Fine Lines & Smooth Ink: A History of Fountain Pens

When it comes to expressing elegance, literacy, and a style of class (sometimes even hinting at the aristocratic) there are few items that have retained their status over time as useful tools and status symbols the way the fountain pen has. This historic writing utensil still makes a good gift, can still be used for writing, and still displays an air of class and taste. Read on to learn more about these special writing tools and how they came to be as we go over a history of fountain pens.

Tracking Down a Beginning

While it’s obvious that modern fountain pens have their foundation in quill pens, it’s a lot more difficult to figure out an exact time when the modern fountain pen came to be. There are examples of similar “reservoir pens” that go all the way back to the 10th century throughout historical records, but no surviving examples of those pens left – at least none that are known.

In 1702 a Frenchman simply known as M. Bion had a foundation pen design, but these would not start to become widely known until the 1850s when Duncan MacKinnon and Alonzo T. Cross began creating stylish pens with tubular nibs, wire valves, and hollow middles that started paving the way for many of the designs and characteristics that would come to define many pens.

However, when asking in the history of fountain pens when they became widespread the answer is much more simple: after the patented and easy to produce design of Lewis Waterman in 1884.

The pen was made simply for Lewis to write then as more and more customers demanded their own he continued to make them and the popularity of this pen was all but assured.

The Popularity Became Widespread

Looking at a history of fountain pens, it’s important to also look at when companies started mass producing them and how that came to be. A 1907 collaboration between several inventors and engineers would great Montblanc – a classic fountain pen that would become one of the great luxury brands of its day. Even today Montblancs are known as classy black fountain pens with a distinctive white star on the cap.

At the time they became the go to name in fountain pens for fixing a problem that seems simple now but was a big deal back in the day: creating a pen that would not leak even a drop of ink when closed. A sleek solid design and that one solved problem led to the modern fountain pens that we know and still use today.

In Conclusion

As you can see a history of fountain pens is one rich with fascinating stories, historical significance, and plenty of charm to boot. While these pens have evolved over time and designs have changed, there’s no question that just as they were popular when created and are popular now, they will continue to hold a special place in the future. And not just on the desks of CEOs and accomplished writers.