Frederick Fölsch – The Inventor of Fountain Pen

Frederick Fölsch – The Inventor of Fountain Pen

No matter how much we embrace digital technology, it is hardly likely that we will ever reach the stage when we don’t have pens in every house and office. Admittedly, it is a necessity, and when we can’t find a pen around, we are rushing frantically, looking for one when we need it. While everyone uses a pen, the question is how many people know Frederick Fölsch– the inventor of fountain pen?
With gradual improvements over the years, fountain pens have been in use for about 200+ years now. Most people don’t know about Frederick Fölsch because the advancements in technology mean that pens have changed a lot since their advent.
Around the time of World War I, dip pens were largely being replaced by fountain pens. Then came the era of fountain pens - People who used fountain pens for writing on a regular basis also had a handy bottle of ink that they used to refill the ink chamber of a fountain pen. It wasn’t until the mass production of ballpoint pens that almost everyone stopped using dip pens.

Who was Frederick Fölsch?

Before we understand the contribution of Frederick Fölsch in our everyday life and how pens have evolved since then, it is essential to understand who he was, his life and his relations.
There isn’t a lot of detail available about his life in historical journals and context because he wasn’t a well-known figure during his life. It is only after the beginning of mass production of fountain pens that people realized the role this person has played in the history. Here we look at the first relation in the life of the inventor of the fountain pen.

Who invented the fountain pen?

The earliest fountain pens were invented hundreds of years ago. As early as the 10th century, people started using fountain pens of various shapes, sizes and forms – however, not all of these early inventions were patented. This is the reason you will find many different answers to the question Who invented the fountain pen?

However, a little bit of research shows that Frederick Fölsch is the inventor of the fountain pen and registered the first patents for his design of the fountain pen in England in May 1809. His fountain pen design allowed the ink to flow easily through the pen without the need to dip the pen in ink.

An American inventor named Lewis Edson Waterman also held patents for early fountain pens. He also formed a company named Waterman Pen Company. JohnSchefferand John Jacob Parker also patented their designs but all these patents came after the first recorded inventions and patent from FrederickFölsch. It was John Scheffer’s patent that came in 1819 which was used for a bigger scale commercial success.

Also, there are some mentions in the history of French royal instrument maker Nicolas Bion. However, there is no evidence of any patent from Nicolas Bionand he never claimed that he made the pens by himself.


Earliest fountain pens

The earliest fountain pens that can still be found in museums today are dating back to 17th or 18th century. These pens were made from various available metals; however, we can also see early examples of pens with nibs made from gold.

FrederickFölsch– The inventor of fountain pens

FrederickFölschgot the first patent for fountain pen in May 1809. While there wasn’t a lot of commercial product using Frederick Fölsch’s design, he still remains to be the inventor of fountain pens. It wasn’t until 1870s or 1880s until the fountain pens started being produced commercially. Mass production started in 1884.

Small-scale productions of fountain pen started in various locations, after a while Lewis Edson Waterman's company claimed its position as the market leader and claimed to invent the fountain pen – while they were the market leader at that time, they were by no means the inventor.Production of fountain pens on a mass scale started in late 19th century.

Book by FrederickFölsch

FrederickFölschwrotea book called ‘Writing pens’. It has a British Patent number 3235. It was published on 09 May 1809 in London by Eyre and Spottiswood. It was published at the Great Seal Patent Office in 1850.

The first edition containing the original printed patent had a soft cover binding and received its fair share of wear and tear because of the dis-binding.


When was the fountain pen invented?

The patent fromFrederickFölschwasfiled in 1809 so it is safe to say the fountain pen was invented in 1809.

Any pen containing ink that uses metal nib to transfer that ink on paper is considered a fountain pen. These pens were a massive improvement from the earlier pens where the nib had to be dipped in ink frequently to keep writing. This is the reason they were widely referred to as reservoir pens in 17th and 18th century.

There are historical references of Arab Egypts using pens that used pens offering continuous ink flow without the need to re-dip. There are also accounts of Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing depicting similar pens. Some historians claim that the consistent ink flow of Da Vinci’s writing indicates that he may be used a variant of fountain pen for his writings.


Modern fountain pens

Modern fountain pens based their understanding on the model from Frederick Fölsch but were better in quality because the pen-makers now understood the role air pressure plays in ensuring a regular stream of ink flow.

Steel nibs of earlier fountain pens were prone to rusting; so, when iridium tipped gold nibs came with anti-corrosion abilities, it was a major breakthrough. The gold nib was dipped in Iridium to make it more usable.

Inventors who came up with subsequent designs tried to solve the issues relating to previous design to claim that there design was an improved version. Meanwhile, inks also kept improving to become less prone to corrosion, easy flowing and vibrant.

However, quite unsurprisingly, there is a significant percentage of population that still uses fountain pens today despite all the other available options. There is also a niche market for people who are fond of antique and vintage fountain pens – they collect and repair these pens quite fondly. Artists around the globe use it casually for calligraphy and cursive handwriting.

People who are still fond of using fountain pens claim that the fluidity and experience of using a fountain pen cannot be possibly replicated by ball point pens. They feel infinitely better for writing, and you can go on and on for hours without feeling any undue pressure on your hand or reduction in the quality of writing because of reduced ink.

Many fountain pens that are found in collectibles, galleries and collections today have the initials of the pen owner engraved on them. This was a norm decades ago when people used to take great pride in their fountain pens, and wouldn’t share them with anyone else. Also, these fountain pens a distinctive look to the writing of their owner.

Looking at the shape of fountain pens today, it is hard to imagine all the cycles of evolution that they underwent. While hardly anyone today can remember the days when it was a norm to have a bottle of ink on the writing desk and dip the pen in it every now and then in order to keep writing. However, Frederick Fölsch would have foreseen this evolution. There were different variants of pens being used before his patent, but his patent gave a new direction and improved design to the people working with older versions.

When he got the patent, Frederick Fölsch was living on Oxford Street in London. It is during the year preceding 1809 that he was able to devote this time and energy into creation of an improved design of fountain pen that worked seamlessly.
What makes the patent and design of Frederick Fölsch is that he had a clear understanding of how air flow and gravity play together to ensure a steady flow of ink. This was a major drawback in older versions of fountain pens and this is why the patent from Frederick Fölsch paved the way for the fountain pens of future.

Today, companies like Mont Blanc and Faber-Castell are still continuing the legacy of making fine fountain pens. They are considered a status symbol and make excellent gifts for all recipients on all kinds of occasions. If you want to pass on the amazing work of Frederick Fölsch to someone special in your life, browse through our collection and you wouldn’t be disappointed.

If Frederick Fölsch – the inventor of fountain pen was alive today, he would have been very proud of the difference he has made to the lives of countless people.

Back to blog