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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Types of Pens Explained

A lot has changed ever since man invented a writing instrument and the act of writing was created. Today, we use the pen to write - that is, a writing instrument that is built to use ink to write on a surface, may it be on a paper or elsewhere. However, there is simply no single pen that can comfortably be used by anyone since different types of people, granting those with different kinds of jobs and professions, use the pen for different purposes.

Before they were promotional pens they were just basic writing instruments for daily routines.




The Pens Today

For example, there are a lot of types of modern pens that anyone can use today, which are categorized by the type of writing point or tip that these pens have.

There's the ballpoint pen, which is probably the most common pen that most people use for everyday writing. It is a pen made of steel, brass, or of tungsten carbide, that is made to dispense a viscous and oil-based ink passing through a small rolling sphere, or a ball. It is commonly used since it is known to not only be reliable, but also cheap to buy as well.

Then, there's the more unconventional one like the fountain pen. This type of pen only uses water-based liquid ink and is designed to deliver this ink through a nib. The ink, which comes from a reservoir, goes first through a feed before it goes to the nib. Because of gravity, the ink finds its way to a thin slit, which will serve to be the point of the pen, and into a writing surface.  The reservoir inside the fountain pen can be refilled with new ink; however, it might require refilling using an eyedropper.

Moving on to the much bigger pens, there's the marker, also called as the felt-tip pen. The marker has a porous tip which is made of fibrous material. The marker is also categorized by the thickness of its tip. The smallest, or the fine-tip markers, can be used on paper.  The medium-tipped ones can be used by children for drawing or coloring. The larger ones may be used in corrugated boxes or on whiteboards during classes. Other different types of markers are also highlighters, which are markers that write with bright, transparent ink. There are also markers with permanent and non-permanent ink, depending on how they are ought to be used.

Another commonly-used type of pen is the rollerball pen, or what is also known as the gel pen. This type of pen is made to dispense a water-based ink, also known as the gel ink, also through a ball tip quite similar to that of a ballpoint pen. This makes the pen much easier and much smoother to write across a writing surface. The lesser the viscosity of the ink used, the faster it is absorbed on paper. Many people also use this type of pen since it has the convenience and the comfort of writing with a ballpoint pen and the wet ink effect like that of a fountain pen. These gel pens are also available in different colors, even in glitter!



How They Wrote

It's also interesting to know how our ancestors wrote and what writing instruments they used. Because of the little technology and knowledge they had back then, we could only sit in awe at how they came to create and develop their pens and the act of writing.

One of the common historic writing pens, which can still be seen used by some calligraphers and artists of today, is the dip pen or the nib pen. This type of pen, like the fountain pen, also has the metal nib that is used to create a tip for the pen. These pens before have a handle that is made of wood. Unlike the fountain pen, though, it did not have a reservoir that you can fill and refill with ink, so our ancestors still had to repeatedly recharge the tip with ink while writing. Although the fountain pen may seem more convenient to use, the dip pen also had its advantages. It could be used with a lot of different kinds of inks, such as acrylic inks which could clog a fountain pen and eventually destroy it. Some artists still make use of the dip pen. A favorite of some of them is the crowquill because of its flexibility and ease of use while drawing.

Another historic pen is the ink brush, which was the traditional writing instrument used in East Asian calligraphy back then. This pen has a body that was either made of bamboo, glass, ivory, or even gold. Meanwhile, the head of the brush was usually made from the hair of different animals such as rabbit, deer, goat, and feathers of chicken. In China and Japan, there is also a tradition wherein they make use of a newborn's hair for the brush of the pen, which served as a souvenir for the child. Calligraphy could also be done by using a simple pen, but artists prefer the traditional brush because of the prestige it brings.

Then, there's also the quill, which is a pen made from the flight feather of a large bird, oftentimes of a goose. Before the hand-made pens like the fountain pen, and sooner the ballpoint pen came to the scene, these pens were the common instruments used in writing back then, particularly in the medieval times. They were usually used to write in surfaces such as parchment or paper.

Sooner or later after the use of the quill pen, the reed pen eventually replaced it. This type of pen is usually made from a reed or bamboo which also has a slit as its narrow tip. It is mechanically used like that of the quill. Although it is already not seen to be used these days, young children in India and Pakistan still learn how to write with them.

A Walk Through History

History tells us that it was the ancient Egyptians that made use of the first writing materials, which was the reed brush back then, on papyrus scrolls. In fact, in a book by Steven Roger Fischer entitled A History in Writing, the reed pen might have even be used in as early as the First Dynasty or during 3000 BC. During the Middle Ages, they have slowly been replaced by quills, which were used in writing some of the Dead Sea Scrolls in about 100 BC.

Quill pens, however, rose in popularity during the 18th century wherein they were even used to write the US Constitution in 1787. Two thousand years later, the Greeks replaced the quill pens with the reed pen again and its popularity survived until the papyrus was already replaced by animal skins, parchment, and vellum, as writing surface.

There was also a copper nib found in the ruins of Pompei during the year 79, which gave rise to the use of dip pens with metal nibs during the early 1800s.

The ballpoint pen was first patented on 1888 and was given to John J. Loud. Right after that, different kinds of pen were already made and given patents. During the 1960s, the felt-tipped pen was invented by in Japan by Yukio Horie. It hit the US market eventually and has taken the lead ever since.


A lot has gone ever since the first writing instrument was made. Ever since that first time, pens have been nothing but a great help to all of humankind.

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