38 Old-time Schools and School-books
Slates did not come into general use until about 1820, and lead pencils not for a good many years after that. In filling the pages of their manuscript " sum-books " and " copy-books," the children were in the habit of using pen and ink exclusively. A favorite book of instructions of the period in its " Directions to Beginners in Writing " says that the necessary implements are
a pen-knife, quills, paper, good and free ink; likewife a flat Ruler for Surenefs; and a round one for Difpatch; with a leaden Plummet or Pencil to rule Lines : Alfo Gum Sandrich Powder with a little Cotton dipped therein, which rub gently over the Paper to make it bear Ink the better.
The pens were goose-quills, and one of the schoolmaster's most essential accomplishments was the ability to make and mend these pens. Even if he was very expert in the art, the making and repairing for a large school consumed a good deal of time. Each family was its own ink manufacturer. The usual process was to dissolve ink-powder ; but many of the country folk gathered the bark of swamp-maple, boiled it in an iron kettle to give it a more perfect black color, and when the decoction was thick added copperas. These home-made inks were often weak and pallid, and sometimes they dried up. Again they were spoiled with grease that got into the inkstands at the schoolhouse ; for when there were evening meetings in the school building it came handy to use the inkstands as candlesticks.
The paper ordinarily bought for school purposes was rough and dark. Its cost, and the scarcity of