fountain pen review

fountain pen review
fountain pen review

The earliest form of fountain pen was the quill pen which was used for the writings of the Egyptian pharaohs and high priests as long as four thousand years ago. Initially, they used reeds which were later developed into sharpened wooden instruments with slits cut in the end.

By the 16th century, the most common quill was a goose feather which was carved to a sharp tip and dipped into an ink of vegetable origin.

Early efforts to manufacture pens with their own ink supply were seen in the mid-17th century. Samuel Pepys used an ink pen for his diaries in 1663 and a small pipe above the tip of Pepys' feathered quill was filled with ink by means of a small piston. We can see from general London trade cards of the 1650s that the term 'fountain pen' was already in use.

Although the metal pen was first developed in England in the late 18th century, the oldest known metal fountain pen that has survived was made by M. Bion, chief instrument maker for the King of France, dated 1702.

fountain pen review
Patent practicalities.

It was not until the early 19th century that more practical ink pens began to be developed and a number of patents were recorded. Joseph Bramah replaced the earlier piston of the reservoir with an elastic material, which, when pressed, drew out the ink.

In 1819, John Schaeffer's design had the ink stored in the quill section which was covered in sheep's gut and housed in a metal case which squeezed the ink into a feed cock, allowing it to be controlled. A later improvement in 1859 saw Walter Mosely invent a rubber cam at the end of the reservoir.

The true invention of the fountain pen as we know it was developed in the late 19th century by the American, Lewis Edson Waterman. Before Waterman, the writer had still needed to dip the pen into an inkwell.

He revolutionised the world of pens in 1884 by creating two or three channels in the nib which meant that air displaced the used ink and kept the flow and volume fine.

Waterman's 'Ideal' pen of 1884 was reliable and leak-proof. It was first manufactured commercially in the late 1880s. Soon afterwards, George Parker and Walter Schaeffer aided centuries of invention to launch the Golden Age of fountain pens, makes ideal for collectors.

fountain pen review

Rare vintage

The field for collecting vintage pens gives scope to study workmanship and design. Most enthusiasts begin by collecting recognisable names such as Schaeffer, Parker, Swan and Waterman. Other collectors favour rare pens designed by more obscure firms such as Namiki, Security, Boston and Conklin.

Decorative and colourful pens are highly collectable, aided by the use of precious metals. Size can also affect price and larger ones tend to be more highly valued. The value will also increase if the pen marks an important technological development such as a new filler system.

fountain pen review When buying a pen, it must feel comfortable in your hand; as Samuel Johnson said, "No man was more foolish when he had not a pen in his hand, or more wise when he had."

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