History of the Pen

The Fountain Pen

A fountain pen is a nib pen that contains a reservoir of water-based liquid ink. Reservoirs today are available in disposable cartridge and refillable cartridge styles and fountain pen inks come in a wide variety colors. The ink is drawn from the reservoir, through a feed to the nib then is applied to the paper as you write. The fountain pen's ability to operate and deliver ink is by a combination of gravity and capillary action. The result is a writing instrument that requires very little pressure to write on a piece of paper.

Nib Detail

Throughout history many variations of a writing instrument that would hold ink inside the body would be introduced. Early in history was the quill, which is a bird feather containing a natural reservoir in the center that would hold ink. People would continually dip the quill in an ink bottle as they were writing. In the 19th century, an eyedropper would be used to refill a pen that contained an internal reservoir. After filling the pen with ink, the filling hole was plugged with a cork or the cap screwed back on the end of the pen. Major problems with early fountain pens would be leaking, ink flow and messy to refill. The early 1900s would see a fountain pen emerge that contained an internal self-filling rubber sac as the ink reservoir. Several patents were introduced for the styles of refilling mechanisms, which included the button filler, lever filler and click filler to name a few. All of the variations simply provided a way to squeeze the internal sac flat. Once the pen tip was put in the ink bottle, the pressure was released and the sac would fill up with ink. The disposable ink cartridge was introduced around 1950. The cartridge was made out of glass or plastic and made refilling the fountain pen so much easier. The ballpoint pen was also introduced around this same time and fountain pen sales would drop dramatically. Today the fountain pen has become a "classic" writing instrument admired by collectors and enthusiasts.

Many years ago the fountain pen was a writing instrument used on daily basis. Many owners of these exquisite writing instruments would use the same fountain pen their whole life, replacing their pen only if lost or damaged beyond repair. Over the years, the fountain pen has been replaced by the ballpoint pen and today the mass majority of people have never even written with a fountain pen. The fountain pen is still used today by those that are collectors, enthusiasts and those that just really enjoy writing with the fine writing instrument. The fountain pen offers you an experience like no other writing instrument. When writing with a fountain pen, there is very little pressure required as the tip glides across the paper and the ink embeds in the paper. The more you write with a fountain pen, the more the pen becomes "your" pen, as the tip forms to your personal writing characteristics.

The RollerBall Pen

The rollerball pen was introduced in the early 1980s and was designed to provide the convenience of a ballpoint pen, while providing the smooth writing wet ink used in the fountain pen. The rollerball pen utilizes a refill cartridge with a ballpoint tip and contains a water-based or gel ink. The characteristics of these types of inks allow for the ink to penetrate deeper in the paper as opposed to a regular ballpoint pen, which are oil-based inks that stay on the top of the paper. The gel ink refills for the rollerball come in a wide variety of colors and dry faster than the water-based types.

The BallPoint Pen

The first ballpoint pen was patented in 1889 by John Loud, a leather tanner. He needed a way to write on leather, which at that time the fountain pen was not capable. His pen used a small steel ball held in a socket, which was able to write on the rough surface of leather. However Loud's ballpoint pen could not be used for normal letter writing. Through the early 1900s, the search by many would continue for a better writing instrument. Early ballpoint pens did not work very well, either the ball would not turn smoothly or the ink would leak and smear. Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian newspaper editor, got an idea to use the newspaper ink in a writing instrument. He designed a pen that utilized a small ball in the tip and instead of relying on gravity for his pens, Biro would pressurize the cartridges in his pens. In 1945 the ballpoint pen would come to the United States and sales around the world would climb until today the ballpoint pen can be found in every household, office, car and just about anywhere else you can imagine.

At D&J Wood Designs, we offer ballpoint pens that use either Cross or Parker style ballpoint cartridges. The majority of our pens utilize the Parker style except for the Designer pen and the standard pen that comes with our pen stands. The Parker style cartridge comes in a wider variety of cartridge types allowing you to make selections of more colors, tip size and ink/gel. Cross and Parker cartridges can be purchased through us or your local office supply, department store and many other retailers.

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