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We have written a brief history of pens (see below). However, if you prefer to watch a video, we've also included one.
Enjoy your reading or watching then scroll down to read "25 Interesting Facts About Pens"
The first pens used to write on papyrus were made of thin reed brushes “reed pens” from the sea rush. It is thought the use of the reed pen goes back to 3000 BC. They continued to be used until the Middle Ages and then were slowly replaces by quills from around the 7th century.
However, the reed pen (now made from bamboo), is still used in Pakistan to write on small wooden boards.
The quill was favoured once papyrus was replaced by animal skins and parchment. These smoother writing surfaces allowed for the writing to be finer and smaller. Quill pens, made from the flight feather of turkeys, swans, crows, and most commonly, bleached white goose.
A well-known example of writing with a quill that has survived until today is the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Quill pens continued to be used right up until the 18th Century and were used to write and sign the Constitution of the United States.
While a copper nib was found in the ruins of Pompeii indicating the use of metal dating back to the year 79, metal pens were first patented back in 1803. Prior to this, there was another mention of a silver pen in 1663 and a “new invented” pen was advertised in The Times in 1792. However, this pen wasn’t commercially exploited until the 1800s. Once this happened, the quality of steel nibs improved enough to cause dip pens with metal nibs to popular.
The earliest record of a pen with a reservoir dates back to the 10th century AD, the mechanism is unknown. Later on, a reservoir pen was created in the 1600s using two quills with one quill acting as the reservoir. Eventually, a student in Paris invented the fountain pen which was patented by the French Government in 1827. Subsequent to this, production and patenting increased in the 1850s.
In 1888, the first patent was issued for a ballpoint pen. Then in 1938 the chemist Biro, and his brother designed new types of pens which included a tiny ball in the tip. The ball would pick up ink from the reservoir and deposit it on the paper. Not long after, the Biro brothers filed a British patent and the name Biro became synonymous with the ballpoint pen.
The Japanese inventor Yukio Horie first introduced the felt-tipped pen in the 1960s which heralded the popularity of marker pens, highlighters and colourful markers.
No matter what kind of pen you prefer - fountain, ballpoint, rollerball or felt tip here are some fun facts:1.The average pen writes approximately 45,000 words.
2.The first fountain pen was invented in New York in 1883 by Lewis Edson and patented in 1884.
3.Gold-nibbed fountain pens can have the ability to learn. The soft metal slowly adjusts and adapts to the users’ writing style.
4.The smallest fountain pen on record is the “Nanofountain Probe” with writing lines of just 40 nanometres in width. It is used by scientists to write on-chip patterning.
5.According to the Guinness world record, the largest ballpoint pen is 5.5 metres high and weighs 37 kilograms. To top it off, it’s fully functional!
Guinness World Book of Records
6.The creation of the “Space Pen” makes use of pressurised ink cartridges that can write underwater, at different temperatures, on wet and greasy paper or zero gravity.
Image courtesy of
By Cpg100 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11312251
7.The British government bought the rights to the Biro brothers’ pens so they could be used by the Royal Air Force Crew as the pens worked at a high altitude.
8.BIC pens, the first inexpensive ballpoint pen, were first introduced in 1949 by Marcel Bich.
9.The eye-catching Hi-Liter was developed in Massachusetts by Carter’s Ink.
10.The Magic Marker, developed in 1952, has its roots dating back to 1910 when the permanent marker was first created.
11.Sakura Color Products Corp first invented gel ink in 1984.
12.The oldest preserved pen is the fountain pen is from 1702.
13.Left-handed writers prefer the use of ballpoint pens as they are quick-drying.
14.Ballpoint pens are mostly made with brass balls, however, some of the balls are made of tungsten carbide which is tougher than steel.
15.The most expensive pen in the world made to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Montblanc and Van Cleef & Arpels is worth $730,000. It’s decorated with sapphires, rubies or emeralds. The question remains, is it comfortable to write with?
16.Your regular BIC ballpoint pen can draw a line that’s 2 kilometres long.
17.The US produces 2 billion pens a year.
18.We are all familiar with the expression “The pen is mightier than the sword” but did you know that during the Apollo mission expedition, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong fixed an engine switch by jamming a felt-tip pen in the hole where the switch used to be. The pen literally saved their lives!
19.The US president uses a new pen to sign important documents - never the same one twice. The pen is gifted to supporters who helped create the document. The pen is also engraved.
20.While US presidents mostly use fountain pens, Donald Trump used a Sharpie…
21.The most common choice of promotional product is the pen.
22.More than 100 people die each year suffocating on pen caps. It used to be higher until holes were added to the caps.
23.Retractable ballpoint pens are oil-based so they don’t dry out.
24.The largest collection of ballpoint pens is owned by Angelika Unverhau. There are over 285,150 in the collection from 148 countries.
25.The average ballpoint pen can draw 29,249 smiley faces.
We have a fine collection of writing instruments online and in our store (curbside pick-up for now). Why not take a look?