you and if lingerie is a ‘must have’, please, buy it brand new just for personal hygiene’s sake.

I have reasonably deducted that the high heels I keep coming across used must have been donated by a hooker or a trio of ladies of the night. I say this because coming across such fancy high heels (in used “excellent” condition in their boxes with hardly any signs of wear) isn’t all that common to find in my local thrift stores. I’ve seen the all-too-familiar ‘clubbing’ high heels that strippers wear. But those are usually a size 10 and up. What woman has feet that huge? I think to myself, however, my mother let me know the depressing mother-daughter fact of life that our feet grow and flatten as we get older. Thanks a lot. Now I can expect to have unattractive basketball player-sized feet when I get older. 😦

The ‘clubbing’/ exotic dancer high heels don’t stick around very long in the thrift stores. And it’s not often I do come across expensive (and well made) high heels used in my size, but I’ve come home with quite a shoe haul for dirt cheap.

My purpose of going to rue 21 yesterday was to look at their picked over selection of standard Valentino knock-off high heels. Now those gladiator sandals really don’t have any appeal to me and feel uncomfortable to try on. But the Valentino knock-offs I’ve read are worth it because sometimes they feel and look far better than the actual Italian-made, outrageously expensive high heel. And then I found the second of the last pair of Qupids that lace up and they were deeply discounted. It was a pity rue 21 only had one size of those lacy high heels in my size. I believe the next size up would run a little too big, but if they’re still there come pay day, I may have to pop in and check those out.

I keep finding Jessica Simpson high heels all the time in thrift stores, but they’re always in a size too big for me. Some of her styles I do like but wouldn’t ever pay full price for when new. Buying used high heels has taught me a lot about fashion as well. Now used sandals are another story. I’ve had to turn around and re-donate a few pairs of sandals that would blister my toes and ankles and they’d feel so uncomfortable on my feet that it was no wonders a thrift store couldn’t practically give them away for .29 cents. As always, thanks for reading, liking, sharing, tweeting, re-blogging, etc. I always appreciate it. 🙂