Quills, are the large feathers plucked from the end of the wings of geese, crows, etc. They are termed first, seconds, and thirds, from the order in which they grow in the wing: the two last, however, are principally employed for writing, on account of the larger size of their barrels.
As the utility and value of quills, in the manufacture of pens, greatly depend on their firmness and elasticity, different expedients have been contrived, with a view to divest them of their natural softness. The most simple of these, cousists in thrusting the barrel into hot sand or ashes for a few moments ; after which it is pressed almost flat, by means of a pen knife, and then rendered round between the fingers, by the assistance of a piece of leather, or woollen cloth ; with which their external roughness may be easily removed by friction. If, however, a considerable number of quills is to be hardened, it will be advisable to set a vessel, containing a little water and alum, over the fire: as soon as the liquor begins to boil, the barrels only must be immersed for a minute, after which they may be suspended to dry. Good pens constitute an article of indispensable necessity in all departments of trade, commerce, literature, etc. Hence, it becomes an useful, it" not important object, to be able to cut them according to the most approved rules.—The reader, who is desirous of information on this head, will find some pertinent hints in Mr. Wilkes's small tract, entitled, The Art of Making Pens scientifically, etc. (small 8vo. is. Crosby and Letterman); in which plain directions are given to that effect, together with appropriate instructions for the management of the quill, pen-knife, hone, strop, and other articles, connected with the art of pen-making