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A quill is a pen made from a bird feather. The strongest quills were those taken from living birds in spring from the five outer left wing feathers (as the feather would curve outwards when used by a right-handed writer).

Goose feathers were the most commonly used. Swan feathers were of a premium grade being scarcer and more expensive. A special knife was used to sharpen the quill (origins of the term 'pen-knife').

Most writing was on parchment made from animal skin which would require much cleaning and scraping in preparation.

14th Feb 2008

English, History

Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 4+

Tudor Essex Elizabeth horn book life quill royal charter seal feather goose swan pen-knife ink

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