Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised August 2, 2017)

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Reference Info Index  ]


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M
Mabie Todd (Mabie, Todd & Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded in 1859 by John Mabie, Edward Todd, and J. Sprague Bard after a series of mergers among several pencil and gold pen (dip nib) companies of which all three men had variously been principals since the 1840s. Reformed as Mabie, Todd & Bard in 1873, the company produced a range of very high-quality pens, pencils, and accessories of innovative design. In about 1878, the company introduced its first fountain pen, the Calligraphic, utilizing a design by the prolific inventor William W. Stewart (e.g., U.S. Patent No 206,200). Advances in Mabie Todd pens followed further invention by Stewart. The "Swan" fountain pen appeared c. 1890, and Swan overlay eyedroppers were among the most beautiful and ornate pens of their era. In 1907, the company was incorporated as Mabie, Todd & Company. Shown below is an early Swan screw-cap pen bearing this name in its imprint. The company opened a London office in 1884 and began manufacturing pens in Britain c. 1909. U.S. manufacture of lever fillers, in hard rubber and then celluloid, continued into the late 1930s, but quality and sales had by then declined seriously, and the American company closed its doors in 1941. The British company continued in operation until the 1950s; among its lesser model names were Blackbird and Swallow, and it produced two distinct versions of a model called the Leverless. See also Leverless, Todd.
Fountain pen
Machine Gun A marketing term used by Eversharp to promote the rapid-fire action of its repeater mechanical pencils (1940s, Skyline and Fifth Avenue). See also mechanical pencil.
Mackerel Sky

Photo © Jimmy Deguara
Used with permission
A meteorological term referring to strongly rippled patterns of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds in the west, presaging a change in the weather, often a storm; borrowed by Richard Binder and Jim Baer to describe the rippled celluloid patterning unique to many examples of the Esterbrook J family. See the sky photo to the right and the example pen below.
Fountain pen Magnifying glass
MacKinnon (MacKinnon Pen Company) A pen company located in New York City; founded c. 1876 by Duncan MacKinnon, a Canadian druggist, to manufacture stylographic pens (which he called “ink pencils”) to his own patents. Initially patenting his design in Canada and Great Britain, he also applied for and received U.S. Patent No 174,965, issued in 1876. MacKinnon laid the groundwork for his company’s demise very early on, when he showed his pen to Alonzo T. Cross and even left a sample with Cross. Cross immediately saw a way to improve the design by adding a spring to the needle. He did so, introducing his pen in 1875 and receiving his first patent two years later. Angry at being so handily beaten out, MacKinnon added the spring to his design, filed for a reissue of his patent, which was awarded in 1879 (U.S. Patent No 217,888), and contracted with John Holland to produce his pens. There was a problem in the production of the iridosmine tip, however; after attempting to drill through a chunk of iridosmine that had been soldered to the tip tube (and breaking far too many drill bits), MacKinnon came up with the idea of welding tiny bits of iridosmine in a circle around the tip of the pen’s tube. This method worked but was still not satisfactory; Holland soon developed and patented a method of drilling the iridosmine chunk and then soldering it to the tube (U.S. Patent No 258,299), thereby solving the problem entirely. Duncan MacKinnon died in 1882.
Macniven (Macniven and Cameron Ltd, later renamed Waverley Cameron Ltd) A printing and stationery company located initially in Balerno, near Edinburgh, Scotland; founded in 1770 by papermaker Nisbet MacNiven. Stationery was added to the line and the firm relocated to Edinburgh proper in 1788. In 1840, brothers John and Donald Cameron joined the firm, and five years later the company’s name was changed to Macniven and Cameron. Duncan Cameron, a third brother, joined the company in 1850 and in 1864 patented the “Waverley” pen (nib), which featured an upturned tip that made it write more smoothly than ordinary nibs. Cameron named it to honor the hugely popular Waverley novels of Sir Walter Scott, of which the best known is Ivanhoe. In 1900, the company purchased a factory in Birmingham, England, and began manufacturing its own nibs, fountain pens, and printed stationery. Despite Duncan Cameron’s invention of an effective squeeze-filling design (U.S. Patent No 1,277,848, issued September 3, 1918), the fountain pen venture was never tremendously successful, although fountain pen sales did continue for some years into India with eyedropper-filling models (illustrated below, a 1930s Waverley Cameron pen) that were inexpensive enough to be affordable. Besides “Waverley,” Macniven and Cameron made nibs under the Pickwick, Owl, Phaeton, Nile, Hindoo, and Commercial brands. Birmingham production ceased when the factory was closed in 1964. Renamed Waverley Cameron, the firm continued dealing in stationery and related paper products until its dissolution in 2012. See also Cameron, turned-up nib, Waverley.
Fountain pen
Macy (R. H. Macy & Company) A major general-merchandise retailer located in New York City; founded in 1858. Macy’s sold fountain pens under its own name. Manufacturers of Macy pens included Conklin, Crocker, the Davidson Rubber Company (operating as the Sterling Pen Company), and others. Read a discussion of Macy pens here.
magic pencil A Victorian mechanical pencil designed so that pulling out the back end extends the nozzle (the lead-carrying tip) while simultaneously making the pencil long enough to use comfortably; pushing the back end in again retracts the nozzle. Shown below is a niello propel-repel magic pencil in its retracted and extended positions. See also mechanical pencil.
Magic pencil
Magic pencil
Magnetic A “space age” pen of moderate quality produced c. 1950 by Stratford, a third-tier company whose other pens were generally of low quality. The pen’s barrel had fins flaring out to meet the platform-like metal ring at the back of the barrel; the cap contained a magnet to hold the pen capped or posted by attraction to the barrel ring or the similar ring at the end of the section. See also Salz.
Fountain pen Magnifying glass
Fountain pen Magnifying glass
Magnum A term used by collectors and by some manufacturers to indicate a larger version of another model. Shown below are Bexley’s Poseidon and Poseidon Magnum. See also Maxima, oversize.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Majestic See Harris (definition 1).
Major  1  The name Parker assigned to its standard-sized Vacumatic pen beginning with the 1937 introduction of the Speedline redesign. Shown below are a 1934 Standard and a 1939 Major. See also Vacumatic.  2  (Major Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in Toledo, Ohio; incorporated in 1913 with Major F. Skidmore as president, Daniel V. Bliss as vice president, Thomas R. Crowder as secretary, and Elmer L. Skidmore as treasurer. Major advertised a self-filling pen with “no intricate or clumsy device or metal to rust out.” The company appears in the Toledo City directory only once, in the 1914 issue. See also Skidmore.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
majuscule (also uppercase) A “capital” letter in writing, usually with a height spanning the distance between the baseline and the head line (see illustration at x-height). See also baseline, head line, meanline, minuscule, x-height.
maki-e (Japanese for “sprinkled picture,” pronounced roughly mah-kee-eh) A decorative treatment; the application of abstract or figural artwork to a lacquered surface (usually urushi) using gold powder. The gold is applied while the surface is wet and sticky, and the wet lacquer bonds the gold in place. The technique can involve the application of dozens or even hundreds of extremely thin coats of lacquer. To create maki-e finishes of high quality requires many months of labor by highly skilled artisans, and pens bearing such designs are very costly. The maki-e designs on inexpensive pens are usually applied by silkscreening and embellished by hand. Illustrated here is a Pilot Phoenix maki-e pen. See also lacquer, urushi.
Fountain pen
Makrolon Registered trademark for the polycarbonate resin of which the Lamy 2000 (shown below, introduced in 1964 and still in production as of this writing) is made. Polycarbonate is extremely tough; in sheet form, it is used for bulletproof windows.
Fountain pen
Mandarin Sheaffer MandarinParker Mandarin 1  A yellow color used on Parker Duofolds in the late 1920s (near right). Unpopular at that time, Mandarin Duofolds are today rare and highly prized.  2  An orange color used on the Sheaffer Snorkel from 1956 to 1959 (far right), and a similar color used on the Parker 45 beginning in 1967.
Manhattan A sub-brand of Salz Brothers; easily identified as such by the circular SB logo on the clip and on the paddle at the end of the lever. See also Salz.
Maniflex A range of very attractive but otherwise ordinary lever-filling celluloid pens produced by Moore in the late 1920s and the 1930s. These pens’ nibs, imprinted with the MANIFLEX name, are good semiflexible nibs but are greatly prone to cracking upward from the base.
manifold Indicates an extremely rigid nib, intended to permit the heavy writing pressure needed to make impressions on multipart (carbon) forms. Sometimes called a “nail” (mildly derisive). See also nib.
Manos Possibly the best known of many brand names (Standard, Victoria, Yankee, et al.) under which a variety of cheap Austrian-made piston-filling pens were sold, principally in the classified advertising sections of magazines such as Popular Mechanics, at prices ranging from 25¢ to $1.00. These pens, made of celluloid tube heat-swaged at the distal end to hold the mechanism in place, were fitted with untipped brass nibs and had no true feeds. They required the user to turn the filler knob backward periodically to force ink down a tube to be deposited on the underside of the nib: essentially a dip pen with a reservoir. Shown here are a 25¢ Manos pen (upper) and a $1.00 example branded “VICTORIA” Self-Filling Fountain Pen (lower). These pens were sold in the mid-1920s, at which time the $1.00 versions were vastly overpriced given the availability of true self-filling dollar fountain pens such as Ingersoll’s. See also Ingersoll, Yankee.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Marathon (Marathon Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; operated during the 1920s. Many Marathon pens were made of hard rubber with very thin “filigree” overlays (e.g., 140 14K), and they featured good-quality 14K nibs with a script Marathon imprint. (See photo below.) Marathon was quite likely a sub-brand of Morrison; designs are essentially identical to Morrison’s, and some Marathon pens have clips and levers bearing a logo very similar to Morrison’s. See also Morrison.
Fountain pen
marbled Marbled celluloidHaving an irregular pattern made by combining two or more colors, as shown to the right. The term is used to refer to plastic, not to hard rubber. See also hard rubber, mottled.
Marblette See Bakelite (definition 1).
Marine Green Marine Green (Eversharp)Marine Green (Sheaffer striated)Marine Green (Sheaffer pearl) A color name used by Sheaffer and Eversharp. Sheaffer introduced its first Marine Green, the pearlized color shown here by the leftmost of the three chips, in 1930 on the Balance. 1936 signaled a change in Sheaffer’s color line with the introduction of striated colors; the second chip here illustrates the striated Marine Green that Sheaffer used until it replaced celluloid with injection-moldable cellulosic plastic in 1948. Eversharp gave a new meaning to Marine Green in 1941 with its introduction of the Skyline, whose Marine Green refers to the color of a U.S. Marine’s uniform. The color remained in Eversharp’s palette until the company was bought by Parker in 1957, appearing on the Fifth Avenue, Symphony (second and third generations), Ventura, and Slim Ventura.
marriage The creation of a single pen using parts from two different models, e.g., combining the cap from a Waterman No 55 “Ripple” with the barrel from a No 7. (The pen shown below illustrates this exact combination.) Serious collectors consider marriage an unacceptable practice because it produces an inauthentic result. Contrast with cannibalization.
Fountain pen
Marxton See Eclipse.
Master-Craft (Master-Craft Fountain Pen Corporation) A pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded in 1920 by Monroe E. Heilbrun and Ivan S. Heilbrun, together with accountant A. Alvin Fleischer. The principals announced that they would be producing “the world‘s finest writing instruments,” which would embody features never before used. (The only relevant patent I can locate is U.S. Patent No 1,231,256, for a one-piece pressure bar, issued to Monroe Heilbrun in 1917.) Capitalized with the then-huge sum of $250,000, Master-Craft operated into the 1930s, producing pocket pens and desk pens with a base designed by I. S. Heilbrun (U.S. Patent No 1,704,248.
Master Pen  1  A pen model introduced c. 1915 by the Bankers Pen Company; made of hard rubber, it featured Julius Schnell’s patented slide filler (U.S. Patent No 1,144,436).  2  A celluloid pen model introduced by the Julius L. Schnell Pen Company, fitted with the Schnell slide filler and featuring a version of Schnell’s famous “Airplane” clip (designed to commemorate Lindbergh’s 1927 transatlantic flight). See also Bankers, Schnell.
Fountain pen
Masterpiece A model name used by Sheaffer for its solid 14K gold pens. Shown here is a lever-filling Masterpiece made in 1946 or 1947; the lever is on the bottom of the barrel. See also Sheaffer, Sheaffer names.
Fountain pen
Master Series Esterbrook’s trademark for its primary series of iridium-tipped Renew-Point nibs, introduced in 1940. These nibs were numbered 9xxx. Master Series nibs were not the only tipped Renew-Point nibs; the 3xxx Osmiridium Tip, 5xxx and 7xxx Dip-Less, and 8xxx (World War II palladium nibs) series were all tipped. See also Duracrome, Esterbrook, Renew-Point. Read a page with a (nearly) complete listing of Renew-Point nibs here.
matchstick Filler schematicA type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a small hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally when depressed by insertion of a matchstick or similar object into the hole. The hole is sometimes protected by a metal band that can be rotated or slid to expose the hole. View filling instructions here.
Maxima The name Parker assigned to its oversized Vacumatic pen beginning with the 1937 introduction of the Speedline redesign. In 1939, the first version of the Maxima was renamed Senior Maxima to make way for a slightly thinner Maxima model. Shown here are a Maxima in Silver Pearl and, for comparison, a Major in Golden Pearl. See also Magnum, Major, oversize.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Mayers (L. & C. Mayers Company) A diamond importer and mail-order jeweler located in New York City; founded in 1912. Mayers sold fountain pens, some of them under its own name. See also Spors.
Maywood (Maywood Pen Company) A pen company located in Maywood, Illinois. All that I know about the company comes from a 1926 dunning letter that it sent as a follow-up when it did not receive prompt payment for an unsolicited sample pen sent out (with return postage enclosed) about two weeks earlier. The letter states that the pen (shown below, copied from the letter) is a $7.00 pen but later says it is priced at $2.75 in lots of six. Maywood will accept a check for $2.60 as a way to get acquainted.
Fountain pen illustration
MB Montblanc.
McLean Black (McLean, Black & Company, Inc.) A wholesaler located in Boston, Massachusetts; founded in 1904 and survived at least as late as 1917. Originally a wholesale jeweler only, the company broadened its offerings to encompass furniture, kitchen goods, and more, including fountain pens that it purchased and sold under the Niagara brand.
meanline An imaginary line representing the height of ordinary minuscules in writing (see illustration at x-height). Of interest primarily to calligraphers as a reference in choosing nib sizes. The height of the meanline is frequently 58 the distance between the baseline and the head line. See also baseline, head line, majuscule, minuscule, x-height.
mechanical pencil (abbreviated MP) A writing instrument that uses replaceable graphite leads and is fitted with a mechanism to extend and (in some models) retract the lead. There are two basic types of mechanical pencils: those that contain a fingerlike mechanism that grips the lead and pushes it forward a little each time the user pushes down on the cap or a button at the end of the pencil, and those that use a helical cam to drive a carrier that holds the lead forward or backward when some part of the pen (usually the cap or nozzle) is rotated. A mechanical pencil that extends the lead but cannot retract it is referred to as a propel pencil; most propel pencils are of the cap/button-actuated type (also called clickers or repeater pencils). Most pencils that use a helical cam system can also retract the lead and are called propel-repel pencils. A propel-repel pencil with a mechanism to eject the last remaining bit of unusable lead is a propel-repel-expel pencil. Shown below are a Parker Pastel propel-repel-expel pencil from c. 1927 and an Eversharp Skyline repeater pencil from the 1940s. See also Continuous Feed, magic pencil.
Magic pencil
Mechanical pencil
Meisterstück A German word (pronounced approximately MYE-ster-shterk) meaning masterpiece, used by Montblanc to designate its top-line pen models (numbered in the 1xx range). Shown here is a Model 149 (Diplomat), the largest in the line. See also Montblanc.
Fountain pen
MEK See methyl ethyl ketone.
Melbi See Merz &qmp; Krell.
Mentmore (Mentmore Manufacturing Company Ltd) A pen manufacturing company located initially in London, England; founded in 1919 and named after its first address in Mentmore Terrace, Hackney, London. The company’s first product was a self-filling fountain pen fitted with a gold-plated brass nib and priced at 6d (approximately 12¢ at the time). By 1925, Mentmore had a thriving business selling fountain pens and stationers’ sundries in ebonite and casein. At that time, the company introduced replaceable nib units, an industry first; and set up a subsidiary, the Platignum Pen Company, to produce pens with stainless steel nibs, advertising them with the slogan “As good as gold.” (They had wanted to use the name Platinum but were prevented from doing so by British laws concerning product description.) Platignum was the first company to use injection molding in the production of pens. At some time before 1936, Mentmore had changed its name to the Spot Pen Company but continued producing pens under the Mentmore brand. During World War II, with pen production restricted to 25% of prewar quantities, the company produced munitions, aircraft parts, and cap badges, along with “escape pens,” made under a secret government contract, that contained hidden maps and compasses and were sent in “care packages” to Allied personnel incarcerated in German POW camps. Secret production also included a spy pen that could kill at a distance of 20 feet by firing a poisoned dart. In 1947 the company began a process of diversifying, advertising itself as “Manufacturers of Mass produced Articles in Plastics for all Trades,” touting its 20 years of experience. In 1950 the first Platignum ballpoint pens appeared, and in 1957 the company relocated to Stevenage and began offering fiber-tipped pens. Production of Mentmore-branded pens ceased in the late 1950s. In 1981, the Spot Pen Company renamed itself to become the Platignum Pen Company and entered the rollerball market; three years later, Platignum moved to Royston. In 1997, after much further diversification, Platignum was acquired by the Adare Printing Company.
Mercantile See Aikin Lambert.
Mercury  1  A pen manufacturer and manufacturer’s representative located in Brussels, Belgium; founded in 1948 by Louis Dammaerts, who had worked as a repairman for Parker during the interwar period. With Dammaerts were his wife Nelly Pirotton and a technician, Julien Daras, a sometime cartoonist who designed the company’s first logo. Mercury’s nibs and pen bodies came, respectively, from Degussa and Nagele, both German companies; it appears that not even assembly was carried out in Belgium until after 2000. Mercury pens, with model names like Deluxe, Junior, and Baby, included lever (example below, upper), bu tton, and piston fillers; Dammaerts also used the Liberator brand name. The company served as a distributor for other brands such as Lamy and Rally; and until the late 1980s it held the exclusive Montblanc distributorship for Belgium. While remaining active in the business, Louis in 1992 transferred ownership of the company to his son Claude, who in turn sold it in 2002 to S. A. Dubois Vutera, a Belgian producer of high-end writing instruments.  2  A model name assigned by Sheaffer to a non-Lifetime Balance model pen that was identical to the Admiral except that it was fitted with a longitudinally-grooved jeweler’s band (below, lower) and was sold in jewelry stores instead of the usual pen outlets. See also jeweler’s band, Sheaffer names.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Merlin A pen manufacturing company located in Germany; apparently founded as a family-operated business after World War II. Merlin made its pens as parts and shipped them to the Netherlands, where they were then assembled and sold in the Dutch market as complete pens. Most Merlins were button fillers (below, upper two, the model 33 and the Merlina), but there were also a few piston fillers (below, lower, the hooded-nib Triumph). Merlin featured a huge range of colors; the 33 alone came in 56 different colors. Colors I have encountered appear in Merlin Fountain Pen Colors.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Merz & Krell (Merz & Krell GmbH & Company KGaA) A pen manufacturing company located in Groß-Bieberau, Germany; founded in 1920 by Friedrich Merz, a pharmacist, together with his brother Georg Merz and Justus Krell, a machine lathe operator. The company was initially a subsidiary of Merz Pharma, which Friedrich Merz had founded 12 years earlier in Frankfurt. The company had modest beginnings, initially employing only about a dozen workers who produced dip pen holders, fountain pens, and mechanical pencils under the Melbi brand until 1936, thereafter under the Rodensteiner brand. Production was shut down during World War II, but the company relaunched its operations after the war and has continued to grow and thrive. In addition to pens, it produces mugs and other drinkware and a line of pen cases and notebooks. During the 1970s, Merz & Krell produced some of Pelikan’s models, including the MK-30 and versions of the 120 and 400NN. (Pelikan no longer had the tooling to produce the latter two models, which were originally made during the 1950 and 1960s.) Merz & Krell brands included Melbi, Senator, and Diplomat; in 2006, the company renamed itself to become Senator GmbH & Company KGaA, and it is today a leading producer of promotional ballpoint pens.
METAL A mark appearing on parts made of precious metal alloyed in too low a concentration to be so marked; e.g., gold that is not at least 18K (750/1000), which under French law may not be sold as “gold.” See also 18K.
Météore See Plume d'Or.
methyl ethyl ketone (also butanone, MEK, methyl acetone) A solvent (CH3C(O)CH2CH3) often used for fusing (solvent welding) cracks in celluloid pen parts; it is readily available and inexpensive, but its moderate-to-low reactivity produces weak bonds while its high volatility causes bubbles that mar the appearance of the repaired part. It is also extremely flammable, harmful or fatal if swallowed, and harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. See also acetone.
MHR Mottled Hard Rubber. See also hard rubber, mottled.
Michael George (Michael George Pen Company) See Kraker.
middle joint A design for eyedropper-filling pens produced c. 1900 that placed the joint for opening and filling the pen in the middle of the barrel instead of at the usual location between the barrel and the section, ostensibly to reduce the risk of stained fingers due to ink seepage at the joint. In effect, the entire proximal half of the pen is the gripping section. Although the design was patented by Arthur A. Waterman (U.S. Patent No 619,702), other companies also used it. The HUB FOUNTAIN PEN shown here features a projecting ring to mark the location of the joint. See also eyedropper filler, Jointless.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
midget  1  Term used to designate a very small pen, significantly smaller than a vest-pocket model. Shown here is a midget Wahl Pen from the 1920s; over the ring mount, this pen is 3516" capped, 4516" posted, and it has a No 0 14K gold nib. See also Bantam, Peter Pan.  2  When capitalized, the American Fountain Pen Company’s name for the smallest model of Moore’s Non-Leakable Safety Pen. See also non-leakable.
Fountain pen
Milady See Sheaffer names.
military clip Sheaffer cap with military clipA clip that is affixed very close to the end of the cap and also is usually shorter than a standard clip, made so that the pen can be clipped into a pocket whose flap can then be buttoned over the pen to conceal it in compliance with United States military regulations. Some clips, notably those by Parker and Esterbrook, are inherently “military” in design, while others, such as those on Sheaffer’s Balance pens (except for the special 1940s miltary-clip version, shown here), do not comply with military regulations. See also clip, Tuckaway.
milled band (also knurled band) A variety of jeweler’s cap band with closely spaced parallel grooves running along its length (orthogonal to its circumference), often with a blank rectangular area on one side for use as an indicia. The indicia of the band illustrated here, on a Sheaffer Sovereign, is engraved with the initials J.F.P. See also indicia, Jeweler’s band, Stacked Coin band.
Milled cap band
Miller Rubber Co. Inc. Located in Akron, Ohio, the Miller Rubber Company was founded in 1892 to manufacture tires and other rubber products, and the company is still in business as of this writing. Because Miller made its latex formulation without carbon, Miller pen sacs (branded RELLIM / Miller Rubber Co. Inc.) are light brown in color. See also sac, White Rubber Company.
Milleraies Milleraies pattern(French for thousand rays, pronounced roughly MEEL-ray) Term used by Parker and others for an uninterrupted pattern of closely spaced parallel lines running the length of a metal pen (shown to the right). Illustrated below is a chrome-plated Parker 180 in the Milleraies pattern. See also Colonial (definition 1).
Fountain pen
milliliter (abbreviated ml; also cubic centimeter (obsolescent), abbreviated cc) A measure of volume, 1/1000 literπ. The most common unit of measure for the ink capacity of a fountain pen, equal to 15 measuring teaspoon or 115 measuring tablespoon. A standard short International ink cartridge contains 0.7 ml; a pen with a very large capacity can hold 3 or 4 ml.
mint A term adopted from numismatics, to describe an item that is in “new” condition, nominally exactly as from the factory. Most collectors interpret “mint” to mean that the item shows no signs whatsoever of use, not even the tiny dings or scratches that could appear on a coin in mint condition. See also New Old Stock.
minuscule (often misspelled miniscule; also lowercase) A “little” letter in writing, generally with a body height spanning the distance between the baseline and the meanline (see illustration at x-height). See also baseline, head line, majuscule, meanline, x-height.
Miss Universe See Sheaffer names.
ml See milliliter.
Modern (Modern Pen Company) See Waterman, A. A.
Moderne Moderne Green and PearlModerne Black and Pearl 1  Parker’s name for two colors used on some of its pens in the 1920s and 1930s (shown to the right, Moderne Black and Pearl, and Moderne Green and Pearl).  2  A pen model produced by Parker Canada from 1932 to 1934, one of the low-priced models known as a group to modern collectors as Thrift Time pens. (The Moderne was the Canadian equivalent to the U.S.-made Duette Jr.) Shown below (top) is a Moderne in mahogany with blue and white streaks. See also Duette (definition 2), Premier (definition 1), Thrift Time.  3  (also known as Day and Night or Night and Day) The name under which L. E. Waterman catalogued pens with overlay designs featuring longitudinal slots (below, second and third images). Waterman produced these pens during the 1930s; Sheaffer offered a similar design (below, bottom) a few years earlier. See also Colonnade, overlay.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Modernistic Blue Modernistic Blue (\'\'True Blue\'\')Parker’s bargello-like pattern of blue and white (shown to the right), commonly called “True Blue” (a euphonious sobriquet used by Parker in period advertising). Parker used Modernistic Blue for a smallish Depression-era pen priced at $3.50 and catalogued as the Three-Fifty. Offered in both ringtop and clip-style models, the Three-Fifty appeared in both flat-top and Streamlined versions. Parker also used Modernistic Blue for pens and pencils manufactured for the Zaner-Bloser company. Modernistic Blue pens are unfortunately prone to serious discoloration, as shown by the barrel of the pen below. See also Zaner-Bloser.
Fountain pen
Mohawk Collectors’ term for the small gold-filled wrapover trim piece inlaid into the cap crown of the Chilton Golden Quill, so named for its resemblance to the Mohawk hairstyle. See also Golden Quill.
Fountain pen cap
Moholy-Nagy László Moholy-Nagy, a Hungarian painter and photographer; also a professor in the Bauhaus, a German school whose design philosophy was marked by the absence of ornamentation and by harmony between the form and function of an object. Moholy-Nagy has sometimes been mistakenly identified as the designer of the Parker “51”; although he did some design work for Parker later, he was not involved with the “51”. He paid homage to its design in his book Vision in Motion (published in 1947, shortly after his death in November 1946); this could be the source of the misconstruction regarding the identity of its designers.
moiré Modern Stripe celluloidParker Coral Moiré(also moire, without the accented e; pronounced approximately mwah-ray) Having a watery or shimmering surface pattern. In 1927, Parker added a series of moiré colors to its Pastel line of petite pens; shown here (near right) is Coral Moiré. The term is also used by collectors to describe the patterned celluloid used on early-production Eversharp Skylines and called Modern Stripe in Eversharp’s advertising. Shown here (far right) is the red Modern Stripe color commonly called Garnet. See also Pastel, Skyline.
mold A fungal growth in ink. Frequently appears as floating “islands” on the surface of ink in a bottle or as a fuzzy white or beige growth in the area of the nib and feed of a pen, as shown in my article on caring for your pens. Contrast with SITB. See also fungicide.
molten An adjective used by collectors to describe an engraved or imprinted line that shows absolutely no edge wear; e.g., to be molten, a chased line must still have the raised edges created by the chasing machine. The term is most frequently applied to barrel imprints and engraved caps such as the converging-line cap on a Parker “51”.
Monel metal (also Monell metal) A group of alloys based on nickel and copper in approximately the proportions found in the ore from which the two metals are extracted, with properties varied by the addition of other metals such as iron or aluminum. Patented in 1906, Monel metals have been used extensively for myriad products, including pen parts. See also nickel silver.
Monogram A “house brand” used for pens sold by Rexall drugstores. Monogram pens were made for Rexall by several companies, including the Sterling Pen Company (Davidson Rubber) and the Michael George Pen Company (Kraker). Shown here is a Michael George-made Monogram from about 1920; this pen is interesting because it uses a unique latching lever patented by attorney Rudolph Lotz (but probably designed by George Kraker). See also Belmont, Rexall.
Fountain pen
Monroe (Monroe Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company set up in 1929 as a “child” company by Eclipse; shared its personnel and New York City address with the parent company. Monroe pens were of high quality and were sold as a “luxury” line into the mid-1930s. They featured attractive colors and an au courant stepped-end Art Deco design; and, unlike many of Eclipse’s own-branded pens, they bore a distinct barrel imprint and MONROE-imprinted 14K nibs. Shown here is a top-of-the-line full-size Monroe. (The line included pens from ladies’ size to oversize.) See also Eclipse.
Fountain pen
Montblanc (Montblanc Simplo GmbH; often written mistakenly as Mont Blanc) A pen manufacturer located in Hamburg, Germany; founded in 1906 by Alfred Nehemias and August Eberstein. Taken over shortly thereafter by Wilhelm Dziombor and Christian Lausen, who were later joined by Claus Johannes Voss, the company was registered in 1908 as the Simplo Filler Pen Company. In 1909, Simplo added models named Montblanc, a name that supposedly reflected a comparison between the company’s pens, which were said to be the pinnacle of the fountain pen art, and Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Europe, and began producing the famous Rouge et Noir (Red and Black) pen, with a red hard rubber body and black ends. In 1913, Simplo adopted as a logo the rounded six-pointed star that has appeared on the cap crowns of Montblanc pens ever since. The Meisterstück range (carrying model numbers in the 1xx range) began in 1924, and in 1929 Meisterstück nibs began carrying the 4810 mark (the height of Mont Blanc in meters). Renamed Montblanc Simplo GmbH, the company began to expand its product line; in 1935, it started producing ancillary goods such as leather-bound notebooks. Montblanc’s factory was destroyed during World War II, and until it could be reconstructed after the war, Montblanc pens were produced in Denmark. The Diplomat (Model 149) appeared in 1952, supplanting the blockier 139. Montblanc continues in business today as part of the Richemont Group, an umbrella organization of luxury-goods producers, and is arguably the best-known luxury pen brand in the world. Shown here are an early Montblanc safety and a 149.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Mooney (F. H. Mooney Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois; founded c. 1905 by Frank H. Mooney and lasted until c. 1915. Mooney sold thumb-filling pens made to U.S. Patent No 879,296, which was issued in 1908. From 1915 to the late 1920s, Frank Mooney worked as an engineer/designer for Conklin.
Moore (Moore Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded as the American Fountain Pen Company in 1899 by stationer Walter F. Cushing and optical salesman William F. Cushman, who had acquired the rights to Morris W. Moore’s design for a retractable safety pen (U.S. Patent No 567,151). Moore’s Non-Leakable Safety Pen was remarkably simple and straightforward to manufacture, and it sold extremely well into the 1920s. Acquiring people and intellectual property in 1917 upon the dissolution of the Boston Fountain Pen Company (bought by Wahl), the company renamed itself as the Moore Pen Company and expanded its line into high-quality lever fillers. Among the Boston people coming to Moore was co-owner George F. Brandt, who developed for Moore an improved version of the comb feed whose patent had gone to Wahl. ¶ Like L. E. Waterman, Moore was slow to adopt newer technologies, abandoning hard rubber pens in 1926 but continuing to make flat-top models (below, upper, a Maniflex) well into the 1930s. Moore’s celluloid pens are noted for their beautiful patterns and colors (below, lower, a 94-A). In 1946, the company introduced the Finger tip, an odd-looking streamlined pen intended to compete with the Parker “51”. Early Finger Tips had flow problems, later corrected. The pen nevertheless sold poorly, and Moore discontinued it in 1951; thereafter the company’s product was a line of mediocre squeeze fillers. Moore finally went out of business in 1956. See also Finger tip, non-leakable.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Moore & Evans (Moore & Evans, Inc.) A wholesaler located in Chicago, Illinois; operated from the 1890s until the 1940s, dealing in jewelry, etc., at one location and sporting goods at another. Among the firm’s products were writing instruments imprinted MOORE & EVANS. No connection with the Moore Pen Company or the Evans Dollar Pen Company. See also Evans (definition 1), Moore.
Morison (Morison Factory Company, Ltd) A pen manufacturer located in Nagoya, Japan; founded in 1918 by Torajiro Tanigawa as the Kikaku Seisakusyo Company, Ltd, the company changed its name in 1933 to Morison (with only one r). Beginning with typical Japanese urushi-coated ebonite eyedropper fillers like the one illustrated here, Morison later also produced celluloid lever fillers and, in the 1950s, squeeze fillers. Many of these pens, although labeled “High Class Pen,” were the equivalent of American third-tier products. By the 1970s, the company was producing slip-cap long/short cartridge/converter pens of elegant design and high quality. Although still in business, Morison no longer produces fountain pens. ¶ Morison is frequently confused with the American Morrison Fountain Pen Company; but the two were never connected. See also Morrison.
Fountain pen
Morocco Morocco One of the “exotic” celluloid colors (Burma, Cathay, Jet Black, Kashmir, and Morocco) offered on the first generation of the Wahl-Eversharp Doric. Morocco is chunks of pearlescent maroon veined with black, as shown to the right. See also Burma, Cathay, Doric, Kashmir.
Morriset A dip-less pen set sold by the Bert M. Morris Company, an office-supply manufacturers’ agent located in San Francisco, California. For more information and a photograph, see dip-less pen.
Morrison (Morrison Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. Founded in 1910 by Louis and Abe Morrison, the company appears to have operated into the late 1960s. During the 1920s, Morrison was known for hard rubber pens of varying quality, ranging from models fitted with untipped steel nibs and very thin “filigree” overlays (sterling silver or 140 14K gold) to versions bearing MORRISON-imprinted 14K nibs and high-quality repoussé “chased” overlays (120 14K), shown below, upper. Morrison’s best known pen is probably the Patriot, a syringe-filling pen made during the World War II era in many versions, including four honoring the U.S. armed services (below, lower, a Marine Corps Patriot). ¶ In 1923, Morrison was charged with “unfair methods of competition” for labeling its products with fictitious retail prices far in excess of their actual selling prices. In its ruling on Complaint No 1002 for the fiscal year 1924, the Federal Trade Commission ordered the company to cease such practices in interstate commerce. Another similar case arose in 1940 in connection with the Union Fountain Pen Company, a Morrison subsidiary. In 1950, Louis Morrison was personally indicted for evading taxes of $77,981 owed on pens and pencils supplied to Army PXes during World War II. ¶ Do not confuse Morrison with the Japanese company that was founded in 1918 as Kikaku Seisakusyo and changed its name in 1933 to Morison (with only one r). See also Cameo Top, Morison, Patriot, Union.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Morton A third-tier brand produced by the Morrison Fountain Pen Company. See also Morrison.
Moss-Agate Moss-AgateWaterman’s name for a celluloid color consisting of gold/brown marbled patches on a green ground, as shown to the right. Moss-Agate was first used on the Patrician and Lady Patricia (below). See also Lady Patricia, Patrician.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
mother-of-pearl The iridescent inner layer of a mollusk shell, frequently that of an oyster. Mother-of-pearl is sometimes used as an overlay by itself as shown below, or combined with abalone, on pen barrels and caps. The pen below illustrates the care some makers took with subtle aesthetics: its mother-of-pearl overlay is made of shell chosen for its golden hue. See also abalone, alternating pearl, iridescent.
Fountain pen
mottled Having an irregular pattern made by combining two colors, as shown below. The term is used to refer to hard rubber, not plastics, and almost all vintage mottled hard rubber is a mixture of red and black. See also hard rubber, marbled, ripple (definition 1), rosewood, woodgrain.
Fountain pen
MP See mechanical pencil.
music nib Nib shapeA nib that is relatively flexible and has a tip shaped like a broad stub italic with very soft edges (illustrated to the right) to allow for extreme freedom of use, especially at very high angles of elevation relative to the paper, as when a composer or arranger writes on the music desk while sitting at a piano. Music nibs often have three tines, with two slits to support a very heavy flow. See also italic, nib, stub.
Mustard See Yellowstone.

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