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Vellum, except when an earlier text had been scraped off, presented a different problem, as it was likely to be greasy, notwithstanding prior treatment with chalk and pumice during manufacture.

If we do find anything so ephemeral, it will be written on blank spaces of something intended to last longer, like the endpapers of printed and manuscript books, along with pen-trials.School desks and privy walls presented their own problems, but the commonest writing surfaces were paper and vellum, or parchment.Paper in this period was invariably rag paper, less than perfectly smooth, and naturally absorbent.D., proving more elastic and more durable than the reed pen. The great majority of quills were goose quills, but other large fowl were put to service: ravens, crows, ducks, peacocks, vultures, even pelicans and, in the fulness of time, turkeys--which last, in particular, provided lawyers with broad nibs for engrossing hands.Queen Elizabeth favoured swans, and wisely: although some writers found them too stiff, a swan quill would outlast 50 goose quills.

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