Navigation Menu
Site logo
Site logo
Site logo
Navigation Light bar
Buy Richard’s BooksBooks
Richard’s CollectionRichard's Pen Collection
Richard’s Pen BlogRichard's Blog
Reference PagesReference Info
Extra Fine PointsExtra Fine Points
The WritingsWritings
Pen  LinksOther Pen Sites
More Search Options

Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised November 20, 2023)

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  ]


Ideal  1  The distinguishing identifier in the WATERMAN’S IDEAL FOUNTAIN PEN imprint on the L. E Waterman Company’s pens; also used on the company’s nibs and as an element in its “Globe“ logo (shown below) on clips, levers, and barrel-end medallions. See photo at CLIP-CAP.  2  A name widely used by Italian makers of safety pens such the “Ideal” overlay safety shown below (upper). See also Italian overlay, safety.  3  The Ideal Metal Products Company, located in New York City; founded in 1925 by Harry Esterow, a Latvian immigrant. Ideal was a major manufacturer of commodity clips and trim rings until after the turn of the 21st century. The clip on the R.H. Macy pen shown below (lower) is an Ideal product (U.S. Patent No D83,673).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Imperial  1  A series of pen models produced by Sheaffer c. 1961 to c. 1968 and resurrected 1995–1998 as the Triumph Imperial. The basic Imperial styling mirrors that of the PFM, featuring Sheaffer’s excellent Inlaid Nib (on most models) and offering, depending on the model, a choice of cartridge or Touchdown filling. Illustrated below (upper) is a Lifetime Imperial, c. 1964. See also Inlaid Nib, PFM.  2  The Parker Vacumatic Imperial (illustrated below, lower), a slender metal-capped pen with the cap threads at the forward end of the section to allow for a more streamlined profile. The model was introduced in 1939 to compete with Sheaffer’s long-lived Crest but remained in production for only about two years. See also Crest, Vacumatic.  3  (Imperial Pen and Pencil Company) A third-tier manufacturer of writing instruments, located in Nassau, New York. Established as a partnership June 1, 1945, by Frank Feldman, his wife Betty, and his sister Ida; had formerly operated as the Imperial Pen Company. When Imperial’s factory was destroyed by fire on December 2, 1948, the approximately 100 unionized workers agreed to work without pay until the company could re-establish itself. In the early 1950s, Imperial advertised itself as one of the largest pen and pencil makers in the United States. The company remained in operation until closed by bankruptcy in 1956. See also Imperial Reserve.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Imperial Reserve A fountain pen manufactured from 1952 until c. 1955 by the Imperial Pen and Pencil Company of Nassau, New York. The model name, Reserve, referred to a spare interchangeable nib unit stored under a transparent blind cap at the back of the barrel. The Reserve’s nibs were also interchangeable with Esterbrook Renew-Point nibs. See also Imperial (definition 3).
imprint  1  The manufacturer’s mark on a pen, usually on the barrel (as illustrated here) but sometimes on the cap. Some early pens, including Conklin’s and Waterman’s, have two imprints.  2  The manufacturer’s mark on a nib. See illustration at nib.
Independent See Ullrich.
India ink Also artists’ ink, drawing ink) A water-based fluid containing finely ground pigment in suspension, with gelatine or shellac, or both, as a binder to ensure permanence. This type of ink is death to fountain pens; it will clog them. Use it only with dip pens or technical (stylographic) pens, and flush technical pens completely at least once a week. See also ink, stylographic pen.
Indian (Indian Pen Company) A third-tier brand from the 1930s, believed by many authorities to have been an Arnold sub-brand. (Examples exist with clips identical to proprietary designs used by Arnold.) Indian pens and combos featured bright-colored bargello-like patterns inspired by designs of Indian tribes in the American Southwest. Nibs were untipped steel, imprinted DURIUM 14KT GOLD PLATED No. 4. See also Arnold, DURIUM.
indicia (also cartouche) An area reserved in the chased or guilloché surface design on a writing instrument for the application of the owner’s name or initials. The indicia of the Sheaffer’s Masterpiece Tuckaway shown here, a rectangular area on the barrel, is engraved with the owner’s name, Zenobia; the image has been altered to emphasize the indicia. See also autograph, chased, engraved, guilloché.
Ingersoll  1  (Charles H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Newark, New Jersey, and (from 1927) East Orange, New Jersey. Founded in 1924 by Charles H. Ingersoll, brother of Robert H. Ingersoll of Ingersoll Dollar Watch fame, the company made its mark producing sturdy pens, priced at $1.00, that featured nibs of remarkable quality for the price. Early Ingersoll pens are metal; later, after a brief fling with celluloid and roughly coincident with the company’s 1927 move to East Orange, Bakelite became the material of choice. Shown below are metal and Bakelite Ingersoll Dollar Pens. See also Bakelite (definition 1).  2  A brand of lever-filling fountain pens manufactured by the Ingersoll Redipoint Company, a producer of mechanical pencils, located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Pens were fitted with 14K nibs imprinted INGERSOLL ST. PAUL. See also Ingersoll Redipoint.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Ingersoll Redipoint A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1922 by William Ingersoll, a nephew of Charles H. Ingersoll, for the purpose of making the Redipoint pencil, previously a product of Brown & Bigelow, also of St. Paul. Like his uncle, William had been part of R. H. Ingersoll & Bro. (the famous maker of dollar watches) until its 1921 dissolution, at which time he became president of the Positype Corporation, a position he resigned to organize Ingersoll Redipoint. Brown & Bigelow had also made pens, and Ingersoll Redipoint continued this line as well. Pens and pencils made by Ingersoll Redipoint differed little from earlier Brown & Bigelow production. Shown below is a typical Ingersoll Redipoint pencil of the period. See also Ingersoll (definition 2).
Mechanical pencil
injector pencil See mechanical pencil.
ink Writing fluid; the stuff that is actually deposited on the paper to leave marks. Excepting nanoparticle inks, all fountain pen ink is a water solution containing aniline dye or a mixture of iron gallotannate and indigo for color, a fungicide to inhibit mold growth, and small amounts of surfactants and/or colloids for flow control. Artists' inks, such as India ink, are usually pigmented suspensions rather than solutions, and they will clog fountain pens. See also aniline dye, fungicide, India ink, iron gall ink, nanoparticle, pH, surfactant.
ink blocked Describes a pen whose feed is clogged by dried or coagulated ink and/or paper fibers. The Snorkel tube in Sheaffer’s Snorkel pens is prone to becoming ink blocked due to its long, narrow ink passage; note that this particular blockage does not involve paper fibers. Soaking will occasionally loosen an ink-blocked pen, but in most instances mechanical cleaning is required.
ink disc See ink pellet.
ink feed See feed.
ink locked Describes a pen that has had ink allowed to dry in it such that the ink has “glued” the cap, nib, or other parts in place. Soaking will loosen most ink-locked pens, but occasionally more aggressive measures are required.
Inkmaker See Graphomatic.
Inkograph (Inkograph Company, Inc.) (also Ink-O-Graph) A pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded in 1914 by brothers Joseph and William F. Wallace. The company produced Inkograph stylographic pens and Leadograph mechanical pencils. It also produced Wallace pens, fitted with standard nibs, which were sold by F. W. Woolworth & Co. At some point in the 1930s,the company joined the visible-ink movement, introducing its own brand of open-nib pens under the Ink-D-Cator brand; and after Parker’s 1941 introduction of the “51”, Inkograph followed that trend as well. Inkograph was purchased in 1952 by the Risdon Manufacturing Company of Naugatuck, Connecticut, and was still in business as late as 1962. Shown here is a mottled hard rubber Inkograph Model 20M from the late 1920s. See also stylographic pen.
Fountain pen
Inkpak (Inkpak Manufacturing Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturer located in New York City or Weehawken, New Jersey (varies among sources); founded in December 1931 or January 1932 to produce pens that made their own ink when loaded with water. See illustration below. The Inkpak system, U.S. Patent No 1,880,128, issued September 27, 1932, to Frank Furedy, used metal cartridges containing compressed dried ink, inserted into the feed of an otherwise ordinary lever-filling pen from the front. The history of the company is somewhat confusing: on August 23, 1932, the Inkpak Distributing Corporation, located in New York City, was incorporated, and that company’s name was changed to Inkpak Pen Corporation on Dec. 23, 1932. In 1933, the Inkpak Manufacturing Company assigned the Inkpak trademark to the Inkpak Pen Corporation. The pens appear to have worked, more or less, but before Inkpak (whatever was left of it) was dissolved by proclamation on Dec. 15, 1938, the company was selling plain lever fillers with ordinary feeds.
Fountain pen
ink pellet (also ink disc, ink tablet, pellet) A compressed pellet or tablet containing aniline dye, a biocide, and a surfactant (the non-water components of fountain pen ink), intended to be dissolved in water to create ink in an ink-pellet pen. Ink pellets have been packaged loose for use with trench pens (illustrated below, a still-sealed wooden packet of Mabie Todd ink tablets for the company’s World War I-era Swan trench pen), in a cartridge that screws onto the back of a button-filling pen (Camel), and enclosed in a sleeve that fits over the capillary filler of a Parker 61. See also Camel, Dictator, Grieshaber, Instant Ink, trench pen, Water.
Packet of ink tablets
ink-pellet pen A pen designed to use ink pellets, mixed with water in the pen, to produce ink; used principally in the field during World War I. See also Camel, Dictator, Grieshaber, ink pellet, Instant Ink, trench pen, Water.
ink pencil See stylographic pen.
ink powder (also powdered ink) A powdered mixture of the solid components necessary to make ink when mixed with water. Ink powder is generally sold in paper packets whose contents will make a quart or more of liquid ink. It is today produced primarily as a novelty and sold alongside crude quill pens in gift shops at historic sites such as Williamsburg, Virginia, but it was in common use for several centuries until after World War I. It is not recommended for use in fountain pens, as it often contains pigment instead of dyes that will dissolve in the water.
ink shutoff See shutoff.
inkstand  1  A frequently ornate decorative desk accessory (illustrated below) that was common before the ascendancy of fountain pens but still used for a time thereafter; includes spaces for inkwells (usually two), a depression for a rocker blotter (often with provision for spare blotter paper), and a tray with one or more grooves to hold pens when they are not being used. Often used in conjunction with a desk blotter. See also blotter, desk blotter, inkwell, rocker blotter.  2  The base unit of a dip-less pen set; the inkstand contains a supply of ink and a socket for the pen that holds the pen’s nib partially immersed in the ink supply. See also description and illustration at dip-less.
ink starvation See feed starvation.
ink tablet See ink pellet.
ink-view section A gripping section having a transparent area adjacent to the barrel so that the user can observe the amount of ink it contains; for use with sac-filling pens (U.S. Patent No 1,907,626, issued May 9, 1933, to Joseph Wallace). Illustrated here is a Sheaffer service pen with an ink-view section. See also Lever-Vac, Visulated (definition 2).
Visulated section
Ink-Vue  1  A type of filling system (a Rube Goldberg bulb filler); operates by mechanical squeeze of bulb at end of barrel. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the bulb laterally. A two-piece jointed pivoting lever is mounted in the slot. Lifting the lever’s longer end raises the first arm of the lever to 90°, at which point it engages the second arm. Lifting further depresses the other end of the second arm to push against the pressure bar. View filling instructions here.  2  Waterman’s collective name for its 1930s pen models that used the Ink-Vue filling system. These pens were generally distinctive in their coloring; illustrated below is a Silver-Ray Ink-Vue, c. 1936. This pen shows only moderate ambering of the transparent barrel segments that gave the Ink-Vue model range its name. See also Blue Streak, Ray.
Filler schematic
Fountain pen
inkwell A small container, usually a decorative glass or metal bottle or jar with a hinged cover, intended to hold ink into which a pen can be dipped for writing. Frequently included in pairs with an inkstand. See also inkstand.
ink window A transparent portion of a pen’s section or barrel that is designed to allow the user a view of the ink supply; patented May 9, 1908, by Joseph Wallace (U.S. Patent No 1,907,626). See also ink-view section, Lever-Vac, Visulated.
Inlaid Nib Sheaffer’s name for its unique, and uniquely timeless, nib that is mounted flush with (inlaid into) the surface of the gripping section. Introduced in 1959 on the PFM (U.S. Patent No D188,265 for the nib and No D188,266 for the nib and barrel assembly), the Inlaid Nib is produced by inserting a finished nib into a mold cavity and injection molding the plastic shell around it to create an inseparable assembly. Variations of the Inlaid Nib have appeared on many Sheaffer models, including the Imperial, Triumph, and Triumph Imperial; the Targa and Slim Targa; the Intrigue; the Legacy series; and the Valor. Except for short-lived versions used on some Japanese pens during the 1960s, other similar-appearing nib designs are inset, not inlaid. See also dolphin nib, hooded nib, Imperial (definition 1), inset nib, nib, open nib, PFM, “TRIUMPH” point.
Inlaid nib
inner cap A liner inserted into a cap, usually having a flat surface at its open end against which the flat end of the gripping section (the table) mates to provide an airtight space in which the nib cannot dry out while the pen is capped. In some pens, the inner cap also secures the clip into the cap. Shown here is the cap from an Esterbrook CH, cut away to show the dark plastic inner cap; note also the location of the breather hole. See also breather hole (definition 2), table.
Cutaway cap
Inoxcrom (Inoxcrom Internacional) A pen manufacturer located in Barcelona, Spain; founded in 1942 as Industrial MAVA by Manuel Vaqué Ferrandis to produce steel nibs. In essence, the made-up word “inoxcrom” means “chrome stainless steel”; although the company did make gold nibs as well, it was renowned for the quality of its steel nibs. In 1946, the company was renamed Inoxcrom, and it soon began making fountain pens for the Spanish market in order to offer a duty-free product domestically, becoming the major supplier of fountain pens in Spain and, later, an international vendor of fountain pens, ballpoints, and rollerballs. As of this writing Inoxcrom is still in operation.
Inquaduct feed The “modern” marketing name Waterman bestowed on its venerable Spoon feed during the 1930s to rejuvenate customers’ perception of the design. See also feed; see illustration at Spoon feed.
inset nib (also quasi-inlaid nib) A nib that is inset into an opening in a shell-type section such that the nib is flush or nearly flush with the shell’s surface. Inset nibs are usually secured in position by the application of an adhesive before installation but can, in most cases, be removed for repair or replacement. Shown below is the inset nib of a Namiki Sterling Dragon. Contrast with Inlaid Nib.
Inset nib
Insignia  1  A trim version in several Parker model ranges, including the Jotter, 45, and 75, featuring a gold-filled (rolled gold) cap and barrel.  2  A pen model introduced by Parker in 1991, in hopes of revitalizing the company’s higher range, which had been headed by the 75 since 1963. Designed by Geoff Hollington, the Insignia had a modern design and featured a screw-interchangeable nib unit. The pen shown below is a 1998 Insignia in Winter Blue Lacquer. See also Sonnet.
Fountain pen
Instant Ink A plastic capsule containing a sponge impregnated with dried ink concentrate (illustrated below), introduced in 1959 and designed to permit refilling the Parker 61 when no liquid ink was available. The user slipped the capsule over the end of the pen’s capillary cell case as illustrated below and then stood the pen, nib upward, in a glass of water. The pen could then fill itself in the normal way, dissolving the dried ink concentrate in the water to make ink as the pen filled. See also Camel, capillary cell, 61, trench pen.
Instant Ink
61 with Instant Ink capsule
intarsia A decorative inlaid pattern resembling cloisonné, created on metal by etching or laser cutting so that raised lines separate the design elements; the design elements are then filled with lacquer. Illustrated below is a Duke Beijing Opera pen with an intarsia design. See also cloisonné, lacquer.
Fountain pen
Cloisonne pen barrel
integral nib A nib that is made as part of a metal gripping section by extending the section and shaping the extension into a writing tip; used on Parker’s titanium T-1 (shown below) and stainless-steel Falcon 50, and on the Pilot Murex and MYU. See also Falcon (definition 2), Murex, MYU, nib, T-1.
Parker T-1 nibFountain pen
International  1  The first ballpoint pen marketed successfully in the U.S.A., introduced in October 1945 by the Reynolds International Pen Company. Advertised as not needing to be refilled for two years, the International was priced at $12.50, the price of a top-line first-tier fountain pen. It sold on novelty and convenience, but it had been brought to market hurriedly and was not reliable; it leaked, skipped, or failed altogether to write. Thousands of the International and its similarly unreliable successors were returned for refund, and the financial losses drove Reynolds into bankruptcy in 1951. The all-aluminum International (shown below, upper two photos, capped and posted) featured a slotted cap that posted with the pen’s clip (attached to the pen body) fitted into the slot. See also biro, CA, Reynolds, Rocket.  2  (also International Standard or standard) A de facto standard for the size and shape of cartridges and converters; used by most smaller pen manufacturers. International cartridges come in long and short versions to fit pens of ordinary size and very small pens; many ordinary-size pens can accommodate two short cartridges back to back, so that the second is available as a reserve when the first runs out. See also cartridge, converter.  3  The smaller of the two models of Parker’s modern Duofold, approximately the size of a “full length standard girth” pen of the Golden Age. Compare the International and the larger Centennial below. See also Centennial.
Ballpoint pen
Ballpoint pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Intrigue Model name for a fountain pen produced by Sheaffer from 2000 to 2004. Created in collaboration with Alexander Benn of the Mode Product Design Studio in Stuttgart, Germany, the Intrigue was the only known Inlaid Nib model fitted with a nib lacking the upward curve that was responsible for the smooth writing of the Inlaid Nib design. The pen featured an unorthodox “modern” design (shown below, upper) that included a slip cap with a canted lip (below, lower) that allowed the cap to fit onto the pen only if the clip was aligned with the nib. To cap the pen, the user either made the alignment visually or placed the cap in position and then rotated it while applying gentle pressure, sliding the lip down the sloped step on the barrel until it seated in the correct orientation. The pen was also fitted with a complicated dual filling system, either using cartridges or filling from a bottle using a converter that was unique to the Intrigue; the mechanism for installing a cartridge or converter involved a rickety “drawer” that had to be extended from the back of the pen after the user turned the larger of two concentric knobs on the end of the barrel. See also Inlaid Nib, Sheaffer.
Fountain pen
inverted Grand Canyon slit See Grand Canyon slit.
INX A trademarked name given by the Carter’s Ink Company to the pens it made during its brief foray into the manufacture of fountain pens and pencils (latter 1920s-early 1930s). See also Carter’s.
iridescent Displaying a lustrous rainbow-like play of colors. Pen manufacturers use iridescent materials such as abalone shell and mother-of-pearl as decoration on pen barrels and caps. For further information and illustrations, see also abalone and mother-of-pearl.
iridium  1  A brittle silver-gray metal (atomic number 77) of the platinum group, formerly used as a nib tipping material because of its hardness (1670 MPa on the Brinell scale). See also iridosmine, osmiridium, osmium, tipping material. Modern tipping alloys contain little or no iridium.  2  A colloquial misnomer for tipping material in general.  3  When capitalized (Iridium), the Iridium Pen Company, a 19th-century manufacturer of dip nibs, known to me from a single entry in the 1880 Annual Report of the Managers of the Wisconsin Industrial School for Boys, which purchased $12.00 worth of pens (steel nibs) from the company in 1879.  4  When capitalized (Iridium), the Iridium Pen Company, a fountain pen brand of the latter 1920s; sold lever-filling pens bearing clip and lever imprints comprising a stylized letter K in a circle together with the word IRIDIUM. (This imprint suggests manufacture by or for Charles A. Keene or the Kritzler Pen Company, but no documentation is available to support this supposition.) Shown below is an oversize IRIDIUM pen. See also Keene.
Fountain pen
IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY An imprint indicating a steel nib that is tipped with a hard tipping alloy, usually osmiridium or Plathenium. This imprint is found frequently on Chinese-made steel nibs of very poor quality, some of which appear to have little or no tipping material of any kind. Its use, although clearly deceptive, is not technically unlawful because it does not state MADE IN GERMANY. Many of these Chinese nibs have a five-petaled flower design as part of the imprint (illustrated below, upper). ¶ Collectors frequently refer, usually somewhat disparagingly, to nibs bearing the IRIDIUM POINT GERMANY imprint as “IPG” nibs; but some caution must be used in dismissing all such nibs because nibs bearing this imprint are actually also made in Germany by reputable manufacturers such as JoWo (below, lower), and these nibs are well made and properly tipped. See also osmiridium, Plathenium, tipping material.
IPG nib
iridosmine A naturally occurring alloy of iridium and osmium with traces of other platinum-group metals, one of the first metals used extensively for tipping nibs; now disused because of osmium’s extreme toxicity. Iridosmine contains more osmium than iridium. See also iridium, osmiridium, osmium, tipping material.
iron gall ink (also ferrogallic ink or gallotannate ink) A permanent ink whose primary ingredients are oak galls (a source of gallotannic acid, C76H52O46) and green copperas (hydrated ferrous sulfate, FeSO47H2O, also known as green vitriol). More technically known as iron gallotannate ink, it is very pale — almost clear — in its liquid form. As the ink dries, the ferrous sulfate is converted to ferric oxide (Fe2O3), which is intensely black. The addition of indigo imparts a blue color that makes the ink easier to use while it is liquid; on drying, the ink assumes a blue-black color that gradually loses its blue aspect as the indigo dye is bleached by exposure to air and light. Iron gall ink is acidic, and its corrosive effects can destroy fountain pens whose nibs or other working parts are made of metals that do not resist corrosion. See also blue-black, pH.
I. S. Waterman See Waterman, I. S.
Italian overlay (also just Italian) A Waterman-style safety pen with a (usually) gold-filled overlay, often quite elaborate, produced in Italy. The base pens were sometimes original Waterman pens, but they were more commonly European in origin. These pens are also known to collectors as Continentals, a nonspecific term that is best laid to rest, as it has become obsolete with the emergence of information identifying the pens as Italian. Shown here is a pen with an Egyptian-style repoussé overlay, made by Fendograf, a Milanese firm specializing in highly decorative overlays. See also Ideal (definition 2), overlay, safety.
Fountain pen
italic The nib shape (illustrated below) that is characterized by a wide thin tip cut straight across, for creating broad strokes in a generally up-and-down direction (relative to the nib itself) and very thin strokes in a generally sidewise direction. Read a tutorial on nibs here. See also architect’s nib, crisp, cursive (definition 2), DailyItalic, music nib, nib, oblique, sharpened, stub.
Nib shape
Ivorine Parker’s name for a series of pastel-colored casein pens the company produced for about two years beginning in 1916. See also casein.

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.

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

© 2023 Contact Us | About Us | Privacy Policy
Richard Binder - Fountain Pens Like RichardsPens on Facebook