The invention of the pen has been crucial in laying the foundations for our culture. Pens are the means by which we will be able to write and communicate for years to come. If it weren’t for the pen, we wouldn’t have Shakespeare’s plays or Galileo, Newton, or Leonardo da Vinci’s scientific discoveries.
Inquiring minds are eager to know how we moved from writing with a quill pen to using fountain pens today. Pens have been around for a long time, yet they’ve been underappreciated.
Table of Contents
Evolution Of Pens
Quills and pens without an ink reservoir have a number of drawbacks, the most significant of which being the ink’s tendency to smear and discolor the paper on which they are used. The first line of defense against these issues is the fountain pen. It features a water-based liquid ink reservoir built into its body, allowing it to write for extended periods of time: gravity and capillary action transport the ink from the feed to the nib.
For example, depending on how it’s constructed, you may use a pipette or syringe, the pen’s own piston-style filling mechanism, or insert an ink cartridge into the pen’s body to get it started writing. They have ink tablets that may be used to fill the fountain pen after being dissolved in a solution of water and the tablet.
1. 3000 Before Christ: Reed Pens
When humans found papyrus, they realized they needed a pen. People from Egypt invented reed pens for writing on papyrus and paper with ink. The pen’s body was made from flexural marsh grass, particularly bamboo.
Pen nib-shaped, the tube’s end was scraped and injected with penning liquid. In order to release the ink, the pen must be pressed.
2. 6th Century: Quills
After decades of utilizing the reed pen, the quill pen was invented in Seville, Spain. Bird wings like ducks, chickens, and swans were used to make quill pens
They were thoroughly dried to prevent the ink from reacting with the oil on the feathers. With a knife, the tip of the pen’s feather was honed to a point. To use the quill, dip the feather into ink, and the ink would pool at the end of the shaft. These pens lasted a long time, although they required constant sharpening with a knife (also referred to as a penknife).
Handwriting used to be all-in upper-case letters before the invention of the quill. On the other hand, the quill increased in fluidity and speed of writing, leading to the development of more decorative and speedier writing methods, including lowercase letters. Over the course of over 12 centuries, the quill pen would’ve been employed.
3. 1822: Steel Point Pens
One of the oldest writing implements ever made is the Steel Point Pen.
As John Mitchell started mass-producing factory-made steel-point pens (also known as dip pens), the quills were replaced. Unlike traditional quill pens, which were more expensive and fragile, these writing implements were considerably more durable and cost-effective alternatives.
Over time, ink pens became more annoying as writing became easier and quicker. This eventually led to the development of fountain pens.
4. 1827: Fountain Pens
In 1827, Petrache Poenaru, an inventor from Romania, applied for a patent of the first working fountain pen. Because it featured an ink barrel, this pen didn’t need as frequent ink dipping. However, this concept was never fully realized. It often would either not print at all or with excessive amounts of ink, which caused blotting.
Lewis Edson Waterman invented and patented the 3 ink-feed fountain pen in 1884. Pens were much more portable thanks to this innovation, which made ink flow much easier. Many innovations were made to the fountain pen during the 20th century, including using refillable and replacement inks and incorporating plastics, metals, and wood in the construction of the pens.
History of Fountain Pens
Ink reservoir pens were first mentioned in manuscripts as far back as 973. Ma’d al-Mu’izz requested a pen that would keep his hands clean as he used it and wouldn’t make as much mess as normal pens and quills since he was the caliph of the Maghreb area of Northwest Africa. His dream came true when an invented pen could be carried upside-down without leaking ink, although no one knows exactly how it operated or what it looked like.
When a German founder, called Daniel Schwenter came up with a pen consisting of two quills in the 17th century, it was the first time a pen with an internal reservoir was mentioned. The ink was kept within a cork-sealed quill, which was secured with a second quill. The ink flowed from the reservoir to a nib through a tiny hole.
Fountain pens were noted by Samuel Pepys, an administrator of the English Navy Force, in his works in 1663, and historian Hester Dorsey Richardson wrote about them in the 17th century. The widespread manufacture of inexpensive steel nibs for ordinary pens in the 19th century led to the development of fountain pens. It wasn’t only iridium-tipped gold nibs or hard rubber or free-flowing ink that made these pens successful; they required three innovations to be popular: iridium-tipped gold nibs, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink. In the 1850s, the first fountain pen with all these features was developed.
Stylographic pens were designed by Duncan MacKinnon and Alonzo T. Cross in 1870, and they employed a wire inside a tube which served as a channel for ink to flow. An eyedropper was used to fill each of these pens. As early as the first decade of the twentieth century, self-filling fountain pens were developed. In addition to the twist and crescent-filler pens, there were two more types of pens: the crescent-filler and the twist-filler.
Some manufacturers attempted to fix the leak issue in the fountain pens which were invented earlier on. A retractable tip sealed the ink reservoir on certain models. Some screw-on caps featured inner covers that closed around the tip, whereas others did not. After then, the improvements persisted. Filling mechanisms with valves and levers were used instead of grippy rubber, and proper-ink fountain pens were introduced. A status symbol was created as ballpoint pens became more affordable and simpler.
Interested in owning some history? Blesket Canada has a great selection of fountain pens to choose from and they ship all over Canada and the United States.