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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised July 31, 2021)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]


Like any other specialized item, the fountain pen has amassed a lexicon of terms that are unique. A collection of terms peculiar to a certain subject or field of endeavor is called a jargon; and like other jargon languages, fountain pen jargon can be cryptic or misleading, even to collectors with more than a little experience. One reason for part of the confusion is that some terms have changed meanings, in some cases quite dramatically, since they first came into use more than a century ago.

Fountain pen

This Glossopedia is a compact glossary/mini-encyclopedia of words, phrases, and names, with more than 1,600 entries comprising (with subentries) more than 1,800 individual terms, more than 1,000 illustrations, more than 200 patent citations linked to their respective patent documents at various archives, and extensive cross-references. Its primary focus is on fountain pens; but it also includes some entries relating to ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, etc.


In addition to defining jargon words and phrases, the Glossopedia also includes historical and usage notes. There are also brief histories of many pen companies and capsule biographies of some of the people who made important contributions to the advancement of fountain pen technology.

The content of the Glossopedia is organized alphabetically, without regard to white space; e.g., fingernail comes before Finger tip. Numerical entries are ordered numerically on their own page; e.g., 7-30 comes before 45, which in turn comes before 275.
Filling system
Filling system

Pronunciations for Japanese terms are based on “An Introduction to Japanese Pronunciation,” by Ryo Furue of the University of Hawaii.

Some images in this Glossopedia can be clicked or tapped to display magnified versions for more detail. When you mouse over a clickable image, the image will give a visual indication by growing a little, and the mouse pointer will change to a magnifying glass. On a touchscreen device, touch and hold your finger on the image briefly to see if it reacts. If it does, you can tap it.

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 the Glossopedia, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

This complete Glossopedia is also available as The RichardsPens Guide to Fountain Pens, Volume 1, an ebook for your computer or mobile device.

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