Paperstone – Office life, work and fun

A brief history of reed pens. Find out how to make your own.

By Paperstone on September 1, 2017 in Craft, History of Office Supplies, Pens & Pencils


I love my Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint – it’s my favourite everyday writing utensil – but I reckon I could have managed with a reed pen back in the day as I have a liking for calligraphy.

A reed pen, as its name suggests, is an ancient writing implement made by cutting and shaping a bulrush or a length of bamboo. Such pens, some featuring split nibs, have been found in Ancient Egyptian sites from around 400 BC, and the history of the reed pen goes back further still.

Reed pens were used for Cuneiform writing in ancient Sumeria (present day Iraq) at around 3000 BC. The wedge-shaped pens were used to make indentations in clay tablets to record transactions and keep the economy running smoothly- but book-keeping was just scratching the surface of life in ancient Eastern civilisations.

In 2016, it was reported that ancient clay tablets from the Babylonian empire had been discovered, and experts managed to decipher the writings. They discovered that the geeks of that time had been using geometry to predict the motion of Jupiter, nearly 2000 years before European mathematicians cracked it!

So don’t be put off by the simplicity of reed pens. They were wielded by some very intellectual dudes back in the day. Fancy making your own reed pen? Visit


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