7 Interesting Fountain Pen Questions Answered

7 Fountain Pen Questions Answered

Fountain pens may be something you use all the time but if you are new to fountain pens, here are a few questions we get asked frequently.


1.  What is a fountain pen stub?

A fountain pen stub is a nib that has had the tip ground horizontally. This gives it a wide, flat end, measuring between 1 to 2mm. This gives the fountain pen a narrow cross stroke and a broad downstroke. In other words, you can create thick and thin lines depending upon the direction you are choosing to write in.

 calligraphy stub

A stub nib allows for someone who isn’t trained in calligraphy to write in a more elegant manner. Of course, any practice will make the writing even more pleasing. However, you need to watch out to not catch the corner of the nib on the paper. 


2. What is a good ink for fountain pens?

This isn’t as straightforward a question as it initially seems. The answer depends on your commitment to your pen and the amount of time you can spend maintaining it. 

Lamy ink

Virtually all ink which is specifically “fountain pen ink” contains only water-soluble dyes as opposed to non-water-soluble pigments. This is done for a simple reason: if you want to keep reusing a refillable fountain pen, you want to be able to keep cleaning the pen without concern of staining or of building-up of residual material. The underlying message here is to only use pigment-containing inks if you are going to be conscientious about cleaning your fountain pen.

If you flush your pen occasionally, most inks from well-known ink and pen manufacturers should be safe. Be sure to completely empty any pen you don’t plan on using for a long time.

There are a few exceptions. If the ink is heavily saturated, it may not be a fountain pen safe and therefore could still stain or clog your pen. Consider it as an ink that requires more maintenance. If you don’t intend on flushing your pen or are using a very valuable pen, you may want to avoid heavily saturated ink. Your pen and ink should not only match your budget but your dedication to its maintenance. Lamy Safari pens, which we love, are a good starting point!


3. Do you maintain your fountain pen?

In another blog, we wrote about the Dos and Don’ts of taking care of your fountain pen. We would like to mention some of the most important points again as they do really make fountain pen use a lot more enjoyable:

Nibs can get rusted. Make sure you don’t leave any water in your pen after cleaning it. 

fountain pen care

Forgetting to flush out ink if you’re not going to use your pen can create a time-consuming nightmare of cleaning before you can use your pen again.

Make sure to clean the nib with water. Ensure you also flush out the sediments of ink from all crevices and grooves.

Letting your pen dry is essential but patting it dry with a cotton cloth and leaving the pen to drip out any excess water is important.

Once cleaned, you can wrap up your pen in cotton in order to safely store it.

4. Who invented the fountain pen?

The first fountain pen patent, in 1827, was from a Romanian inventor named Petrache Poenaru. In 1828, quickly upon his heels, Josiah Mason, an Englishman, invented a steel pen nib. Then in 1880, a US manufacturer, Waterman, started using hard rubber pens with gold-tipped nibs and became the leading manufacturer of pens around the world.

 Petrache Poenaru fountain pen inventor

This position was then taken over by Walter Sheaffer who invented a level-filing pen in 1912 around the same time as the Parker company developed a button-filling pen. Parker had created a safety pen which essentially was a pen with a sealing cap to prevent leakage. 

The correct answer to who invented the fountain pen would therefore be better answered with the fact that various people were jointly responsible.

5. When did pens really start being used?

Mass production was possible as of the 1820s in England. They were steel, high-quality nibs, for dip pens. Not only were the nibs developed there, but they also invented a design that allowed for different nibs to be used with wood or bone nib holders. 

fountain pens popularly used

The introduction of these inexpensive steel nibs led the quill pen to be no longer used. The durability and the ability to manufacture thousands made them the dominant choice.

6. How do you keep a fountain pen from leaking?

leaky fountain pen

Older fountain pens, especially those that use unusual filling systems (syringes), are most likely to leak. The best way is to make sure you care for your pen and clean it regularly. Make sure the recommended ink or system (cartridge) is used in your pen. Additionally, if you fill the pen yourself, don’t over-fill it.


7. Is a Pen Really Mightier than the Sword?

This question was asked in Quora and elicited quite an interesting discussion. 

the pen is mightier than the sword

The original comes from the 1840s when the relatively unknown Edward Bulwer-Lytton came up with it. He served in parliament, wrote poetry and was a playwright.

Recently this question was answered with a little debate and some interesting views on the question:

One person responded by examining the question itself. He wondered what would happen if the pen was used as a weapon as was the sword. Then the obvious answer is it would be hard to defend one’s self against a sword with only a pen.

Of course, the question is not to be taken literally. If used to sign the paycheques of swordsmen, then definitely the pen could be quite instrumental in defeating the one sword alone. This is the way in which the pen is truly, mightier than the sword. Sending out the swordsmen at a pivotal moment will definitely win the war. The sword can be used to kill an individual but the pen can sign a document to end a war and therefore, affect nations.

Words from an anonymous writer:

the pen isn't mightier than the sword


 The opinion of us all at Paper Papier? We carry pens, not swords! Want to see our selection of pens? Come visit us in the ByWard Market in Ottawa or online, here, of course!