Fountain Pen: Who invented, Types, Applications

A fountain pen is a pen that has a barrel inside where ink is used, and a nib is used for writing it on a piece of paper. There were more than 400 patents registered between 1880 and 1900 for fountain pens. During this time, several people had patents for fountain pens. 

The fountain pens that were made in earlier times were not reliable. It is because all of them either leaked or got clogged. But in 1884, Lewis E. Waterman, an American insurance salesman, invented the first practical fountain pen.

Lewis E. Waterman solved the problem of ink leaks with his invention of the capillary feed; it produced ink flow.

History of Fountain Pens

The first patent that was submitted for a fountain pen by Frederick Fölsch was in May 1809. Another patent was issued in September 1809 to Joseph Bramah. The patent submitted by John Scheffer in 1819 was the first one that had commercial success. All Pornographic is one example.

Another popular pioneer ohn, Jacob Parker’s design got patented in 1832. Jacob Parker’s design had a self-filler, and it came with a piston that was screw operated.

Also, Petrache Poenaru, a Romanian inventor, received a patent on 25th May 1827. This patent was for the invention of the fountain pen with a barrel made out of a swan quill.

What is a Fountain Pen?

A fountain is a pen with a reservoir of ink and a nib to write with. This pen type draws ink straight from the reservoir through a source to the nib. The flow of ink happens due to the combination of capillary action and gravity.

The ink reservoir is usually filled manually with a syringe or an eyedropper, also known as a Pasteur pipette. This ink filling is done through an internal mechanism, creating a suction.

A vacuum or piston mechanism helps transfer the ink directly through the nib into the reservoir. In some fountain pens, the reservoirs are removable and come as pre-filled ink cartridges.

Different Parts of a Fountain Pen

There are two important parts of a fountain pen. They are the ink reservoir and the nib.

Ink Reservoir

Before the 20th Century, fountain pen ink had no in-built reservoir. But later, the ink was kept directly in a barrel built inside the pen’s body. The slim barrels were usually made of hard rubber and were available in two colors, red and black.

The ink was poured into these barrels with the help of an eye dropper. For pouring the ink, the person using it had to take off the nib area, pour the ink and again replace the nib section back to its position.

This entire activity required a quiet and undisturbed place, which was sometimes impossible during the time of invention.


It is said that the practical fountain pen we use nowadays originates back to the original gold nib, which used to have a very tiny fragment of ruby fixed to form the wear point.

In the 1830s, the used nib had a tip with platinum group alloys like iridium. The nibs that are used in today’s date are primarily made of gold or stainless steel.

The most popular golden nib is made of 14-carat and 18-carat gold. The nibs are designed to be both flexible and firm, while the tip of the nib is extremely hard-wearing.

In this article, we learned the history of the fountain pen, the different parts of a fountain pen, and what a fountain pen is all about.

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