Fountain Pen Design

Function, Development, Construction and Fabrication

8.2 History and Commentary

Information collected from the Internet

…which I found during my search on the internet, with small interventions of mine (in brackets)… where I couldn’t resist.


— Early pens did not have an effective means to allow the right amount of air to enter to take the place of the departing ink, so the ink flow was consequently not well controlled. (they would have hiccupped)

— In the 1870s, L.E. Waterman developed his three-channel feed.  During writing, due to alteration of writing pressure, the nib touched and moved away from the feed.  This allowed small amounts of air to escalate up the feed into the sac. (very interesting design)

— Later, cavities were added below the nib, which were able to absorb excess ink, thus preventing blots.  (to some degree)

— Later, for the same purpose, pens of the 1940s and onward used internal cavities as a collector.

— The feed is probably the most important single part of the pen.  Without an effective feed, even the finest pen made from the best materials will drip and leak constantly, or else not give up any ink at all.

— The ink is fed to the nib through a feed via a combination of gravity and capillary action.

— Tests of ink flow within the feed (don’t ask me how they did them) have shown that the fluid pressure varies in a “zigzag” fashion over time as you write, indicating that you are actually “pumping?” ink from inside the pen as you write.

— Careful design and execution of the feed channels are required to reinforce this pumping behaviour as well as to deal with excess ink flow that may happen during long writing sessions.

Above all: Enjoy!


Amadeus W.

1 April 2016, yes, April’s fools day

Continue reading about How the Fountain Pen Design Website was initiated (this website)
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