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Pen Story

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Fountain Pen

A fountain pen is a nib pen that, unlike its predecessor, the dip pen, contains an internal reservoir of liquid ink. The pen draws ink from the reservoir through a feed to the nib and deposits it on paper via a combination of gravity and capillary action. A fountain pen needs little or no pressure on the nib to write.

Origin

The first fountain pens making use of iridium-tipped gold nib, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink appeared in the 1850s. In the 1880s the era of the mass-produced fountain pen finally began. The dominant American producers in this pioneer era were Waterman, of New York City. Waterman remained the market leader until the early 1920s.

Development

The decades that followed saw many technological innovations in the manufacture of fountain pens. Celluloid gradually replaced hard rubber, which enabled production in a much wider range of colors and designs. At the same time, manufacturers experimented with new filling systems.

During the 1940s and 1950s, fountain pens retained their dominance and continued to benefit from the combination of mass production and craftsmanship.

Today, fountain pens are often treated as luxury goods and sometimes as status symbols. Fountain pens may serve as an everyday writing instrument, much like the common ballpoint pen. Good quality steel and gold pens are available inexpensively today.

Nibs

Today, nibs are usually made of stainless steel or gold alloys, with the most popular gold content being 14 carat (58⅓%) and 18 carat (75%). Gold is considered the optimum metal for its flexibility and its resistance to corrosion. Gold nibs are tipped with a hard, wear-resistant alloy that typically uses metals from the platinum group.

Filling mechanisms

Most pens use either piston filler or a cartridge; many pens can use a converter, a device which has the same fitting as the pen's cartridge and has a filling mechanism and a reservoir attached to it. This enables a pen to either fill from cartridges, or from a bottle of ink. The most common type of converters is Piston-style, but many other varieties may be found today.

Nib Sizes

The tip size of a nib will have the biggest impact on how a fountain pen writes. Larger tip sizes create wide lines suitable for bold writing and showcasing the ink used, but many people prefer smaller tip sizes for everyday writing because they create a line width closer to that of a typical ballpoint or gel pen.

Round nibs typically fall into one of four tip sizes: Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B). The actual line width created by a particular fountain pen can vary depending on a number of factors such as the ink and paper being used

How to fill a fountain Pen

  • ✎ Filling with a fountain pen converter

    Place the fountain pen, nib first, into the bottle of ink until the nib is entirely covered Twist the piston converter counterclockwise at the top. This forces the air out of the converter. Then twist the top of the piston converter clockwise to draw the ink up into the converter. While holding the nib above the bottle of ink, slowly twist the piston converter counterclockwise until a bead of ink flows from the tip of the nib. Gently blot excess ink from the nib with a lint-free cloth or blotter paper.

  • ✎ Inserting a fountain pen cartridge

    Insert a fountain pen cartridge into the nib and push firmly until the cartridge seats itself. You will hear a small click. You can easily switch between bottled ink and cartridges by rinsing the nib and piston converter with cool water periodically

Using a Fountain Pen

Do not press hard when writing, as this can damage the nib. A good fountain pen should glide effortlessly across paper.

If your pen doesn't "start" right away (i.e., after not being used for a couple of weeks), ink has probably dried and clogged the nib and/or the feed. To start the ink flowing again, resist the urge to press down hard on the pen. Instead, wet the point of the nib with water or ink of the same color. If that doesn't work, wash the pen out.

01Always keep your pen capped when not in use 02When not using the pen, keep it stored vertically (i.e., in a cup) with the nib pointing up to prevent ink from settling in and clogging the feed. 03When traveling by plane, we recommend that you either fill your converter completely or leave it empty to reduce the risk of leakage. Always keep the nib upright during takeoff. 04If you do not plan on using your pen for a prolonged period of time, wash and empty it out before storing it away.

Cleaning your fountain pen

1 Unscrew the barrel from the nib section.

2 Rinse the nib by filling and emptying it with water (repeat this until the water is clear). Caution: Ink residue will flow out.

3 Place the nib section into a beaker or other container of clean water and let it soak overnight.

4 Be sure to use room temperature water. Never use warm or hot water or alcohol.

5 Dry with a paper towel.