Unlike its predecessor, the dip pen, the fountain pen holds its ink in a internal reservoir which is drawn through a feed to the nib by way of gravity and capillary action. Due to its way of operating the fountain pen requires little to no pressure to write.
The ink in the reservoir may be re-filled manually via an internal “filler mechanism or through use of removable reservoirs of pre-filled ink.
The first known recorded use of the fountain pen dates back to the 10th century. Ma’Äd al-Mu’izz, the caliph of Egypt, demanded a pen which would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir and delivered it to the nib, and could be held upside-down without leaking. Unfortunately, no details of the operation or construction of this pen exist.
Due to lack of understanding of how air pressure affected the ink within the pen, progress on developing a reliable pen was slow. Petrache Poenaru received a patent for the invention of the first fountain pen with a replaceable in cartridge in 1827. After three key inventions happened in the 1850’s the fountain pen finally become popular as a writing instrument. Those inventions were the iridium-tipped gold nib, hard rubber, and free-flowing ink. By the 1880’s fountain pens were being mass produced. Wirt was the dominant producer all the way through the 1920’s.
Eventually celluloid replaced hard rubber, which allowed for more colors and designs.
During the 1940s and 1950s, fountain pens retained their dominance even though by this time ballpoint pens were in existence. Ball Point pens were expensive, prone to leaks, and had irregular inkflow, while the fountain pen continued to benefit from the combination of mass production and craftsmanship.
It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the ballpoint eventually gained dominance over the fountain pen for casual use. Although the fountain pen is still used in some European countries it is generally considered a collectible item or status symbol. Many pens are made with jewels and cloisonnÃ© designs. There are many communities of pen enthusiast who collect rare and antique pens. Many collectors find the antique pens to be more valuable when they are actually usable.