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Fountain Pen Nibs

Fountain Pen Nib

A fountain pen, a dip pen and even a quill all have a nib, its the part of whatever you are using that comes into contact with the paper that you are writing on.

Apparently the modern fountain pen nib dates back to the times when gold nibs had a tiny piece of ruby attached to them in an effort to improve wear and tear. But as more and more metals were found stainless steel or gold alloys were to become popular. It has to be said that the metal of choice today has to be gold as it is very resistant to corrosion and of course it is quite flexible. But like everything these gold nibs come at a price.

The majority of modern nibs are broken down into four different sections these being, extra fine, fine, medium and broad. It has to be said that each one of these nibs may have a special function, it is the individual writer that has the final say. While a extra fine nib will be perfect for one individual the next person will much prefer a medium nib. When asked to explain why each has chosen their particular type of nib it does ultimately come down to pure preference.

Nib flexibility is also important in a nib, and the thickness of the metal used will change the flexibility of the nib, secondly the amount of curve on a nib will ultimately determine how stiff the nib will become.

Fountain pens that dated back to the first half of the 20th. Century will normally have quite flexible nibs, and this was primarily dictated by the particular handwriting styles that were fashionable at the time. Just after the second world war writing styles began to change and the move shifted towards fountain pen nibs that were quite stiff. Perhaps another factor was that fountain pen makers were now offering ‘lifetime’ guarantees with their fountain pens and nibs and the more softer nib could not be sustained.

There is nothing wrong with softer nibs, but as a society we do use ballpoints and rollerball pens more frequently, its the way we grip these pen that causes the problem when we change to write with a fountain pen. The idea of the fountain pen nib is that the nib just glides over the paper and it is the ink that acts as some type of lubricant between the paper and the pen nib.

The fountain pen , the ballpoint pen, the dip pen all have a place in society and as long we respect that each of these pens does have its limitation the there is room for all of them in our homes.

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Bottled Ink or Cartridge Ink?

At one time there was no choice – it was bottled ink or nothing. To be honest even the colour of the ink was very limited.

Now the different bottled inks available is huge and they all have a trendy sounding name.

With modern technology came the humble cartridge and this for a time seemed to transform everything. But like with most things fountain pen users settled into one of the two camps.

Its not for me to say which is the better system, each has its own merits. I suppose if you are mainly office bound then the bottled ink has to be the clear choice, you will have endless amounts of ink at your disposal, but not only that, the different colours that are available to you are huge.
If you are a fountain pen user that is on the move then the cartridge ink is the clear winner, its size and ease of use are its features. You no longer need to carry the ink bottles around with you running the risk that they may just open or break and cause untold damage.

For me, and people say that I am biased, it has to be the bottled ink. There is nothing more calming then taking your fountain pen to bits and filling its reservoir up with your favourite ink. My mind seems to wonder at this stage with what words will flow onto the paper when then serious work begins.

Each of you will have a good argument as to which ever is best, and I would not dare to disagree with any of you as the main point of the exercise is to keep on writing and more importantly keep on writing using the trusted and traditional fountain pen.
Why not visit our ink page – you never know you may just be inspired.

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History Of The Fountain Pen

The fountain pen solved the problem of messy quills and pens that must be dipped in ink.

The stains from dripping pens smear paper, hands, and clothes. The fountain pens contain a reservoir that holds water-based ink that enables longer writing periods. There are multiple ways that pens can be filled with ink, depending on how the pen was designed. The fountain pen can be filled with a syringe or a pipette, tube cartridge, cartridges with a converter, squeeze converter, built in filling system, and even pens with ink tablets that dissolve in water which is then poured into the fountain pen.

Notable Fountain Pen Users

The earliest mention of a fountain pen, one with an internal ink reservoir, comes from year 973. In the North Africa region, Ma’ad al-Mu’izz, the caliph of the Maghred, requested a pen that would keep his hands from getting dirty. We know that he received his request for a pen that could be held upside down without any ink spilling, but it is uncertain how the pen worked or what it looked like.

In the 17th century a German, Daniel Schwenter, innovated a pen from two quills that were placed inside of one another. The inner quill contained the ink and was enclosed by a cork. The ink leaked from the reservoir into a small hole, which led to the nib. It was, also, noted in English naval administer, Samuel Pepys’ dairies about a metal pen that carried ink, in 1663. Other historians have mentioned fountain pens existing in the 17th century.

The First Fountain Pen Patents

Roman inventor, Petrache Poenaru, received a patent in France in 1827 for the fountain pen. Mr. Poenaru was a mathematician, inventor, educator, and engineer. His fountain pen was fashioned from a large swan quill that formed the barrel. The name of this pen was, “portable pen which does not end, which feeds itself alone with ink”.

In America, an inventor, received a patent for a fountain pen that used a reservoir in the handle to supply ink to the pen, in 1848. The first fountain pen to contain three of the innovations from the 17th and 18th century was created in 1850. The fountain pen had an iridium tipped gold nib with hard rubber and free flowing ink, which made it wildly popular. However, these fountain pens from history still could be messy and leaking. But the evolutions of the pen in the latter half of the 1800s brought pens with a trustier ink flow and efficient filing system.

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The Art Of Calligraphy

The word calligraphy originates from two Greek words, the first being ‘kallos’ which means beauty, and ‘graphia ‘which translates into writing.

Calligraphy over many centuries has played a tremendously important part in the history of communications. In times gone by laws and treaties, religion, science and history itself has been preserved for us through calligraphy.

When we look at manuscripts dating back 800 perhaps 1000 years we see the time and the skill taken by the calligraphers of the day to ensure that everything was not only recorded correctly but will also be very pleasing to the eye.

How many of us have sat back and admired certificates and labels and indeed invitations that have been written by those who have practised calligraphy for many a year. We often think that it will be nice and extremely pleasing to attempt such works of art, but then reality creeps in and such works of arts begin to seem unobtainable to the complete novice.

However, they say practice makes perfect and quite soon you should be able to produce an extremely acceptable single sheets of prose or poetry. And just to see how far you have progressed date each piece of work you produce. Very soon you will look back and see just how far you have progressed.

You will no doubt develop your own style as the mediaeval scribes did simply because they wrote all their working lives with one type of pen , and they only had one type of surface upon which to write upon. Today we are extremely fortunate that we can select various styles, various calligraphy pens and indeed a mix and match to your hearts content.

When you first start to experiment with calligraphy it is probably best that you use a fountain pen that has a cartridge.

As you gain confidence and become more competent with your chosen fountain pen you may wish to switch to the many specialised dip pens that are on the market. These will undoubtedly help you produce extremely fine quality work.

Don’t be frightened by accidents and misspellings as they are bound to happen and it is only by constant practice and the ability to slow down your writing that these mistakes will be eliminated.

You may already have a particular favourite fountain pen which you are very comfortable with, now all you need to do is to change your nib to a calligraphy nib. The good people at Westminster Pens have gone the extra mile not only to find you calligraphy nibs of varying widths but also of outstanding quality as provided by the world-renowned nib makers Bock .

Should you use one of our Fountain pens or one of our calligraphy nibs send us a copy of what you have produced and will feature it on our social media pages.

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The 5 Most Expensive Fountain Pens in the World

Fountain pens as works of art, became wildly popular in the 1920’s as status symbols and a gift given by the affluent, to the affluent.

Even with the advent of the ball point pen and it many disposable counterparts, fountain pens have withstood the test of time remaining popular today. Many celebrities, authors and collectors understand the importance of a well-crafted fountain pen and have worked to keep the tradition of putting pen to paper alive.

With their popularity, the industry has also seen some highly coveted fountain pens become available from leading pen manufacturers, fashion houses and global designers. These aren’t your average pens in any way. They are often jewel-encrusted, ornate, very expensive and often very hard to find. Here are 5 of the most expensive fountain pens in the world:

1) Fulgor Nocturnus by Tibaldi- $8 Million

Encrusted with 945 black diamonds with 123 rubies around the rim and based on the Divine Proportion of Phi, the ratio between the cap and the visible portion of the barrel of the Fulgor Nocturnus equals exactly 1.618 when the pen is closed.

2) Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen- $1.5 Million

Featuring an 18-carat gold, platinum plated retractable nib, an 18-carat white gold barrel and cap and encrusted with more than 1,430 diamonds, Montblanc Boehme Royal Pen is as beautiful as it is expensive.

3) Diamante by Aurora- $1.28 Million

The Diamante by Aurora is so exclusive that only one is created every year and it features more than 30 carats of diamonds on a solid platinum barrel and an even larger diamond on the cap.

4) Heaven Gold Pen by Anita Tan- $995,510

The Heaven Gold Pen was designed by a woman for women and it includes 161 brilliantly colored diamonds circling a 43-carat Tsavorite gemstone estimated to be more than 2 billion years old.

5) Mystery Masterpiece by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels- $730,000

Said to have taken more than a year and a half to create, the Mystery Masterpiece by Montblanc and Van Cleef and Arpels features 30 carats of encrusted gems in your choice of three variations: rubies, sapphires or emeralds as well as more than 800 diamond accents.

To learn more about these pens and many others like them, or to find a high-quality writing instrument for yourself, contact Westminster Pens today.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it on your favorite social media sites.

* The prices of the above fountain pens are subject to change due to currency fluctuations.

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A Bespoke Fountain Pen

We would all like to be able to have something made specifically just for us, and it become part of us. Quite rightly we will become very much attached to it – whatever ‘it’ may be.

Gentlemen’s suits, ladies evening gowns, jewellery all is possible but even then, we are still relying on the ‘maker’ to come up with the goods.

Here at Westminster Pens we gave this idea some thought and eventually came up with a ‘plan’.

Do you have a piece of wood or an old chair or any other family treasured possession that is no longer fit for purpose but you can’t bring yourself to get rid of it ?. Well, why not give us a call here at Westminster Pens to see if its is possible to make that treasured possession into a fountain pen that could be used everyday and still handed down from generation to generation.

Of course, there are limitations to this, and it would depend on the treasured possession – if we are being completely honest 9 time out of 10 the material would have to be wood. Size plays an important factor also, but again this would need to be looked into at the time.

Choose your material, choose your fountain pen nib and fingers crossed we could produce something for you that would be totally unique.

Like the idea ? then why not drop us an email at to see what can be done. Like we have said before – ‘Its good to talk ‘

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Conway Stewart – The Name Will Go On

Conway Stewart was a British fountain pen manufacturer founded in 1905 in London by Frank Jarvis and Thomas Garner.

Both Frank Jarvis and Thomas Garner who had previously worked for a leading British fountain pen manufacturer by the name of De La Rue decided that they would start their own business by selling fountain pens.

All the fountain pens that they were selling at this time had been made by other companies and initially both Jarvis and Garner acted as resellers.

Jarvis and Garner soon became aware of the fact that reselling unbranded fountain pens would be very limited. Armed with the knowledge that they had gained whilst working at De La Rue the name Conway Stewart was born.

Where had the name come from – well it came from a well-known music hall act.

Jarvis and Garner had identified a small niche for well-made and reliable fountain pens, and so the business grew.

Time marched on and so did Conway Stewart, whose business model seemed to be proving very successful. Conway Stewart was continually increasing its share of the market and in 1927 the company having out grown its premises needed to move to larger premises.

It was 1935 and the company Conway Stewart decided to go public, but with World War 11 on the horizon times were difficult for a number of reason. Materials being possibly the main one. However, the company struggled through these difficult times and was able to survive only because they provided good pens at reasonable prices.

The later years proved to be Conway Stewarts best years and again the company had to move premises, but as we know nothing lasts forever. It was the advent of the ballpoint that was to hurt Conway Stewart.

Sadly, during the 1960’s fountain pen sales began to decline, the company tried in a number of ways to revive business, but it was proving very difficult and in 1968 Conway Stewart was to yet again to relocate, this time to Wales.

The company really did try as hard as possible to remain viable but sadly in 1975 all production was stopped, and the company was wound up.

During the 19990’s the company was once more revived, and Conway Stewart produced good fountain pens for the market, during this time the company had the honour of producing a number of fountain pens for the Heads of State that had attended the 1998 G8 Summit held in Birmingham.

But it was not to be, and on the 28th. August 2014 the company sadly went into receivership.

Whilst the business is no longer in existence the name Conway Stewart still holds dear to collectors and fountain pen makers alike.

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Are Fountain Pen Sales On The Increase?

You would be forgiven if you said the answer is definitely no they are not !!! Well the honest answer is that yes fountain pen sales continue to grow year upon year, so the people at Westminster Pens are being told.

With onset of the computer and a host of other hi-tech electrical items experts estimated that the humble fountain pen would soon cease to exist. Why would anyone wish to write when you can send a letter across the world in a fraction of a second, why would you want to go out and post your letter when by the press of a button your letter will have been delivered?

For the sake of speed the computer will win hands down.

But when you take the time and effort to sit down with your own thoughts, clutching your favourite fountain pen in one hand and perhaps a glass of French wine in the other dare I say it, the humble fountain pen will always win hands down.

Before the onset of the mighty computer the humble fountain pen had to stand its ground with the advent of the ball point and the rollerball and a myriad of other fancy inventions which attempted to overpower the fountain pen. Many have tried and all have failed. The fountain pen chose to fight back with improvements in both the filling mechanism and the quality of the most important part of the pen – the nib.

The nib now comes in a variety of guises and the myth that people who write left handed would be unable to use a fountain has been well and truly put to bed. Left handed writers can now enjoy the experience of using a fountain pen each day.

We no longer have ‘ inky ‘ fingers and blotted handkerchiefs – these are a thing from a bygone age, improvements in the fountain pen mechanism have banished these inky fingers and blotted handkerchiefs to the history books.

Calligraphy is now so popular that a complete new industry has evolved, and no longer do we need to use a ‘ quill ‘ with a bottle of ink by the side. Choose your weapon – a fountain pen made from traditional wood or step into the 21st century and use a fountain pen made from carbon fibre, now all you have to do is change the nib and away you go.

The humble fountain pen has been with us for many years and we have no doubt that it will still be standing tall, head and shoulders above anything else that society can throw at it and future generations will still marvel at something that has stood the test of time.

We leave you with this thought – when Heads of State, Presidents, and Prime Ministers sign official documents the trusty fountain pen is their first and only choice.

That ladies and gentlemen says it all.

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Benefits To Switching Back To Fountain Pens

Fountain pens have made a comeback of sorts recently and although fans of the writing instrument might say they never left, fountain pen usage had decreased due to technology.

That is, technology and cheap, disposable pens. Now, many fountain pen manufacturers are creating new lines of fountain pens that are easier to use and easier to maintain, two factors that detracted many buyers.

With easier, more affordable fountain pens available, we here at Westminster Pens have decided to share with you some of the benefits of switching back to fountain pens for both office and student use. Here are 5 benefits to using a fountain pen over a standard disposable pen:

Writing. One of the biggest advantages to fountain pens is the beauty they add to your penmanship. Whether you choose a medium or small nib, your writing style will come through in the beautifully printed words you see on the paper. Thank you notes, contracts and other important documents will immediately look more formal and your signature will become more prevalent.

Fountain pens are especially useful for those who struggle with cursive writing as the smoothness of a split nib and capillary action will make writing fun again.

Comfort. Fountain pens are undeniably more comfortable than any other pen ever created. You don’t have to grip them as tightly as a conventional pen and, being larger in diameter, most fountain pens seem as though they were custom fit to your hand. Best of all, fountain pens work best at a natural angle, unlike ballpoints.

Longevity. The fountain pen was developed in 1879, and some of the original pens are still in use today. If properly used and maintained, a fountain pen will last hundreds of years requiring a new nib occasionally.

Value. While many people may think that fountain pens have to be expensive to be quality, this isn’t always true. Mont Blanc, Visconti, and Pelikan all make very high-end pens, but you don’t need a high-end pen to get started. Being refillable, fountain pens offer users exceptional value over replacing ballpoint pens when they run out of ink.

Repair. Fountain pens are repairable. If your nib breaks, you can purchase a new one and install it yourself or have it installed professionally. If you are refilling your fountain pen and you damage the cartridge, you can order a new one. Even if your fountain pen becomes clogged with ink, it is still a simple fix.

Modern fountain pens are easy to use, comfortable to write with and offer the user value over conventional ballpoint pens. To learn more about fountain pens, contact Westminster Pens today.