Before email, there were quill pens

Before there was email, before there was the telegraph, before there was the Pony Express, people communicated with one another.

Just how they managed is the subject of A Survival Guide to 18th Century Living: Colonial Communications on Saturday, Feb. 20, from 10:30 to 3, at the Wilton Historical Society.

This scholarly “survival guide,” for those ages 14 and up seriously interested in the how and why of 18th Century living, will focus on Colonial communications, from written letters to the postal system and more.

It will cover:

  • The difference between penmanship and calligraphy;

  • How to select and prepare a quill pen;

  • How to use pounce;

  • How to properly fold correspondence;

  • How a letter traveled from sender to recipient.

Participants will spend the day in the company of Otto S. de Pierne, learning how to make an authentic goose quill pen, and writing an 18th Century letter. Some may know de Pierne as the skilled blacksmith at the Wilton Historical Society, but that is only one of his areas of expertise. He has thoroughly immersed himself in the world of Colonial New England, and can discourse on a variety of topics including medicine, foodways, and tavern life. De Pierne will also have a number of period artifacts on hand for examination.

Participants may bring a brown bag lunch; beverages and dessert provided. There is a fee of $25 for society members, $35 for non-members. The program is extremely limited in size so registration is essential. Email: or call 203-762-7257.