"The ‘popular’ nineteenth century quill machine or quill cutter is a relatively item and can be frequently found on Ebay or at Antique Fairs. However like many collectibles they are becoming increasingly difficult to find in good condition while the earlier seventeenth and eighteenth century examples are rarely seen outside museums.
From the c6th century quills were cut by hand with a knife but as scissors and pliers date back to Roman times no doubt some medieval innovator attempted to cut quills with a mechanical device. However the earliest illustration of a machine for cutting quills is dated by Van Cleem as c16th century and the earliest surviving examples of a vertical machine are probably c17th century.
From about 1680, Court sponsored instrument makers, such as Bion, produced many unusual tools and machines and the earliest mechanical quill machines were most likely French.
By the beginning of the c19th century a range of plier, vertical and ‘common’ pocket machines were available but in the 1850’s the success of the steel nib meant that ‘the writing was on the wall’ for the quill!
Consequently although quill machines were mass produced during the mid and late c19th century few were actually used after about 1870.
A general comment on prices can be very misleading and it is not our intention to dwell for long on value."