Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised December 23, 2016)

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Half Balance Term coined by David Nishimura to describe a Sheaffer pen having the streamlined cap of the Balance model together with a flat-ended barrel, as illustrated below by a stickered Model K8AC. The Half Balance was once thought to be a transitional model produced to use up old “Flat-Top” parts after the 1929 introduction of the Balance, but Sheaffer catalogs included both Flat-Tops and Half Balances well into the 1930s. See also marriage.
Fountain penFountain pen barrel sticker
Half Coronet Collectors’ term for a Wahl-Eversharp Coronet whose barrel is celluloid, as shown below, instead of metal. Read a profile of the Coronet here. See also Coronet.
Fountain pen
half overlay A pen with a metal overlay on its barrel but none on its cap, or vice versa. See also overlay.
half stub A nib that is generally round but displays some stublike line variation. Used by Wahl-Eversharp, indicated by an imprint reading 12ST. on the underside of the feed. See also nib, stub.
hallmark (also, colloquially, bug) A stamped symbol applied to objects made of precious metal, denoting the identity of the metalsmith (e.g., G. W. Heath’s letter H enclosed in a square) or, in some cases, the amount of precious metal content (e.g., 14KT).
Halloween Collectors’ term for a celluloid color used by Conklin, consisting of an irregular mixture of orange, white, and black, as shown here.
Fountain pen
haloing The separation of an ink’s constituent colors due to selective absorption caused by differences in the various dye components. Used for aesthetic effect and also as the basis of paper chromatography to determine what dye colors were used in formulating the ink. Shown here is a paper chromatography sample made with Waterman Brown ink.
Paper chromatograph
“halo” logo Manufacturer logoParker’s logo of an arrow superimposed on an ellipse (shown to the right); originally conceived with the arrow pointing down, as a halo surrounding a Parker Arrow-style clip. First used in September 1958.
hammerheaded Term for a nib whose tip is broader than the width of the tines behind the tip. Sometimes, when a nib is retipped to make an italic, there is not sufficient material in the tines to make a smooth taper to the tip, and a hammerheaded nib is the result. Shown here is a purpose-made hammerheaded nib designed for use as a highlighter.
Hammerheaded nib
Hancock See Pollock.
hand engraved Self explanatory; used to differentiate work that was done by hand from that produced by etching or by engraving machines (usually roll engraving). Shown below is a Waterman’s Ideal No 055212V with a hand-engraved vine pattern. See also engraved, etched, roll engraving.
Fountain pen Magnifying glass
Hanlin A chasing pattern used by Wahl on metal pens, with groups of longitudinal lines interrupted by scrolls and plain panels. The example shown below was done in vermeil, with rose gold over sterling silver.
Hanlin pen barrel
hard rubber (also ebonite or Vulcanite) A material of which pens are made, more fragile and less resistant to wear than most plastics. Until 1924, hard rubber was the primary material for caps, barrels, sections, and feeds; it remained in use for feeds and sections into the 1940s and is still used for high-quality feeds. Occasionally, a manufacturer will produce a modern pen model of hard rubber. Hard rubber appears in many color varieties, such as black (BHR), red (RHR, see also Cardinal, Chinese Red), and various two-color mixtures (see also mottled, ripple, woodgrain); and with incised surface designs called chasing (see also chased).
hardware See furniture.
Harlequin A repeating pattern of lozenges (diamonds), almost always in multiple colors as illustrated by the modern Conway Stewart Harlequin pen shown below (upper). The term is sometimes applied to other patterns, e.g., the repeating circlet and repeating shield patterns used on the Parker 45 “Harlequin” (below, lower, Gray Shield). This latter application is technically incorrect. See also lozenge.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Harris  1  (J. Harris & Co.; later, Majestic Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded sometime in the late 1910s by partners Jacob and Emanuel Harris. The Harris company spanned the years from the transition from slip-cap to screw-cap hard rubber pens through the end of the celluloid era, producing lever fillers of both types under its own name and also under the Ambassador, Congress, and University brands; it also jobbed pens to other companies. Shown below (upper) is a J. Harris hard rubber matchstick-filler pen. In its later years, as the Majestic company, Harris produced a long series of attractive third-tier pens of typical Depression quality, such as the model shown below, lower. See also Ambassador.  2  (J. Harris Fountain Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded in 1914 or 1915 as the Fountain Pen Company, Inc., by Jacob Harris, Rose Harris, and Jacob Sachs; quickly changed its name. The corporation sold BCHR coin fillers for a brief period before being dissolved by its founders in 1917. Before its dissolution, this company and J. Harris & Company appear to have been contemporaneous, at least for a short time, and it is not clear whether they shared a principal in the person of Jacob Harris.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Hartline (Hartline Manufacturing Company, Inc.) A fountain pen manufacturing company located in Tampa, Florida; founded in 1927 by E. M. Lively. The company was one of several Hartline companies; it was quartered in space owned by the pre-existing Hartline Blotter Pen Company and was apparently to sell its production to the Hartline Blotter Pen Company for addition of the blotter component before resale to dealers. The latter company was still selling blotter pens as late as 1937, although by then it had removed the word Blotter from its name.
hatchet Filler schematicA type of filling system (U.S. Patent No 1,152,509), introduced in 1908 by John Holland; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally. A lever shaped like the letter P (resembling a hatchet) is mounted in the slot, with its pivot located at the middle of the slot. At rest, the “tab” of the P is concealed in the barrel, toward the end. Lifting the lever and swinging it through a half circle toward the nib reveals the tab, which provides a “button” that the user pushes to press the lever through the slot and against the pressure bar. See photo at Holland. View filling instructions here.
head line An imaginary line representing the height of ordinary majuscules in writing (see illustration at x-height). Of interest primarily to calligraphers. See also baseline, majuscule, meanline, minuscule, x-height.
Heath (George W. Heath & Co.) A manufacturing company founded in New York City, later moved to Newark, New Jersey; known for overlays and other parts such as levers. Heath produced overlays for Conklin, Parker, Waterman, and other prominent pen manufacturers from c. 1900 to c. 1915. The company’s logo, the letter H within a square, appears on some of the pens for which Heath produced overlays. Heath sold pens branded Thames and Tribune, but the company’s real specialty was metalwork for other pen makers. See also overlay.
Hebrew italic See architect’s nib.
heel See base.
hemostat See alligator forceps.
herringbone Arguably the most attractive of the celluloid patterns used on the Conklin Nozac (U.S. Patent No D102,250); called ”V-Line” by Conklin and illustrated below by a fragment of the patent drawing. The straight longitudinal areas were opaque on caps and clear on barrels to provide a view of the ink supply. A red and silver herringbone pen is illustrated at Nozac.
herringbone pattern
Hicks Hicks hallmark(William S. Hicks (& Sons) Gold Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. Founded in 1857 as Hicks & Mitchell, the company made gold dip nibs and magic pencils, later ex­pand­ing into the man­u­fac­ture of ster­ling sil­ver and solid gold bulb- and lever-filling fountain pens. Much of Hicks’ foun­tain pen pro­duc­tion, 1920s-1950s, went to Cartier and Tiffany for sale under their own names. Pens sold under Hicks’ own name bear the company’s hallmark (shown to the right). Shown below are a Hicks-branded pen with a barleycorn finish and a Tiffany-branded “bamboo” pen, both made of 14K gold. See also gold pen, hallmark, magic pencil.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Hintz (J. George Hintz) A stationer located in Reading, Pennsylvania. Hintz entered the stationery trade in 1883 and was still in business as late as 1923. Among the merchandise he handled were fountain pens jobbed to him with his name as an imprint; but he was better known for selling high-quality picture postcards bearing photos of the city’s finest buildings and tourist attractions.
Hoge (Hoge Specialty Company) See Duryea.
holder  1  (also pen holder) The body of a dip pen, the part into which the pen itself (the nib) is inserted. See also dip pen, gold pen, steel pen.  2  (archaic usage) The barrel and section of a fountain pen, corresponding in function to a dip pen holder.
Holland (John Holland Gold Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founder John Holland got his start by serving an apprenticeship under George W. Sheppard, a well respected maker of gold pens. After having worked in Sheppard’s factory for several years, Holland bought one third interest in the company. A few years later, in 1862, he purchased the remaining interest. Initially keeping the company going by continuing the gold-pen business, Holland later branched out into the manufacture of high-quality fountain pens. Holland pens are perhaps best known for their use of a hatchet filler (illustrated below, a No 4 Fount-Filler). The company, whose logo was a tulip blossom in silhouette, remained in business until the 1950s. See also gold pen.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Holt (Holt Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Providence (later Crompton), Rhode Island; founded shortly after World War II by George C. Holt to manufacture pens and pencils primarily for sale in department stores. The company advertised in publications such as Chain Store Age and survived at least until the late 1950s.
holy water sprinkler See aspergillum.
hood See shell.
hooded nib A nib that is enclosed in a conical shell, or hood, so that the nib is all but invisible. The Parker “51”, shown below, was the first fountain pen with a hooded nib. Read an article on pens with hooded nibs here. See also Inlaid Nib, nib, open nib, “TRIUMPH” point.
Parker “51”, illustrating hooded nib
hoop A style of squeeze filler (illustrated below) used by Parker and several lower-tier companies. Parker devised the design as a reduced-cost version of the filler in the Aero-metric “51” (illustrated at Aero-metric). The sac guard is truncated at about half the sac’s length, and the shorter arm of the J-shaped pressure bar in the “51” is extended to form a complete U shape, or “hoop,” with one end spot-welded to the sac guard. See also Aero-metric.
Fountain pen filler
Horn (M. T. Horn Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded by May Thomas Horn to manufacture gold pens (dip nibs) and, later, fountain pens. in 1897, Horn received U.S. Patent No 582,921 for an improved over-under feed design and began production of pens using his feed. He remained in business at least until 1932; presumably, he modernized his pens to keep up with the times. See also over-under feed.
horse-show pen Term invented by a pen collector and quarter horse breeder called Waco Johnny D; describes a pen whose owner would not be terribly upset if the pen fell out of a pocket at a horse show and got stepped on by a horse.
Horton (Horton Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in New Haven, Connecticut; incorporated in 1894 by Henry Horton, A. H. Down (president and treasurer), and Ada Down (secretary), to manufacture hard rubber products, especially the Horton Nonleakable Fountain Pen, a screw-capped retractable safety operated by a helical cam (U.S. Patents Nos 523,234 and 551,895). In 1895 Francis C. Brown bought some of Horton’s machinery to begin manufacture of his own Caw’s safety pen, which was of similar design and could be made on the same machines. Horton retooled and continued to manufacture the Horton pen and other products into the 20th century. The corporation was officially dissolved in 1905. See also Caw’s.
Hoskins (William H. Hoskins) A well-known stationer whose shop was located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from the 1890s to at least the 1920s. Hoskins sold high-quality pens made possibly by Paul Wirt or, more likely, the Franklin Fountain Pen Company. See also Franklin.
Houston (Houston Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in Sioux City, Iowa; founded c. 1910 in Tracy, Minnesota, by William A. Houston, a traveling salesman, to manufacture pens based on Houston’s feed design (U.S. Patent No 999,648). In its second year of operation, the company was incorporated with a capital of $50,000; Houston relocated it to Sioux City in 1912. Houston pens had an unusual design: caps were clipless and were fitted with a short chain ending in a clasp to be fastened to the owner’s clothing. To use the pen, the owner unscrewed the barrel from the cap and left the cap dangling. The barrel was made with a taper as on a desk pen so that it would be well balanced and of a useful length. There were eyedropper-filling and matchstick-filling models; the latter had a blind cap on the end of the barrel that was fitted with a short “stick” that was to be used for filling. In about 1918, the company was reorganized as the General Manufacturing Company and began producing pens to a design by Martin Borbeck (U.S. Patents Nos 1,268,206 and 1,342,736), calling the new model the Snapfil Pen (example shown below, upper three) for the way its filling lever snapped closed. Styles proliferated; pens in many sizes, with and without clips, began appearing (below, fourth image, a Snapfil Senior in mottled hard rubber). The company survived into the late 1920s. William Houston patented an interesting plunger filler in 1929 (U.S. Patent No 1,723,171), but the design does not appear to have entered production.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Hub See Sterling (definition 2).
HR See hard rubber.
Hudson (Hudson Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. I have found records indicating that Hudson operated from 1949 into the 1970s. One well-known pen collector states that the company was producing an oversize fountain pen of an opaque Bakelite-like material during the 1920s, but I have neither confirmation of this nor any other information about the company or its products.
hue Color wheel(of interest primarily to writers who enjoy using a selection of inks) The aspect of color that describes a given area’s location on the spectrum or a color wheel. See the color wheel to the right. This color wheel represents the subtractive, or absorptive, color system, which is how dyes and pigments work. In the subtractive system, the three primary colors are red, blue, and yellow; e.g., blue mixes with yellow to produce green. Red is to the right of the wheel and is usually said to be at 0°. Yellow is up and to the left; its location is 120°, and blue (down and to the left) is at 240°. When mixing inks to create a new hue, remember that ink colors mix according to this system. ¶ Light works differently, according to the additive, or emissive, color system. (White light contains all colors. When white light strikes an object, the object absorbs some colors of light and reflects others. What you see is the sum of the colors that are reflected.) On an additive color wheel, the three primary colors are red, green, and blue; e.g., red and green mix to create yellow. See also saturation, shade, shading (definition 2).
humped clip Sheaffer cap with humped clipA clip design used by Sheaffer in the 1920s and 1930s, and revived in the 1990s; shown to the right, the clip has a distinct hump midway between the ends. See also clip.
hump filler Filler schematicGeneric name for a type of filling system resembling Conklin‘s Crescent-Filler but enough different that it might not infringe on Conklin’s patent. Shown below are a Welty ring-locking “Wawco” hump filler (upper, U.S. Patent No 834,542) and a Grieshaber end knob-locking hump filler (lower, U.S. Patent No 956,895). See also crescent.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Hundred Year Pen A top-of-the-line pen model originally designed by John Vassos and introduced by Waterman in 1939, noted for its distinctive “grooved” barrel and cap (but also available in a “smooth” version), its very large nib, and its use of Lucite® acrylic in brilliant transparent red, green, and blue colors (first and second years only, after which production reverted to celluloid). Illustrated below is a grooved first-year Hundred Year Pen (1939-1940). Read a profile of the Hundred Year Pen here. See also acrylic, emblem (definition 1), Lucite.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Hutcheon (Hutcheon Brothers) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in Brooklyn, New York; founded c. 1915 by brothers Alfred G., Forbes, and William Hutcheon to produce clutch-type mechanical pencils, fountain pens and, later, combos, under names such as Finerpointe, Robus, and Viseon Duplo. Hutcheon’s metal writing instruments were similar to Mabie Todd Swans of the same period. The company also produced Easy-Open pocket knives. Shown here is a typical Hutcheon pen from c. 1925. ¶ In 1913, after more than 18 years at Mabie, Todd & Company, of New York City, Alfred, a silversmith, had left to take over O’Neill & Company, also of New York City. He did not immediately change the O’Neill company name; but by 1917, Hutcheon Brothers was firmly established in its Brooklyn location. The company was still in the writing instruments business as late as 1966.
Fountain pen
hydrophilic See wettability.
hydrophobic See wettability.

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