The Fountain Pen - Its Origin and Everything you Need to Know

The Fountain Pen - Its Origin and Everything you Need to Know

The uniqueness of the experience of writing with a fountain pen is partly due to how personal it is. Everything from the grasp and pressure of a person's hand to the pen and the silhouette of the instrument, shapes, strokes and indeed the experience of writing itself is an event unique to each individual.
Adding to obvious characteristics such as good ink flow and beautiful appearance, a good fountain pen can offer subtle nuances in performance that add to the experience and elevate the art form to high writing. As many predicted that with the advent and subsequent dominance of digital communication, fountain pens have indeed experienced a renaissance. Fountain pen groups are popping up around the country, and there are legions of young people joining the ranks of enthusiasts.

Origin of Fountain Pens

Let’s start with the history — according to Kitab al Majalis wal masayart by Qadi al Numan. He states in his book that Al Muizz li din, the Fatimid caliph of Arabian Egypt, required a quill that did not ruin his clothes and hands with stains. He was then offered a pen that had a handle to hold the ink in the ink container within the pen, it was used by holding it upside down, and it did not leak at all. So his hands and clothes were safe as it was leakage free.
Earliest patent of a design of a fountain pen that worked on its own with adequate ink flow (without the need to be dipped) was by Frederick Fölsch in London. The next practical fountain pen was invented by Mr. Lewis Edison Waterman in 1883. He created a pen with its own ink reservoir, and his design has been widely used in the mass production of earlier fountain pens.
History has compelling evidence that the fountain pen was first used and created at the time of the renaissance by the renowned inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci.

Early pen by Leonardo da Vinci

As shown in modern references, the fountain pen was available in the 17th century in Europe. In a journal in 1636 named DELICIAE PHYSIO MATHEMATICAE, Daniel Schwenter, a German inventor, described a pen made of two quills. In that pen, one quill was used as an ink reservoir in the second quill. That was the first thing similar to the idea of a fountain pen; you can say that it was the first ever design made that is kind of a fountain pen.
A fountain pen is a widely used tool in every household and is quite simple to understand. It is known by everyone as the pen with a nib, which is mostly metal. But if we talk about the time of early developments of fountain pens, the term starts to seem a bit complex to understand. At that time, having a pen that had ink inside it was a very new concept, anything that writes but doesn’t need to be dipped in ink first. As time passed, new types of fountain pens emerged and innovative terms were used to refer to them.
“To sit at one’s table on a beautiful sunny morning, with four straight hours of uninterruptible security, a lot of blank white papers, and a Fountain pen—That is a true happiness”, said Winston Churchill

More Patents of Fountain Pen

Different ways of filling reservoirs have proven to be the most competitive part of the eras of the early development of fountain pens. Over the years, different patents have been proposed for the design of fountain pens that are self-filling:

Button Filler Patent

In 1905 the button filler pen was patented. This was first offered by the famous company named the Parker Pen Company in the year 1913. This patent for fountain pen was an alternative version of the pipette method. It works when an internal pressure plate connected to the external button deflates the ink bag when pressure is used upon it.

Lever Filler patent

Lever filler was patented by Walter Schiffer in the year 1908. Sheaffer Pen, the company of The Fort Madison, Iowa, introduced this patent of fountain pen in the year 1912. The outer lever was pressed against an ink reservoir that was flexible. It was surely the winning design of the Fountain pen industry for the coming forty years.

Coin Filler Pen

Coin Filler was Waterman’s take to compete with lever filler by Schiffer’s at that time. A barrel slot of the pen allowed to use of a coin to flatten the pressure plate inside; it was alike to a matchstick filler pen that will be discussed briefly further in this article.

Matchstick Filler

Weidlich Company introduced the matchstick filler around 1910. It was a small rod attached to a handle or a normal match stick fixed against the pressure plate present inside the pen via a hole in the side of the barrel of the pen.

Crescent Pen or Click Filler Pen

Mostly known as click filler, the first crescent pens were commercially produced by Roy Conklin of Toledo. Later on, click filler was used as a name of a fountain pen for the design by another famous company called Parker Pen Company. The ink bag deflated when both tabs were pressed on the outer side of the pen. The tabs make a clicking sound when the bag gets filled. The main issue with early fountain pens was their airflow – it was not up to the requirement.
The working of the fountain pen depends on the speed and amount of ink flow through the nib. At the vertical angle when the pen is held, the ink draws downwards and forms the reservoir through gravity and passes through the pen feed in a very controlled manner. If no air is supplied to the tank to replace the ink while it is in use, it will form a vacuum which will stop the flow.

Why fountain pens are comparatively expensive?

Apart from their sleek look, fountain pens offer a better writing experience. To better understand why fountain pens are so expensive, you first need to know what materials they are usually made of. The materials used to make these pens are far from substandard.

Nibs of Fountain Pen

First of all, the nibs are the main part of pens; most pens have nibs made of stainless steel. More luxurious types have solid gold or titanium tips. Steel nibs write well, but gold or titanium nibs are more flexible.
Simply, the production of these nozzles takes 7 stages. Everything is done with high precision, from flattening the steel to strengthening the tip. Other fountain pens have hand-carved nibs, which is why they cost more.

The Feed

One more significant thing that adds value to a fountain pen is its feed. The feed is what connects the ink tank to the nib. It regulates the ink flowing down to the pen and the air rising into the reservoir to replace the ink. No other pens have a feed, and this makes fountain pens special.
There are two types of fodder for fountain pens. One is made of plastic, and the other is made of ebonite material. Although the ebonite feed will give a rougher look than the plastic one, it provides better ink flow. These baits are made to fit the feather perfectly.

Ink tank or Ink reservoir

Speaking of fountain pens, one cannot fail to mention their reusable ink. The ink tank also determines the price of the fountain pen. Less expensive fountain pens tend to have replaceable ink cartridges, while more expensive ones have a syringe refill system. The more complicated the fueling system, the higher the cost.

The body of Fountain Pen

The look and appearance of fountain pen either increases or decreases its value. For a lower price, many mass-produced fountain pens have plastic bodies. Fountain pen enthusiasts obviously prefer pens with a metal body.
Fountain pens with a steel body are not on the market. They would have engravings, gold ring or famous designs like a gold fountain pen, silver fountain pen, and graduation fountain pen. If you need a special design, you can also customize your fountain pen.

Care of Fountain pens

Now that we have learned about the origin and value of fountain pens, we need to know how to care for fountain pens.In addition to regular cleaning, you should also know how to store fountain pens. Improper storage and care can result in damage to the tank, feed and pen.
But before you store your fountain pens, make sure the nib is clean. Excess ink on the nib can dry out over time and kill the nib. It’s preferred to close the cap of the pen.
If your fountain pen stays on your desk, place it upright in a pen stand. Make sure the tip is held up, and the cap is on when not in use. This habit will prevent the ink from getting on the pen and leaking. There is also a chance that the ink will clog the pen if it is pointing down.
Keeping your fountain pen in a case is also great, especially when travelling. The cover protects the pen from scratches. Don't worry if you don’t have pen covers; there are a variety of fountain pen covers available online at fountain pen brand pages like Frederick Fölsch.

How Fountain Pens are a better option for writing

First of all, there is no comparison; everyone knows fountain pens are better than ballpoint or regular pens. But what makes it better? Some of the following attributes make it better than other regular pens,

  • It has that stylish, sleek and luxury look.
  • Most fountain pens have a metal body, which makes them look expensive and also strong and reliable.
  • The writing of fountain pens is a lot smoother than regular pens.
  • Its longevity is another reason that makes it better. It is refillable and has a strong metal body, which is why the life span of a fountain pen is longer than regular pens, e.g. ballpoints.
  • The depth of the color of the ink adds one more reason to things that make fountain pens better than other regular pens. Because of its mechanism, it releases more ink than ballpoints etc. which makes the color of the writing deeper.

Its relevancy with class and vintage writing makes it more unique.

A go-to special gift for everyone!

At special moments, it sometimes gets difficult to decide what to gift your loved ones that help them to remind you always. For this, think no more; a luxury fountain pen is the answer. When it comes to special moments like heard earned achievements, fountain pens are the most suitable option to gift to encourage your loved ones and show your happiness.
The best thing about a fountain pen as a gift is that it is suitable for all, such as close relationships, acquaintances, professional relations or as business promotional gifts. It is recommended to get customized fountain pens if you are planning to gift it according to the likeness of the recipient, or you can also get their name engraved on it to make it unique and just about them.

Company or brand of fountain pen

The brand of a particular pen can also greatly affect its cost. Some brands charge a premium simply because they attach their brand to the product. For other brands, the name is synonymous with quality and reliability.
Some brands may even include extra benefits such as yearly replacement nibs or the ability to exchange nibs after you purchase the pen if you decide you want a different one. The most reliable brand is one that does not compromise on quality, which is why Frederick Fölsch is the most recommended fountain pen brand.


Now that you know the origin and history of fountain pens, you must be able to understand why fountain pens are comparatively more special and precious than other pens. Moreover, you’ll be able to recognize premium fountain pens and recognize what makes these pens so much more special than any other kind of pen.

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