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pen shop for pornographers

The tiny model shop in Golden Cross has turned into a tiny, exclusive pen shop selling beautiful, exclusive pen-related items. There's handmade paper (touched by at least fifty different hands) which they can put your own watermark in, if you ask them nicely and give them a lot of money. There are nibs shaped like pointing hands, love hearts, the Eiffel Tower. There are equisitely expensive-looking letter racks, card-holders, pen-stands, desk sets. There are ink wells shaped like glass pillows and roses, pots bristling with exotic dip-pens; pens for calligraphy, pens for love-letters, pens for drawing musical staves ... There are glistening, candy-bright Venetian glass pens. "Would you like to try one out?" asked the young European man behind the tiny counter, who seemed far too young for his waitcoat and antique pose, and pulled out a sheet of heavily textured cream laid paper and a small pot of iridescent tawny ink, the wax seal already broken (For a previous customer? Or just his own use?) and laid it out on his blotter. I dipped ("you need to dip quite deep for these," he said) and set the nib to paper, turned and twisted the pen, its glassy glide singing the curve, the dilute ink sliding from the twisted glass with unstopping liquid movement. I pressed harder, far harder than I'd dare with a metal nib, suddenly aware that in my hands was a pen with no give, no twist, no flex; a democratic heart despite its glittery, shimmery, decadent look; author of smooth and perfect evenness. I bend down to examine the line and realise that the ink I'm using is richly scented. He shows me the list; rose, musk, lily-of-the-valley, and a dozen others in delicate colours, the rich scents intermingling the fragrance of flowers and the heavier, dirtier smell of ink. I um and ah over the dip pens as he wipes the glass pen for me, and he apologises for the lack of choice; but he's going to Rome next week, where he says there are many fascinating nibs, just waiting for him to buy them. Musk ink and the glass pen; the choice of the elegant pornographer. Rose ink as a gift ("this one smells wonderful," he says, and can't resist untwisting the lid to prove it) and a small steel nib; but at the price he charged me I can only hope it doesn't turn out to be the nib.

Scriptum, Golden Cross (between Cornmarket and the Covered Market), Oxford.

Comments

( 11 worms — Feed the birds )
applez
1st Oct, 2003 14:25 (UTC)
Pornographic pens
And the literary beauty in its description.

hear! hear!
syrtis
1st Oct, 2003 14:26 (UTC)
the pen is mightier than the pen is ;)
My jaw hangs. I want one of everything they have....
They sound like the sort of pens that could tip me over into
quitting my job & drawing heady-scented comics until poverty and
the gutter got me; but oooh, the legacy to leave behind :-Q

I would recommend checking the shop is still there at regular intervals and isn't some sort of figment of Philip Pullman's imagination.
cleanskies
1st Oct, 2003 14:35 (UTC)
obviously fictional
I thought that the moment I walked in there. I mean, just look at that address ...

Fortunately, it stayed real long enough for me to buy pen and inks.

Hmmm. Do you now? Anything in particular grab your fancy?

And it that a smiley with a goatee ? Eeek.
merteuil
1st Oct, 2003 15:46 (UTC)
Hmmm...I must go there. Someday. One of my favorite pleasures is sitting down with my "Chandler's Writing Chest" from The Victorian Trading Co., with its pens and nibs, waxes and seals, and six pots of ink (verde, indigo, auburn, tobacco, bordeaux, turquoise...) It comes with one of those glass pens, too, but I haven't figured out how to write well with it.
cleanskies
2nd Oct, 2003 02:32 (UTC)
it does seem to ask for a very different angle from the regular nibs
... but they had a pot-full in the shop and they all looked unique to me, so it could be that just as with nibs, you get good ones and bad ones.

Of course, I'm cartooning and not doing calligraphy; the rather round stroke struck me as possibly bad for writing!
tinyjo
2nd Oct, 2003 00:57 (UTC)
I suspect that *all* your future presents will come from there :)
cleanskies
2nd Oct, 2003 02:36 (UTC)
I'm wondering how many presents I should be buying for other people there
... especially as it may not last forever.
crazycrone
2nd Oct, 2003 01:44 (UTC)
MMMmmm, Pens...
I actually own a glass pen (£11) Fantastic sensation, writing/drawing with it, but I don't use it that often. It intimidates me, a bit...
cleanskies
2nd Oct, 2003 02:35 (UTC)
that's another rather nice thing about the shop
Though he gouged me on the nib, he only charged me £8 for the glass pen. It does seem rather flash for ordinary use, but I broke a lot of my preciousness about it by taking it out down the pub and doodling all over the back of a menu. With the musk-scented ink. :D
(Anonymous)
5th Oct, 2003 05:01 (UTC)
cornellisons
is mr poole still at cornellisons on .. was it little russel st - cornellisons...?

this sounds like some of his stock...
cleanskies
5th Oct, 2003 16:16 (UTC)
old Mr Poole died ?two years ago
and I could never screw up my courage to go anyway. Never felt I was artist enough. The shop's still there, and presumably some of the nibs at least? -- I had been thinking of going until I found this little shop (having bought all the interesting drawing nibs in the two art shops in Oxford)

This guy's a calligrapher, he just has the drawing pens because they look pretty.
( 11 worms — Feed the birds )