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Friday, September 12, 2008

First Fountain Pen

A classical fountain pen is a writing instrument with a water-based liquid ink in the reservoir contained within. The fountain pen ink is delivered to the nib through a feed; thanks to Earth gravitation the liquid flows down.

It is believed that the first fountain pen ever was made by the order of the caliph of Egypt.
The progress of perfecting fountain pens took centuries because the limited knowledge of physics did not allow to understand the role of air pressure in the fountain pens, and because inks were of highly corrosive nature.
Petrache Poenaru, a Romanian inventor, received a patent for inventing a fountain pen with a replaceable ink cartridge. Since 1827, the development of fountain pens went at a faster pace thanks to this invention. Fountain pens now allowed for smooth writing without so much hated dripping or paper scratching.
However, it took three more key inventions to create a first fountain pen as we all know it to look like. Hard rubber, gold nib with iridium tip, and new formula of fountain pen ink made these writing instruments easy to use and reliable.
The first fountain pens that incorporated all these technical improvements appeared in the very middle of the XIX centiry. Thirty years later, the epoch of fountain pens finally began – and continued for decennaries. Waterman became first fountain pens mass-manufactured, reserving a huge portion of the growing market for his company.
New types of materials allowed to produce fountain pens with better characteristics, but one problem still remained; it was the absence of self-filling mechanism that would not leave stains on hands. Waterman found a solution and called it ‘twist-filler’. Sheaffer and Parker, closest competitors, invented their own.
Waterman offered its non-leaking pens at the beginning of the XXth century. Technological innovation made since that time changed the look and feel of fountain pens. Hard rubber was replaced by celluloid, which allowed to produce pens of more colours. Parker introduced new filling systems in Parker Duofold and Vacumatic series.
Until 1960s fountain pens successfully competed with ballpoint pens, that were expensive and had irregular inkflow. Fountain pens benefited from attention on part of craftsmen. Parker 51 was a notable model launched by the time.
Unlike first fountain pen, nibs of modern writing instruments are mostly made of stainless steel or gold (in premium models).