February 25, 2017


        I have been editing and rearranging my blog posts, and have collected them in a book titled Fountain Pen Etymologies, The Story Of Pens, Theory, Vol. 1, and Fountain Pen Etymologies, The Story Of Pens, Practice, Vol. 2, both still forthcoming.  With the addition of a few new essays already in process, the blog articles have been cleaned up and corrected and distilled to their essences, and have been placed in a more rational, chronological order.
        There are 66 essays in the first volume, and 77 in the second one, but there cannot be a third volume collecting what I call the Crazy 88s, all the throwaway posts, and all the technical posts with lists of hyperlinks to the digitized magazines.  Since the reader cant click on the links within a book, those posts are doomed by the constraints of the printed page to remain in the blog.
        About a quarter of all the essays are new, as you can see in the two contents lists below, both still subject to change, so this blog is an incomplete, corrupt version of the book, and with some new essays still missing.  Look, I can’t give everything away.
        One example of what I have done with my blog posts is to take the two large posts about the stylographic war of 1880, including the one with all the lengthy quotations of articles and ads from Am. Stat., and to rework and combine them into a super-thread essay about
MacKinnon.  All the links in the blog posts have been listed as URLs in the footnotes.
        So maybe it isn’t thee story of pens.  Maybe it’s just a story of pens, the edited and rearranged online posts of a pen researcher and lowly pen collector.

Volume 1
Image Des. 6,539, version 1

not version 3, https://www.google.com/patents/USD6539


1,   Generally Accepted Research Rules          
2,   Essential Pen Research Tools                       

3,   A Graph Of The Pen Patents                           
4,   A Taxonomy Of The Fountain Pen                
5,   A Genealogy Tree Of The Pen Family            

6,   A Timeline Of Pens And Pencils                     

7,   A Brief History Of The Fountain Pen            
8,   And When Did Quills Die Out?                    
9,   The Funnel Inkwell                                       
10,  A Gloss Of The Word ‘Pen’                       
11,  The Origin Of The Word ‘Nib’                    
12,  Nibsmiths And The Word ‘Nib’              
13,  The Wet Inks                                       
14,  The Dry Inks                                     
15,  Diamond-Pointed Gold Nibs                   
16,  The Piston Fillers                                
17,  Pencil Cases                                    

18,  Charm Pencil Cases                                
19,  Fountain Pen And Pencil Combos               
20,  The Maiden Lane Merchants                   
21,  Hard Rubber                                      
22,  The Eyedropper Era                           
23,  The Ur-Stylographs                                
24,  A French Cartridge Pen Precursor In 1853     
25,  Twist Fillers And Button Fillers                   
26  The Trademarks Era                           
27,  The First Crescent Fillers                       
28,  Duncan MacKinnon                           
29,  Francis Cashel Brown                           
30,  The Latter Stylographs                           
31,  Cross v. Cross                                    
32,  The Propel-Repel Pencil                       
33,  ‘Plume Fontaine’ And The Stylograph     
34,  The Fountain Brushes                           
35,  Recurring Precursors                           
36,  Both Sides, Then                               
37,  Stub And Italic                                    
38,  Pens And Nibs And Italics, Again          
39,  Obscure Obliques                               
40,  The Straight Pen                               
41,  Feeds And Ink Collectors                       
42,  Pressure Bars And Bladders                       

43,  The Evolution Of The Clip                       
44,  The Cartridge Pens                                

45,  The Waterman’s Travel Ink                       
46,  The Safety Eyedroppers                           
47,  The Jointless Pens                               
48,  The Button Filler Inventor                       
49,  The Word ‘Ink Pencil’                          
50,  The Word ‘Fountpen’                           
51,  Red Hard Rubber                                  
52,  The Hard Rubber Substitutes                   

53,  The Mechanical Pencil Decade                    
54,  Celluloid Before Le Boeuf                        
55,  Writes Blue Dries Blue                           
56,  Nib Units And Ur-Nib Units                   
57,  The Capless Vanishing Points                   
58,  The Early Ballpoints                                 
59,  The Name Of The Ballpoint                       
60,  The Ballpoint And The ‘Nib’                       
61,  The Writing Machine                           
62,  Typing, Not Writing                           
63,  A Facsimile Of Writing                           
64,  Reading, Writing                               

65Writing Writing                               
66,  Contra Recto Verso                             

A List Of Inventors                       


Pat. 295,574

1,  Generally Accepted Research Rules

        Perhaps1 these rules are a bit too rigorous and demanding, but it would be a small victory if people would follow at least some of the rules.  Do my senses deceive me, or are some posters on message boards following some of the generally accepted research rules?  For instance, some are actually signing their real names, and staying civil, and being generous with citing their sources, and daring to take pen research seriously.  It’s a small victory for all of us.

1. Do no harm.  Do not disseminate any disinformation.  Do not destroy, suppress, withhold, or conceal any information that you may discover.  Do not discourage any avenues of possible research.
2. Stay civil.  This is the first and foremost rule for online research.  No flaming, or spamming, at all.  Do not downplay, disparage, or ridicule anyone else’s theories or proposals.  Instead, try to prove them wrong.
3. Take ownership of everything you write.  Sign everything you post or publish, and don’t expect everyone to know you by your username, or handle.  There is no place in research for anonymity.
4. Anything reasonable should be allowed to be raised and given a chance, even though it is raised anonymously, and even though it might later be discounted, but there must be at least some initial basis in fact.
5. Be clear in what you write.  Make sure you distinguish between what is established fact and what is just conjecture, or opinion, or guesses.
6. Cite your sources.  Whenever possible try to avoid leaving dangling attributions such as “I seem to remember”, or “I read somewhere that”.  Make all references explicit and definite.
7. Limit your quotations of others’ messages to the pertinent portion to which you are responding, and never include quotations of quotations unless you are responding to all of them specifically.
8. Use standard English, but if you can’t, and you have some new pen knowledge to contribute, others will still want to read it.  Use a spell checker, and avoid using sentence fragments.
9. Resist using emoticons and other disfiguring, idiosyncratic punctuation marks, or at least use them sparingly, and only on the rarest occasions, because they distract the reader from the text.
10. Dare to take pen research seriously.  If you don’t, no one else will, and pen research will languish.  Do it so well they can’t ignore it.

1. http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/164414-g-a-r-r-generally-accepted-research-rules/?p=1641017


Pat. 648

2,  Essential Pen Research Tools

These are the essential research tools that you’ll need in order to do pen history.

Bibliography of pen books & articles, and a pen-book library to go with it.
Hardcopy and digital lists of f-pen patents, 1799-1911, and 1911-57.
List of patentees, alphabetically by surname, by Michael Kidd.
USPTO, Google Patents, EPO, and Trade.mar.cx online.
Alphabetical list of penmakers and pen companies.
The American Stationer, hardcopy and digital.
An illustrated list of pen terms, by anyone.
Court cases, by Antonios Zavaliangos.
Court cases on LexisNexis.com.
Censuses on Ancestry.com.
A database of pen pics.
Archived pen boards.

Also see all the “Vintage Links” in the sidebar in my pen history blog.

Des. 33,186

3,  A Graph Of The Pen Patents

        Back in the 1980s, the only way to do genealogical research was to visit a bricks-and-mortar research library or museum, and to hold books and manuscripts in your hands and read them in person.  It was either that, or get microfilm shipped to your local public or university library by interlibrary loan.  That was the old analogue method, when cut-and-paste meant just that, scissors and glue and scotch tape, and lots of typing on a typewriter.  Patent research was done the same way, except you had to go to your closest patent depository library to do your research, unless you lived closer to the USPTO in Washington DC, and now also in Arlington.
        Back then, I was making plans to go down south to the States to visit a patent depository library to research all the fountain pen and mechanical pencil and ink bottle and inkwell patents, but it would have taken months of research and lots of resources that I didn’t have, so I put my plans on a shelf for another day.  But then in September 1993, I discovered the rudimentary index list of US patents from 1845 to 1910 in the microfilm of The Scientific American.  After the end of 1910, the patent list was silently and unspokenly eliminated from the magazine.  There’s an article titled “An Address To Our Readers” in the Sci. Am. on Jan 7, 1911, p.241, with a statement of the new directions for the Sci. Am., in which the US patents are not even mentioned once.  In fact, the editorial uses the word “invention” three times, but the patents are conspicuous by their absence.  I also corresponded with a patent official in the USPTO and got a hardcopy of an index of all the patents back to 1790, from which I had to glean all the pen patents by “scanning” and “searching” and “optically recognizing” them with my eyeballs.  That was the way it was back in the beginning, just at the start of my search.  What used to be available only on microfilm is now available on Hathi Trust, and the links to all the volumes of Sci. Am. are all available in my blog2.
        Around the end of September 1993, when I finished putting together my list, it hit me with a lightning bolt of realization that one of the consequences of creating a chronological list of patents is that I could quantify the patents by year and graph the total numbers of pens-per-year.  That was one of the first things I did with all the data I collected in 1993.  It’s astounding how closely the numbers of patents, and the ups and downs of the graphs, coincide perfectly with US and world history and politics, the economy, geological and weather phenomena, and things such as volcanic eruptions.  The pen graph also shows how important the stylograph patents are to the total number of pen patents in the ten-year period when they were first introduced, what I have come to call the Stylographic Decade, from 1875-85.  Not only could I graph the yearly totals of the fountain pen patents, but I could compare this graph against the graph of the yearly totals of the inkwells.  It’s gratifying to see the fountain pen line rise as the inkwell line declines.  I later also collected the Canadian patents from 1859 to 1911, the UK patents from 1771 to 1901, and the French patents from 1707 to 1901.
        I showed my list to various people at pen shows to try to get them interested in completing it, but no one else wanted to do the work of extracting the data.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  They wanted the info, and they saw the potential, but they didn’t want to do the work.  So anyway, the list sat until December 2000.  The USPTO went online around 1998, and I checked it out then, but I was discouraged by the arcane system, and I didn’t notice whether the number-search function was activated, yet.  In any case, David Glass, a collector and researcher of Conklin pens, posted on Zoss on Dec 15, 2000 that the USPTO had a patent number search window on their website, but I didn’t read the message until about Dec 27, and I didn’t check out the website until Jan 4, 2001, after the new year.  I blitzed through all the patents from 1790 to 1910 between January and September that year.  I finished the analogue, hand-written retrieval of information on June 26, and if you can believe it, I finished all the type-written inputting into my database the day after Sept 11, 2001.  And then I crashed.  I was suffering from post partum depression like you wouldn’t believe.  I didn’t have anything to do anymore, so I did nothing at all until Oct 1, when I slowly started to get back into the database and to clean it up.
        On June 10, 2001, when I got to the patents from 1896, I found this article in Sci. Am., “The Progress Of Invention During The Past Fifty Years”, July 25, 1896, pp.82-833.  That was the year of the 50th anniversary to the magazine, and the whole issue was devoted to their celebration, but this article included a graph4 of all the inventions-per-year from 1846 to 1896, and the author wrote something that goaded me into getting back into the graphs and creating more of them.

It is interesting to observe how closely the grant of patents and the prosperity of the country are related.  Referring to scaled diagram No. 2, the zigzag line marks the increase or decrease in the patents issued from year to year.  We note the depression of the civil war, followed by the rapid reaction and growth of reconstruction.  Again the depression caused by the financial panic of 1873, and again in 1876, the unsettled and dangerous condition of politics incident to the contested presidential election.  This was followed by another wave of prosperity, indented with depressions in the presidential election years, while the stringency of the hard times from 1890 to 1894 shows a marked influence in the corresponding depression in the line, all of which indicates a most sympathetic relation.
        Along the way, while reading all the patents, I noticed certain patterns in the ways the different types of pens and categories of patents evolved and influenced one another.  Often these groupings of similar patents seemed to have an etymological slant because they revealed something about how certain terms originated, and how pen terminology in general evolved.  As I put together the list of patents, and then the graph, I noticed certain patterns of development and evolution of the various types of fountain pen technology, and I started to write articles and essays about the various patterns that I was noticing.  That was when the flow of my pen articles and posts on various pen websites began.  I have collected and arranged them here in this book, Fountain Pen Etymologies.  Included in these Etymologies, along with this graph of the pen patents, there is also a taxonomy of fountain pen filler types, a genealogy tree of fountain pen filler and pencil types, a timeline of fountain pen and pencil landmarks, and a 51-page bibliography of books and magazine articles on pens.  But first, let’s start with the pen graph.
        In the graph of the pen patents5 from 1845 to 1915, the first surge of patents occurs in 1855-57 after the hard rubber patent and the first realization of the viability of the fountain pen, but then the surge dies down to zero twice during the Civil War period.  There is a second surge in the rapidly rebounding growth of reconstruction after the Civil War that peaks in 1867-70, but then it dies out again with the financial panic of 1873.  It might also be the result of a reaction to the typewriter patents in that period, and also the setbacks of the great Chicago and Boston fires.  The third surge in the fountain pens that peaks in 1878 is at first augmented by the stylograph patents in 1876-78, but then the fountain pens go into the doldrums from 1878-83 just as a surge in the stylographs causes what I call “The Stylographic Decade”6 from 1875-85.  The stylos hit a high peak in 1880 that could almost be called a stylographic anomaly, but it almost coincides perfectly with the fountain pens hitting a new low a year later in 1881, yet another anomaly7.  The stylograph saps the strength of the development of the fountain pen, thus causing a set back, or break in its momentum by stealing its thunder and diverting its energy.  But then the Frank Holland, John Holland, F. C. Brown, Waterman, Wirt, and others’ patents caused the fourth surge in fountain pens.  But what happened in the period between 1885-90 to cause those two temporary dips?  Well, 1885 was a year after the presidential election, and 1888 was an election year, but 1885 was also about a year after Krakatoa exploded in Indonesia and caused a “year without a summer”8.  The stagnation in that period could also have been caused by all the pen company court cases in what could be called the era of litigation.  The fountain pens continued on upwards as the stylos dwindled away.  The fifth surge coincided with the patents of Parker, Lapham, Shattuck, Stewart, Holland, Weidlich, Moore, Cooley, and many others.  And then the world went into another serious recession in the “hard times” between 1891-97, with another financial panic caused by a year without a summer.  A series of volcanic eruptions of Bandai-san in 1888, Bogoslof in 1890, Nikko-Shirane in 1890, and Awu in 1892 and 1893 culminated with the eruption of Vulcano, Italy, in 1888-90 and 1892.  But then the fountain pens soared off from 1896 to 1906 into the sixth surge with the coming of the safety eyedropper, the jointless pens, the middle joint eyedroppers, the button fillers, the other early bladder pens and other self-fillers, the pen-cap clips, the safety screw caps, and the lever fillers.  However, the financial panic of 1907 brought the rise in the graph to a halt and then a plunge, and the recession of 1907-09 made it dip even further into 1909.  The pen numbers rose again in 1910, but then they plateaued in the depression before the First World War and during the war.
        The inkwell patents follow a similar path in response to world issues, but the graph of the inkwells follows a different trajectory.  When the inkwells graph9 is up, the pens graph is down, and when the inkwells are down, the pens are up.  The inkwells don’t die out during the Civil War and during the financial panic of 1873, but they certainly do dip down.  Just the same as the fountain pens, the inkwells took a dive and went into the doldrums during the stylographic decade, which was also the decade of portability.  The stylo activity displaced the inkwell activity as well as the fountain pen activity, but then the inkwells made a surge between 1888-92.  The resurgence was caused by a retreat into conventional writing instruments.  It was the last hurrah of the dip pen and the inkwell.  There’s an anomalous high in the inkwells between 1895-97, a brief resurgence, but then the inkwells line dives below the fountain pens line and it never comes up over the pens line.  The inkwells never rebounded, and they stayed down during the fountain pen’s resurgence and takeover.  There’s another three-year anomaly between 1906-08, but then the line dies down during WWI.
        The graph of the inkwells and stylos10 shows how the stylo patents fill in the gap in the inkwell patents.  It could almost be called the missing data.  As well as filling in the gap in the inkwell line, it also augments and bumps up the fountain pen line.
        The lines of the pens-and-stylos and the inkwells together in one graph11 make the battle between the inkwell and the fountain pen quite “graphic”.  When the inkwells graph is up, the pens graph is down, and when the pens are up, the inkwells are down.  It’s interesting to watch the zigs and zags between the inkwells and the pens, but best of all, it shows how the battle was eventually won by the latter.
        If you click on any of the graphs in my blog, and scroll through all of them with your mouse, you will be able to flip through the graphs in sequence, perfectly overlapped on one another.

1. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000063000047;view=1up;seq=34
2. http://fountainpenhistory.blogspot.ca/2015/06/scientific-american-magazine.html
3. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015024546775;view=1up;seq=88
4. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/PatsGraph_zpsvjehsoiq.png
5. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/1pens_zps279e4f0d.jpg
6. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/2pensstylos_zps69ac4bf4.jpg
7. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/3pensstylos_zps29a49c60.jpg
8. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Without_a_Summer
9. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/4inkwells_zpsc36b2016.jpg
10. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/5inkwellsstylos_zps8ae116e4.jpg
11. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v71/rhrpen/6pensstylosinkwells_zps1cf9bb57.jpg

 4,  A Taxonomy Of The Fountain Pen

Work in progress.

5,  A Genealogy Tree Of The Pen Family 

In progress.

6,  A Timeline Of Pens And Pencils

In progress.

7,  A Brief History Of The Fountain Pen

In progress.
etc . . .

Volume 2

Image Des. 6,539, version 2

not version 3, https://www.google.com/patents/USD6539



1,   News From The Colonies                   
2,   John Isaac Hawkins                             
3,   Peregrine Williamson                            
4,   The William Cowen Pen                         
5,   Douglass Woodworth Hyde                    
6,   Marcus Tullius Cicero Gould                    
7,   Longhand, Shorthand                            
8,   Some More First Fountain Pens               
9,   The Word ‘Pensmith’                            
10,  The Easy Writers                                     
11,  Prince’s Protean And Vulcanite                   
12,  ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ And ‘Ready Writer’              
13,  An 1856 Fountain Pen                                 
14,  Penography And Penknowledgy                
15,  The Madeheim Fountain Pen                    
16,  The Vacumatic Precursors                        
17,  MacKinnon v. Cross                                    
18,  MacKinnon’s All-Metal Stylos                    
19,  The Original ‘Longshort’ Pen                    
20,  The MacKinnon Pen                             
21,  A MacKinnon Pencil?                           
22,  Pioneers And Inventors                           
23,  The Waterman’s Creation Myth                 
24,  Waterman’s First Pens                           
25,  The Caw’s Pen And Its Effect                   
26,  Wirt v. Wirt-Himself                           
27,  Ball-Pointed Nibs                               
28,  The Whale Inkstand                              
29,  When Fountain Pens First Caught On         
30,  The Survival Rate Of Cross Pens               
31,  Waterman’s v. Waterman                       
32,  Pierced By A Waterman’s Pen                  
33,  The Waterman’s Ideal Globe                   
34,  The Gravity Fillers                                
35,  Lancaster v. Waterman                           
36,  The ‘Mercantile’ Trademarks                   
37,  Waterman’s Globe Section Cleaner            
38,  The Aerometric-Type Fillers                  

39,  Arrow Trademark Pointers                       
40,  The Waterman’s Baseball Team                   
41,  The Montblanc Splat And Anti-Splat           
42,  Waterman’s First RHR Pens                   
43,  The Founcil Combo                               
44,  Waterman’s Smallest Pens                       
45,  Pendom And Pencildom                       
46,  The ‘Onoto’ Name                               
47,  The Matchstick-Clip Fillers                       
48,  The Waterman’s Jointless Pen                   

49,  The Waterman’s Globe Ink                       
50,  The Ink Tablet Pens                                 
51,  Trench Pens And Pompeian Orange           
52,  The Waterman’s ‘Fasces’ Pen                   
53,  History And Waterman’s Ads                   
54,  The Federal Trade Commission Wars          
55,  The Pompeian Brown Duofold                   
56,  Early Parker Duofold Pencils                   
57,  Red & Black, Black & Red, & Red Band      
58,  The Snorkel Precursors                           

59,  The Poppy Pen                                    
60,  The Waterman’s #53                           
61,  The Waterman’s Color Nibs                       
62,  Gilliam’s ‘Ezerite’ And ‘Dubel Servis’          
63,  The Parker ‘Thrift-time’                                
64,  The Waterman’s Plunger Filler                   
65,  The Waterman’s Vacuum Filler                   
66,  Glass-Nibbed Fountain Pens                     
67,  Quink And Superchrome Ink                   
68,  The Fountain Pen Ballpoints                   

69,  Eversharp ‘Skyline’ Ballpoint                   
70,  The Snorkel Vanishing Point                   
71,  The Parker ‘Arrow’                                       
72‘Frankenpens’ And ‘Squeezacs’                   
73,  ‘Sumguy’ And ‘Banana Pens’                     
74,  A Vintage Pen Repair Shop                       
75,  A Pen Collecting Timeline                       
76,  The Writing Hand                               

77,  After Words