Pen Spinning, the Chinese and the Moon

Did you know that if it hadn’t of been for a ballpoint pen, our moon landing astronauts might not have returned from the moon? Did you know that the Japanese are tops in Pen Spinning? Did you know there was such a sport. Didn’t know that people spun pens? Neither did I, until I saw it. I decided to master this art, but after breaking a few glasses, sticking a pen in my eye and generally feeling quite inadequate for my age, I said the heck with it. Here, check it out http://youtu.be/mTIbc7WKoKs

The history of writing instruments is the history of civilization itself. Easily traceable, the history is evident in everything we see, hear or experience. Somewhere, sometime, someone had to write it. Our earliest known graffiti artists were cave men who left evidence of their thinking by scratching and painting their thoughts on cave walls. Then some genius determined that carrying a clay tablet around was easier than carrying a cave wall.

Necessity became the mother of writing paper when it was found that Papayas was lighter than clay, and that by pounding wood into pulp not only eliminated all your anger, but also made a lighter material called paper. Paper came about around 2000 BC. The problem with paper is that it required a pen and something called ‘ink.’ Some far thinking Chinese scholar had already invented the ink 600 years earlier in 2600 BC. They called it Indian Ink. (go figure) It was made from the oil from donkeys, musk ox , soot and lamp oil. It smelled nasty and the musk ox didn’t want to give up their oil to easy. (Have you ever tried to scrape oil off a musk ox?)

The problem with ink was that it was a liquid. Liquid held in suspense by bristles on a brush were ok, even though somewhat messy, but when you put this ink stuff on a pointed stick and tried to write with it, it didn’t get too far. Therefore, the Chinese used hollowed pieces of bamboo. They got farther in writing across a page, but still messy.  Someone thought of using the stem from marsh grass and we had ourselves the start of a communication. Next time, I’ll write and tell you about a sales rep and a lost million dollar sale, that led to the best known invention of modern times.

Fisher Space Pens

Fisher Space Pens (Photo credit: mr_t_77)

Oh, and that ballpoint pen and the astronauts. After returning to the landing module, Buzz Aldrin accidentally broke the switch used to activate the ascent engines. Without being able to toggle this switch, the rockets would not fire. NASA Engineers scrambled trying to figure out a solution. One of the astronauts took apart his new Fisher – write anywhere Space Pen and used the tube to shove down into the broken part of the switch.  Neat.   FYI, you can buy a vintage Fisher pen from my Antique Pen Store in American Classics – case 110 (Moved to a bigger Case #409 and we also expanded to Dads Corner – Space C30)

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3 Comments

Filed under Pen History, Pens, Stationary, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Tools

3 responses to “Pen Spinning, the Chinese and the Moon

  1. hi very good page i will definaely come back and see once again. 912239

    Like

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