I was searching for the metal shell one puts over the sharpened end of a copying pencil when I realized how dusty and dirty my desk and the writing tools had become. Everything is written with a keyboard, not with pen or pencil. I like to use the copying pencil (Kopierstift) and play with the idea to use it for writing signatures into books of the bookmine. But on the other hand, it’s called indelible pen for a reason.
As I mentioned they just shoveled the books and everything into a room. One of the old timers remembered that sometimes in the eighties a catalogue was made. I found this “catalogue”, it’s simply one file card for one book, sorted by the signatures the compiler gave the single tome; he followed the systematic order he found. That means, it begins with “Signatur-1” and ends with “signature-x”; strictly speaking its no catalogue, but simply a book list. It’s not searchable for names of authors or for titles for example, there are no indexes. Basically it is the first step towards a catalogue. I can use the numbers and bring the books into the old systematic order, which generally is a good thing, because I have no idea about the specific field of science here (agricultural chemistry and such strange topics) and after all it is a historic library (or the wreckage of it). That means it is not thought to grow further, but it should be usable. The people who organized it then, thirty forty or more years ago, surely have had an idea about it, and I will use their order as a basis.
Sadly the compiler thirty years ago used simple adhesive labels – small pieces of paper, painstakingly inscribed with type writer, pasted upon the spines of them books – of course they all fall off. The glue has reacted and that is that – of course they did not use the size the bookbinders use, or what librarians use still today. And because they trusted their adhesive labels so much, they did not write the number they called signature into the book – a real mistake.
This finally brings me to the initial copying pen.
Kopierstifte (Ger.) look like normal pencils, but the lines are hard to erase and becoming wet the writing turns blue – or violet or red or green, depending on what kind of pencil you use. They were first used by merchants and a hierarchy of colours was established to record who corrected what. Still today head officials write with green ink in the records. According to the wiki-article it was the Handelsgesetzbuch of 1862 that ordered merchants to keep identical records of their correspondence. Typewriters (Ger., Eng.) were not that common in those days, so wet copying was used: Basically something was written with a copying pen, then the surface was dampened, a special very thin paper was pressed on it, the colour was pressed inverted on the backside of this paper but strong enough to be read correctly on the other side. Carbon copies of the type writer replaced this procedure, but I think the typewriter conquered the bureaus only in the beginning of the 20th century. Text written with Kopierstift over time changes colour because it reacts with the humidity of the air, in fact some historical signatures I find in the bookmine are written with indelible pen, they turned violet.
Why is the Kopierstift still around, and not just a historical curiosum?
Because it is dokumentenecht (Ger.). That means you can give an official legally valid signature with it, on contracts, checks and other papers. Official authorities often reject this, simply because people there do not know what a Kopierstift is, they think it’s a normal Bleistift, pencil. But even some public notaries still use it, and I saw at least one judge working through records and signing papers with a Kopierstift. Dokumentenecht means it meets official standards related to erasing and fastness to light. Off course one can erase a signature done with a Kopierstift, but not without damaging the paper – there always will be traces of the manipulation. The same goes for inks used for seals, the normal ink pads for rubber stamps use standardly dokumentenechte Tinte. The metal shell is for protection, the mine is hard and it contains unhealthy ingredients, one should not stitch it into the skin. And now I have to clean this neglected part of the desk. Sunday Music will come later.