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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised May 30, 2022)

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  ]


Kahn (David Kahn, Inc.) A manufacturing company located in North Bergen, New Jersey. Founded in 1896 by David Kahn, a Jewish immigrant. Kahn’s company manufactured ornate pencil cases, mechanical pencils, and pens, initiating its Wearever brand of fountain pens in about 1918. It sold third-tier pens and pencils (and, during the 1930s, combos) in a bewildering variety of styles over the years, under the Wearever brand and others such as Jefferson, Leeds, and Onward. During the 1930s, Kahn also sold a better low-priced pen line called Pioneer, featuring a two-piece nib (U.S. Patent No 1,989,220) consisting of a very small 14K gold nib held in a stainless steel frame to make a complete nib large enough to fit properly into an average-sized pen. The Pioneer name appears to have gone through a change in status. At one point, Pioneer was a separate brand from Wearever, with clips imprinted with only the DK logo and the name Pioneer; but at another time it appears to have been a model range within the Wearever line, with clips imprinted Wearever Pioneer. ¶ In the late 1920s, Kahn investigated the injection molding process then being developed in Germany; he brought machinery back to the U.S. and was probably the first manufacturer to produce injection-molded pens. For many years after World War II, Kahn was the world’s largest manufacturer of fountain pens. For most of its history, the Wearever brand meant steel nibs, but some customers expressed a desire for Wearevers with gold nibs, and Kahn provided them. Perhaps the best known Wearever model was the Pennant, produced in the millions during the 1950s. Shown below are Wearever Supreme, Pacemaker, and Pennant models, a Jefferson pen, and a Pioneer 191P. The company was sold to Dixon in 1986. See also Pacemaker, Pennant, Supreme, Zenith.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
karat (abbr. K or KT; also carat, abbr. C or CT) A system for specifying the quality of gold alloys by stating how many parts of gold per 24 parts of the total metal content, measured by weight, are contained in a given alloy. 24-karat (24K) is pure gold, 12K is 50% gold by weight, and so on. 14K and 18K are the alloys most commonly used in pens. ¶ One modern pen manufacturer, Visconti, misuses the term, using it to refer to palladium. See 23K, definition 2.
karat war The period from 1969 to 1974, during which the “Big Three” of Japanese pen manufacturers (Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor) tried to outdo each other in producing nibs with increasingly higher gold content. Pilot dropped out at 22K, but Platinum and Sailor both produced 23K nibs. In 1996, long after the war had run its course, Sailor briefly produced a version of its Gracile model that was fitted with a 24K (23.99K) nib. See also karat.
Kashmir One of the “exotic” celluloid colors (Burma, Cathay, Jet Black, Kashmir, and Morocco) offered on the first generation of the Eversharp Doric. Kashmir is chunks of pearlescent green veined with black, as shown below. See also Burma, Cathay, Doric, Morocco.
Color chip
Katab (כתב, katab or katav, “wrote” in Hebrew; كتب, kutib, “wrote” in Arabic) A manufacturer of pens and pencils, located in Tel Aviv, Palestine (later Israel); founded in 1938 by Walter and Eric Kornfeld, brothers who had escaped from the Nazis in Austria. Newcomers to the pen business, they nevertheless became successful. Using the name Katab, they were playing more to the literate elite of the majority Palestinian population than to the Jewish minority. Early Katab pens were of high quality, with gold-plated furniture and a small embossed golden seal on the side of the cap, just below the clip ball. During World War II, quality dropped as resources became scarce, and shortages continued after the war; but Katab continued to offer 14K gold nibs for those who had the means, along with steel nibs for customers with more limited funds. On May 15, 1948, barrel imprints changed from MADE IN PALESTINE to MADE IN ISRAEL. In the early 1950s, Katab began selling ballpoint pens that it jobbed from another manufacturer, probably intending to produce its own ballpoints, but a poor business climate caused the company to cease operation in 1954. Shown here is a Katab piston-filler with a 14K nib.
Fountain pen
Kaweco (Federhalter-Fabrik Koch, Weber & Compagnie) A pen manufacturer located in Heidelberg, Germany; founded in 1883 as Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik by Luce Koch and Enßlen Weber. Production began with dip pen holders using steel pens imported from England. Fountain pen production began in 1892 with ordinary eyedropper-filling pens and retractable safeties. In 1899 Heinrich Koch and Rudolph Weber acquired the company and renamed it Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik Koch, Weber & Compagnie, shifting production to Handschuhsheim, and the brand name Kaweco made its first appearance along with Perkeo and Omega. At about that time the company appears to have begun importing gold pens made by Alexander Morton of New York City. In 1909 the company set up subsidiaries in Vienna, Paris and Zürich, along with agencies in Europe, Asia Minor, Russia, and Egypt. The ancestor of today’s Kaweco Sport, the Model 616, appeared in 1912. In about 1914, Kaweco bought A. Morton, becoming thereby the owner of one of the world’s premier nib makers. In the 1920s, Kaweco suffered from the runaway inflation of the Reichsmark and from competition by several companies, some of which were founded by former Kaweco employees. From 1926 to 1929, the company introduced several new brands; but production was still in hard rubber, which was rapidly becoming passé, and this drove the company farther down. In 1929, the company was forced into liquidation and was bought by KWG; the resultant company was established as Kaweco Badische Füllhalterfabrik, Woringen & Grube. The company’s new logo, a combination of the two prior logos, remains in use. The 1930s saw great changes in the model range, with new sizes and shapes; production was generally somewhat lower in quality than before. Although the pens were now made of celluloid, colors other than black were used only on export models. Kaweco did well in the early years of World War II but from 1943 to 1945 production virtually ceased. The company rebuilt after the war, finally resuming the use of gold nibs in 1950. Ballpoint pens made inroads, and bankruptcy in 1981 appeared to end the history of Kaweco. In 1994, however, H & M Gutberlet GmbH acquired the Kaweco brand and put the company back in operation, beginning with the iconic Sport.
Keene (Charles A. Keene) A New York City jeweler who founded his business in the mid-1880s. From c. 1918 to 1931, Keene sold mechanical pencils and fountain pens imprinted with his own brand. He jobbed at least some of these products, either complete or in parts, from Eclipse; some of his later pens featured the unique lever mounting designed for Eclipse by David Klein (U.S. Patent No 1,475,953). Shown below is a Keene-branded matchstick filler. See also Eclipse.
Fountain pen
Keg-rize (Keg-rize Pen Company) A fountain pen manufacturing company located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; founded c. 1901 by Frank M. Kegrize, appears to have failed before 1910. The company called its pen the Balanced Gravity Fountain Pen and guaranteed that it would not blot while writing or go dry while capped in the user’s pocket. The key to these claims was Kegrize’s feed design (U.S. Patents Nos 757,664 and 810,284).
KenPen A Japanese company that sold rollerball pens that used ordinary fountain pen ink; known to have been active during the 1980s. There were both pocket-pen (long/short) models (which used standard Platinum cartridges as well as cartridges branded for KenPen) and full-length models. The pocket pens (shown below) were jobbed from Platinum and were identical to Platinum’s standard square-ended fountain pocket-pen design except for the writing mode. Full-length pens, which included several wooden models, were similar in appearance to Pilot pens such as the Custom 743. See also long/short, Pilot, Platinum (definition 2), rollerball.
Rollerball pen
keyhole One of many shapes used to enhance the appearance of the breather hole in a nib; used for the nibs of some early Parker eyedropper-filling pens but best known as a distinguishing mark of the nibs L. E. Waterman used for its No 5 and No 7 pens beginning in 1927. Shown here is the nib of a No 7. See also nib.
Keystone  1  The Keystone Fountain Pen, a taper-cap eyedropper-filling model produced by Soper & Sievewright, fitted with a manually-operated ink shut-off (based on U.S. Patent No 663,590) to prevent leakage in the pocket and also to provide for filling by removal of a threaded plug from the back end of the barrel.  2  A model name used by David Kahn, Inc., for one of its Wearever pens. See also Kahn.
Kikaku Seisakusho See Morison.
Kimberly (Kimberly Corporation) A pen manufacturer located in Culver City, California; founded in 1945 by Leo Mizis (who later changed his name to Leo Kimberly). Mizis hired engineer Hartley M. Sears to invent a ballpoint pen for Kimberly. Sears succeeded in producing a ballpoint that actually worked, and he and Clarence O. Schrader developed a process for manufacturing the ballpoint tips and a machine that did the job. In May 1947, Sears and Schrader jumped ship to set up the Hartley Pen Company, Inc., and filed for a patent on their process and machine (U.S. Patent No 2,498,009). Kimberly filed suit against Hartley over the process and the machine. Eversharp, which had purchased the U.S. rights to László Bíró’s ballpoint design (U.S. Patent No 2,390,636), filed against both Kimberly and Hartley on grounds that they had infringed Eversharp’s patent rights by making ballpoints at all. The outcome of the latter suit was Eversharp’s acquisition of sufficient interest in Kimberly that Kimberly became an exclusive Eversharp brand. See also Pockette.
King, The (Società Anonima Pennini King, later Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Stilografiche) A pen manufacturer located in Turin, Italy; founded in 1926 as The King Società Anonima Torino by Gabriele Lattes, the company quickly changed its name to reflect the brand name it had registered: The King. Initial production consisted of very high quality hard rubber safeties that were imprinted The King Superior (trademark registered in 1928). These pens resembled Waterman’s Ideal No 42; but in typical Italian fashion, they were “jazzed up” with beautiful engraved clips. There were also overlay safeties, and lever fillers are known as well. Arguments have been made to the effect that the company’s pens were produced by Omas, but although it is likely that some models (e.g., a doctor’s pen) were jobbed from Omas, the majority of The King production appears to have been done in house. When its initial designs aged out, the company produced a range of typical Italian imitations of the Parker Duofold. These later pens, branded The King Diamond and illustrated below by an elegant overlay model, used a twist-knob filling system invented by Armando Simone (U.S. Patent No 1,784,078) that was functionally similar to John Kritikson‘s U.S. Patent No 1,482,568. At some unknown date between 1932 and 1934, the company changed its name to Società Anonima Fabbrica Italiana Stilografiche (SAFIS), possibly in response to the Fascist regime’s forced Italianization of names. (The date of 1932 is known from the existence of an invoice dated in that year, in the earlier name; the 1934 date is known because the company began producing pens under the Radius brand name, which it registered in that year.) After World War II, SAFIS resumed production, but postwar pens are not of the same quality as prewar production. See also Italian overlay.
Fountain pen
knifing A “quick and dirty” technique for spreading a nib’s tines to increase flow by inserting the blade of an X-acto knife between the tines while the nib is still installed in the pen. When attempted by an inexperienced person, knifing virtually always results in damage to the nib’s slit edges and slit wall, and it can also produce an hourglass-shaped slit that will not support proper flow. While knifing is safe in the hands of an expert, its use by others is strongly deprecated! See also flow, nib.
knurled band See milled band.
Koh-i-Noor (Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth) A manufacturer of writing implements, art materials, and office supplies, located in České Budějovice, Czech Republic; founded in 1790 by Joseph Hardtmuth in Vienna, Austria. In 1802, the company patented the first modern pencil lead, made from a combination of graphite and kaolin, a type of clay that is found in nature and can also be produced synthetically. In 1848, Joseph’s sons Karl and Ludwig took over the family business and relocated production to the Czech town of České Budějovice (German: Budweis), where the company is still headquartered. Its products received awards of excellence in many world exhibitions, notably in 1855 in New York City; 1856, 1900, and 1925 in Paris; 1862 in London; 1882 in Vienna; and 1905 in Milan. In 1889, taking inspiration from the famous Koh-i-Noor Diamond (“Mountain of Light” in the Persian language), the Hardtmuths rebranded their pencils as Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth and began making them with yellow-painted cedar barrels. After World War II, when Czechoslovakia fell under Soviet domination, Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth was nationalized; in 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, it returned to private ownership. Since 2007, it has been a subsidiary of Koh-i-Noor Holding a.s. As of this writing, the company has production facilities in more than 80 countries. Among Koh-i-Noor’s products are Rapido-Eze pen cleaner and a broad range of Rapidograph technical pens. See also Rapido-Eze, stylographic pen.
Kovàcs, Theodor See Pelikan, piston.
Kraker (Kraker Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Kansas City, Missouri; founded by George M. Kraker, a Conklin salesman who had left the employ of that company to help Walter A. Sheaffer found Sheaffer’s own company in 1913. Kraker was a shareholder in Sheaffer’s company at its incorporation but soon left Sheaffer over money matters, having first deceived Sheaffer into signing a contract whose effect would be to keep Sheaffer out of Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and part of Colorado for a period of 10 years. Kraker’s pens were functionally identical to Sheaffer’s; to protect his lever patent, Sheaffer sued for patent infringement and won, thereby acquiring the assets of the Kraker company and voiding Kraker’s duplicitous contract. George Kraker himself remained in the pen business and operated several companies until at least the 1930s; perhaps the best known of these companies was the Michael George Pen Company of Grand Haven, Michigan, which for a time manufactured Monogram pens for the Rexall drug-store chain. ¶ The distinguishing feature of Kraker’s Monogram pens, and also of pens that he jobbed to the Drew Pen Company of Chicago, was a latching lever (U.S. Patent No 1,263,261, issued to Rudolph W. Lotz, Kraker’s patent attorney, but probably designed by Kraker himself). See also Dixie, Drew, Lotz, monogram.
Kreko A “house brand” of fountain pens produced by a currently unknown manufacturer for the S. H. Kress & Co. “five and dime” department store chain during the 1930s. Kreko pens were fitted with gold-plated butterfly nibs and were of low quality. Some models, like the one illustrated here, lacked inner caps; and in 1936 Consumers Union found that sacs were not glued to the sections in several samples. See also butterfly nib.
Kritikson See Security.
Kritzler (L. Kritzler Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded by Louis Kritzler and operated in the early decades of the 20th century. The company was primarily a maker of gold nibs but also sold fountain pens under its own name. The pens are virtually identical to products sold under the Morton and Roxy brands, which were owned by the Union Pen Company, a subsidiary of Morrison. See also Morrison, Union.
Krueger (H. F. Krueger Company) A pen manufacturer located in Kansas City, Missouri. The company’s principal product was steel pens, especially numerous styles of Excello Silver Plated Pens. There was at least one Excello fountain pen model, a Chinese red celluloid Parker Duofold lookalike that the company probably jobbed, known from an advertisement in the September 15, 1926, issue of the Meriden Record (Meriden, Connecticut) and illustrated below. I have found no record of the company after 1946.
Fountain pen
Photo © Mike Kennedy. Used with permission.
KT An obsolescent abbreviation for karat, seen most commonly on vintage U.S.- and German-made nibs.
Kultur See Philéas.

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