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Types of Pens in History

Types of Pens in History

Types of Pens Throughout History

We've come a long way since the invention of the first writing implements used to apply ink to a surface as a pen does. Ancient Egyptians used reed straw or bamboo, cut and shaped with features such as a split nib to retain ink.

The reed pen was eventually replaced by quills. For the quill pen, a moulted flight feather of a large bird would be used, most commonly a goose feather, but swan, turkey, crow, eagle, hawk or owl feathers were also used depending on availability.

Dip pens replaced quill pens and reed pens. The dip pen or nib pen usually consists of a metal nib mounted onto a handle made of wood, bone, metal, or plastic, but there are also dip pens made entirely of glass.

Ink brushes were developed in China and are still used in Chinese calligraphy. The holder was made with bamboo, gold, silver, jade, ivory, or red sandalwood. The brush can be hair from a goat, weasel, pig, mouse, buffalo, wolf, rabbit, tiger, fowl, deer, and even human hair. 

Fountain pens are nib pens, but instead of dipping the pen into ink as you would a dip pen, a fountain pen dispenses ink from an internal reservoir.

The ruling pen holds ink between metal plates or prongs which are tensioned together with a screw, and can be adjusted based on the size line you would like to create. These pens can draw very precise lines and curves.

The ballpoint pen dispenses oil based ink over a rotating metal ball at its point. The ball is commonly made of steel, brass, or tungsten carbide, but a more modern version also includes a ball made of ceramic. 

Markers and felt tip pens come with many different size and shape tips that are made of a porous, fiberous material. The inks can be permanent or non-permanent, transparent or opaque.

Rollerball pens dispense ink in the same fashion as the ballpoint, but they contain liquid or gel inks instead of oil based.

Brush pens, or fudepens, are much like fountain pens in the way they dispense ink, but instead of a metal nib, the brush pen has a brush tip. The brush tips are made with synthetic or natural bristles.

The space pen is a gas-charged ball point pen that can handle zero gravity, vacuum, and extreme temperatures intended for writing in outer space.

There are many types of pens to choose from, each type has its own special writing characteristics.

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  • Karen Smith