Before the invention of ballpoint pens, one object ruled the world of writing, called the fountain pen. The use of fountain pens became known to many people around the globe because of its elegant design and efficient writing capabilities. Apart from these factors, fountain pens were popular because of the work of the great inventors who contributed to developing it up to the modern design we know today.
Similar to the ballpoint pen, the fountain pen includes an internal reservoir of liquid ink. Meaning to say, you can bring this type of pen anywhere you like without the hassle of carrying a bulky bottle of ink. The fountain pen is the successor of the dip pen, which is one of the primary means of writing as early as 43 to 410 AD.
The fountain pen worked like a charm since the time it was invented, and many people were fond of using it for writing; instead of the traditional dip pen. Fountain pens function quite similar to the modern ballpoint pens since both pens have a liquid ink reservoir inside. The difference is that the fountain pen requires filling the ink reservoir manually with the use of an eyedropper or syringe. Once filled with ink, it comes down to the nib with the help of gravity and capillary action. The nib is the part of a pen, which comes in contact with the writing surface.
This invention became the inspiration for the creation of modern ballpoint pens. Until today, a number of people still use fountain pens in writing, calligraphy, and other forms of art. Although its successor, the ballpoint pen surpassed its writing efficiency, it is still evident that fountain pens continue to be a classy and excellent medium for writing.
What is the history behind this wonderful invention? Like most inventions in history, the fountain pen has an interesting back story of its own. In this article, we are going to look into the history of the fountain pen – mainly, who is its inventor?
The History of Fountain Pen
As mentioned earlier, fountain pens ruled the world of writing before the invention of the ballpoint pen. The widespread use of fountain pens lasted for more than a half-century.
We can trace back the origins of the fountain pen to the 19th century when an American insurance agent named Lewis Waterman came up with the idea. Similar to most inventions, necessity is the main factor that led to the creation of the fountain pen. Since Waterman was an insurance agent, one of his necessity was to prevent the insurance policy forms and shirt pockets from being smudged due to leaky pens. Because of this, Waterman observed the problem and looked for the root cause. Later did he realized that one source of the problem was the air pressure of earlier pens, which have variations leading to potential leakage.
Waterman studied the principles of the fountain pens further, mainly its ink reservoir. He found out that the ink reservoir requires a precise amount of pressure to function correctly. A higher pressure within the ink chamber of the fountain pen would cause the ink to leak. On the other hand, if the ink reservoir has lower air pressure, it would not enable the ink to flow smoothly; this means precise air pressure is the key to create a good-flowing fountain pen.
Now that Waterman had this scientific explanation in mind, he redesigned the nib of the pen with cuts, also known as the ink duct, wherein its main purpose was to maintain air pressure. This initial design of Waterman resembles the appearance of the modern fountain pens. He continued to work on this design to make sure that the ink reservoir of the fountain pen is working properly.
After extensive work with the fountain pen, Waterman’s work resulted in a success, which made a breakthrough in the world of writing. On February 12, 1884, Lewis Waterman presented the first leak-proof pen all around the world. His invention quickly skyrocketed all around the globe, wherein he also gained recognition. This invention of Waterman made a significant impact on the pen industry. Since then, the name Waterman became an icon of fountain pens, and even today, the name Waterman is synonymous with fountain pens.