The beginnings of the fountain pen go way back to the Middle Ages. Back then, reeds or bird feathers were used and the tip was dipped into inkwells to write with.
How do fountain pens work today:
Modern fountain pens, on the other hand, have an internal ink reservoir, usually in the form of a cartridge or (more rarely) a refillable converter. Technically, a fountain pen uses a physical effect (called the capillary effect) to cause the ink to flow from the widest part (the cartridge) through the progressively narrower parts, such as those of the ink delivery system and nib tip, to the fibers of the paper.
What do I need to know about the nib:
The nib, along with the ink-guiding system, is the heart of the fountain pen. It consists of the nib itself, which is usually made of steel, and a "grain" at the tip, which in the case of high-quality fountain pens is usually made of a particularly robust material such as iridium. There are also nibs with differently shaped grains, which are then especially suitable for beginners or left-handers. The standard nib is the M (=medium) nib.
Role as a writing instrument:
Today, fountain pens are often used when the writing should look particularly festive, as in greeting cards, or for signatures on important documents. For long and efficient writing, other technologies are usually used. In Germany, the fountain pen plays a special role in early childhood education: the majority of children in Germany still use a fountain pen to learn to write in elementary school.
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All fountain pens:
Frequently asked questions:
The right fountain pen is even more a question of personal requirements and preferences than other writing instruments. Important questions to ask yourself in order to find the right fountain pen are:
- Who is going to use the pen, e.g. a child or an adult?
- What will be done with the pen, e.g. only a short signature or will it be used for writing all day at school?
- What about the motor skills of the writer? Can he or she dose pressure well?
- Is the writer left- or right-handed?
This will result in different recommendations. If necessary, this may mean that a fountain pen is not suitable at all in a particular case. Especially for people with high writing pressure, for example, a different, more robust technology would be more advisable.
In the end, it is therefore particularly advisable to test several models against each other to find the right one for you.
What's different about fountain pens after elementary school:
For fountain pens used after elementary school in teenage or adult years, many of the special requirements for school fountain pens become less important. For example, rubberized grip zones for a particularly good hold or a distinction between left- and right-handed versions are no longer necessary, nor are nib edgings to prevent blue fingers.
In the case of the grip zone, omitting the rubber coating also makes sense for adults because they use hand creams more often and a rubber coating would get dirty more quickly as a result.
What remains important even after elementary school:
The situation is different when it comes to the quality of the nib and the ink guidance system. Adults, of course, also want the best writing performance without scratching and the most durable product possible. That's why we use the same high-quality nibs and ink-guiding systems in our adult fountain pens as in our learn-to-write fountain pens.
A question of design
Last but not least, fountain pens for adults sometimes differ significantly in design and color from those for elementary school. In most cases, the colors are more muted with more black components, and the shapes and materials are less playful. One example of a current adult fountain pen is the Flow series from STABILO.
The easiest and least dangerous method is certainly simple rinsing.
This is the best way to proceed: For cartridge fillers, remove the cartridge and hold the mouthpiece under lukewarm running water. It may take a while until no more ink is visible in the running water. Then move it gently through standing water. Continue until no more ink streaks can be seen. After cleaning, then dry the fountain pen well with paper towels. And ideally let it dry from the inside as well.