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J. P. Maginnis: "Reservoir, Fountain and Stylographic Pens"


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I am sure several of you will enjoy this thorough review of the early developments in field of writing instruments:


From the Journal of the Society of Arts: Three 'Cantor' lectures given by James.P.Maginnis in early 1905 on 'Reservoir Fountain Pens and Stylographic Pens'. (1) Ancient Writing Instruments, (2) Stylographic Pens and Manufacture of Gold Pens (3) Fountain Pens. (4 MB)


Thank you Google.


PS> Gerry, it might be a good idea to pin this one.

Edited by antoniosz
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  • 3 months later...

Thank you very much Antonio (& Google) for bringing this to our attention. It is a very enjoyable reading with some outstanding drawings.


It is striking that the lever filler, which I associate with old pens, was a future development, not really foreseeable from the paper. Then Mr Sheaffer's got some drops of genius!



<font face="Verdana"><b><font color="#2f4f4f">d</font></b><font color="#4b0082">iplo</font></font><br /><br /><a href='http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?showuser=6228' class='bbc_url' title=''><font face="Trebuchet MS"><br /><font size="4"><b><font color="#8b0000"><font color="#696969">Go</font> <font color="#006400">To</font> <font color="#a0522d">My</font> <font color="#4b0082">FPN</font> Profile!</font></b></font></font><br /></a>

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To celebrate 100 years since Maginnis gave his lecture, WES President Dr Geoff Roe presented "Ink Reservoir Writing Instruments 1905 - 2005" (Transactions of the Newcomen Society, volume 77, number 1, 2007). You can buy a copy from the WES Online Shop (sorry, members only).





The Writing Desk

Fountain Pen Specialists since 2000



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  • 4 months later...

I am enjoying Edith Wharton The Age of Innocence and came across this reference to an early wiring instrument in chapter XXIII


Newland Archer, a wealthy New Yorker has married a very beautiful girl from a grand NY family. They are spending part of the summer near Newport, but Archer finds himself attracted to a married woman he knew before he was married. He escapes to Boston and meets Madame Olenska (she is still married, but separated from a European nobleman).


Needing to write a note while they are in a park, Archer lends Madame Olenska a writing instrument:

"You can write here." He drew out a note-case and one of the new stylographic pens. "I've even got a envelope—you see how everything is predestined! There—steady the thing on your knee, and I'll get the pen going in a second. They have to be humoured; wait—" He banged the hand that held the pen against the back of the bench. "It's like jerking down the mercury in a thermometer: just a trick. Now try—"

She laughed, and bending over the sheet of paper which he had laid on his note-case, began to write. Archer walked away a few steps, staring with radiant unseeing eyes at the passers-by, who, in their turn, paused to stare at the unwonted sight of a fashionably-dressed lady writing a note on her knee on a bench in the Common.

Hmm. There'll be trouble...


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  • 7 months later...

The link to the original article doesn't seem to be working any more...

Edited by jrantala
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  • 11 months later...

The link to the original article doesn't seem to be working any more...


yes, same for me, it doesn't load...

Pity, I'd really love to see the article.

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Antonios probably found the Maginnis Cantor lectures in Google Books, so if you live in the US, you also should be able to find a downloadable PDF of the lectures there. For copyright reasons, some of the Google Books PDFs are available only to residents of the US, so I can't post the link to the copy of the lectures in Google Books.


If you send Antonios an email, or a personal message through FPN, I'm sure he can be persuaded to correct the link on his blogspot and in this thread. And if not, he will surely be able to send you a copy of the PDF. I have various copies of the lectures, both digital and hardcopy, but this is Antonios's thread, and I don't want to step on his toes. It is incumbent upon him to keep the link alive, or to fill any requests for copies.


George Kovalenko.





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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 8 months later...

(sorry about the duplication, but I can't edit the original post)

If you download this file, the text is an image, so not searchable. The three lectures on writing implements are reprinted in the issues of October 20, October 27, and November 3, at the very end of the file. But much of the other information is fascinating for other reasons.


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As of Jan 2018, all the above links seem to be broken. I recently looked up the Google digitized lectures and saved just the pertinent digitized pages to pdf files.


There is no way to post pdf on FPN, and it would be cumbersome to upload 55 or so pages one by one as jpg files.


I would be happy to email the files to anyone who requests them. They are really interesting, and I enjoyed reading a history of writing instruments that was so comprehensive, yet written before the advent of the lever filling fountain pen.


Perhaps Richard Binder, Jim Mamoulides, David Nishimura, or anyone with a web site that is likely to be around for a long time would like the pdf files to post so we can have a fresh link for all to be able to read this great historical information.

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Here are some direct links to take you to the page of the lecture notes.


Original announcement with detailed subjects covered under each lecture


Lecture I: Ancient Writing Implements (includes up through steel pens)


Lecture II: Stylographic pens and manufacture of gold pens


Lecture III: Fountain Pens , part 2 of that lecture


“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."


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