Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised January 16, 2018)

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This complete Glossopedia is also available as The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 1, in an ebook that you can carry with you on your mobile device.


Like any other specialized item, the fountain pen has amassed a lexicon of terms that are unique. A collection of terms peculiar to a certain subject or field of endeavor is called a jargon; and like other jargon languages, fountain pen jargon can be cryptic or misleading, even to collectors with more than a little experience. One reason for part of the confusion is that some terms have changed meanings, in some cases quite dramatically, since they first came into use more than a century ago.

Fountain pen

This Glossopedia is a compact glossary/mini-encyclopedia of words, phrases, and names, with more than 1,500 definitions and descriptions, more than 900 illustrations, more than 170 patent citations linked to their respective patent documents at various archives, and extensive cross-references. Its specific focus, like my own, is American fountain pens, but I am sufficiently distractible that some entries relating to foreign pens and manufacturers, ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, etc., have inevitably crept in.

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In addition to defining jargon words and phrases, the Glossopedia also includes historical and usage notes. There are also brief histories of many pen companies and capsule biographies of some of the people who made important contributions to the advancement of fountain pen technology.

The content of the Glossopedia is organized alphabetically. For numbers, look under the spelled-out form; e.g., for 14K, look under fourteen.
Filling system
Filling system

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The information in this Glossopedia is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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