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Thread: Does anyone own a writing slope?

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    Default Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I'm really tempted to treat myself to a nice victorian writing slope but wondered does any one else own one and if so are they comfortable to use?

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I don't know. I imagine they would be in they were used one way or the other for hundreds of years in one for or the other.

    A sloped writing surface was standard. Monks sat at one; and later a 1800's into the 20th century, clerks stood for 12 hours at a sloped desk.** Only Bosses had a flat desk. One didn't want the clerks goofing off with a flat desk.

    **Frankfurter a mid 20th century Supreme Court Judge had a stand up slope for his desk. It was what he'd learned on at the turn of the century.


    I've lost two live auction bids for a nice slope. Had I really know how very good the first one was I'd not lost it. But I was noobie to writing slopes and the price was a bit shocking...but it was nearly as good as some of the full slopes I saw on the other com..

    I've looked at 5 or 6 others live, that were not worth or not quite worth bidding on. Too much wood work needed.
    The more complete it is the more it costs.

    Over on the other com, some folks showed 3-4 real good ones and about the same amount of good enough ones.
    Should take a look at them to see what sort of minefield you will be walking in.
    Last edited by BoBo Olson; November 1st, 2021 at 05:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by kelly41 View Post
    I'm really tempted to treat myself to a nice Victorian writing slope but wondered does any one else own one and if so are they comfortable to use?
    Comfortable, yes. Before Computer-Aided Draughting and Design (CADD) came along, multitudes of draughtsmen and women and technical illustrators spent countless hours working of similarly sloped hand drawing and lettering all the works of art from which every thing from aircraft and automobiles, children's toys, household appliances and houses, to roads and the factories in which everything was made. Those draughting tables were effectively grossly oversized writing slopes.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    It'd be cool to own one. But use it for comfort? I can't imagine much worse. If you want a slope, go with one of those portable draughting tabletops. A compromise to the antique slope is the Smithsonian's Thomas Jefferson "lap desk" that is reproduced by a few cabinetmakers:



    More: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=thomas+jef...ages&ia=images
    Last edited by FredRydr; November 1st, 2021 at 10:30 PM.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    It'd be cool to own one. But use it for comfort? I can't imagine much worse. If you want a slope, go with one of those portable draughting tabletops. A compromise to the antique slope is the Smithsonian's Thomas Jefferson "lap desk" that is reproduced by a few cabinetmakers:



    More: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=thomas+jef...ages&ia=images
    It would be better if the surface of that wasn't folded. The change of angle and the open hinge line would be annoying.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    It would be better if the surface of that wasn't folded. The change of angle and the open hinge line would be annoying.
    That is exactly what I thought.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    There are others where the slope don't fold, how ever it does have a step between table and slope.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I once read that sloping desks are needed especially if you write with a quill. Something to do do with the angle of that the tip of the quill meeds the paper/ parchment. So, when I was in my quill phase, I removed a loose shelf and inclined it on my desk and gave it a go. It was a fun experience for what it lasted and cured me form wanting to buy one

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I've made a couple, one with clear maple and one with plexiglas, for my wife. She used them mostly for holding books and papers at a good angle for reading and reference use while she taught.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I have probably a half dozen of these, purchased in restorable condition and not yet entirely restored. Or, in some cases, restored at all. But I have spent a lot of time looking at them and have figured the following things out, for what they are worth.

    Slopes come in two basic styles - either a box with a sloping lid, or else a box that folds over on itself. The ones from Bombay company and many mid-century manufacturers are the first kind, as, I think, may have been Ben Franklin's.

    The ones that fold over on themselves evolved from the end of the 18th century. In the early 19th century you see campaign writing slopes - these are large, and when they are folded out you have plenty of room to write. The original hinges are on the wood edges, not the writing surface, and are flush with the wood edge - not in the way. The "Hinge" of the boards is formed by the cloth or leather writing surface pasted on to them.

    Closer to the turn of the 20th century there seem to be a lot of smaller writing slopes. A bunch I've seen are about 12 inches long - which means when opened they are about 12 inches wide. They were obviously more affordable to begin with and tend to be now, as well. Again, the original hinges are in the top edges of the cut sides of the box, and would not get in your way, but many of these, like the larger ones, have been repaired in the 20th or 21st century with whatever sort of hinges the repairer could get, and those hinges might get in your way. The original ones would not.

    The type that has a slanted top with another piece folding over on it, somewhat like the piece folds over on Jefferson's, have the hinges at the edge of the boards, at least on the one I have. In the case of mine, these hinges do not have much to be screwed into and the board does not want to remain attached to the slope, although the cloth does help with that.

    They locked, and were a good place to keep your correspondence together - some of them have secret compartments but since all the secret compartments are in the same place and all are triggered by similar mechanisms I am sure they were not secret to anyone else who had a writing slope. They seem to pretty much always have two places for ink containers, a place for your pens, and room under the writing boards for storage, some with ribbon grids on the back of the boards to hold things.

    The really nice ones in good condition are not cheap - many of the more affordable ones have been broken open by people who did not have the key to the box, sometimes the whole lock is missing, the writing boards can be coming to pieces, etc. That said, they are not rockets, and do not take rocket science to fix - probably anyone with reasonable dexterity and the patience to both find out how to do it right and then to do it could probably succeed, although I will admit there are days when I look at chipped and missing veneer and totally lose heart...
    Last edited by scrivelry; November 6th, 2021 at 11:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I improvised one for a girlfriend once. Got a wooden plank ... maybe a not-thick cutting board ... and attached it to the front edge of a work table with two door hinges. You could use it anywhere from flat/horizontal to any tilted angle. Just lift up the unhinged part of the plank and put something solid behind it, like a can of paint or something. Angle infinitely adjustable by where you put the can of paint.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    @scrivelry can you post some photos?

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    I had two, one well restored, the other in original good condition. Both were similar and dated, I suppose, to the late 19th, early 20th centuries. They were beautifully made and interesting as an earlier writing environment but I didn't find them useful. Writing on a slope held no benefit for me and the crease in the middle of the slope was annoying. Both had the "secret" drawer - a poorly kept secret as most writing slopes had them.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    @scrivelry can you post some photos?
    I will try to do this tomorrow - I warn you all that I am sort of super-fail at posting pictures for multiple reasons.

    A bunch of my slopes are in boxes from a move. The move took almost two years and has been over for a year and a half, but I still have not found most of my stuff, including a number of pens and a bunch of writing slopes, so I don't know if I can illustrate all the types I mentioned, but I will do my best.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Well I finally bit the bullet and bought this one, it's not the most decorative in the world but it called to me so now it's arriving Thursday.
    It may have to be put away till Christmas though as its a present from family
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by kelly41 View Post
    Well I finally bit the bullet and bought this one, it's not the most decorative in the world but it called to me so now it's arriving Thursday.
    It may have to be put away till Christmas though as its a present from family
    This is a very nicely restored one. None of mine look like this!

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    @scrivelry can you post some photos?
    I apologize for not getting around to this yet. I am disorganized at best and have not been at my best for about... I dunno, 47 years? I have not given up trying.

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivelry View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Yazeh View Post
    @scrivelry can you post some photos?
    I apologize for not getting around to this yet. I am disorganized at best and have not been at my best for about... I dunno, 47 years? I have not given up trying.
    No problem. I know something about disorganation There's no hurry. And if you can't it's alright too...

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Quote Originally Posted by scrivelry View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kelly41 View Post
    Well I finally bit the bullet and bought this one, it's not the most decorative in the world but it called to me so now it's arriving Thursday.
    It may have to be put away till Christmas though as its a present from family
    This is a very nicely restored one. None of mine look like this!
    Thank you something about it just drew me to it. I can't wait to get my inky hands on it

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    Default Re: Does anyone own a writing slope?

    Yesterday I got it back from having a good polish and the center pin repaired, the wood grain looks amazing
    Attached Images Attached Images

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