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Earliest mention of fountain pen?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 Pentigleo

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Posted 12 September 2007 - 20:15

One of the books I return to most often is "The Shorter Pepys" edited by Robert Latham which gives a facinating insight into 17th century life in England.

Samual Pepys was a very well educated man & he kept up to date with all manner of new and interesting discoveries. He often visited the most eminent scientists and inventors of the day and was keen to own and explain all about new gadgets in his diary. What I find interesting is that he hardly even mentions what instrument he used to write his diary with. He does talk about getting a new store of quills so one presumes he used those. However Samual also notes in his diary entry for August 5th 1663 that

"This evening came a letter about business from Mr Coventry, and with it a Silver pen he promised me, to carry inke in(sic); which is very necessary."

He does not seem to mention this pen again which would suggest that it was nothing new to him. Maybe this type of pen been in common usage for while. Does anyone know of an earlier reference to this type of pen (maybe a Penner) than the one in Pepys diary? Does anyone have any pictures they would like to share?
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#2 rhr

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 17:17

This August 5, 1663 pen was probably similar in design to the Bion pen, although it preceded Bion's "invention" by half a century. But on November 28, 1665, Pepys wrote that he was back to carrying pen and ink instead of this reservoir pen. He says that he "never knew so great an instance of the usefulness of carrying pen and ink and wax about one", so he still perceived the need for a dependable fountain pen.

There is also an earlier mention of pens with reservoirs in the journal of a voyage to Paris in the years 1656 to 1658 written by Philips Zoete van Laeke, and the specific entry is for the date July 11, 1657. The writer says that the pens could be used to write "half a quire of paper", and then goes on to say that when the penmaker’s "secret comes into vogue, it will make him rich in a short time, for there is no one who would not want to have one".

As for pictures of such pens, try Finlay's book, Western Writing Implements In The Age Of The Quill Pen (1990), and the Cowen pen owned by Thomas Jefferson and sold by the Monticello Center gift stop a few years ago.

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#3 hardyb

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Posted 13 September 2007 - 18:18

Also go to the Presidential Pens web site and look up G. Washington. I mentions some interesting facts. www.kamkurapens.com/Presidents/Presidents_Pens.html

Edited by hardyb, 13 September 2007 - 18:22.

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#4 cheshirebowman

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Posted 20 September 2007 - 21:44

I recall that an Egyptian Caliph, in the 9th Century oredered the making of a writing instrument that would write withour stopping. This was made, but was not sucessful or reliable, so a second, improved version (in gold) was made and was accepted by the Caliph - sadly, nothing is known of the form or construction, only the writings of the period!

#5 antoniosz

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 12:51

QUOTE(cheshirebowman @ Sep 20 2007, 05:44 PM) View Post
I recall that an Egyptian Caliph, in the 9th Century oredered the making of a writing instrument that would write withour stopping. This was made, but was not sucessful or reliable, so a second, improved version (in gold) was made and was accepted by the Caliph - sadly, nothing is known of the form or construction, only the writings of the period!


Yes, see this link and this reference:
"A Mediaeval Islamic Prototype of the Fountain Pen?" by J. BOSWORTH in J Semitic Studies.1981; 26: 229-234

#6 Titivillus

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Posted 22 September 2007 - 13:32

QUOTE(Pentigleo @ Sep 12 2007, 03:15 PM) View Post
He does not seem to mention this pen again which would suggest that it was nothing new to him. Maybe this type of pen been in common usage for while. Does anyone know of an earlier reference to this type of pen (maybe a Penner) than the one in Pepys diary? Does anyone have any pictures they would like to share?


I'm looking in "pen, ink & evidence" by Joe Nickell- under Fountain pens he gives reference to Caliph al-Mu'izz (d.975) requesting a pen capable of carrying it's own ink supply. But this might as you say just a myth.

Then the 1663 Samy Pepys said he had a reserviour pen. The reference is a display of the pentographic fountain pen, Science Museum, London.

Next is the reference to the Jefferson type pen in three sections.






#7 rhr

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 03:55

The original work in which the mention of the first fountain pen is made is one attributed to al-Qadi al-Nucman ibn Muhammad, Kitab Al-Majalis Wa’l Musa’Irat, from ca. 969-975 AD. It's dated to the 10th-century reign of Caliph Mu'izz of Egypt, but no artifact survives. It was first pointed out in an article by Hassan El-Basha Mamoud, "A Tenth-Century Fountain Pen", The Bulletin, The Egyptian Education Bureau, Sept 1951, where he quoted the passage in its original language.

"When Mu'izz mentioned the pen he described its merits and regarded it as the symbol of the secret of knowledge; he then said he would like to make a pen which would write without the need of an inkpot. Such a pen, said the Caliph, would be self-supplying and have the ink inside. One could write what one wanted with it but as soon as one relinquished it the ink would disappear and the pen would become dry. The writer could keep such a pen in his sleeve without fearing any mark of filtration of the ink for the ink would filter only when the pen wrote. It would certainly be a wonderful instrument and one without precedent. In a few days the craftsman to whom the pen had been described brought a model made of gold. After filling it with ink, he was able to write with it. But as more ink came out than was needed, the craftsman was ordered to alter it. Finally the pen was brought back repaired. It was turned over in the hand and tilted in all directions and no ink appeared. But as soon as he took it and began to write, he wrote the best hand for as long as he wished and when he took the pen away from the paper the ink vanished. Thus I beheld a wonderful work the like of which I had never thought to see."

This translation appeared in an article on the Penlovers.com website, which appears to be down right now, but it can be found on the Wayback Machine, http://web.archive.o...res_history.htm.

Notice the age-old problem of flooding, my italics. ;~)

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#8 antoniosz

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Posted 23 September 2007 - 04:48

Another early effort is the quill fountain pen described by Daniel Schwenter professor of oriental languages and
mathematics at the University of Altdorf. In his work Deliciae Physico-Mathematicae, he saws this pen (see below)
described as "a quill pen modified with an inner valve that lets in air in a controlled manner so that
the ink will not overflow from the ink reservoir. The valve consists of a hole which, according to Schwenter,
should be large enough to let a cherry pit through, a gentle pinch of the quill barrel would let air in and ink was
then fed to the nib" (from Per Cullher, "Pens and ink through 2000 years - a world of words, in
Care and Conservation of manuscripts 8, Proc. of the 8th Int. Seminar held at the University of Copenhagen, 16-17 Oct. 2003, pp. 93-112)


Edited by antoniosz, 23 September 2007 - 04:49.







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