|Pen from Struthers case notes, now Object O551|
An interesting item found recently inside a file of Struthers Collection case notes is an old-fashioned pen. The case notes in the file date from 1935 and have not been annotated since then, so it is assumed that the pen dates from around the same period and may have been used by the surgeon Mr Struthers himself. It is approximately 17cm long and is made of wood with a sharp steel tip. The pen has been removed from the case notes and added to our Objects collection.
To write, the user would dip it in a bottle of ink and then the ink would run down a channel in the nib to the tip. Excess ink was put onto blotting paper until the pen was ready to use. The tapered shape of the wooden section is similar to that of a feather quill from which it derives. Writing was much more difficult using this type of pen than fountain and ball point pens and it is no wonder that sometimes the writing is smudged and difficult to read and blobs of ink are common on the pages of the case notes.
Fountain pens were an expensive commodity during the 1930s, so for everyday communal use a simple pen such as this one would be used. Refillable cartridges for fountain pens were not available until the 1950s. Ball point pens, although invented during the 19th century, weren’t widely used until the 1950s either. The ink formulation hadn’t been perfected – if the ink is too thin it runs out of the pen and if it is too thick it clogs the ball.