The earliest fountain pen used was developed in the 1700s in France. Before this time, writing was done using quill pens. Many new fountain pens were developed over the next century including a pen that was half metal and half quill. In 1831, the Parker pen dynasty started when John Jacob Parker developed the first fountain pen that was self-filling.
The fountain pen design was inspired by a bird’s quill. The quill had a hollow channel that made a great reservoir for ink to flow through. Using this inspiration, inventors try to create the same effect with a pen that was man-made and would hold more ink rather than having to dip constantly into an inkwell.
Many years were spent experimenting to find a pen that would work the way they wanted it to. Most of these experiments either leaked horribly or failed to perform satisfactory. Lewis Waterman eventually solved the problems of splattering and leaking by adding an air hole between the base of the pen and the rib. Once that problem was solved, the next century saw many new innovations with fountain pens. These pens now were self-filling, and often included designs for coin fillers, matchstick fillers, click fillers, lever fillers, or button fillers. The prefilled ink cartridges that were disposable were designed in the 1950s. These days, the rare antique fountain pens bring a great price among avid collectors. They are sold as classics and are sought after by many.
Every fountain pen you buy has its own unique design that flexes and wears down over time depending on the amount of pressure the writer exerts on it. This means that the user determines the life of the pen. Because of this, owners of fountain pens typically keep a close guard on their writing instruments, not allowing anyone else to use their pens to write with. They will often have their name or initials engraved on them.