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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised December 18, 2023)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]


C See karat.
CA  1  Eversharp’s name for its first ballpoint pen, introduced in December 1945 and initially produced in versions resembling the Fifth Avenue (second generation CA shown here) and the Skyline. The name reflected the pen’s Capillary Action operating principle (based on László Bíró’s design, U.S. Patent No 2,390,636, to which Eversharp had purchased the rights). After Reynolds, a newcomer to pen manufacture, introduced a ballpoint pen in October 1945, Eversharp rushed the CA to market without adequate testing and development. The pen was disastrously unreliable, and warranty returns nearly drove Eversharp into bankruptcy. See also biro, Reynolds, Rocket.  2  Abbreviation for cyanoacrylate.
Ballpoint pen
Cable (also Cable Twist) A distinctive helical (spiral) pattern of chasing or machined grooving on the body of a pen, used principally during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Shown below (upper two views) is a 19th-century Aikin Lambert pocket dip pen bearing a cable design chased to resemble two strands of rope. Very few modern pens have used cable designs; perhaps the best known is the Bexley Cable Twist (below, lower), produced from 1995 to 1997. See also the advertising cut shown at Raymond & White.
Dip pen
Dip pen
Fountain pen
cabochon A gemstone cut and polished to a convex shape without facets, occasionally set into the clip or other decoration on a pen. Shown below is a red cabochon on the cap crown of a Reform-Rekord (German) piston-filling Snake pen. See also jewel.
Cap crown with cabochon
Cadet A model name that Sheaffer first assigned c. 1952 to a bottom-line Touchdown TM model built on the same chassis as the Craftsman. The previous generation of the Craftsman had a No 33 gold nib and a wire-band plastic cap; the new Cadet and Craftsman both had interchangeable steel TIPdip nibs, with the Cadet wearing a plastic cap to the Craftsman’s metal cap. A slightly upscale version of the Cadet, introduced later, had a No 23 gold nib and was called the Cadet 23. The Cadet name was retired c. 1963. Illustrated here is a standard Cadet in Vermilion. See also Craftsman, TIPdip.
Fountain pen
calligraphy (Greek for beautiful writing) A term encompassing many different styles of decorative writing, including Blackletter, Spencerian and copperplate scripts, italic and other chancery hands, Oriental pictographic writing, and so forth. See also Blackletter, chancery, chirography, copperplate, round hand, Spencerian, Zanerian.
calligraphy pen A pen with an italic nib that is usually untipped, developed from reed pens and customarily used for lettering styles that feature broader strokes in the direction of the pen’s long axis and narrower strokes in the orthogonal direction. The absence of tipping allows the user to adjust the tip’s shape to his or her preference but also allows fairly rapid wear and thus not only allows but also requires frequent reshaping. See also Blackletter, chancery.
Camel (Camel Pen Company) A pen company located in Orange, New Jersey (with its factory in West Orange); founded in 1935, with Howard E. Spaulding as president and treasurer, Eugerne W. Spaulding as secretary, George F. Howard as vice president, and Joseph V. Wustman (originally Wüstman/Wuestman) as plant manager. Camel set out to produce pens that made their own ink when you filled them with water. At the back end of the barrel, built into the button filling mechanism, was a replaceable cartridge that contained an ink pellet (U.S. Patent No 2,024,228, issued December 17, 1935, to Russell B. Kingman and Ralf L. Hartwell). Unlike the ink pellets for trench pens of World War I, the Camel’s pellet was intended to be good for many fillings, up to a year’s worth. Shown here is a “junior” sized Camel. The concept was good, but the execution was unsatisfactory, and the original Camel company was out of business by the end of 1938. Wustman transferred at least some of its parts and raw materials to the Newark Pen Company, which he also owned; setting up a new Camel Pen Company, he began making lever fillers. This second Camel company made pens and pencils, including “floaty” pencils, at least into the late 1940s. ¶ Camel was not the first company to have tried to produce a pen of this type; in the early 1920s, the short-lived Dictator company had attempted the same feat, apparently with a similar lack of success. Nor was it the last; in the latter 1930s, Water tried, and during World War II, Grieshaber offered yet another ink-making pen. Read a profile of the Camel Pen here. See also Dictator, floaty, Grieshaber, ink pellet, Instant Ink, Water.
Fountain pen
Cameo Top Morrison’s name for the slope-cut cap crown used on some of its pen models beginning shortly before World War II. The best-known Cameo-Top model was the Patriot. Shown below is a postwar Morrison Monitor, which featured a metal plaque inset into the sloped Cameo Top cap crown. See also Morrison, Patriot.
Fountain pen
Cameron  1  A model name used by Macniven and Cameron on its Waverley fountain pens.  2  Duncan Cameron, from 1850 a principal in Macniven and Cameron, and the holder of several patents relating to both dip pens and fountain pens. See also Macniven.
cannibalization The restoration of a pen using parts from one or more other specimens of the same exact model, e.g., taking the section, feed, and nib from a broken black Waterman No 52 to restore another black No 52. Contrast with marriage. See also Frankenpen.
caoutchouc Unvulcanized natural rubber; comes from French, in which caoutchouc is a general word for rubber of any type. In English, the word was used by early fountain pen manufacturers to indicate the source of the material from which their pens were made; it is now considered archaic and obsolete. See also hard rubber.
cap A detachable cover that snaps, slides, or screws onto the barrel to protect the nib and prevent evaporation of the ink supply.
cap band (also band, centerband, center band) A ring of metal placed around a cap near its open end for decoration or to reduce the tendency of the cap lip to split when the cap is posted too firmly onto a tapered barrel. Caps without bands are usually referred to as bandless. Illustrated here are a band at the cap lip (Pelikan M200), a band near the cap lip (Esterbrook J), a broad Autograph-style band (Sheaffer’s Snorkel Valiant), and a bandless cap (Eversharp Skyline). Vintage manufacturers swaged the cap band into a groove in the cap; a few modern makers still do this but most modern caps with bands are made in two parts and assembled with the band sandwiched between. See also swaging.
Cap bands
cap crown See crown (definition 1).
capillarity See capillary action.
capillary A type of filling system; operates by capillary action. In Parker’s version (illustrated here) an internal reservoir (the capillary cell) contains a sheet of plastic that has been perforated, embossed with a 3-D pattern resembling safety tread, and rolled up. The holes allow ink to ooze between the rolled-up layers, and the embossed pattern maintains space between the layers. In the center, running the entire length of the capillary cell, is the feed. The cell’s housing is metal, with a Teflon coating to repel ink easily. When the pen is not being filled, a spring-loaded valve in the back end of the barrel seals the end of the cell. View filling instructions here. Waterman also used a capillary system in its X-Pen, consisting of a reservoir packed with loosely woven fabric and filled simply by dunking the nib end of the pen.
Filler schematic
capillary action (also capillarity) The drawing of a liquid into a narrow space; occurs when the adhesive force between the liquid and the surface of the solid forming the space exceeds the cohesive force between the molecules of the liquid itself. Capillary action draws ink from a pen’s reservoir into and through the feed, and thence along the nib’s slit to the tip of the nib, from which it can draw the ink onto the surface of the paper when the pen is used to write. A fountain pen that is adjusted for a light-to-average flow can usually write upside down (with the nib pointing upward to contact paper on a wall or ceiling. (A pen set for very wet flow will often have its slit adjusted too widely open for capillary action to overcome gravity.) See also channel, fissure.
capillary cell The perforated and rolled plastic film, enclosed in a metal tube, that forms the reservoir in the Parker 61’s capillary filling system. See also capillary.
Capitol See Aikin Lambert.
Capless (in the United States, Vanishing Point) A fountain pen model produced by Pilot of Japan beginning in 1963, featuring a retractable nib protected by a small trap door when retracted. The mechanism of the first Capless was operated by twisting the back end of the barrel. That model was joined in 1964 by a model with an alternate-action pushbutton at the back of the barrel. The twist-action model was replaced in 1965 by an improved version that lasted at least into 1968. The pushbutton Capless has never been out of production since its introduction, and in 2006 Pilot reintroduced the twist-action design in a new model called the Fermo, with a twist knob at the back of the barrel. Shown here is a 1965 pushbutton Capless.
Fountain pen
cap lip The edge of the cap at its open end. Of interest primarily because posting a cap too firmly, especially on a tapered barrel, can lead to cracks of the cap lip. Among models notorious for cap-lip cracks are the Sheaffer Balance and the Esterbrook H and CH. The illustration here, of an Esterbrook CH, shows several cracks that have become visible as they collected dirt from the environment over time.
Cap lip cracks
captive converter A filling system using a standard piston-type converter that is secured within the pen, with an external knob fitted to the back end of the barrel (with or without a covering blind cap) to engage the converter’s actuating knob. Some manufacturers of captive-converter pens refer to their pens as piston or twist fillers. See also cartridge, converter.
Caran d’Ache (Caran d’Ache SA) A manufacturer of high-quality pen, pencils, and other writing materials; located in Geneva, Switzerland. The company was founded in 1915 as Fabrique Genevoise de Crayons (Genevan Pencil Factory) by Arnold Schweitzer, who purchased the Ecridor Pencil Factory. One of the earliest Caran d’Ache products was the classic Technograph pencil, introduced in the early 1920s. It was offered in 12 degrees of hardness and is still in production. In 1924, the company’s name was changed to Caran d’Ache, the nickname of Emmanuel Poiré, a Franco-Russian political cartoonist who worked in Paris beginning in his twenties. (The Russian word карандаш (karandash) means pencil). In 1929, the company introduced the Fixpencil, a repeater-type mechanical pencil invented by Carl Schmid (Austrian Patent No 137,903). Perhaps the company’s best known model range is the hexagonal silver Ecridor (shown below). Also still in production, it was introduced in 1953 to replace the Fixpencil and later expanded to include ballpoint and fountain pens. In 1974, the company moved its production to Thônex, a municipality in the Canton of Geneva; it also has a subsidiary in Canada. In 1999, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the $265,000 Caran d’Ache La Modernista Diamonds as “the most expensive pen in the world.” While the company produces several ranges of excellent pens, it is most widely known today for its extensive lines of high-end art and drawing pencils and related supplies. Since its founding, Caran d’Ache has been a family company; as of this writing, Carole Hübscher-Clements, the fourth generation of the family, is the company’s president and CEO and also chairs the board of directors.
Mechanical pencil
Fountain pen
carat See karat.
Cardinal The name applied by L. E. Waterman to the red-orange color of “red” hard rubber. See also Chinese Red, hard rubber.
cardinal’s hat See bishop’s hat.
Carey (Carey Pen Company) A pen company located in New York City; founded c. 1890 by John Carey as the Carey Fountain Pen Company. The history of Carey’s company is convoluted at best; in 1909, the I.M. Carey Pen Company (almost certainly named for Ida M. Carey, John’s wife, appeared in a New York directory, and the Carey Pen Company appeared a year later, at which time I. M. Carey had moved to the same address as the new company. (I. M. Carey disappeared in about 1916.) ¶ Carey pens, assembled from purchased parts, were eyedropper fillers of high quality, and most were overlays. Shown below is a Carey Giant, with a Waterman 52 for comparison. Early production was of ordinary design, but middle-joint pens appeared after A. A. Waterman relinquished his middle-joint patent in partial payment of a lawsuit. The company appears to have remained in business, functioning as a pen sales and service shop, as late as 1929. See also giant.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Carmine One of the striated colors that appeared on Sheaffer’s pens, beginning in 1939 with the Balance and continuing through the war years until Sheaffer retired celluloid in favor of injection-moldable cellulosic plastics in 1948. In essence, Carmine replaced the less vibrantly colored Rose Glow in Sheaffer’s color lineup. See also Rose Glow.
Color chip
Carter’s (Carter’s Ink Company) An ink and writing instrument manufacturing company located in Boston (later Cambridge), Massachusetts; founded in 1858 by John W. Carter. The Carter’s Ink Company was at one time the largest ink manufacturer in the world. Beginning in 1926 under then-president Richard B. Carter, the company produced fountain pens and pencils until about 1932, when it abandoned pen production in favor of ink, which had built the company and was still Carter’s principal product. Carter’s pens, known commonly as INX pens and produced in several models at varying price points, were all of very high quality. They used an innovative lever filler, based on a design by William P. De Witt (U.S. Patent No 1,490,735), that included a secondary spring to prevent the lever from opening past 90° and also to assist in returning the lever to its closed position and keeping it there. Shown here is a Carter’s pen from about 1928. See also Pearltex.
Fountain pen
Cartier (Cartier Paris) A luxury jeweler based in Paris, France, with branches in several major cities including New York City. During the first part of the 20th century, Cartier’s New York store sold gold and sterling silver fountain pens, most of them bulb fillers, that were manufactured for Cartier by W. S. Hicks. Later, there were Parker 75s with patterns unique to Cartier. These latter pens are especially collectible today. See also Hicks.
cartouche See indicia.
cartridge A disposable single-use ink reservoir, generally made of polyethylene or other soft plastic. In use, the cartridge is pierced by a sharp “nipple” in the pen. Shown here is a Waterman C/F (economy model), the first widely successful cartridge pen, with a cartridge of blue ink. See also another illustration at converter. [Historical note] The earliest successful cartridge pens were produced by Eagle in the 19th century, and Waterman began making cartridge pens in France beginning in 1937 (an effort interrupted by the advent of World War II but revived at war’s end). Both of these companies’ pens used cartridges made of glass. See also converter, glass cartridge.
Waterman C/F pen and cartridge
cartridge/converter (abbreviated C/C) A type of filling system; uses a replaceable ink reservoir. A small nipple, usually of metal, is placed at the back of the section assembly to pierce a hole in the end of a pre-filled sealed removable cartridge (illustrated below). A converter that includes the reservoir and a filling system can be installed in place of a cartridge. The most common converter design uses the piston system. (Some makers also offer a modified version with a sliding tab instead of the usual twist knob; this is essentially a syringe filler.) Squeeze-type converters resemble an Aero-metric filler but lack a breather tube. View filling instructions here. See also cartridge, converter, self-filler.
Filler schematic
casein (also galalith) A material of which pens are made, a durable plasticlike substance made of the protein (also called casein) from skimmed milk, precipitated with rennin, molded to shape, and hardened by soaking in formalin. Initially called Galalith, casein plastic was patented in Germany in 1899 by chemists Wilhelm B. Krische and Friedrich Adolf Spitteler. From the turn of the 20th century into the 1920s, it was used to make buckles, buttons, costume jewelry, toiletry articles, and other similar small objects. Pen makers used it in an attempt to escape from the fragility and limited color choices of hard rubber. Although casein is durable and can be made in very exciting colors and patterns that are difficult to achieve in other materials, its tendency to expand and contract under varying conditions of humidity and the ease with which it discolors on exposure to ink soon saw it supplanted by celluloid. Casein does not respond to the solvents commonly used to fuse celluloid or acrylic, and it is therefore difficult to repair. The modern Conway Stewart 58 shown below, in the Venetian pattern, illustrates the brilliant color effects possible with casein.
Fountain pen
Catalin See Bakelite (definition 1).
Cathay One of the “exotic” celluloid colors (Burma, Cathay, Jet Black, Kashmir, and Morocco) offered on the first generation of the Eversharp Doric. Cathay is green streaked with paler green (almost to white), as shown below, and it is highly prone to decompose by crystallization. See also Burma, crystallization, Doric, Kashmir, Morocco.
Color chip
Caw’s  1  (Caw’s Pen and Ink Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded in 1886 by Francis C. Brown out of the ashes of the bankrupt Fountain Ink Company, of which he was a trustee. Brown shared a patent with David W. Beaumel and soon after opening his company’s doors began marketing a pen built to that patent and called the Dashaway. An 1887 lawsuit brought over the pen’s design by Paul Wirt was decided in favor of Wirt; this setback spurred Brown to invent new feed designs. ¶ Drawing on Brown’s familiarity with Duncan MacKinnon’s pens, Caw’s also produced stylographic pens. ¶ Perhaps the best known Caw’s pens are safeties built to Brown’s 1895 design (U.S. Patent No 612,013), later licensed to L. E. Waterman. (Brown bought the assets of the bankrupt Horton Pen Company in 1896 and used the machinery to manufacture Caw’s safeties.) Caw’s safeties remained in production well into the 20th century; shown below (upper two images) is a Caw’s “Safety” Model 327 bearing a 1910 patent date (U.S. Patent No 949,752). The company was in business at least into 1927. Today Caw’s pens of any variety are rare and highly collectible. See also Beaumel, Horton.  2  (Burnham and Sons) At some point, Burnham, in the U.K., acquired the right to produce pens under the Caw’s brand and did so for a period during the 1950s. It is not clear whether this arrangement was executed under license or through a purchase of the Caw’s name. Shown below (lower) is a Burnham-made piston-filling Caw’s pen. See also Burnham.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Burnham Caw’s photo © Mike Kennedy
cc See cubic centimeter.
C/C See cartridge/converter.
Cedar Blue See Blue Cedar.
Celluloid (also celluloid; sometimes incorrectly referred to as pyroxylin) Trademarked name (Hyatt Bros., Newark, New Jersey, 1868; subsequently the Celluloid Corporation) for a material of which pens are made, produced by plasticizing nitrated cellulose with camphor. Beginning in about 1920, celluloid became the primary material for caps and barrels, under names such as Sheaffer’s “Radite” and Parker’s “Permanite.” More durable than hard rubber but less durable than many modern plastics, celluloid was supplanted in the 1940s by acrylics, injection-moldable cellulosics, and polystyrenes, but some modern manufacturers still produce pen models of celluloid. ¶ Celluloid has a charming warm feel in the hand and can be manufactured in many exciting solid and mixed colors, but it is relatively unstable and has a tendency to discolor over time. It is also extremely flammable. The manufacturing process for celluloid involves an extended curing period, and celluloid that is improperly cured is prone to crystallize, especially in thicker areas, and eventually crumble. See also ambering, cellulose acetate, crystallization, discoloration, pyroxylin.
celluloid disease See crystallization.
cellulose acetate (also acetate, sometimes erroneously called celluloid) A material of which pens are made, produced by plasticizing cellulose through a reaction with acetic acid and acetic anhydride. Cellulose acetate was developed in the 1930s as a safer (more stable) replacement for celluloid. See also Celluloid.
Centennial The larger of the two models of Parker’s modern Duofold, approximately the size of an “oversize” pen of the Golden Age. Compare the Centennial and the smaller International below. See also International (definition 3).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
centerband (also center band) See cap band.
center feed (also centerfeed) A small-diameter U-shaped channel inserted into the back end of a Sheaffer feed (illustrated below), originally intended to perform the same drainage function as Parker’s Lucky Curve. See feed, Lucky Curve.
center ring A decorative ring, usually made of plated metal, that separates a pen’s gripping section from its barrel, as shown on the upper two pens below. As shown by the third pen, not all pens have center rings. When it is present, the center ring is commonly attached to the section; but in some cases it is left loose and can fall off when the user installs a new cartridge or converter. See also clutch ring.
Platinum PK-2000 Pocket Pen, Black
Centropen (Centropen, a.s.) A fountain pen and mechanical pencil manufacturing company (a.s. = akciová společnost, “joint stock company”) located in Dačice, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic); founded in 1940 by two Dačice businessmen, one of whom was a manufacturer of leather goods. The first product, offered in January 1941, was a fountain pen under the Steno brand. The founders parted company in 1945, and one of them established another company to sell high-quality pens under the Omega brand; with the injection-molding technology of the time, the 50 employees could turn out about 300 pens a day. With a certain eye toward the future, the company recycled its plastic residue into small plastic objects such as whistles and compasses. In 1948, private companies with 50 or more employees were nationalized; at that time, Omega had only 49 employees, and an extra person was added temporarily so that the company would meet the conditions for nationalization. Together with factories of Koh-i-Noor, L. & C. Hardtmuth, Barclay, and eight other small companies, it became Centropen. Throughout the 1950s, the company grew, and by the early 1960s it was turning out more than 2,000,000 fountain pens a year. In the early 1990s, what had been a state enterprise became a corporation wholly owned by the Czech state, and as of this writing it is a publicly traded corporation producing millions of markers, ballpoints, rollerballs, and gel pens. Shown here is a Centropen 10012, made sometime before 1990. This pen’s filler is like a piston converter except that it is built into the pen instead of being removable. See also Barclay.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Century (Century Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Whitewater, Wisconsin; founded in 1892 in Neenah, Wisconsin, by James Nelson Humphrey, a Latin professor at the Wisconsin State Normal School in Whitewater, along with William F. Palmer and George S. Parker, the founders of the Parker Pen Company. The company moved to Whitewater in 1894, and in 1897 Humphrey resigned from the faculty at the normal school to devote his full attention to the business. Initially, Century advertised principally, if not solely, in journals and directories for educators. Early models were ordinary eyedropper fillers and, later, sleeve fillers (illustrated below, upper, a ribbon overlay example). In 1906, Century registered Durapoint as a trademark, and by the 1910s, the company was offering lever fillers that were probably assembled from parts made by C. E. Barrett or purchased complete from him (below, an MHR lever-filler). In about 1912, Century ceased manufacturing pens and became a distributor of them, gradually adding automatic pencils and stationery goods to its range. Century retained an over-under feed design as late as 1915, proudly advertising The Century Double-feed Fountain Pen. In about 1921, the company stopped paying dividends to stockholders as finances faltered. Humphrey died in 1929; his wife Clara, their son Heywood, and Heywood’s wife Viola kept the business going until it was forced to close down in 1938 due to the extent of its financial difficulties. See also Barrett, over-under feed, sleeve.
Fountain pen
Century of Progress (also COP) A World’s Fair-style exhibition held in Chicago during 1933 and 1934. Some Wahl Bantam pens bear cap-band imprints for the exhibition (shown below) and were sold at Wahl’s booth as souvenirs. See also Bantam.
cap band
Ceriani (Officina Meccanica D. Ceriani, later Fabbrica Penne Stilografiche Cav. D. Ceriani) A fountain pen manufacturer located in Sesto Calende, Italy; founded by Davide Ceriani, probably in the latter 1920s. Beginning production using the Electa and Electa Extra brands, Ceriani made extremely high-quality pens. Pens aimed at the middle of the market were branded Balilla and Regina; Toppolino models went to the lower end. The company’s products included retractable safeties (illustrated below, a Regina safety) and overlay models as well as flat-topped pens similar in configuration to the Parker Duofold and other flat-top models of the time.
Fountain pen
CF (also C/F)  1  Cartridge filler; a type of filling system or a pen that uses it. See cartridge/converter.  2  The Waterman C/F (introduced in 1953), the first widely successful cartridge-filling fountain pen. Shown below is a C/F in the Barleycorn pattern. Higher-priced models of the C/F are notorious for corrosion of the plated trim apron that is inlaid into the section surrounding the nib. Low-priced C/F pens (see illustration at cartridge) lacked this apron. Read a profile of the C/F here. See also LUS.
Fountain pen
chain filigree band See Doric Junior.
chalk mark (also chalkmark) Identification marking printed on a pen or pencil by the manufacturer, using a wax-based ink (not actual chalk). Chalk marks indicate nib sizes, model names or numbers, prices, and so on, and can be rubbed away easily with the fingers. Shown below is the mark on the barrel of a Waterman pencil of the 1950s. See also sticker.
Chalk mark on pencil barrel
Challenger  1  A series of three button-filling pen models produced by Parker during the latter half of the 1930s. The Challenger (illustrated below, upper) had a single plain cap band and a plain blind cap; the Deluxe Challenger (below, second photo, the Slender size) had three narrow cap bands; and the Royal Challenger had a jeweled blind cap (with a tassie) and more attractive celluloid patterns. The Royal Challenger appeared in two versions, at first with a “Sword“ clip (below, third photo) and later with a plainer design known as a “step” clip. Sword-clip Royal Challengers are uncommon; they are highly sought after and bring premium prices. Read a profile of the Challenger here. See also Sword clip.  2  A low-priced Eversharp pen produced during the mid-1960s using some parts in common with the Parker 45. Shown below (fourth photo) is an Eversharp Challenger. See also 45.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
chancery (also chancellery) A humanistic cursive style developed c. 1470; evolved from humanistic round, which was a reaction to Blackletter. Chancery styles came into use, initially for diplomatic acts of the Pontifical Chancellery, as a way to fit the style of writing more appropriately to the ideas of clarity and sobriety that it embodied. Shown here is a modern chancery style called Maestro. See also Blackletter, calligraphy.
Chancery script exemplar
channel A groove cut into a feed to allow the passage of air or ink. Illustrated here is a Waterman feed; the channels run the length of the top surface. There is a broad channel, into the floor of which are cut three narrower channels (properly called fissures); these latter hold ink by capillary action to prevent the interruption of flow when an air bubble passes through the broad channel (sometimes called the air channel) into the reservoir to replace used ink. See also capillary action, fissure.
chased Engraved with shallow grooves (“chasing”) in a checkerboard, herringbone, or other decorative pattern. In reference to pens, usually applied to hard rubber. (Shown here is a diagram of a scalloped pattern used by L. E. Waterman, among others.) Before the advent of plastics, most pens were made of Black Chased Hard Rubber (BCHR); much less common is Red Chased Hard Rubber (RCHR). See a reference page on chasing patterns here. See also engraved, guilloché, hard rubber.
Scalloped chasing
chatelaine A chain, formerly worn at the waist by women, on which the wearer hooked necessities such as a small purse, a bunch of keys, or a ringtop pen. See also ringtop.
Chatelaine Tip Conklin’s name for a ringtop pen. See ringtop.
Check (also see as Checked) See Unique.
check protector A device for preventing check fraud, featuring a roller set with sharp teeth or blades to cut a series of holes or short lines in a piece of paper. Behind the roller is a felt pad, loaded with red stamp-pad ink. When rolled over the payee’s name and written-out value on a check, the roller cuts the paper and impregnates the cuts with the red ink in a pattern like the one shown here:

Check protector marking

This renders the check no longer subject to alteration because any attempt to alter it will cause the ink (either the original ink or the red ink) to spread into the paper fibers and make the alteration attempt obvious. Check protectors are most commonly seen as desktop office accessories, but a patented check protector appeared on the Kritikson brothers’ Security pen. See also Security.
chevron  1  A repeated V shape used as a chasing pattern on early hard rubber pens and, more commonly, on Wahl metal pens.  2  A single V-shaped gold stripe on the palladium-plated nibs of some Parker striped Duofolds (1940s), whence the names “Chevron nib,” “Victory nib,” or “V nib.” The design also appeared on plain gold striped Duofolds nibs, with the chevron shape outlined as an imprint. See the photo below.
chew marks See tooth marks.
Chicago  1  (Chicago Fountain Pen Company) A pen company located in Chicago, Illinois; founded c. 1914, probably did not last very long. The company’s product appears to have been a cheap Austrian-made piston-filling pen that had no feed but rather 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. Chicago sold its pens through magazines such as Popular Mechanics for $1.00; but this same pen was sold under myriad other names at prices as low as 25¢. Shown here is an example branded “VICTORIA” Self-Filling Fountain Pen.  2  (Chicago Safety Pen Company) See Waterman, A. A.
Fountain pen
Chicago Conklin Phrase used (often dismissively) to identify a Conklin pen made after the company’s 1938 sale to a Chicago syndicate whose principal interest was to maximize profit at the expense of product quality. The move to Chicago marked the practical end of high-quality Conklin pens. In 1941, the syndicate sold the company to the Starr Pen Company, which managed to keep Conklin alive through World War II, producing pens of third-tier quality such as the Glider and the Minuteman. Conklin finally ceased operation in 1948. See also Conklin, Glider, Starr.
Chilton (Chilton Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts, then Long Island City, New York, and finally, Summit, New Jersey. Founded in 1923 by Seth Chilton Crocker (son of Seth Sears Crocker), the Chilton company was noted for its high quality and innovative designs. Chilton’s primary design feature, introduced in 1924, was a clever and effective pneumatic filling system (U.S. Patent No 1,134,936). As shown by the Jade pen below (upper), however, the design required an extra-long section that some people found unattractive. In 1927, Chilton introduced a more elegant design (U.S. Patent No 1,528,379, illustrated by the green marbled pen below, lower) that Sheaffer adapted in the late 1940s as the latter company’s Touchdown model. Chilton also developed a successful nib design, called the Wing-Flow, with “ears” that wrap around the feed to lock the two parts in alignment. There was some amount of overlap and collaboration between the Chilton and Crocker companies. See also Chiltonian, Crocker, George VI Rex, Golden Quill, Touchdown, Wing-flow. Read a description of Chilton’s filling system here.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Chiltonian A low-line model produced by Chilton c. 1940, near the end of the company’s history. The Chiltonian had a steel nib, and many examples have unplated brass clips. (The pen below has a gold-plated clip that appears to be steel.) See also Chilton.
Fountain pen
Chinese Lacquer See urushi.
Chinese Red (also Lacquer Red, Oriental red) Parker’s name for the bright orange-red color of the hard rubber used for the original Duofold beginning in 1921 (below, left). Collectors sometimes call this color “Tanager” from Parker’s comparison of its beauty with that of a scarlet tanager. In 1926, when Parker phased out hard rubber in favor of celluloid, the color became a little less bright (below, right). The color as it appears on celluloid was called Oriental red by some other manufacturers. See also Big Red, Cardinal, hard rubber.
Color chipColor chip
chirography Formerly, and in general usage, the art of handwriting; calligraphy; penmanship. In current usage among calligraphers, the term refers to ordinary handwriting as distinct from calligraphy. See also calligraphy.
Christmas tree (also spearhead feed) An early Parker feed design (U.S. Patent No 778,997), patented on January 3, 1905, by George S. Parker and used into the early 1930s. So named because it has barb-shaped notches to provide increased capillary surface for better flow buffering. As shown here, the notches give it a shape reminiscent of a Christmas tree. See also buffer, feed.
Christmas tree feed
chromium A hard steely-gray, lustrous metal (atomic number 24) that is malleable and resistant to corrosion; takes a high polish and is used in alloys and as a plating material. Chromium is one of the principal nonferrous metals in stainless steel. See also plated, stainless steel.
cigar shaped A term describing a pen that is generally cylindrical in shape but tapers smoothly toward the ends, which are usually rounded to streamline the overall form. The classic cigar shape is exemplified by Sheaffer’s pens of the 1946–1949 period, as illustrated here by a c. 1947 Sovereign II. See also Flat-Top, torpedo shaped.
Fountain pen
Circuit Board A term coined by David Isaacson, referring to the somewhat irregular black-lines-and-square-tessellation design of several colors used by Sheaffer on some WASP Clipper pens, as illustrated below. Sheaffer called these colors Pearl, e.g., Green Pearl.
Color chip
ciselé A French word (pronounced approximately SEEZ-lay but often heard among English speakers as SEE-zuh-lay or see-ZELL) meaning engraved, commonly used to denote the engraved crosshatched design of the original Parker 75 (see photo at crosshatched) and, by extension, any similar pattern whether engraved or not.
clasp Term for an abbreviated clip such as the very short one used on the Sheaffer Tuckaway (illustrated at Tuckaway) or the somewhat longer one used on several smaller Wahl models (shown below, on a vest-pocket Doric). See also clip.
Fountain pen
clerical pen A pen designed for use by members of the clergy; typically colored black and bearing a relatively inconspicuous religious symbol, e.g., a cross, on the cap. Shown below is a Waterman clerical pen from the 1950s. See also aspergillum.
Fountain pen
clicker See mechanical pencil.
clicking A sound made by a nib whose tines are misaligned such that the tips touch; when there are sharp corners or burrs on the inside edges of the tipping material, one tine can catch above or below the other, and the nib will click as the caught tine is released when the writer presses down slightly to begin a stroke. See also singing, talking.
clip A finger- or prong-shaped metal or plastic piece attached by one end to the cap, formed so that the other end presses against the cap as a clamp for securing the pen into a pocket or other similar location. Illustrated here is a Parker “51” “Split Arrow” clip bearing Parker’s Blue Diamond trademark. See also clasp.
CLIP-CAP L. E. Waterman’s name for caps with its patented riveted clip (U.S. Patent No 800,141, by William I. Ferris), introduced in 1905 and illustrated below. The company included the name as part of the clip’s imprint. Early production, as shown here, bore the legend GERMAN SILVER next to the Ideal globe. In 1927, Waterman narrowed the clip’s profile and replaced the CLIP-CAP imprint with WATERMAN’S. See also Waterman, L. E.
Clip-Cap clip
clipless A pen with no clip on its cap. Clipless pens were made primarily in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During the latter part of this period, some companies offered the same pen models with or without clips, often with a 25¢ price difference. See also ringtop, accommodation clip.
clip mark A burnished circumferential streak on a cap, made by the clip ball and caused by sideways movement of the clip; or, with a washer clip, rotation of a loose clip around the cap (illustrated here on a Parker “51”). See also washer clip.
Clip mark
Clipper  1  A pen model sold by Sheaffer under the WASP brand; the top of the WASP range. See illustration at WASP.  2  A metal-capped trim version in Sheaffer’s Snorkel model range, identical to the Snorkel Sentinel except that the Clipper had a palladium silver nib while the higher-priced Sentinel’s nib was 14K gold. See also Snorkel.
clog Dried ink, paper fibers, or other débris in the ink delivery path (feed, nib, or both). A pen can also be clogged, sometimes irreparably, by attempts to use fluids such as India ink, white-out, or any sort of paint as a substitute for fountain pen ink. A clogged pen might write poorly, skipping, starting hard, or writing dry; or, more frequently, it will refuse to write at all. See also dry writer, feed starvation, hard starting, skipping.
cloisonné (French word meaning partitioned or walled off, pronounced KLOY-zuh-nay in English) Enamelware in which colored areas are separated by thin metal strips that are formed and laid in place to create the design. The artisan fills the spaces with enamel and then fires the pen to vitrify the enamel. The pen illustrated below is a Chinese “51” copy made in Beijing. See also enamel, intarsia.
Fountain pen
clutch cap A slip cap fitted with a set of spring fingers (the clutch) inside the open end to hold the cap on the pen body by friction against a clutch ring mounted on the body. The first successful clutch cap (illustrated here in cross-section) was used on the Parker “51” (U.S. Patent No 2,278,907, by Marlin S. Baker). See also clutch ring, Lock-Slip.
Internal parts of a 51 cap
clutch ring A decorative metal ring or band between the section and barrel of a pen with a slip-fitting cap. The clutch ring of a Parker “51”, illustrated here, engages a set of metal spring fingers inside the cap (the clutch) to hold the cap in place. See also clutch cap.
Clutch ring
CN An imprint indicating a steel nib; used on German nibs, principally during World War II, when gold was on Germany’s list of critical war resources. The mark consisted of the letters C and N side by side in a circle or ellipse. The letters stood for chromium and nickel, the two principal nonferrous metals in stainless steel. See also stainless steel.
coarse Obsolescent term for a broad nib. See also nib.
Cocoa One of the more collectible high-cachet colors used for the Aero-metric version of the Parker “51”; shown below. Cocoa is similar to, but lighter than, Buckskin Beige, a color used on the Vacumatic version of the “51”. See also Buckskin Beige.
Color chip
coin A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally when depressed by insertion of a coin or similar object into the hole. Some makers of coin fillers included their own “coin” discs with their pens. View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
coin silver A designation indicating an alloy in which 90.0% (U.S.A.) or 91.7% (U.K.) of the total metal content, by weight, is silver; the other fraction is usually copper or zinc. The same as 900 (U.S.A.) or 917 (U.K.). On pens, generally used for caps. Pieces made of coin silver are sometimes not marked to indicate the silver content even if they do bear hallmarks. See also silver, sterling.
Coit (Coit Ready Fill Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois; founded by Henry R. Coit in 1912 to manufacture a sleeve-filling pen (shown below) for which Coit received his patent (U.S. Patent No 1,124,592) in 1915. Coit’s design was an elegant alternative to the contemporaneous model produced by David Beaumel because it did not require the insertion of a pin to stake the sleeve onto the barrel. Instead, Coit threaded the exterior of the barrel at the back end of the opening that exposed the pressure bar, and threaded the inside of the sleeve to match the barrel. The sleeve could be installed and removed without the use of tools. By making his sleeve with a faceted exterior, Coit also neatly solved the problem of keeping the pen from rolling off the user’s desk. The company appears to have gone out of business in 1920 or 1921.
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Fountain pen
Fountain pen
collapsing pen See telescoping pen.
collector  1  The hugely enlarged comb feed of the Parker “51” and its descendants (U.S. Patent No 2,619,070, by Marlin S. Baker), made to surround the nib rather than lie within it, and concealed within the shell. A very small hard rubber “feed” is placed within the nib to support the breather tube and provide a capillary surface to deliver ink to the nib’s tip. The collector, feed, and nib of a “51” are illustrated here. See also buffer, feed.  2  Term used among pen fanciers to denote a person whose pens are assembled with a focus; e.g., all Waterman overlays or all pens of the World War II years. See also accumulator.
Internal parts of a 51
Collegian (Collegian Pen Company) A 1920s sub-brand of the New Diamond Point Pen Company, which was located at 333-339 Hudson Street in New York City. Selling at prices from less than $1.00 to $2.50, Collegian pens were claimed to feature solid 14K gold nibs and came in Jade, black, and Oriental red. Leading to a certain degree of dubiety about the quality of the nibs, however, is newspaper advertising that was placed in 1926 for Collegian pens by MacLean’s Drug Stores in Chicago, Illinois; it was at best deceptive, reading, “Solid 14-k. Gold Pen, bands and safety clip.” See also Beekman, Diamond Point, WARRANTED.
Colonial  1  A chasing pattern used by Wahl on metal pens, with an uninterrupted pattern of longitudinal lines running the length of the pen. See also Milleraies, Ring Colonial.  2  (Colonial Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts; founded by Edson A. Dewey in 1899. Colonial is known principally for manufacturing a blow-filling pen called Dewey’s Perfect Self-Filling Fountain Pen, which was fitted with a 16K gold nib and which until 1900 had been produced by A. A. Waterman & Co., of which Dewey had been a partner. In 1904, Charles Brandt used assets acquired from Colonial to found the Boston Fountain Pen Company. See also Boston (definition 1).  3  (Colonial Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Baltimore, Maryland; founded c. 1899 by Warren N. Lancaster to manufacture the Warren N. Lancaster Pen, which Lancaster retailed from a shop where he conducted both sales and repairs. Lancaster apparently lost control of Colonial in 1916. See also Lancaster.
Colonnade A chasing pattern used by Wahl on metal pens, similar in appearance to Waterman’s Moderne, which has longitudinal slots cut in an overlay to reveal the black hard rubber beneath. The Colonnade’s design is actually not pierced through an overlay but rather machined into the metal surface, with the faux slots painted black. Shown here is a close-up of the Colonnade pattern. See also Moderne (definition 3).
Colorado (Spanish for colored, often red) A dual fountain pen invented and produced by Orlando Quadretti, a stationer in Bologna, Italy. Quadretti built his first prototype, made entirely of metal, in 1939. Unlike the Zerollo Duo Color and OMAS Itala dual pens, popular at that time, Quadretti’s design comprised two complete pneumatic-filling fountain pens of semicircular cross-section, joined at the middle as shown in the photo below. The unit appeared as a normal pen when capped. When it was uncapped, the two halves could pivot against each other; turning one through 180° and posting the cap, to cover the end that was not to be used, made for a sturdy and mechanically simple product. One side was marked with a red dot to indicate the expected color of the ink on that side. Italy entered World War II before the pen could be put into production, and during the war Quadretti's store was destroyed. After the war, Quadretti bought a new store, patented the Colorado (Swiss Patent No 250922, issued September 30, 1947), and started production in a small factory in the nearby town of San Giovanni in Persiceto. Examples are known in black and a horizontally laminated celluloid like that used for the Parker Vacumatic. Quadretti never marketed the pen in Italy; his memoir states that it was targeted at the Venezuelan market, and only a single order of 10,000 pieces was ever produced. Records indicate, however, that some few additional Colorados were made and were purchased in Quadretti's store. Promotional leaflets printed in Swedish suggest that there was intent to export the Colorado to Sweden. See also Zerollo.
Fountain pen
Photo by Paolo. Edited and
used under CC BY-SA 4.0.
Columbian (Columbian Fountain Pen Company) A brand applied to a line of eyedropper-filling pens pens sold from the early 1890s to shortly after the turn of the 20th century by Ezra A. Cook, who was at the time a well-known Chicago, Illinois, stationer and publisher. Cook’s pens, purchased from a jobber, were of moderate quality, and they also appeared in various mail-order catalogs, e.g., the Sears, Roebuck & Company catalog (illustrated by the cut below, from the 1897 Sears catalog).
Fountain pen catalog
Columbus (Alfredo Verga dei Fratelli Verga Snc) A pen manufacturing company located in Milan, Italy; founded in 1918 by brothers Eugenio and Alfredo Verga to offer locally-produced pens priced below imports. Alfredo had worked for Conway Stewart, and Eugenio had been a salesman for Uhlmann’s Eterno. Almost immediately, the company introduced its first pen, a retractable safety assembled and finished in house from a mixture of parts made in house and in Germany. Most early production was elaborately decorated overlay safeties of supremely high quality. In the early mid-1920s, Columbus departed from its initial use of German patterns to adopt American styling. By 1927, when the Columbus Eugenio Verga appeared, the new overlay style was so well established that Fratelli Verga also sold Waterman ands Montblanc pens with Verga-made overlays. Also in 1927, the Verga brothers broke up the company, Alfredo going on to found Omega A.V.M. while Eugenio, who owned the Columbus trademark, founded a new company under the Columbus name, where he concentrated on technological improvements and began working with celluloid. in 1929, Eugenio patented a new spoon-filler system (British Patent No 334,913) that first appeared on a model in the new high-end Columbus Extra range, which proliferated through the 1930s. 1938 saw a patent issued for a piston-filler. Beginning in the late 1930s, Columbus simplified its line to only a button-filler because of wartime shortages. The Columbus factory was nearly destroyed by bombing in 1942, and the company moved its limited production ability to Lesa. in 1946, the company returned to full capacity in a newly built Milan factory. Columbus added lever-fillers to its line in the late 1940s, and in the early 1950s the company introduced the Model 70, with a semi-hooded flexible nib inspired by — but significantly different from — the Parker “51”. At around the same time, Columbus abandoned celluloid in favor of moldable plastics and extended its range downward into the student market. Eugenio died in 1957, leaving control of Columbus to his son Enrico. As did so many other pen companies, Columbus suffered at the hands of the ballpoint pen, and in 1992 the remnants of the company were sold to Santara Srl, which as of this writing produces pens under the Columbus name and distributes Sheaffer and Ballograf pens in Italy.
comb feed A feed with slots cut into it, as shown here by an early version and a modern commercial feed, to provide the maximum possible capillary surface for flow buffering; patented in 1904 by August Eberstein (U.S. Patent No 750,271), widely deployed in the 1920s and ’30s and used, with enhancements, by most modern manufacturers. See also buffer, feed.
Early comb feedModern feed
combo Colloquial shortening of “combination”; a term for a writing instrument that combines (usually) a pen and a pencil; these instruments were produced primarily during the 1930s. The combo illustrated below is a no-name solid sterling silver specimen. Read a discussion of combos here. See also Penselpen.
Fountain pen combo
Fountain pen combo
Commandant The model name that Sheaffer assigned in 1941 to a short slender non-Lifetime Balance fitted with a military clip and priced at $4.00. See also Defender, Valiant, Vigilant.
Commando A model name that Waterman introduced shortly after the United States entered World War II, a renaming for patriotic reasons of an existing $5.00 model, the 515. The 515 and earliest Commando production were of Lucite; later Commando production used celluloid in deference to the need for Lucite in war production. The 515 had been designed with a military clip, and the Commando maintained that profile, facilitating Waterman’s ability to advertise it as being suitable for those in the military. Shown here is a black wartime celluloid Commando. The Commando name was retired shortly after the end of the war, probably at the time of the Crusader’s 1947 introduction, but was revived later in France. Read a profile of the Commando here. See also Crusader, Stalwart.
Fountain pen
Command Performance Eversharp’s name for the model at the top of the Skyline range, shown below. The pen’s barrel and cap were made of smooth solid 14K gold. See also Skyline, Wahl.
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Competitor See Detroit.
cone cap A slip cap that mates with a tapered area on the pen body, as shown on the Beaumel pen below. Many early hard rubber pens were made with cone caps. Capping or posting a pen with a cone cap too firmly can exert enough stress on the cap to split it. See also slip cap, straight cap, taper cap.
Cone cap and pen
conical nib See “TRIUMPH” point.
Conid A pen manufacturing company, located in Antwerp, Belgium; founded in 2008 by Francis Goossens in partnership with Werner Helsen of Komec Helsen, a leading engineering and precision manufacturing company. Conid fountain pens are all based on Goossens’ volumetric syringe filler design (U.S. Patent No 9,308,770, issued April 12, 2016). The “Bulkfiller” features an advanced design in which the plunger shaft collapses into the barrel after the pen has been filled, thereby permitting a greatly increased ink capacity. The pen’s construction makes use of exotic materials to ensure ease of use, reliability, and reparability. Design, fit, and finish are arguably the best in the world, and Conid has rapidly established itself as a purveyor of superior writing instruments. Shown here is a first-generation Bulkfiller demonstrator:
Conid Bulkfiuller, 1st Generation
Conklin  1  (Self Fountain Pen Company, renamed in 1901 to Conklin Pen Manufacturing Company, renamed again in 1907 to Conklin Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Toledo, Ohio. Founded in 1898 as the Self Fountain Pen Company by Roy Conklin, an inventor, to produce pens using his revolutionary Crescent-Filler system, invented in 1897, patented in 1901, and improved in 1903 (U.S. Patents Nos 685,258 and 745,481, respectively, shown below, upper, on a No S60 pen). The company was renamed when it incorporated in 1901. Until the mid-1920s, the Conklin company resisted a change away from the Crescent-Filler because of the design’s remarkable success; despite the superb quality of Conklin’s pens, this unwillingness to advance was a contributing factor in the company’s slow decline and in its replacement as a member of the “Big Four” by Wahl in about 1927. In 1931 Conklin introduced the Nozac, the first widely successful twist-knob piston filler produced by a U.S. manufacturer. Conklin sub-brands included the All-American Pen and Ottawa. In 1938, the company’s declining fortunes led to its sale to a Chicago syndicate, which in 1941 sold it to the Starr Pen Company. Production under the Conklin name ceased in 1948.  2  (Conklin Pen Company) In 1999, Robert E. Rosenberg purchased the rights to the Conklin name and designs and established a new company to produce pens of mediocre quality in styles and with names reminiscent of the originals (below, lower, a Signature made in 2007). He sold that company in 2009 to Yafa, Inc., a change in ownership that saw a significant improvement in overall quality. As of this writing, Yafa produces Conklin pens and sells them in more than 40 countries. See also All-American Pen, Chicago Conklin, first tier, Nozac, Ottawa, Starr, sub-brand, Yafa.
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Fountain pen
Conklinette A low-priced pen model produced by Conklin; bears the October 29, 1901, date of Conklin’s Crescent-Filler patent and uses an interesting variant of Conklin’s design (illustrated at Jaxon). A small button, or stud, replaces the crescent; the metal lock ring has a keyhole-shaped opening through which the button protrudes. The button is grooved so that when the ring is rotated one way, the narrow part of the keyhole engages the groove to keep the button from being depressed. When the ring is rotated the other way, the wider part of the keyhole encircles the button without engaging it, and the button can be depressed. See also Conklin, Jaxon.
Connaisseur A series of cartridge/converter pens introduced in 1985 by Sheaffer, produced in several versions including opaque solid colors, engine-turned (“chased”) black, and metal. Shown below is the chased version, Model 815, in black. Discontinued in 1995, the Connaisseur later reappeared as the Levenger Seas. Read a profile of the Connaisseur here. See also Seas.
Fountain pen
connector (also coupler, ferrule) A threaded sleeve, usually made of metal and usually attached to the section of a fountain pen, onto which the barrel screws. May or may not include a visible trim ring.
contact patch See sweet spot.
Continental Obsolete usage. See Italian overlay.
Continuous Feed A distinguishing feature of a repeater-style mechanical pencil; feeds a new piece of lead automatically when the current lead nears the end of its useful life. Propel-repel pencils, which operate by means of a helical cam driving a socket into which the back end of the lead fits, cannot do this. See also mechanical pencil.
converter (also convertor) A replaceable ink reservoir that can be refilled, designed for use in pens that accept cartridges. Converters exist in squeeze, piston, Touchdown, syringe, and button types, mimicking the respective filling systems but providing the convenience of cartridge use if desired. A Parker 45 is shown here with a cartridge (upper) and a piston-type converter (lower). See also captive converter, cartridge, International.
Pen with cartridge and converter
convertible  1  A fountain pen set that includes a pocket cap and a blind cap as well as a desk base and a taper so that the pen can be used either as a pocket pen or in a desk set. Sheaffer and Wahl made lever-filling convertible pens in the 1930s; any pen whose filling system makes use of a blind cap can be fitted with a taper in this manner as illustrated below by a 1934 Parker Challenger set. See also desk set.  2  A pen that can be converted to use more than one filling system; in this sense, the term is generally applied to pens such as Parker’s 1970s Big Red or Bexley’s 2012 “Ohio Cities” series. The Big Red accepted either a soft-tip refill or, with a pair of adapters, a standard Parker ballpoint refill; the four Bexley models, illustrated by a Batavia, were sold with both a rollerball section and a cartridge/converter fountain pen section.
Convertible desk set
Photo © Brent Couch. Used with permission.
Conway Stewart (Conway Stewart & Co., Limited) (also CS or C/S or C-S) A pen manufacturing company located in London, England, founded in 1905 by Frank Jarvis and Thomas Garner. The name “Conway Stewart” is believed to derive from the names of the comedians in a duo act that supposedly played at the Collins Music Hall in Islington. Conway Stewart produced a broad variety of pens, including both ordinary fountain pens and a stylographic pen known as the “Ink Pencil.” The company is perhaps best known for its classic 58 model, considered by many to be a nearly perfect pen in terms of size and handling. Shown below is a 58 in the color now commonly referred to as Cracked ice, although Conway Stewart did not so designate it. The company ceased operation in 1975; rights to the name were purchased by a new venture, and the Conway Stewart name returned to the pen world in the late 1990s. The modern venture closed its doors in 2014.
Fountain pen
COP See Century of Progress.
copperplate A formally round script style (English Round Hand) favored by 18th-century writing masters, from whose exemplaria it was engraved with a burin into copper plates to print the masters’ copybooks; latterly named for the engraved copper plates themselves. A copperplate alphabet is relatively simple in style, but artistic flourishes sometimes overwhelm the basic simplicity. The copper plates were engraved slowly and laboriously (drawn, not written). Modern practitioners of the art create the style with a pen, as the early writing masters intended that their students should learn to do, and in this case the product is truly written. Shown here is a short exemplar typeset in a copperplate font called Edwardian Script. See also calligraphy, round hand, Spencerian, Zanerian.
Copperplate script exemplar
Coral  1  Collectors’ name for an engraving pattern used by Wahl in the 1920s. See Niagara.  2  A color used by Wahl, Carter’s, et al. from c. 1928 to c. 1931: a slightly marbled orange-red, as shown below. The color comes from cadmium, a toxic metal, and repairers should take care not to breathe the dust when sanding or scraping a Coral pen.
Color chip
Fountain pen
cordelier See sautoir.
Cordell (Cordell Universal Pen Company) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in New York City; established probably c. 1950 and appears to have remained in operation at least until 1960. The company was a subsidiary of Cordell Products, Inc., a manufacturer of a wide variety of items for the novelty, circus, carnival, and pitchman trade, and its products were glittery but cheap, wholesaled in lots of a dozen or a gross. Shown here is an all-brass squeeze-filling purse pen with a loose, springless slip cap; a gold-flashed finish; an injection-molded section; and a steel butterfly nib. This pen would probably have wholesaled for $3.00 a dozen, with each pen packed in an attractive box with a $5.00 price tag. See also butterfly nib.
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Fountain pen
cork The outer bark of the cork oak tree, used as a piston seal in piston fillers and as shaft packing in safety pens and plunger fillers. See also packing.
corkscrewed Term describing a nib that has been twisted bodily so that its overall shape reminds the viewer of a corkscrew. Shown here is a Waterman’s Ideal No 5 nib (modified to a broad stub) that has been badly corkscrewed.
Fountain pen nib
Corona  1  (Corona Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturer located in Janesville, Wisconsin; incorporated in 1922 by Samuel V. Corona (president and general manager), Herman G. Stubbendeck, and Eldon H. Damrow, with James Pitt as vice president. The company was founded to produce pens using Samuel Corona’s design for a pen that filled by cam action through the twisting of a knob at the back end of the barrel (U.S. Patent No 1,540,763). Samuel Corona had earlier received a design patent for a colored transparent cap crown with flecks of gold leaf embedded in the material (U.S. Patent No D65,636); the pen illustrated below (upper two images) has a ruby red cap crown of this design. Corona relocated to Antioch, Illinois, in the fall of 1927. On February 20, 1928, a massive explosion occurred in the curing room, where the company was manufacturing its own celluloid; the explosion and the resulting fire virtually destroyed the building, but the employees had fled moments before the explosion, and no one was injured. The company rebuilt and resumed operations but apparently folded in 1929 or 1930. Corona pens are today exceedingly uncommon.  2  (Corona Co. Ltd) A pen manufacturer located initially in Manchester, England; founded in 1912 by Henry J. Dixon, who had operated a Mabie Todd shop in Manchester. Corona pens were well made eyedropper-fillers fitted with good-quality nibs. Like several other brands of the time, e.g., Waterman’s, they tended to post relatively long for their girth, with one model that was 5" long capped and 7" posted. At some point, Dixon moved the company to Southport. Corona was listed in the 1921 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Stationers, Printers, Booksellers, Publishers, Paper Makers, &c., which was compiled in 1920; but by the end of that year it had ceased operation. In 1922, Dixon was working as a salesman for Thomas De La Rue, covering much of the north of England.  3  (Corona di Mario Diaz) A pen manufacturer located in Milan, Italy; founded by Mario Diaz in the mid-1930s, remained active at least into the 1950s. Its original business was mechanical adding machines, but it did register the name CIP as a trademark for fountain pens (Reg. Gen. No 116011), and it produced celluloid pens of good quality, featuring a Corona-imprinted gold nib.  4  A piston-filling pen model (below, lower) produced by the Bexley Pen Company from 2011 to 2014. See also Bexley.
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Coronet  1  Wahl’s name for a gold-filled metal pen it introduced in 1936. The Coronet, a lever filler, featured a strikingly attractive Art Deco design that included “bands” of triangular cutouts revealing insets of celluloid in either black or a marbled burgundy. Illustrated here (upper) is a Coronet with burgundy insets. Read a profile of the Coronet here. See also Half Coronet.  2  Parker’s name for its satin-finished metal-bodied version of the 45 (illustrated below, lower), introduced in 1967.
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Fountain pen
corrosion The destruction of metal by an oxidation reaction. On copper-based alloys such as brass, corrosion usually shows as verdigris, and it can result from contact with moist air laden with sulfur compounds that can combine with the moisture to form sulfuric acid. On stainless steel, corrosion is caused by sustained contact with an acidic ink and appears as a pitted area. (See photograph at pitting.) On ordinary steel parts (e.g., pressure bars), corrosion appears as rust. Corrosion should not be confused with brassing, which is caused by abrasion. See also brassing, pitting, stainless steel.
counter Printers’ term for the open spaces in letters. Of concern to fountain pen users because using a nib that is too broad for one’s writing style will cause the counters to close (fill in), marring the appearance and hampering the legibility of the writing as illustrated in the upper line shown here.
coupler See connector.
CPT Chrome Plated Trim. See also chromium, plated.
crack Damage caused by excessive stress. Cracks usually appear in barrels where a friction-fit section is inserted, in cap lips of pens that have been posted too forcibly, or in nibs. Cracks can also appear in acrylic parts that were fabricated by compression molding, a pressure-based process that introduces stress into the material; the best known example of this phenomenon is the Aspen colored version of Sheaffer’s 1990s Balance II, shown below. ¶ Cracks in some materials can be repaired or even restored to invisibility, but such repairs are usually weaker than the native material. There is no known way to repair cracked hard rubber such that the repaired part will have meaningful long-term mechanical strength.
Cracked Ice A pattern of irregular areas separated by a network of lines of a contrasting color, used for pen barrels and caps. Cracked Ice was originally identified with (but not named by) Conway Stewart, which used black areas and white or silver lines, as shown here. More recently, several makers have used patterns of white or near-white chips with dark-colored lines that may bleed somewhat into the chips, discoloring their edges attractively. In some cases, these patterns include chips of varying colors, as shown in the rightmost image here.
Color chipColor chipColor chip
Craftsman A model name that Sheaffer assigned in about 1938 to a full-length slender-girth Balance priced at $3.50 (illustrated below, upper). Initially fitted with a No 3 nib but distinguished through most of its product life by a 14K No 33 nib, the Craftsman remained in production through several styling changes until c. 1952, at which point it became a $5.00 model fitted with an interchangeable steel TIPdip nib instead of the No 33 nib (below, lower). A slightly upscale version of the Craftsman, introduced later, had a No 53 gold nib and was called the Craftsman 53. The Craftsman name was finally retired c. 1963. Caution: Do not be misled by the common but erroneous 1:1 association of the Craftsman name with the wire-band pens that Sheaffer introduced at the end of World War II; there was a wire-band Craftsman, but there were other wire-band models as well. Read a profile of the Craftsman here. The Craftsman name was finally retired c. 1963. See also Cadet, Sheaffer names, TIPdip, wire band.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Craig  1  A Sheaffer sub-brand (late 1910s–1920s), named for Walter A. Sheaffer’s son Craig R. Sheaffer, who was president of the Sheaffer Pen Company from 1936 until 1953. Craig pens were a low-line product, designed to be sold without warranty. Craig pens were generally ordinary flat-tops of the time; among their interesting features is a clip with a tab that is inserted laterally into a slot in the cap just below the crown and is secured by a pin driven into a hole drilled in the top surface of the cap to align with a hole in the clip (U.S. Patent No 1,316,069, by Levi D. Van Valkenburg).  2  (Craig Fountain Pen Corporation) A pen manufacturing company that existed, apparently for a very brief period, in Massachusetts. The company was dissolved on April 1, 1929, by an act of the state legislature as one of several hundred “delinquent” corporations.
cranked Literally, “twisted.” Describes a nib (usually an italic) that has been made with its tines bent sharply to one side to accommodate a very steep tip obliquity, as shown below with a neutral italic for comparison. Cranked nibs are rare; the best known examples are untipped steel calligraphy nibs produced “for left-handers” by Osmiroid, a defunct British company. See also nib, untipped.
Cranked and straight italic nib profiles
crazing A network of cracks or fissures, sometimes so small as to be invisible to the naked eye, running over the surface of, or through, hard rubber or plastic. Crazing is caused by chemical activity; in rubber it results from oxidation and drying out, while in plastics such as celluloid it results from the gradual decomposition of the material due to the outgassing of plasticizers. See also crystallization.
crescent A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, attached to a metal crescent protruding through a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally. A lock ring rotates around the barrel. Rotated one way, the ring “locks” the crescent so that it cannot depressed; rotated the other way, the ring “unlocks” the crescent. View filling instructions here. See also Conklin, hump filler, Jaxon.
Filler schematic
Crest A metal-capped pen with the cap threads at the forward end of the section to allow for a more streamlined profile, introduced in 1937 by Sheaffer. Initially identified only as the Model 47, later named Crest. From its introduction until 1942, the Crest had an open nib (illustrated below, upper, lever filler); in that year, along with Sheaffer’s other Lifetime models, it received the new “TRIUMPH” point (below, lower, Vacuum-Fil). See also Imperial (definition 2), “TRIUMPH” point.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
C-ring See snap ring.
crisp (also formal) A variation of italic or oblique italic nibs, illustrated below, in which edges are sharply defined; a calligrapher’s nib. A crisp italic nib is relatively lacking in smoothness but produces greater line variation and more precise corners than a cursive italic, which is ground to be relatively smooth in use. See also cursive (definition 2), DailyItalic, italic, oblique, sharpened.
Nib shape
CRITERION A third-tier fountain pen brand of the 1910s and 1920s, available in celluloid and metal versions. The metal pens were cheaply gold plated, but Criterion products were otherwise well made. Except for the CRITERION imprint running down the clip (see image below) and a 14k Gold Filled imprint on the cap lip of metal pens, the pens are unmarked — but research by Jonathan Veley has determined that they were made by the Rex Manufacturing Company of Providence, Rhode Island. See also Rex.
Fountain pen
Crocker  1  (Crocker Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1902 by Seth Sears Crocker (father of Seth Chilton Crocker) and incorporated in 1908 by Crocker, Arthur G. Peters, and Frederick W. Dallinger, the Crocker company produced generally ordinary pens of high quality; its unique products included a blow filler (U.S. Patent No 678,547) and a locking end-lever filler (U.S. Patent No 1,214,310). Illustrated below is a locking end-lever filler. This design is often mistakenly referred to as a hatchet filler. There was some amount of overlap and collaboration between the Crocker and Chilton companies. The Crocker Pen Company succumbed to bankruptcy in 1922. See also blow, Chilton, hatchet.  2  (S. C. Crocker Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. Founded c. 1903 by Seth Chilton Crocker (son of Seth Sears Crocker), who at that time left his father’s company. Crocker himself was out of the company by 1910, probably through bankruptcy, but the company continued to make pens for some time. See also Chilton.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Cromer See Artcraft.
Cross (A. T. Cross Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Providence, Rhode Island; founded in 1846 by Alonzo T. Cross, the company remains in business today. The company‘s first products were gold and silver casings for wooden pencils. In 1875, Cross began selling a stylographic pen (U.S. Patent No 189,304) that was more reliable than its competition from such makers as Duncan MacKinnon. In 1882, Cross received a patent for the first successful propel-repel-expel mechanical pencil (U.S. Patent No 263,392). In about 1895 the company added eyedropper-filling fountain pens to its product line but ceased making pens sometime before 1910. In 1938, the company reentered the fountain pen market with lever-filling pens in Art Deco styles to match its pencils. Shown below is a Cross 150th Anniversary pen, recreating one of these Art Deco designs.
Fountain pen
crosshatched (also cross-hatched, “Lattice”) Shaded or decorated with lines (usually engraved and often filled with paint or chemically treated to be a contrasting color) that cross one another at an angle. Crosshatching can be done at any angle; two common versions, both executed in sterling silver and illustrated below, are the rectilinear design on the original Parker 75 and the diagonal (“Lattice”) design on a Sheaffer Silver Imperial. See also ciselé, engraved.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
crown  1  The end of a pen’s cap or barrel. On an overlay pen, sometimes covered with a domed metal end cap that may be formed over the edge to meet the overlay, as on the cap of a Waterman’s 412 (below, left), or crimped in by a bead at the edge of the overlay, as on the barrel of a Waterman’s 0552V LEC (below, right). See also finial, jewel, overlay, tassie.  2  (When capitalized, Crown Pen Company) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois; founded in 1887 by Hugh T. Reed. Crown produced gold pens (dip pen nibs), pen holders, metal mechanical pencils in gold and silver finishes, and fountain pens. The Crown Fountain Pen was noted for its large size and great ink capacity. In 1893, the company set up a fully operating pen factory, with 20 employees at work, in the Machinery Hall of the Columbian Exposition; Crown also received the concession to sell pens at the Exposition. Beginning in the mid-1890s, Crown produced the first successful combination fountain pen and clinical thermometer (commonly known as a doctor’s pen) under U.S. Patent No 590,262, by Augustus P. Hafner. The company remained in business at least into 1916. See also doctor’s pen.
Fountain pen cap endFountain pen barrel end
crow quill A small dip nib with an extremely fine point, commonly used for applying hairline ornamentation to calligraphic script that has been executed with an italic nib. The example below illustrates an extreme level of crow-quill ornamentation. See also Blackletter, dip pen.
Ornamented Blackletter exemplar
Croxley A brand of good-quality fountain pens and mechanical pencils sold during the period beginning in about 1946 and ending in 1949 by John Dickinson and Company, an English maker of stationery, envelopes, and other related paper goods. The company was founded in 1804 by inventor, engineer, architect, builder, manager, and financier John Dickinson, and as of this writing it is a subsidiary of D. S. Smith plc, a wholesaler of packaging and office products. Shown below is a typical Croxley.
Fountain pen
Crusader A $5.00 model introduced by Waterman in 1947, probably to supplant the Commando. The Crusader featured a metal cap, seen as an up-model feature, and was made in both open-nibbed and Taperite versions. It survived into the early 1950s. Shown here are Taperite Crusaders, the first-year version (upper) and a later version that was introduced about a year later (lower). See also Commando, Taperite.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
crystallization (known more technically as celluloid disease) In pens and other objects made of celluloid, the gradual decomposition of the material due to the outgassing of camphor, the plasticizing component. The material becomes progressively more friable and may eventually crumble of its own accord. The process releases nitrogen compounds, among them nitric acid, and these compounds exert an accelerating effect on the material’s decomposition. The tendency to crystallize is directly related to the thickness of the object and is inversely related to the amount of added colorant and to the length of time allowed for curing during manufacture. Crystallization is sometimes preceded by fluorescence. ¶ Any pen exhibiting celluloid decomposition, especially crystallization, should be isolated from other celluloid pens to prevent cross contamination. See also crazing, fluorescence.
CS See Conway Stewart.
CT An obsolescent abbreviation for carat, seen most commonly on vintage British nibs.
cubic centimeter An obsolescent unit of measure, used most frequently in the medical profession. See milliliter.
cursive  1  A style of handwriting in which letters are connected together by strokes from one to the next; more rapidly written than styles that require the conscious lifting of the pen from the paper after each letterform is completed; the style formerly taught to school children after they had learned to print block letters.  2  A variation of italic or oblique italic nibs, illustrated below, in which edges are reshaped more smoothly than normal to enable more rapid writing. See also crisp, DailyItalic, italic, oblique, sharpened.
Nib shape
Cushon Point Trademarked name for nibs produced by Conklin beginning shortly before the company’s move to Chicago under new ownership. Unlike an ordinary English word like cushion, the made-up word “Cushon” could be trademarked. Conklin imprinted these nibs (illustrated below) with the Cushon POINT name and a crescent-shaped design that replaced the crescent-shaped breather hole used on many earlier Conklin nibs. The crescent design features a series of lines across it, and its overall appearance has been likened to the grin of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat.
Fountain pen nib
cutwork See filigree (definition 2).
cyanoacrylate A class of strong, fast-acting adhesives; known generically as super glues. Cyanoacrylate adhesives do not dry; they set chemically by polymerizing in the presence of water, usually as vapor in the air. Most ordinary formulations have poor resistance to moisture and will degrade over time in applications involving high humidity (such as the interior of a pen or a pen’s cap).
cylindrical nib See “TRIUMPH” point.

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