Authors: Tiina Jasinski 1
Movie: Video clip collection of Tallinnfilm
Movie Clip: From 0:00:00 To 0:00:53
Director: A vo Paistik
Film Studio: Tallinnfilm
A fountain pen is a pen that contains a reservoir of
water-based liquid ink. The ink is fed to the nib through
a "feed" via a combination of gravity and capillary
action. Filling the fountain pen reservoir with ink
involves replacing a disposable ink cartridge, filling the
pen with an eyedropper, or using one of a variety of
internal mechanisms which suck ink into the reservoir
from a bottle through the nib. Older pens had an
internal rubber sac which was squeezed and released
to create the suction needed. Most modern pens can
use either a disposable cart ridge, or a removable
reservoir with a screw or piston mechanism to fill the
The mechanics of a fountain pen may be broken down
into three general function categories: the reservoir, the
feed system and the nib. The reservoir or ink storage
mechanism of most modern fountain pens stores ink
two ways. One way to fill a fountain pen is to simply
plug in the appropriate cartridge. The other way to fill a
fountain pen is to plug in a piston converter Most pen
makers creat e their pens to be compatible with their
cartridges only, and all provide a reasonable selection
of colors in high quality inks. The advantage to us ing
cartridges is convenienc e. The advantage to filling the
pen via converter is access to fresh bottled inks made
by other companies.
The feed system regulates the flow of ink to
the nib by means of a series of canals and
grooves. This system ensures the least
possible incidence of leakage with the
greatest amount of even flow. The feed, in
conjunction with the nib, plays the vital role
balancing the effects of gravity with
atmospheric pressure and capill ary action.
Capillary action pivots in its role, making sure the ink in the pen holds in position
against any changes in air pressure where the ambient air pressure becomes lower
than that of the ink reservoir or heat from the writers hand increases the internal
pressure above that of the ambient air pressure. Most pens have a series of
secondary canals to handle any surplus of ink due to these atmos pheric imbalances.
Varying the size of the canals and conduits achieves the perfect balance necessary.
The fountain pen nib not only carries a unique look to itself but it does something no
other writing instrument does, feeds information to the writer during the proc ess of
writing. This tactile response, the "feel" of the pen on the paper, compares with the
way a rac e car driver feels and reads the road through the steering wheel. A fountain
pen creates lines of varying thickness relative to changes in the writer's hand
pressure, angle of the pen to the paper, and rotations on the nibs axis. The effect is an
elegant line with an almost calligraphic appearance, rendering any penmanship
beautiful. Precious metals play an important role in construction of the nib relative to
the nibs performance and longevity. The least expensive fountain pens tend to have
stainless steel or gold plated stainless steel nibs.
The absence of precious metals in significant quantities or at all make a fountain pen
easily affordable but a trade off exists. Stainless steel is a rigid and unforgiving
material, a quality that may take away from the overall experience, isolating the writer
from the subtle nuances of tactile responses between paper and nib.
Gold maintains a position of dominanc e as the metal of choice for several reasons.
For one, gold resists the effect of corrosion due to contact with inks. Gold's malleability
perfectly suits the function of providing the nib with flexibility. Gold in its pure form
would not serve the other priority of resilience, for this purpose gold alloys serve best.
Sites about fountain pens (also used in explanations):
Scientific description of fountain:
Introduction to fountain pens including images:
Educational site about fountain pens: