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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page published August 1, 2021)

Introduction  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z  Numbers

Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]


Numbers

3-25 A Sheaffer model designation indicating a pen that had a No 3 nib and was warranted for 25 years. See also 5-30, 7-30.
5-30 A Sheaffer model designation indicating a pen that had a No 5 nib and was warranted for 30 years. See also 3-25, 7-30.
7-30 A Sheaffer model designation indicating a pen that had a No 7 nib and was warranted for 30 years. See also 3-25, 5-30.
9K (also 9C) A designation indicating an alloy that contains 9 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content. The same as 375. 9K alloys were used for some excellent low-priced flexible vintage nibs, and some modern makers have used 9K for solid-gold furniture. See also karat.
12K A designation indicating an alloy that contains 12 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content. The same as 500. Used to conserve resources or cut costs by WASP (a Sheaffer sub-brand), various 19th-century dip-pen makers for their lower-line models, some Japanese manufacturers in 1937, and some Chinese manufacturers during the 1950s and ’60s. See also karat.
14K (also 14C) A designation indicating an alloy that contains 14 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content. The same as 585. See also karat.
14KR A European mark indicating 14K rolled gold. See also 14K, gold filled.
18K (also 18C) A designation indicating an alloy that contains 18 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content. The same as 750. As a general rule, 18K nibs are actually inferior to 14K nibs in terms of their writing qualities. The higher gold content is marketed as a status and quality feature, but the real reason for it is that many countries have followed France’s lead in establishing laws requiring the alloy to be least 18K in order to be sold as “gold.” (This requirement’s original purpose was to prevent fraud in the jewelry trade.) See also karat, METAL.
18KR A European mark indicating 18K rolled gold. See also 18K, gold filled.
“21” A low-priced pen model introduced by Parker in 1948 (U.S. Patent No 2,645,205); remained in production until the early 1970s. The “21” has a hooded nib that is otherwise ordinary in design. There are two versions of the hood design: the first (included in the patent cited here) is a thin shell that covers the nib and much of the feed without playing any part in the ink delivery system, and the second is a thicker housing, much like an ordinary gripping section, into which the nib and feed are pressed. This latter design places significant tensile stress on the shell, and shell cracks are increasingly common as the pens age. Shown below is a first-version (Mark I) “21”. Read a profile of the “21” here.
Fountain pen
“21” Super A low-priced pen model introduced by Parker in 1953. The “21” Super (shown below) is the same size as the short-lived “41”, slightly smaller than the “21”, and its internal construction is identical to that of the “41” (like the “51” Special but smaller). The clip that was designed for the “21” Super later appeared on the 45 and remained in production until the 45 Special GT was introduced in the early 2000s. The plastic material of which the “21” Super’s shell was made is notorious for shrinkage. See also “21”.
Fountain pen
21K (also 21KT, as used on nibs by Sailor of Japan) A designation indicating an alloy that contains 21 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content. The same as 875. See also karat.
23K  1  A designation indicating an alloy that contains 23 parts of gold, by weight, per 24 parts of the total metal content; used during the karat war, 1969–1974, on nibs by Platinum and Sailor of Japan. The same as 958.3. See also karat, karat war.  2  A misnomer used by Visconti for its palladium nibs, which are imprinted 23K Pd 950. By United States law, the karat measuring system applies only to gold alloys; therefore the “23K” portion of Viscconti’s imprint is meaningless (and somewhat misleading given that the alloy, even were it gold instead of palladium, does not meet the 958.3 standard).
45 A pen model introduced by Parker in 1960, priced at $5.00; remained in production until 2006. The 45 has a user-interchangeable nib unit and was Parker’s first cartridge-filling pen. (The basic engineering that produced the 45 was in process at Eversharp when Parker bought the latter company in 1957.) The 45 is distinguished by having appeared in more colors and finishes than any other Parker model. Shown below is a 45 from the mid-1960s. Read a profile of the 45 here. See also Challenger (definition 2).
Fountain pen
“51”  1  A pen model introduced by Parker in 1941; remained in production until the early 1970s. The first pen to use a hooded nib. Arguably the best fountain pen ever designed, the “51” (U.S. Patent No 2,223,541) is reliable, remarkably durable, and attractive in a modern, minimalist way. (The original design was executed by Kenneth S. Parker and Marlin S. Baker and may have been influenced by the work of László Moholy-Nagy.) Shown below is a Vacumatic-filling “51” made in about 1946. Read a profile of the “51” here.  2  Parker’s name for a proprietary superfast-drying fountain pen ink (U.S. Patent No 1,932,248) developed in the 1930s but not introduced until 1941. “51” ink dried so rapidly that a finger dragged along the paper " (1.3 cm) behind the pen would not smear the freshly drawn line. This incredible drying speed resulted from a formulation based on sodium hydroxide, which caused the fluid to penetrate the paper chemically. This formula yielded a solution with a pH higher than 12; the ink was terribly damaging, dissolving celluloid pen bodies and corroding metals commonly used in pens (including stainless steel). Before it could market such an ink, Parker was compelled to develop a pen that could withstand the ink’s destructive action, and that pen was the “51”. See also Superchrome.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
“51” Special A reduced-cost version of the Parker “51”, introduced in 1950. The “51” Special looks outwardly very much like a standard “51”, but it has an Octanium (stainless steel) nib and the non-Aero-metric hoop filler that was initially used in the “21”. Other cost-saving measures were a limited choice of colors, a bright-polished stainless-steel cap, and a black cap jewel. Late examples of the “51” Special came in more colors and with a gold nib and a matte cap with a gray jewel, but these pens still retained the cheaper filler. See also Aero-metric, “51”, hoop, Octanium.
52 A group of pen models produced by L. E. Waterman, probably the best known of Waterman’s vintage pens. The 52 came into existence in 1917 as a result of Waterman’s restructuring of its Standard Numbering System; before the restructuring, the 52 had been designated 12PSF. The number 52, as defined by the Standard Numbering System, indicates a lever-filling pen fitted with a No 2 nib, and various prefixes and suffixes further specify variants that may be shorter, thinner, or fitted with various styles of decorative bands or an overlay. Shown below are an Ideal No 52, the archetype of the series (upper) and an Ideal No 0552V LEC, a ladies’ pen with a gold-filled overlay in the Gothic pattern (lower). Read a profile of the 52 here. There were many other numbers in the Standard Numbering System, e.g., 54, 55, 452, etc. The extent of the list is beyond the scope of this Glossopedia; there is a description of the Standard Numbering System here.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
52 Degree nib A nib shape developed by engineers at Stipula. It is similar to the Sailor Zoom nib, which produces a line that varies in width from broad when the pen is held at a relatively low angle to the paper, to very fine when the pen is held nearly vertically relative to the paper. The 52 Degree nib is shaped so that the broadest portion of the writing pad is in contact with the paper when the pen is held at an angle of 52° above the paper. See also nib, Stipula, Zoom nib.
61 A pen model introduced by Parker in 1956; the first successful capillary-filling fountain pen. Shown here is a First Edition 61. In 1969 Parker replaced the capillary-filling 61 with a cartridge/converter version in response to persistent complaints from owners who were dissatisfied with the pen’s need for more care and maintenance than other fountain pens. Read a profile of the 61 here. See also First Edition, Rainbow.
Fountain pen
64 See Sixty Four.
65 A pen model introduced by Parker in 1967. Intended to appeal to people who preferred a more exposed nib than was available with the then-current “51” and 61, the 65 was similar in size and shape to the VP and fitted with a semiflexible nib similar in appearance to that in the VP. The 65 range included an aspergillum, which was by the 1960s very uncommon. Shown here are a 65 Flighter and a 65 aspergillum. The 65, which was never retailed in the United States, lasted until 1983, with the 9K and 18K Presidential models being the last ones to be retired. See also aspergillum, VP.
Fountain pen
Aspergillum
75 A pen model introduced by Parker in 1963. Produced in myriad variations, and arguably the most collectible pen from the latter half of the 20th century, the 75 is noted for its writing qualities and for its user-interchangeable adjustable nib unit. See also adjustable nib (definition 2), VP.
Fountain pen
88 A piston-filling pen model introduced by Aurora in 1948. Designed by with a semi-hooded nib by architect Marcello Nizzoli in an effort to compete with the Parker “51”, the 88 and its successors the 88K and 88P (produced into the 1970s) established their own place in history and have become highly collectible in their own right. The 88 name was revived in about 2007 for an open-nibbed pen mechanically identical to the Optima but styled more roundly to harken back to the original 88. Shown here are original Nizzoli 88s with gold-filled and Nikargenta caps and a modern 88 with a gold-plated cap. See also Aurora, Nikargenta.
88
88 Nikargenta
Fountain pen
139 (colloquially, one thirty-nine) The flagship in Montblanc’s Meisterstück (1xx) series, produced from 1939 to 1952, when it was replaced by the 149. See also Montblanc, Diplomat (definition 1).
Montblanc 139
146 (colloquially, one forty-six) See LeGrand.
149 (colloquially, one forty-nine) See Diplomat (definition 1).
180 (colloquially, one-eighty) A pen model introduced by Parker in 1977. The 180 was initially fitted with a two-sided 14K nib that wrote a finer line when “flipped” so that the nominal upper surface of the nib was downward. The 180 name derived from the 180° rotation when the pen was flipped. Two user-interchangeable nib grades were offered: XF/M and F/B. (The pen shown here has an XF/M nib unit.) In their book Fountain Pens and Pencils: The Golden Age of Writing Instruments, George Fischler and Stuart Schneider commented that the performance of the 180’s nib was unsatisfactory in either direction; but when the nib is tuned, the pen is an excellent, if quite stiff, writer. In 1983, Parker replaced the 14K nib with a gold-plated steel nib that was not flippable, and in 1986 this model was subsumed into the Classic range.
Fountain pen
275 See Sheaffer numbers.
350 See Sheaffer numbers.
375 A designation indicating an alloy that contains 375 parts of gold, by weight, per 1000 parts of the total metal content. The same as 9K.
500 See Sheaffer numbers.
585 A designation indicating an alloy that contains 585 parts of gold, by weight, per 1000 parts of the total metal content. The same as 14K.
600 A pen model introduced by Rotring in 1989; produced as fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint, and also a repeater pencil. Machined of solid brass with a hexagonal body and cap, the 600 is remarkably heavy (40 g for the fountain pen), and it is probably the closest thing to a literally bulletproof pen produced by any major manufacturer. It has appeared in metallic silver, red, and blue; two blacks, one semigloss and one matte “stealth” black; and in several limited-edition finishes. The pen shown here is the “stealth” version. See also Rotring.
rotring_600
750 A designation indicating an alloy that contains 750 parts of gold, by weight, per 1000 parts of the total metal content. The same as 18K.
875 See Sheaffer numbers.
1000 See Sheaffer numbers.
1250 See Sheaffer numbers.
1500 See Sheaffer numbers.
1750 See Sheaffer numbers.
2000  1  See Sheaffer numbers.  2  A piston-filling pen model introduced by Lamy in 1966; designed by Gerd A. Müller. Made of Makrolon, a fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate resin, and engineered so that a reasonably handy end user can disassemble it, the 2000 has remained in Lamy’s lineup ever since its introduction. See also Lamy.
Fountain pen

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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