The Acquisitions Table: Quill Pens

Box with Nine Congress Quill Pens. New York: Emanuel De Young, ca. 1850.

515145_0003This box of goose quill pens was purchased jointly by the manuscript curator, who wanted to add the pens to our holdings of writing implements, and the graphic arts curator, who wanted the box and label for the ephemera collection. De Young produced quill pens between 1846 and 1854 and continued to sell them into the 1890s. Orders for “Congress” quill pens, his brand name, appear in many state documents from the 1880s and 1890s (including orders from courthouses and legislatures in Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota), so inexpensive quills were still in demand at the end of the century. The December 1891 issue of American Stationer reported, “There was a time some years ago when quill pens and unmade quills were standard articles and found ready sale from E. De Young, who is still in business and is still shoving the quill but not to the extent of years ago…”

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