The Curv-E Pen Holder
Erica McPhee, a lettering and design artist with over 35 years of calligraphy experience, first contacted me in August of 2017 with an idea for a pen based on the vintage Ransomerian pen holder. While researching old engrosser script and copperplate manuals she came across a penman by the name of Charlton V. Howe. Howe was a well respected penman of his era who had a preference for the triangular shape of the pen holder stating:
“Personally, I do not think the average oblique holder is well adapted to script writing unless the top side is flattened so the forefinger can rest upon both the holder and the tin at the same time, thus overcoming the tendency to grip or turn. The triangular oblique holder is well adapted to engrossing script.” Erica was intrigued by this statement and wanted to see if a triangular shaped pen would indeed give better control for pointed pen calligraphy so she contacted me about making a prototype. I was a bit skeptical as I had tried ergonomic pen holders before and they didn't feel right to me ( although I know there are lots of people who love them and swear by them! ). But for me - I liked the simple round pens.
As I learned more about the shape from Erica, who sent me photographs of a paperclay model and rough sketches for a prototype, I began to think there may be something to it. After all, the great Madarasz flattened the top of his holders. It was a bit of a trial and error when it came to the overall design. We didn't want a straight triangular shape and we didn't want the intricacies of an ergonomic holder as we really wanted it to be as close as possible to a traditional pen. The only thing which was 100% nonnegotiable was the triangular element. After designing several prototypes, I created a holder which had the elements of both a standard (for want of a better word) and triangular holder. It is a curvilateral shape - a somewhat triangular shape but with rounded edges for better comfort, a flat top, and a shallow bottom. On using the pen it felt a little strange at first, but I quickly found it incredibly comfortable to hold. The flat area on top of the pen feels fantastic when executing shades and the pen sits in the hand at exactly the same position every time. All that was left to do was to name it - Erica came up with the combination of elements from both our names which also describe the pen and the Curv-E pen was born!