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Sunday, 22 January 2017


The word ‘pen’ comes from an old French word for the long wing or tail feather of a bird.

The first pens were used by the ancient Egyptians around 3500BC for writing on papyrus. They used hollow bamboo stems sharpened at one end filled with writing fluid, which was a mixture of soot and water.

Egyptian reed pens inside ivory and wooden palettes. By Rama 

Another early ancestor of the pen was the reed brush used for writing by the Chinese in the first millennium BC.

The quill pen surfaced when papyrus was replaced by animal skins, vellum and parchment, as a writing surface. The smoother surface of skin allowed finer, smaller writing by the quill pen, derived from the flight feather.

The quill pen was used in Qumran, Judea to write some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back to around 100 BC

Quill pen By Kinjal bose 78 - Wikipedia

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europeans had difficulty in obtaining reeds and began to use quills more widely. There is a specific reference to quills in the writings of St. Isidore of Seville in the 7th century.

The earliest historical record of a fountain pen, a type of pen in which ink is held in a reservoir and passes to the writing point through capillary channels dates back to 953. In that year Ma'ād al-Mu'izz, the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, demanded a writing instrument which would not stain his hands or clothes. He was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir and delivered it to the nib.

The next mention of a pen with ink reservoir came in the 17th century by a German inventor, Daniel Schwenter.

The fountain pen was made available in Europe in the 17th century with diarist Samuel Pepys being the first recorded user. He recorded in his diary on August 5, 1663: "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."

Quill pens continued to be used right up until the early 19th century when they were finally replaced by the metal dip pen.

While a student in Paris, Romanian Petrache Poenaru received the world's first fountain pen patent on May 25, 1827. It was for his invention of a fountain pen with a barrel made from a large swan quill.

The inconvenience of having to continually dip a pen to replenish its ink supply stimulated the development of the fountain pen. The American inventor L.E. Waterman produced the first practical version of the fountain pen in 1884.

The first patent for a ballpoint pen was issued on October 30, 1888, to American inventor John J. Loud, who was attempting to make a writing instrument that would be able to write "on rough surfaces-such as wood, coarse wrapping-paper, and other articles." His invention was not commercialized and the patent eventually lapsed.

The modern ballpoint pen was patented in 1938 by Hungarian journalist László Bíró. The inexpensive, disposable Bic Cristal, the Bic Company's first product, is reportedly the most widely sold pen in the world.
The modern felt tip pen was invented by a man named Sidney Rosenthal in New York in 1953. His Magic Marker consisted of a glass tube of ink with a felt wick. By 1958 use of felt-tipped markers was commonplace for a variety of applications such as lettering, labeling, and creating posters.

Despite producing about 38 billion ballpoint pens each year, China didn't acquire the technology to produce their own pen tips domestically until 2017.

Source Encyclopaedia Britannica

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