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Vintage Founatin Pens Heritage from 1880s to 1970s | vintage fountain pen heritageVintage Pens
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vintage fountain pen heritage
vintage pen heritage


- from the Past to Present

The History of Fountain Pen

The earliest historical record of a reservoir pen dates to the 10th century. German investor documented a pen design made from quills in 1636, probably the earliest documented record of quill pen. In early 19th century, the improved slip-in nib with the invention of new machine in Birmingham, England leads to mass manufacture robust steel pen nibs. By the 1850s, more than half the steel-nib pens manufactured in the wordl were made in Birmingham. The pens were sold worldwide, encouraging the development of education and literacy. Yet one had to keep ink next to the pen, and once dipped it would only write about 1-2 lines. Unitl the early 1880s, the stylographic pen was developed, which carried its own ink. In 1883, American LE Waterman invented the 'first practical pen', apparently after he got annoyed because a contract he was signing was ruined by a blot of ink. At this time foutain pens were all filled by means of an eyedropper. The leakage problem and inconvenient filling procedure leads to the development of diffent models. 'Safety pen' is one of the earliest solutions to the leakage problem. In 1907 Waterman began marketing a safety pen that soon became the most widely distributed pen. Other 'safety pens' marketed including Parker Jack Knife Safety and Swan Safety Screw-cap. While Conklin crescent-filler, A.A. Waterman's twist-filler, Sheaffer's lever-filler and Parker button filler were all new developed self-fillers. Technological innovations drived the development of fountain pens. Celluloid gradually replaced hard rubber, which enabled a wider range of color and design. New filling systems were introduced. The inter-was period saw the introduction of smoe of the most notable models, like Parker Duofold, Parker Vacumatic, Sheaffer's Lifetime Balance. The launch of Parker 51 in the 1940s, proved it immensely popularity over the next 30 years. And till now Parker 51 is still regarded as world most wanted pen. By the 1960s, production of ballpoint pen gradually ensured its dominance over the fountain pens for casual use.


Waterman fountain pen was used to sign the Treaty of Versailles

Eisenhower's pen, a Parker "51", was used to sign the armistice to end WWII in Europe

Parker Duofold in mandarin yellow celluloid - it is the favourite color of the company founder George S Parker, who was inspired to use it while travelling in Asia. But it was not popular in America. It was Parker's failure in the 1920s, and it was not made in large quantities. Also the plastics was so brittle that broke easily. Hence one in good condition is highly sought-after nowadays

In 1995, Parker issued a limited edition Duofold, Big Red, to honor Douglas MacArthur signing the peace treaty that ended the war in the Pacific

Sheaffer pens were used to sign the Japanese peace treaty and the United Nations Charter

Fountain Pens - Way out to Modern World

Pen collecting began in the US in the 1960s-1970s, and that the first 'instantly recognizable collectible pen' was the Parker Big Red Duofold dating 1920s. The top range ones were handmade fountain pen; while mass production came in only in the 1920s-1930s. For many collectors, fountain pens bring back memories of old school days. The quality of the craftsmanship also bring them to the hobby. And now collectors have found that these fine instruments have become serious investments too. Bonhams, the world largest auction house for luxuaries, has enjoyed considerable success in recent years with its sales of modern fountain pens. Last year 2011, Bonhams staged its first significant sale of vintage pens lots from the interwar years, the so-called 'golden age' of fountain pens. As per Financial Times the values might well be on the rise that this fairly arcane collecting area is being brought to a wider audience.

Apart from the unexpected increasing value of itself, fountain pen also illustrates a curious example of an old-fashioned object surviving the winds of change. Fountain pens, once ruled out by the 1960s the perfection of ballpoint pen technology and the roaring of email and electronic communciation, survive and even increasing popularity in the modern days. People want the memory of a fountain pen in a comtemporary pen. Writing is becoming more and more exlusive and personal. Professionals like doctors, lawyers have long used fountain pens to bestow an extra layer of respectability to offical documents. In the world of business too, it can be seen as declaration of intent.