Allan Blackburn column

Allan Blackburn.
Allan Blackburn.

Well it’s that time of year again. I cannot believe how quickly the summer holidays have passed and all the children start school again soon.

My grandchildren go back tomorrow which seems an odd day to start back, but I know most children go back next week.

Whatever the start date, very soon, they will all be back at school and things will seem a lot quieter.

Here at the centre we are often reminded of school days past, by the many different items we see.

We’ve had some gorgeous Victorian wooden desks in recently – they didn’t hang around for long. They were snapped up by someone who wanted to recreate a little bit of history by putting them side by side in their child’s room.

They said it was for them to do their homework on.

They must have had a big bedroom as the desks were cumbersome pieces.

With a joined lift up lid and a hole for the inkwell- they were typical of their time, and whether your school days were happy or not, items like these do provoke a really strong memory and nostalgia.

Other items related to school days from the past are things like pens, pencils, inkwells and dare I say… teachers canes.

Historically pens were made from reeds and quills where a nib would be dipped in ink.

Ancient Egyptians developed writing on papyrus scrolls and used reed pens.

These continued to be used until the middle ages where they were slowly replaced by quills from the 7th century.

But it wasn’t all quills and reeds.

Samuel Pepys the renowned diarist made a reference to a “silver pen” in a diary extract from August 1663, so the pen we know and love is older than one would think.

Collecting pens and pencils is a popular hobby simply because they don’t take up much space to house, a collection can be grown quickly and cheaply and they are usually lovely to look at.

The most expensive fountain pen was bought for an amazing $218,000 by a Japanese collector in 1988.

It was made by the French company Redfen, took a team of skilled craftsmen a year to make and had emeralds, amethysts, rubies, sapphires and onyx encrusted onto it.