The fountain pen has a long and exciting history. It was first invented in the 9th century, but it didn’t become popular until the 18th century. Many different people have been credited with its invention, so no one knows for sure who came up with the idea first.
In this blog post, we will explore the history of the fountain pen, discuss its various changes over the years, and who is commonly associated with its creation. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is a Fountain Pen?
A fountain pen is a writing instrument that uses liquid ink to write on paper. The ink is stored in a cartridge inside the pen and is transferred to the paper via a nib.
Fountain pens are used for both writing and drawing, and different nibs are available for creating small, medium, and large line widths.
The First Fountain Pen
The first recorded use of a fountain pen dates back to the ninth century when a Muslim scholar named al-Jazari used such a pen to write a letter.
al-Jazari’s fountain pen was red and had an ink reservoir made of animal skin. The nib was cut from quill feathers, and the ink was held in a small sack made from animal bladder.
The first fountain pens were not mass-produced, but they were made by individual craftsmen for wealthy patrons.
The first mass-produced fountain pens were invented in the 18th century by John Jacob Parker. Parker’s fountain pen had a metal barrel, gold nib, and a hollowed-out quill with a small metal container attached to the end.
The ink would flow from the container and into the quill, and then the writer could use it like any other pen. This design was famous for a few hundred years, but it had some significant drawbacks.
One of the biggest problems was that the ink would often leak out of the quill and get over the writer’s hands. This made it messy to use and made writing for long periods of time challenging.
Another issue was that the quill would often dry out, making it necessary to dip it in ink frequently. The quill pen was the best option available for many centuries despite these problems. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that a new fountain pen emerged.
The New Dip Pen
The new design, known as the “dip pen”, featured a nib that could be dipped in an inkwell. The dip pen was a significant improvement over the quill pen, but it still had many issues.
One of the biggest problems was that the ink would often splatter when the nib dipped in the inkwell. It was also difficult to use for writing long passages. Another issue was that the ink would sometimes clog the nib.
The dip pen was a significant step forward in fountain pen history despite these problems. It paved the way for further developments and improvements, making it possible for the modern fountain pen to emerge.
Inventors of the Fountain Pen
Other inventors of the fountain pens include:
- Leonard Ravenhill (19th century)
- John Jacob Parker (19th century)
- Lewis Waterman (19th century)
- J.B. Dunlop (20th century)
- Pierre Cardin (20th century)
These inventors made different improvements to the fountain pen design, so they are all credited with its development.
Ravenhill is credited with inventing the first pen that could be filled with ink from an inkwell.
Parker is credited with inventing the first self-filling fountain pen. Waterman is credited with inventing the first fountain pen with a cartridge system.
Dunlop is credited with inventing the first disposable fountain pen. Finally, Cardin is credited with inventing the first luxurious fountain pen.
The cartridge is a small, self-contained unit that holds ink. It is attached to the pen’s nib and can be easily removed and replaced. This change was crucial to making the fountain pen more practical and convenient.
Before cartridges were invented, people had to fill their pens using an eyedropper. It was a messy and time-consuming process, and it often resulted in ink spills. Cartridges made it possible to quickly and easily refill a pen without making a mess.
Today, cartridges are the most popular way to fill a fountain pen. They are convenient and easy to use, and they make it possible to carry a spare cartridge with you in case you run out of ink.
Despite the popularity of cartridges, some people still prefer to fill their pens using an eyedropper. This method is more time-consuming and messy, but it has the advantage of using any color or ink.
The Oldest Known Fountain Pen
The oldest known fountain pen, which is still around today, was designed by Maienfisch and is now on display at the Berlin Museum.
This attractive fountain pen was designed with a glass barrel to see how much ink was left. The nib is made of gold and has a small hole in the center so that ink can flow through it when pressure is applied.
The Maienfisch fountain pen is a unique piece of history, and it is still in working condition. It is a reminder of the early days of the fountain pen when people were still experimenting with different designs and trying to find the best way to make these pens work!
The Gold Nib Pen
In the early 1800s, gold nibs became popular among those who could afford them. Gold was used because it was a soft metal that could be easily shaped into a nib. Gold nibs were also more durable than quill nibs and did not wear down as quickly.
The first mass-produced fountain pen was the gold nib pen, introduced in 1858 by the Dennison Manufacturing Company. This pen had a gold nib and a barrel made of hard rubber.
The gold nib pen was a success and paved the way for other companies to mass-produce fountain pens.
Modern Invention of the Fountain Pen
Lewis Waterman is often considered the father of the modern fountain pen. Before 1884, fountain pens were plagued with issues like leaking and clogging. Waterman’s design was much more reliable, and it quickly became the standard for fountain pens.
Waterman’s company, the Waterman Pen Company, was one of the first manufacturers of fountain pens. They were very successful and dominated the market for many years.
As time went by, other changes began to emerge. One of the most significant changes was the introduction of the cartridge system, making it possible to store ink in a bottle. Other changes included the introduction of disposable pens and luxury pens.
Fountain pens are still considered luxurious items, and are often given as gifts. Whether you use them to write long passages or to simply sign your signature, there’s no doubt that they are an essential part of our history.
Other Fountain Pen Patents and Improvements
- 1888: John J. Loud added a retractable nib
- 1837 – 1907: Lewis Waterman patented the first ink cartridge for fountain pens
- 1916: Marcel Bich patented the first disposable fountain pen
- 1907: Walter Sheaffer patented the first luxury fountain pen, known as the Sheaffer Balance
- 1954: Parker introduced the first ballpoint pen
- 1962: Masao Miura and Yukio Horie introduced the first fiber tip pen
- 1924: Montblanc introduced its first luxury fountain pen
- 2000: Parker introduced the Duofold Centennial, a luxury fountain pen made of gold and silver
- 2005: Montblanc introduced the Solitaire Royal, a luxury fountain pen with a diamond-encrusted nib
- 2007: Pilot introduced the Vanishing Point, a retractable nib fountain pen
- 2010: Montblanc introduced the Bohème, a luxury fountain pen collection
- 2013: Pilot introduced the Falcon, a luxury fountain pen with a gold nib
- 2014: Montblanc introduced the Heritage Collection 1912, a luxury fountain pen inspired by the original Montblanc Meisterstück
- 2015: Parker introduced the Premier, a luxury fountain pen with an 18k gold nib
- 2018: Montblanc introduced the Heritage Collection 1912 Limited Edition, a luxury fountain pen with a diamond-encrusted nib
- 2019: Parker reintroduced the Duofold as a luxury fountain pen
- 2020: Montblanc introduced the Bohème Royal Blue Hour, a luxury fountain pen with a diamond-encrusted nib
The Bottom Line
The modern fountain pen has a long and exciting history, and it continues to be a popular writing instrument today.
Some of the most notable improvements include the cartridge system, disposable pens, and luxury pens.
Although they are no longer the standard, fountain pens are still considered luxurious. Whether you’re a collector or simply enjoy using them, there’s no doubt that they are an essential part of our history!