Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised September 7, 2015)

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I
Ideal Manufacturer logo  1  The distinguishing identifier in the WATERMAN’S IDEAL FOUNTAIN PEN imprint on the L. E Waterman Company’s pens; also used on the company’s nibs and as an element in its “Globe“ logo (shown to the right) on clips, levers, and barrel-end medallions. See photo at CLIP-CAP.  2  A name widely used by Italian makers of safety pens such the “Ideal” Continental shown below (upper). See also Continental, safety.  3  The Ideal Metal Products Company, located in New York City; founded in 1925 by Harry Esterow, a Latvian immigrant. Ideal was a major manufacturer of commodity clips and trim rings until after the turn of the 21st century. The clip on the R.H. Macy pen shown below (lower) is an Ideal product (U.S. Patent No D83,673).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Imperial  1  A series of pen models produced by Sheaffer c. 1961 to c. 1968 and resurrected 1995-1998 as the Triumph Imperial. The basic Imperial styling mirrors that of the PFM, featuring Sheaffer’s excellent Inlaid Nib (on most models) and offering, depending on the model, a choice of cartridge or Touchdown filling. Illustrated below (upper) is a Lifetime Imperial, c. 1964. See also Inlaid Nib, PFM.  2  The Parker Vacumatic Imperial (illustrated below, lower), a slender metal-capped pen with the cap threads at the proximal end of the section to allow for a more streamlined profile. The model was introduced in 1939 to compete with Sheaffer’s long-lived Crest but remained in production for only about two years. See also Crest, Vacumatic.
Fountani pen
Fountain pen
imprint Imprint 1  The manufacturer’s mark on a pen, usually on the barrel (as illustrated here) but sometimes on the cap. Some early pens, including Conklin’s and Waterman’s, have two imprints.  2  The manufacturer’s mark on a nib. See illustration at nib.
Independent See Ullrich.
India ink Also artists’ ink, drawing ink) A water-based fluid containing finely ground pigment in suspension, with gum arabic as a binder to ensure permanence. This type of ink is death to fountain pens; it will clog them. Use it only with dip pens or technical (stylographic) pens, and flush technical pens completely at least once a week. See also ink, stylographic pen.
Indian (Indian Pen Company) A third-tier brand from the 1930s, believed by many authorities to have been an Arnold sub-brand. (Examples exist with clips identical to proprietary designs used by Arnold.) Indian pens and combos featured bright-colored bargello-like patterns inspired by designs of Indian tribes in the American Southwest. Nibs were untipped steel, imprinted DURIUM 14KT GOLD PLATED No. 4. See also Arnold, DURIUM.
indicia Indicia(also cartouche) An area reserved in the chased or guilloché surface design on a writing instrument for the application of the owner’s name or initials. The indicia of the Sheaffer’s Masterpiece Tuckaway shown here, a rectangular area on the barrel, is engraved with the owner’s name, Zenobia; the image has been altered to emphasize the indicia. See also autograph, chased, engraved, guilloché.
Ingersoll  1  (Charles H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Newark, New Jersey, and (from 1927) East Orange, New Jersey. Founded in 1924 by Charles H. Ingersoll, brother of Robert H. Ingersoll of Ingersoll Dollar Watch fame, the company made its mark producing sturdy pens, priced at $1.00, that featured nibs of remarkable quality for the price. Early Ingersoll pens are metal; later, after a brief fling with celluloid and roughly coincident with the company’s 1927 move to East Orange, Bakelite became the material of choice. Shown below are metal and Bakelite Ingersoll Dollar Pens. See also Bakelite (definition 1).  2  A brand of lever-filling fountain pens manufactured by the Ingersoll Redipoint Company, a producer of mechanical pencils, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Pens were fitted with 14K nibs imprinted INGERSOLL ST. PAUL. See also Ingersoll Redipoint.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Ingersoll Redipoint A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1922 by William Ingersoll, a nephew of Charles H. Ingersoll, for the purpose of making the Redipoint pencil, previously a product of Brown & Bigelow, also of St. Paul. Like his uncle, William had been part of R. H. Ingersoll & Bro. (the famous maker of dollar watches) until its 1921 dissolution, at which time he became president of the Positype Corporation, a position he resigned to organize Ingersoll Redipoint. Brown & Bigelow had also made pens, and Ingersoll Redipoint continued this line as well. Pens and pencils made by Ingersoll Redipoint differed little from earlier Brown & Bigelow production. Shown below is a typical Ingersoll Redipoint pencil of the period. See also Ingersoll (definition 2).
Mechanical pencil
ink Writing fluid; the stuff that is actually deposited on the paper to leave marks. Fountain pen ink is a water solution containing aniline dye for color, a fungicide to inhibit mold growth, and a small amount of surfactant (wetting agent) for better flow. Artists' inks, such as India ink, are usually pigmented suspensions rather than solutions, and they will clog fountain pens. See also aniline dye, fungicide, India ink, pH, surfactant.
ink feed See feed.
Inkograph (Inkograph Company, Inc.) (also Ink-O-Graph) A pen manufacturer that flourished in the first half of the 20th century; known for its stylographic pens. Shown here is a mottled hard rubber Inkograph Model 20M from the late 1920s. See also stylographic pen.
Fountain pen
ink pellet Packet of ink tablets(also ink tablet) A compressed pellet or tablet containing aniline dye, a biocide, and a surfactant (the non-water components of fountain pen ink), intended to be dissolved in water to create ink in an ink-pellet pen. Ink pellets have been packaged loose for use with trench pens (illustrated to the right, a still-sealed wooden packet of Mabie Todd ink tablets for the company’s World War I-era Swan trench pen), in a cartridge that screws onto the back of a button-filling pen (Camel), and enclosed in a sleeve that fits over the capillary filler of a Parker 61. See also Camel, Dictator, Grieshaber, Instant Ink, trench pen, Water.
ink-pellet pen A pen designed to use ink pellets, mixed with water in the pen, to produce ink; used principally in the field during World War I. See also Camel, Dictator, Grieshaber, ink pellet, Instant Ink, trench pen, Water.
ink pencil See stylographic pen.
ink shutoff See shutoff.
inkstand A frequently ornate decorative desk accessory (illustrated below) that was common before the ascendancy of fountain pens but still used for a time thereafter; includes spaces for inkwells (usually two), a depression for a rocker blotter (often with provision for spare blotter paper), and a tray with one or more grooves to hold pens when they are not being used. Often used in conjunction with a desk blotter. See also blotter, desk blotter, inkwell, rocker blotter.
Inkstand
ink tablet See ink pellet.
Ink-Vue Filler schematic 1  A type of filling system (a Rube Goldberg bulb filler); operates by mechanical squeeze of bulb at end of barrel. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the bulb laterally. A two-piece jointed pivoting lever is mounted in the slot. Lifting the lever’s longer end raises the first arm of the lever to 90°, at which point it engages the second arm. Lifting further depresses the other end of the second arm to push against the pressure bar. View filling instructions here.  2  Waterman’s collective name for its 1930s pen models that used the Ink-Vue filling system. These pens were generally distinctive in their coloring; illustrated below is a Silver-Ray Ink-Vue, c. 1936. This pen shows only moderate ambering of the transparent barrel segments that gave the Ink-Vue model range its name. See also Blue Streak, Ray.
Fountain pen
inkwell A small container, usually a decorative glass or metal bottle or jar with a hinged cover, intended to hold ink into which a pen can be dipped for writing. Frequently included in pairs with an inkstand. See also inkstand.
ink window A transparent portion of a pen’s section or barrel that is designed to allow the user a view of the ink supply. See also Ink-Vue, Televisor, Vacumatic, Visometer, Visulated.
Inlaid Nib Inlaid NibSheaffer’s name for its unique, and uniquely timeless, nib that is mounted flush with (inlaid into) the surface of the gripping section. Introduced in 1959 on the PFM (U.S. Patent No D188,265 for the nib and No D188,266 for the nib and barrel assembly), the Inlaid Nib is produced by inserting a finished nib into a mold cavity and injection molding the plastic shell around it to create an inseparable assembly. Variations of the Inlaid Nib have appeared on many Sheaffer models, including the Imperial, Triumph, and Triumph Imperial; the Targa and Slim Targa; the Intrigue; the Legacy series; and the Valor. Other similar-appearing nib designs are inset, not inlaid. See also dolphin nib, hooded nib, Imperial (definition 1), inset nib, nib, open nib, PFM, “TRIUMPH” point.
inner cap A liner inserted into a cap, usually having a flat surface at its open end against which the flat end of the gripping section (the table) mates to provide an airtight space in which the nib cannot dry out while the pen is capped. In some pens, the inner cap also secures the clip into the cap. Shown here is the cap from an Esterbrook CH, cut away to show the dark plastic inner cap; note also the location of the breather hole. See also breather hole (definition 2), table.
Cutaway cap
Inquaduct feed The “modern” marketing name Waterman bestowed on its venerable Spoon feed during the 1930s to rejuvenate customers’ perception of the design. See also feed; see illustration at Spoon feed.
inset nib inset nibA nib that is inset into an opening in a shell-type section such that the nib is flush or nearly flush with the shell’s surface. Inset nibs are usually secured in position by the application of an adhesive before installation but can, in most cases, be removed for repair or replacement. Shown to the right is the inset nib of a Namiki Sterling Dragon. Contrast with Inlaid Nib.
Instant Ink Instant InkA plastic capsule containing a sponge impregnated with dried ink concentrate (illustrated to the right), introduced in 1959 and designed to permit refilling the Parker 61 when no liquid ink was available. The user slipped the capsule over the end of the pen’s capillary cell case as illustrated below and then stood the pen in a glass of water. The pen could then fill itself in the normal way, dissolving the dried ink concentrate in the water to make ink as the pen filled. See also Camel, capillary cell, 61, trench pen.
61 with Instant Ink capsule
intarsia A decorative inlaid pattern resembling cloisonné, created on metal by etching or laser cutting so that raised lines separate the design elements; the design elements are then filled with lacquer. Illustrated below is a Duke Beijing Opera pen with an intarsia design. See also cloisonné, lacquer.
Fountain pen
Cloisonne pen barrel
integral nib A nib that is made as part of a metal gripping section by extending the section and shaping the extension into a writing tip; used on Parker’s titanium T-1 (shown below) and stainless-steel Falcon 50, and on the Pilot Murex and MYU. See also Falcon (definition 2), nib, T-1.
Parker T-1 nibFountain pen
International  1  The first ballpoint pen marketed successfully in the U.S.A., introduced in October 1945 by the Reynolds International Pen Company. Advertised as not needing to be refilled for two years, the International was priced at $12.50, the price of a top-line first-tier fountain pen. It sold on novelty and convenience, but it had been brought to market hurriedly and was not reliable; it leaked, skipped, or failed altogether to write. Thousands of the International and its similarly unreliable successors were returned for refund, and the financial losses drove Reynolds into bankruptcy in 1951. The all-aluminum International (shown below, upper two, capped and posted) featured a slotted cap that posted with the pen’s clip (attached to the pen body) fitted into the slot. See also biro, CA, Reynolds, Rocket.  2  (also International Standard or standard) A de facto standard for the size and shape of cartridges and converters; used by most smaller pen manufacturers. International cartridges come in long and short versions to fit pens of ordinary size and very small pens; many ordinary-size pens can accommodate two short cartridges back to back, so that the second is available as a reserve when the first runs out. See also cartridge, converter.  3  The smaller of the two models of Parker’s modern Duofold, approximately the size of a “full length standard girth” pen of the Golden Age. Compare the International and the larger Centennial below. See also Centennial.
Ballpoint pen
Ballpoint pen
 
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
INX The Carter Ink Company’s trademarked name for the pens it made during its brief foray into the manufacture of fountain pens and pencils (latter 1920s-early 1930s). See also Carter.
IPG See IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY.
iridescent Displaying a lustrous rainbow-like play of colors. Pen manufacturers use iridescent materials such as abalone shell and mother-of-pearl as decoration on pen barrels and caps. For further information and illustrations, see also abalone and mother-of-pearl.
iridium  1  A brittle silver-gray metal (atomic number 77) of the platinum group, formerly used as a nib tipping material because of its hardness (1670 MPa on the Brinell scale). See also iridosmine, osmiridium, osmium, tipping material. Modern tipping alloys contain little or no iridium.  2  A colloquial misnomer for tipping material in general.  3  When capitalized (Iridium), the Iridium Pen Company, a 19th-century manufacturer of dip nibs, known to me from a single entry in the 1880 Annual Report of the Managers of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys, which purchased $12.00 worth of pens (steel nibs) from the company in 1879.  4  When capitalized (Iridium), the Iridium Pen Company, a fountain pen brand of the latter 1920s; sold lever-filling pens bearing clip and lever imprints comprising a stylized letter K in a circle together with the word IRIDIUM. (This imprint suggests manufacture by or for Charles A. Keene or the Kritzler Pen Company, but no documentation is available to support this supposition.) Shown below is an oversize IRIDIUM pen. See also Keene.
Fountain pen
IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY IPG nibAn imprint indicating a steel nib that is tipped with a hard tipping alloy, usually osmiridium or Plathenium. This imprint is found frequently on Chinese-made steel nibs of very poor quality, some of which appear to have little or no tipping material of any kind. Its use, although clearly deceptive, is not technically unlawful because it does not state MADE IN GERMANY. Many of these Chinese nibs have a five-petaled flower design as part of the imprint (illustrated at right, upper). ¶ Collectors frequently refer, usually somewhat disparagingly, to nibs bearing the IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY imprint as “IPG” nibs; but some caution must be used in dismissing all such nibs because nibs bearing this imprint are actually also made in Germany by reputable manufacturers such as JoWo (right, lower), and these nibs are well made and properly tipped. See also osmiridium, Plathenium, tipping material.
iridosmine A naturally occurring alloy of iridium and osmium with traces of other platinum-group metals, one of the first metals used extensively for tipping nibs; now disused because of osmium’s extreme toxicity. Iridosmine contains more osmium than iridium. See also iridium, osmiridium, osmium, tipping material.
iron gall ink (also ferrogallic ink or gallotannate ink) A permanent ink whose primary ingredients are oak galls (a source of gallotannic acid, C76H52O46) and green copperas (hydrated ferrous sulfate, FeSO47H2O, also known as green vitriol). More technically known as iron gallotannate ink, it is very pale — almost clear — in its liquid form. As the ink dries, the ferrous sulfate is converted to ferric oxide (Fe2O3), which is intensely black. The addition of indigo imparts a blue color that makes the ink easier to use while it is liquid; on drying, the ink assumes a blue-black color that gradually loses its blue aspect as the indigo dye is bleached by exposure to air and light. Iron gall ink is acidic, and its corrosive effects can destroy fountain pens whose nibs or other working parts are made of metals that do not resist corrosion. See also blue-black, pH.
italic Nib shapeThe nib shape (illustrated to the right) that is characterized by a wide thin tip cut straight across, for creating broad strokes in a generally up-and-down direction (relative to the nib itself) and very thin strokes in a generally sidewise direction. Read a tutorial on nibs here. See also architect’s nib, crisp, cursive, music nib, nib, oblique, stub.
Ivorine Parker’s name for a series of pastel-colored casein pens the company produced for about two years beginning in 1916. See also casein.

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