Tag: handwriting

Just Pencils

It started with LX‘s The Write Stuff, followed by a Write of Passage by Dinahmow ; this lead us to Pens, Pens, Pens … at [Ms]Scarlet’s Wonky Words, and finally to IDV‘s insight : Pens: The Best Friends You can Have!
LX uses only one pen – or to put it better : He has found the right pen for his writing needs, and stays with it – a “Pilot Precise® V5 Extra Fine point“.
Dinahmow is not so peculiar with her writing tools, she uses a “Staedtler Lumocolor or a ZIG or something similar” for drawing and has bought a “Lamy Safari“, a cartridge ink pen in yellow, what fits nicely to the yellow walls of her house.
Ms Scarlet flashes not only her steely nibs, but – to my amazement – uses a “Bic Biro fine nib (no blobs with this one, Dinah)” (What she buys in bulk !) “a 0.4 Pilot G-Tec-C maica; Mitchell Scroll nib 20; Mitchell broad edge nib no.3; Titanium Zebra G from calligraphy buddy Linda Yoshida; Gillott 303; Leonardt EF Principal nib; Brause 66EF nib, and Brause 361 Steno nib“. And this is only a part of her huge collection, but yeah, calligraphers love their tools. Wonder where the ink tanks are dug in ?
InexplicableDeVice is clearly a “Mitsubishi uni-Ball“-man, but also uses a “uni-Pin Fine Line 0.3” and a propelling pencil – fine chap !

This includes to take some pictures, why not show the writing utensils in their natural habitat ? Well, yeah … the pictures will give a general impression … don’t have the nerve to clean my desk now, sorry, so no embigulation !

I do not like Kugelschreiber in general, especially since one of these damn things ruined not only a shirt in my youth, but also sapped its blue gloop in a small writing case made from leather I liked very much – we still call these things “Federmäppchen” (kleine Mappe für Federn / a small briefcase for feathers), despite the fact that feathers are not used since ages for writing. I also owned a small Federmesser, a small knife that originally was used to cut into feathers to prepare them for writing, later it was used for sharpening pencils.
I prefer industrially made sharpeners. Sometimes I use a “Füller”, a cartridge ink pen, I still have some from school. And I have a real filler or fountain pen (Tintenpisser) inherited from my father. If I have to write a letter I use one of the cartridge pens, preferably with black ink, of course blue will do. But in general, for other uses, it’s a pencil. Always loved them. And btw in archives you are only allowed to use pencils, preferably very soft ones, so if you have to scribble something on this 18th century letter it can be erased easily after the archivist has fed you to the dragons – with a Ratzefummel of course. I prefer the “Läufer Plast”-series, very effective, easy on even fragile paper (see this pdf).

Here is a picture of the dirty left upper corner of my desk.

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Three boxes: A golden Stabilo box, a box for cigarillos upon a blue plastic box.
Three boxes: A golden Stabilo box, a box for cigarillos upon a blue plastic box.

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The cigarillo box is what I carry around when I go to the library or visit an archive. It contains a ballpoint pen too, simply because one needs them to fill out forms. Which is also possible with a “Kopierstift“, but people do not believe this – don’t get me started … Here it is an astoundingly chunky one in yellow, so it fits into my nervichte Schreibersfaust. It has a small, sharp point, hence gives a fine line, writes in black and is an advertising gift, from a company that produces advertising gifts.

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Cigarillo-box : What one carries around, even a ballpoint pen.
Cigarillo box : What one carries around, even a ballpoint pen.

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The Stabilo box contains different “Kopierstifte” and “Tintenstifte” – or better, what is left of the original pencils, and some others.

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Just some pens.
Just some old pencils.

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The blue box contains my supply of LYRA Orlow Cop. 7200 Mittel, dokumentenecht. Their website is “under maintenance”, don’t know how long this will take, here is a short story of LYRA.

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Only five left.
Only five left.

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I use extensions, when the pencil becomes too small to hold, as you can see on this one in the kitchen :

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Pencil with extension.
Pencil with extension.

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Despite my silly fixation with old pencils I also use mechanical ones, propelling pencils. I own some nice examples. Here is one abused as bookmark in my sleeping room. Yes, I know, bad for the book.

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Propelling pencil abused as bookmark.
Propelling pencil abused as bookmark.

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And before you feel the urge to ask – No, my ankles are not that swollen or yellow, I just wear yellow socks ! Paper ? I use basically any paper I can find, as long as it is white ; without lines or squares, just plain white paper in an acceptable format, like DIN A 4 or smaller. I do not write a diary, so writing by hand is mostly limited to some letters or postcards and notes while reading. Preferable with my LYRA.

I’m sure there are tons of „how to“-instructions available on the net about genealogy in Germany – there is surely no need for another one. I would like to speak about genealogy in Germany from the practising researcher’s point of view.
Let us assume that your forefathers emigrated from Germany sometimes in the 19th century. They went overseas by ship – and that means that there are good chances to find them in the passenger lists of the Auswandererhaus. You should know a year – or at least narrow down the year of their passage, it helps with the search. (Strangely enough the Rechercheauftrag is only reachable from the German page (under “Migration/Recherche”), it is not linked on the English page.)
But the most important thing is the name. The 19th century did not have something like a Duden (Ger., Eng.), there were no fixed, holy, rules of orthography. The way names were spelled can vary a lot; and names in these lists were often wrote down as they were heard. For example: “Schäfer” (shepherd) can be spelled “Schäffer”, “Sche(f)fer”, “Scho(f)fer”, even “Schif(f)er”.
A Franconian speciality is the difference between consonants pronounced “hard” and “soft”: For reasons unknown to me a written “B” is mostly pronounced “P”, the same goes for “G” and “K”, “D” and “T” – and of course vice versa, the written “hard” consonant is pronounced “soft”. And speaking about dialects: The emigrants from the South of Germany surely had difficulties to understand Northern Platt (correctly Niederdeutsch (Ger., Eng.)), and the variation rich Franconian dialects surely were of limited beauty to the Hamburgian officials, who had to write down these names.

Another very important name is the one of the place of origin. Normally in the passenger lists the name of the location the emigrants come from is recorded, but sometimes only a vague description or just the name of a province is given (“Ostpreussen”). Family lore and tradition may have preserved and passed down of the place of origin’s name over the generations – but from my experience I have to say, that this is not always a reliable source of information. You may be lucky and letters of the emigrants’ family in the old Heimat survived and there may be a written name of a place.
If you are in doubt about it, let someone who knows the old handwritings have a look on it: A single letter can make a huge difference! It is a difference whether a place is for example called “Unterregenbach” or “Unterengenbach” – they belong to different administrative bodies, different church parishes – and hence the records are kept in different places.
A further complication arises from the fact, that some names are not unique: A place called “Haslach” can be found at least more than eight times in different parts of Franconia. It is very important to find the right place of origin, this saves a lot of fruitless, frustrating and expensive research. Since the middle of the 19th century a lot changed in the public administration and in the administration of the two large churches here too. From the kingdom of Bavaria – with some Franconian specialties – via the Deutsche Reich from 1871, through the whole brutal 20th century up to now, places changed names, were incorporated into larger administrative entities or even stopped existing. The Gebietsreform of the 1970s brought the last major change in this respect. Parishes and Dekanate were changed, reformed, united and separated again. But the 19th century knew these reforms too: Between the newly formed kingdoms of Bavaria and Baden the frontier was corrected in the 1850s. This let to the fact that church records of places originally belonging to Bavarian/Franconian parishes today are kept in Karlsruhe in the Landeskirchliche Archiv.

All I want to say is, that the time used to identify the place or origin of the family – which is the starting place for a genealogical research and important for finding the records – is well used time.
If one has the correct family name and knows the right place of origin a research can be started – let’s look for the records.

Blaustift

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.

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Dust Is Dangerous

To machines and their parts like bearings, to engines – that’s why there are air filters (at the end of WWII when they had to abandon vehicles and destroy them, it was a common practice to take away the air filters and shovel in sand with the engine running full throttle, don’t know why this pops up, the connection may be the filter), to humans, and of course to paper. Dust comes in a large variety, from corny remains when holes are gouged to fluffy mouse-like things you find in your living room.
When one works in a dusty environment and has to stir it up it sooner or later comes through the clothes, one can feel it on the skin, not only on the arms and legs but on the thorax and belly too. When I worked as a student on the ramp of a trucking business grey dust covered anything and after a week it was in the skin, in the hair, in the handkerchief, I coughed it up for some weeks afterwards.
This time the dust is not so corny, it’s thin, brownish, flour like, a thin flour, like in a mill. It sits on the books, on the shelves, on anything. I organized a vacuum cleaner that is continuously variable – I can’t use one of these industrial strength suck-it-all machines when carefully removing layers of dust from the Schnitt of a book – at this moment I am not even sure whether Schnitt is the right word, but I think so, I’m talking about the three sides of a book that are not bound together. And I’m too tired to look it up now, but in a blabbing mood.
The library is in a state of neglect, they carried it around from place to place over the last years (wie die Katz’ ihre Jungen). And at one point there was a major Wasserschaden, water damage, which is very very sad. It hurt some very interesting books. But at least I have found no mouldiness, someone took care to put them apart, give them space and gave them time to dry – a shock-freeze would have been better, but there seemingly was no time and / or space or capacity.
Books (buchbinderische Einheiten) are one thing, records (Archivalien) are another, and here things start to become a bit complicated. It’s not something you just store according to rules, it’s the heart of an institution, something that remains and lasts, and the place where an “It” wants to become manifest, so it’s an emotional place too.
Anyway, I’m much too knackered, and a bit angehievt (Sylvaner, Portugieser?) to speak about this in an adequate way, just want to say that I’m back. And if this magic stick we bought will work, I’ll be able to have internet access every day, mind you, even in Mittelfranken. I desperatly need it for research, hell no, not for reading blogs ….