Fountain pen

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A fountain pen is a nib pen that, unlike its predecessor the dip pen, contains an internal reservoir of water-based liquid ink. From the reservoir, the ink is drawn through a feed to the nib and then to the paper via a combination of gravity and capillary action. As a result, the typical fountain pen requires little or no pressure to write.

Filling the reservoir with ink may be done manually (via the use of an eyedropper or syringe), or via an internal "filler" mechanism which creates suction to transfer ink directly through the nib into the reservoir. Some pens employ removable reservoirs, in the form of pre-filled ink cartridges.

Contents

History

The earliest historical record of a reservoir pen dates back to the 10th century. In 953, Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, the caliph of Egypt, demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir and delivered it to the nib, and could be held upside-down without leaking, as recorded by Qadi al-Nu'man al-Tamimi (d. 974) in his Kitab al-Majalis wa 'l-musayardt.[1] No details of the construction or mechanism of operation of this pen are known and no examples have survived.

In his Deliciae Physico-Mathematicae (1636), German inventor Daniel Schwenter described a pen made from two quills. One quill served as a reservoir for ink inside the other quill. The ink was sealed inside the quill with cork. Ink was squeezed through a small hole to the writing point. Noted Maryland historian Hester Dorsey Richardson (1862–1933) documented a reference to "three silver fountain pens, worth 15 shillings" in England during the reign of Charles II, ca. 1649-1685.[2] She also found a 1734 notation made by Robert Morris the elder in the ledger of the expenses of Robert Morris the younger, who was at the time in Philadelphia, for "one fountain pen".[2]

Progress in developing a reliable pen was slow, however, until the mid-19th century. That slow pace of progress was due to a very imperfect understanding of the role that air pressure played in the operation of the pens and because most inks were highly corrosive and full of sedimentary inclusions. The Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru received a French patent for the invention of the first fountain pen with a replaceable ink cartridge on May 25, 1827.[3] Starting in the 1850s there was a steadily accelerating stream of fountain pen patents and pens in production. It was only after three key inventions were in place, however, that the fountain pen became a widely popular writing instrument. Those inventions were the iridium-tipped gold nib, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink.

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