The Pen Museum. Just this, in itself, should be enough to describe the experience.

My roommate kept blabbing about the pen museum. Every time we had a bit of free time his head would pop up yelling: “I know! Let’s go to the Pen Museum!”, and something about the “absolute awesomeness of the place”. It took me months to accept the offer of going to the Pen Museum because, honestly, how horrible does it sound? In the end, he turned out to be quite persuasive and I really had nothing better to do, so we drove into a urine-smelling underground parking in Birmingham’s Jewelry Quarter and walked underneath a cloudy sky.

I love typewriters. They are part of a time when cigarettes were rolled from tobacco tins and absinthe was a common drink, when men wore black suits with top hats and women wore beaded cocktail dresses and red lipstick.

The Museum was deserted. The place was rustic, full of glass display cabinets showcasing a variety of old nibs and inkbottles. The space was small and cramped between the arrays of materials. Old typewriters were exhibited and took up a whole wall. I love typewriters. They are part of a time when cigarettes were rolled from tobacco tins and absinthe was a common drink, when men wore black suits with top hats and women wore beaded cocktail dresses and red lipstick. If this room had a few cobwebs it could have been an old shop in a vintage time. As I ran my fingers on the glass displays, a man’s head popped out of nowhere, somewhat as if he had stretched out of the furniture itself. I can almost imagine him brushing a few strands of dust where they lay across his shoulders. My guess is he must have been here before the Pen Museum became one, when Birmingham was still in its major industrial phase and produced more than half the fountain pens redistributed across England - thanks Google for a bit of extra info.

As I ran my fingers on the glass displays, a man’s head popped out of nowhere, somewhat as if he had stretched out of the furniture itself.

Our new graying friend seemed very excited to have visitors. He proceeded to walk us through the room, explaining bits about some items here and there. His eyes lit up when came the braille machine. He showed us the braille alphabet and introduced a machine the same shape and size as a typewriter. Instead of having a full alphabet, the braille machine is composed of 6 keys, left to right reading 3-2-1-4-5-6. To punch in a letter you are meant to punch in a combination of those 6 keys. An “A” for example is simply the key number 1, but an “F” is a combination of the keys 1, 2 and 4. The man asked me my name.

“Now the first letter is an S,” he said proceeding to type in the letter P, “and then a T” while typing in an E and so on.

He handed me the small roll of paper proudly. I grinned. What was written here was so far from my name. Had I shown this to a blind person, he would have answered: “Peloingt huh? Interesting name.” I giggled and put the bit of paper in my pocket as the man's voice excitedly moved on to future discoveries.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression, ‘As pretty as an airport. Douglas Adams