101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No 9. Handwriting

Do you do little loops at the bottom of your y’s, do you draw little hearts over the top of your i’s? Do you, when actually pressed to use a pen at all after years of typing and texting, get all flummoxed and end up using block capitals so at least people have a fighting chance of understanding you? Well, you’ll never guess, Birmingham is responsible for that.

Y’see back in the 19th century people used quills for writing, it was a splodgy, blotty, ink-stained business. You had to be skilled and neat, you couldn’t develop your own style very much. But then John Mitchell. down in Newall Street, pioneered mass production of steel pens and suddenly writing just became a bit easier.

Soon thousands of people and dozens of companies were using Birmingham to make pens of different sizes and quality and the city gave easy communication to the world. And that lasted until a few years ago, because loads of us just don’t pick up a pen very often any more—and even the prime minister uses text speak. LOL.

Lots of love.

Author: Jon Bounds

Jon was voted the ‘14th Most Influential Person in the West Midlands’ in 2008. Subsequently he has not been placed. He’s been a football referee, venetian blind maker, cellar man, and a losing Labour council candidate: “No, no chance. A complete no-hoper” said a spoilt ballot. Jon wrote and directed the first ever piece of drama performed on Twitter when he persuaded a cast including MPs and journalists to give over their timelines to perform Twitpanto. But all that is behind him.