Valencia: Where the Streets Have a Name: Calle de Martí

Really, they should have named a fountain after Francisco José Buenaventura de Paula Martí y Mora; he is after all accredited as being the authentic inventor of the fountain pen. I’ll pause here while you finish laughing and look at the photo.

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A native of Xativa, where he was born in 1761, Martí now has a statue in El Retiro park of Madrid and a central Valencian street with a rather classy street sign bearing his name.

He is better known for having invented Spanish shorthand, an art which is now sadly, like the buxom sedcretary a thing of the past since directors have learned to reduce their lunch breaks to a mere three hours and to use a PC.

The fountain pen seems to be making a comeback these days, as do irremoveable blue stains in breast pockets, and yet Martí never really got the credit for the fountain pen. Although he patented his simple version before the 19th century, he never really developed it, and it was an Englishman delightfully named Bryan Donkin who took the credit in 1803.

Martí studied fine arts in Valencia, and soon stood out as a practitioner of intaglio, before moving to Madrid, where he opened the Royal School of Stenography, while at the same time writing plays under a pseudonymn and creating the first Spanish pocket agenda; a bit of an all round man as we might say these days, although he wasn’t at all corpulent.

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He died in Lisbon, where he had travelled for his health, which is ironic.

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