Art & Craft

Fountain Pens: Fountain Pens: A Peep in History

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Fountain Pens: A Peep in History

By Major Nithi CJ (Retired)

“But Ma’am, what are fountain pens? I have never used one. We don’t have written assignments in the school.” These are not a dialogue from a sci-fi movie script, but a statement of 14 yrs old Shraddha ( name changed), one of the young participants in my workshops.

As I have brought out in my previous blog posts, the pen has seen a transformation, akin to the human race itself, for generations. The caveman who scribbled on walls using stones would never have imagined a writing instrument that effortlessly can create magic on a surface called paper without causing anyone wounds on the hand. Well, for the expressions can cause heartache sometimes!! Pun intended

The ink, the writing tip, and the ink filling system saw the major changes when we see through the pen’s transformation.

The Need for a Fountain Pen 

A simple few web searches on this topic brings out the need for a fountain pen dates back to 953 CE. Qadi al Nu’man al Tamimi in his book Kitab al Majalis wa ‘l-musayarat stated that the then Caliph in Arab Egypt , Al-Mu’izz li-Din Allah demanded for a pen that doesn’t stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen that held ink in a reservoir. Certain researches of the Renaissance era brings out the probable use of a working fountain pen constructed and used by artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci.

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Depiction of Development of Pen by Waterman Co.

Inventions and Innovations

L Patenting of fountain pens began in the early 1800s. It’s believed that the first fountain pen was patented by the Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru on 25 May 1827. His invention had a barrel made with a swan quill.

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Image of Patent of Petrache Poenaru available on internet

Few more notable patents are shown in the image below:-

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The Fountain Pen Business

In 1883, Lewis Waterman founded the Waterman Pen Company. He received his patent in 1884 and was the market leader in fountain pens until 1920. Other market giants established at that time were The Parker Pen Company, in 1888, by George Safford Parker, and Wirt, based in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. 

Germany and France were not behind in this race. Mont Blanc was founded in 1906, and the sales representative of the Parker Pen, Josef Lamy, founded his own company in 1930, LAMY.

Japanese fountain pen companies also extensively contributed to the manufacturing of fountain pens. In 1911, Mr. Kyugoro Sakata, an Engineer from Hiroshima, was introduced to a fountain pen by a sailor friend from England. This fascinated Mr. Sakata, and he created his fountain pen company and named it Sailor Pen and became the oldest fountain pen producing company in Japan. Soon Sailor Pen was followed by Pilot Pen, founded by Ryosuke Namiki and Masao Wada in 1918, and in 1919, the Platinum Pen company was founded by Shunichi Nakata. 

Our home turf didn’t see the shine of a homemade nib until 1932, when Ratnam Pen works officially created the first swadeshi version of the fountain pen and handed them over to Mahatma Gandhi in 1935. 

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The Glamour of the Nib

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Conklin Ad featuring  Mark Twain

Almost all fountain pen brands have received their share of glamour for their craftsmanship. The mind behind Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Graham Green wrote with a Parker Duofold. The Queen of Britain uses a Parker 51. Anne Frank wrote her diary with a Mont Blanc. Walt Disney was himself seen in pictures with Sheaffers.

Sylvester Stallone and Ernest Hemingway both loved Montegrappa pens. Albert Einstein used both a Pelikan 100 N and Waterman to create the theory of relativity. Mark Twain created astounding ripples in American History with his favorite pen brand Conklin.

Destination 2020

The innovations and inventions in fountain pens have always been concentrated on bringing the fountain pen user closer to the pen. The present-day fountain pen is a much more easy-to-write experience. Even Indian fountain pens have now carved a niche for themselves in the present-day human race that may have steered extensively towards virtuality. Still, it’s not a dead-end for this unique nib friend. The pandemic brought back so many back to their love of fountain pen writing, including me.

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4 thoughts on “Fountain Pens: Fountain Pens: A Peep in History

  1. Sunil Nayaham says:

    1. Well written. I’m a fountain pen enthusiast myself. Though I own a few of the brands mentioned in your article, I have started buying India made fountain pens. They are robust but lack the finesse. Still, more sales will improve quality, I’m sure.
    2. Hope future generations discover the joy of putting ‘pen to paper’ and a fountain pen at that!
    Jai Hind.

    1. ayushpaper says:

      would love to see your collection!

      Thank you for reading our article and appreciating our work!

  2. Ashish Ashish Chogle says:

    Very nicely written article and informative.
    I myself is a fountain pen addict. And own jinaho, Schneider, and lamy. Hope to get more insights on this subject. Thanks

    1. ayushpaper says:


      Thank you so much for going through our article.
      We will try to have some more articles on your topic of interest.

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