The most powerful weapon known to humankind?
The pen, they say, is mightier than the sword.
Without doubt, it has been a long-held belief throughout human history that the written word has a greater influence than warfare. It's humbling, therefore, to know that in our hands an everyday object measuring barely five and a half inches long and less than half an inch wide can become the most powerful weapon known to humankind.
The damage inflicted or good bestowed by pens is, however, limited by the brains of those in possession. That's why such literary luminaries as Ernest Hemingway and William Shakespeare are in such short supply. For the vast majority of us, the pen represents not an instrument for good or evil but merely a communications tool. It was this latter use that first brought the pen about when society developed the need to record information in a transportable and more permanent format than oral tradition would allow.
Pictographs and hieroglyphics were the first form of writing. These represented ideas in graphic form rather than as individual words constructed from an alphabet of letters or phonetics. The first writing, in the modern sense of the word, probably occurred in the Euphrates region of the Middle East when reed pens were used to create cuneiform symbols on clay tablets.
As a recording format neither clay nor wax covered tablets were ideal. The need for a quicker and simpler method of writing gave birth to papyrus and ink. From these twin developments flowed the entire history of writing and literacy as we know it. For without the giant leap in technology embodied by papyrus and ink, there would have been no Chinese writing, no quill pens and no parchment. Without these the subsequent knock on effects would also have taken out Medieval calligraphy, the spread of the Bible and the printing press.
The pen in your shirt pocket or purse has, then, a distinguished and formidable heritage, which today is surely all but taken for granted by most people.
Pen enthusiasts and pen collectors, though numerically small, still retain a healthy wonder and respect for writing pens of all kinds, from quill pens to the latest high-tech pens manufactured from space age materials. For many people the artistry of penmanship is something in which they take pride. Not for them the disposable mass-produced pen, instead writing, for them, is a pleasure to be enjoyed. And this tactile experience is best served and, indeed demands, a writing tool with thoughtful design, style and precision.
The best analogy, perhaps, is the gulf between a person who buys an auto to get from A to B and the driving enthusiast who selects a two seater sports car for the same journey.