The War Of High-Quality Writing Instruments – The Fountain Pen
Since 1584, when the first pencils were produced, pens made of quills have been in use, and from 1925 to 1940, the fountain pen was the most popular kind of writing tool in the world.
Writing instruments of this calibre and level of functionality was being produced all over the globe in aesthetically pleasing designs and with a level of grace and sophistication that had never been seen in a writing instrument before.
The early fountain pens were not very good at maintaining a steady and equal supply of ink throughout the writing process. You would either have an excessive amount of ink, which would generate blots, or an inadequate amount, which would cause skips.
In the year 1870, Waterman created a three-channel feed, which allowed for the ink flow to be regulated while the pen was being written. This made the pen an attractive option for use as a portable writing tool. Because of the manner in which they were refilled, collectors now refer to these pens as eyedroppers.
In 1907, Waterman devised a remedy to the problem of eyedropper pens leaking due to the caps’ inability to fit properly and the joint’s gradual wear from repeated usage. It operated much like a lipstick tube, with a barrel that could be turned and a tip that could be retracted into the barrel when not in use. It was referred to as the security pen. The popularity of these pens continued strong throughout the 1920s.
Both Parker and Sheaffer came up with their very own innovations: Parker came up with the button filler and the lever filler, while Sheaffer came up with comparable systems that also contained something that was termed a blind cap. Both of these innovations were introduced by Parker.
The market for pens continued to expand at an astounding pace during the duration of the conflict. Ebonite or vulcanite, a strong rubber substance that was relatively simple to work with, was the primary component used in the production of pens. Engravings, swirls of colour, wood grain, and even mottled hues were some of the decorative elements used on pens. While black was by far the most common base colour, other colours, particularly red, were sometimes manufactured as well. The 14k pure gold tips and gold pocket clips might be seen on the high-quality pens.
The pens used by men were the larger kind and included a clip, while those used by women were somewhat more petite and featured a top ring that allowed them to be linked to a chain, a vest pocket, or a watch chain.
In spite of this, the competition was severe, and excellent writing tools were readily available everywhere; hence, the producers were compelled to design a pen that appealed to fashion in order to maintain their market share. Consequently, writing implements emerged, such as pens made of Bakelite, tortoiseshell, horn, and the bright red and orange hues of the Duofold.
Even though they were more costly than their competitors’ products, Sheaffer’s line of pens that were constructed from celluloid was an immediate success when it debuted in 1924. Within the first five years, they were the most popular pen. Because it could be produced in an infinite variety of colours and designs, celluloid was an excellent material to work with throughout the Art Deco era.
During the 1930s, many of the companies that made pens went into financial difficulties; nonetheless, Parker, Wahl-Eversharp, Waterman, and Sheaffer managed to weather the storm well, with Parker faring particularly well.
It wasn’t until 1932 that Parker came up with their innovative vacuum-filling mechanism, which did away with the necessity for an ink bag. Parker continued to strive for new inventions and, in 1941, the company debuted the quick-drying Parker Superchrome ink, which forced the company to make some modifications to the design of their pen.
Sheaffer was the inventor of two different methods of filling, known as the “snorkel” and the “touchdown,” both of which were widely used well into the 1960s. In point of fact, they were just made available again on the market not too long ago. Waterman pioneered the use of disposable cartridges for fountain pens and worked to refine the technology throughout World War II. But Parker deserves credit for the last accomplishment in fountain pens since they were the ones to invent the capillary filling technique in 1956.
Since the dawn of civilization, people have placed a premium on having access to writing implements of the highest possible quality. It is fascinating to track the changes in design that have taken place throughout the ages and to compare what we formerly thought to be of good quality to what we now perceive to be of high quality in terms of writing tools.