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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised July 2, 2023)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]

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Pacemaker  1  A model name used by Wahl in 1938 (below, upper) for a mid-line lever-filling pen. The Pacemaker shared its Art Deco design sense and some specific design elements with the Coronet, introduced two years previously. Read a profile of the Pacemaker here.  2  A model name used by David Kahn, Inc., for a gold-nibbed World War II-era Wearever button filler that was the top of the company’s line (below, lower). See also Coronet, Kahn, Wahl.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Packard A brand used on cheap, poorly made syringe- and lever-filling pens produced in the 1930s and early 1940s by a now-unknown manufacturer. Packard pens had untipped steel nibs (imprinted DURIUM or DURIUM TIPPED) and were not designed to be repaired. It is not unlikely that this name was chosen to suggest a relationship with Packard automobiles; the prospective purchaser might infer therefrom that the pens were of high quality, as were the cars. See also DURIUM.
packing (also packing unit) The seal around the plunger shaft in plunger-filling pens (such as Sheaffer’s Vacuum-Fil) or the retracting shaft in retractable safety pens (such as Moore’s Non-Leakable). Usually made of cork or felt. See also O-ring.
Pagliero (Ditta (“Company”) Luigi Pagliero, later Fratelli Pagliero, then Luigi Pagliero e Figli.) A pen manufacturing company located in Settimo Torinese, Italy; founded by Luigi Pagliero (putatively in 1917 although he did found a company under the name Pagliero Luigi e Figlio Giovanni 1902) to process raw materials such as bone, horn, tortoise shell, and mother of pearl for use in the production of buttons, combs, and other everyday objects. As fountain pen production boomed in the early 1920s, Pagliero found that it had the required types of machinery to make pens, and it moved easily into that market, beginning as a parts supplier to existing companies. Because it was already working celluloid for the manufacture of buttons, Pagliero soon began producing mid-level and promotional pens of celluloid, jobbing the latter to other companies. The company’s range grew in the 1930s, during which it produced pens under several brands, including Red Circle, Regale, Stilnova, and Condor. Low-end brands included Vereletta, Verelite, and Verelyte, while high-end pens appeared under the Plevonia brand. In 1937 the company was restructured and changed its name to Luigi Pagliero e Figli (“sons”), and two years later it registered as a trademark a flattened rhombus containing the letters LPF. From then until sometime after World War II, Stilnova was its most popular brand, while Condor (low-end), Regale (mid-range), and Plevonia filled out its range. One of Pagliero’s better known postwar models was the Stilnova Fulgens, whose styling was inspired by that of the Eversharp Skyline. In 1955 Pagliero acquired the Stilus company, and by careful management managed to survive the arrival of both new production methods and disposable ballpoint pens. As of this writing, the Pagliero company remains in business as Stilus, producing promotional pens. See also FERT.
Paillard (Société Anonyme des anciens Établissements J. M. Paillard) A pen manufacturing company located in Mouy, France. The company has a long history, having originated in 1788 when P. C. Lambertye began producing watercolors in Paris. The company changed hands in 1822 (to a Monsieur Panier) and again in 1850, when it became the property of J. M. Paillard, who renamed it for himself. In 1895, Eugène L. Moreau took over direction of the company, beginning its move to Mouy in 1898; in 1903 he established it as Société Anonyme des anciens Établissements J. M. Paillard, and in 1905 he took complete control. The move to Mouy was completed in 1912, but fountain pen advertising and patents filed in foreign countries indicate a Paris address, and it is not clear whether Paillard was then a single company with two locations or two separate entities. Until the late 1930s, Paillard’s economy models were marketed under the Scriptor brand (Latin for “Writer”) while the company’s better pens were branded Semper (Latin for “Forever”). Beginning in the late ‘30s, branding was changed to J. M. Paillard or, in some cases, J. M. P. The company also produced inks and other writing materials. In 1935, René P. Moreau was named President and General Director. Like all French companies engaged in the production of fountain pens, Paillard suffered greatly from the introduction of cheap ballpoints. In 1956, the company joined an alliance with Météore (La Plume d’Or), Stylomine, and Unic to produce a new new squeeze-filling pen called the Pulsa-pen, but the venture was ultimately a failure. Paillard stopped making fountain pens in 1960 but continued producing other writing materials. See also Plume d’Or, Stylomine, Unic.
paktong Anglicization of the Cantonese phrase 白銅 (baakpitch 6 tungpitch 4, “white copper”). For definition, see nickel silver.
palladium A strongly tarnish-resistant silver-white metal (atomic number 46) of the platinum group, used in pens as plating on nibs and, because of its relative hardness, as a component in some tipping alloys. See also palladium silver, tipping material.
palladium silver (abbreviated PdAg) A class of tarnish-resistant silver-colored binary alloys of palladium and silver. Developed in Germany by Heraeus in 1931, palladium silver was used to manufacture nibs from the 1940s to the 1970s as a less costly alternative to gold. As with gold, a higher silver content (up to about 40%, at which point tarnish resistance begins to suffer) yields a softer alloy. See also palladium, silver.
Palmer Austin Norman Palmer, born in 1857, inventor of the Palmer Method of handwriting. When Palmer was a young man, the standards for handwriting were Spencerian and other similar ornamented round-hand styles that required careful control with the fingers to produce the desired thick and thin strokes with a flexible nib. Palmer reasoned that for business in an increasingly rapid environment, a simplified style that did not stress the writer would be more effective. His Palmer Method taught muscular writing, in which the hand and fingers cradle the pen in a grip that barely suffices to keep it under control while the upper arm muscles provided the movement. Flex was not a part of the Palmer method; all strokes were of uniform weight. Beginning in 1904, well after parochial schools began teaching it, Palmer’s method began to achieve recognition in public schools, and it soon became widespread. Palmer founded the A. N. Palmer Company, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to manufacture and sell books teaching his method as well as pens designed for it. Palmer Method fountain pens offered a choice of medium, fine, and extra-fine semiflexible nibs and were priced well under $1.00 in wholesale lots for purchase by schools. Palmer died in 1927, but his company (which moved to New York City in 1955) is still in business today. See also calligraphy, copperplate, round hand, Spencerian, Zanerian.
palm shellac Term for a mixture of rosin and castor oil, used as a sealant and adhesive for certain joints in fountain pens, most notably by Sheaffer to install “TRIUMPH” points into pens. Palm shellac contains no actual shellac, and it does not soften as easily as true shellac. See also shellac, varnish.
Pansy A decorative engraving style featuring pansy blossoms, used on vintage overlay pens; deeply incised and similar in appearance to the type of work frequently seen on decorated firearms. Shown here are a full-overlay Waterman’s Ideal No 0552V Pansy Panel and a portion of the Pansy overlay on a Moore’s Non-Leakable Safety Pen. (Pansy Panel alternates engraved and plain rectangular areas around the circumference of the pen.)
Fountain pen
Pansy pattern
Paramount See Farrell & Hosinger.
Parco A bottom-line model produced by Parker for a short time beginning in 1933. The Parco appeared in a button-filling version similar to the Challenger, which appeared in 1934, and a lever filler that was the antecedent of the Parkette, which premièred in 1934. The Parco was inexpensively made; but the button-filling version was fitted, even at its low price, with gold-filled furniture. Read a profile of the Parkette here. See also Parkette.
Paris (Paris Pen Company) A pen manufacturer, probably founded c. 1925 and located in Chicago, Illinois; owned by C. E. Barrett, who probably used the production facilities of C. E. Barrett & Company, to manufacture the pens. The company’s business model is unclear; it might have sold its pens by mail order only. At some point, Clifford N. Johnson bought Paris and moved at least the brand to Rockford, Illinois, as indicated by the barrel imprint on the Paris combo shown here. In 1936, Paris was using newspaper advertisements to sell combos, offering a written lifetime guarantee and featuring a “New Improved durium Point,” for $1.00 postpaid by mail. Sales at that time were through a fulfillment house in Brooklyn, New York. One Paris-branded example is embossed “Compliments of Merkle Broom Co.” indicating that the company might also have sold pens as advertising specialties. The Paris brand appears to have lasted until about 1936. See also Barrett, combo, DURIUM, Johnson (definition 4).
Fountain pen combo
Fountain pen combo
Parker (G. S. Parker Pen Company)A pen manufacturing company located in Janesville, Wisconsin. Founded in 1888 by George S. Parker, a teacher of telegraphy. Parker sold John Holland pens to his students and then, when the pens failed, learned to repair them. He founded his company with the goal of producing a better pen. A string of patents, of which the Lucky Curve feed, the washer clip, the Vacumatic filler and the pens it spawned, the legendary Parker “51”, and the classic Parker 75 are a few of the major highlights, has kept Parker at the forefront of the industry since its founding. In 1993, the Gillette Company acquired Parker, which had moved its corporate headquarters to its Newhaven, England, factory following a 1986 management buyout. In 2000, Gillette resold the brand to Newell Rubbermaid (now Newell Brands). Headquartered in France since the 2011 closing of its plant in Newhaven, Parker still produces excellent pens, perhaps the best known of which is the resurrected Duofold (shown below). ¶ There have been a small number of unfortunate missteps in recent years, the most noteworthy being the 51 SE, a closely modeled recreation of the original “51” that was introduced in 2002 but was plagued with defective plastics (earning it the distinction of having a “self-shattering” feature), and the 100, an oversized, overweight metal model that was introduced in 2004 as a brilliant updating of the “51” but lasted only three years. See also Duofold, “51”, first tier, Lucky Curve, 75, Vacumatic, Valentine, washer clip.
Fountain pen
Parkergrams A magazine for Parker dealers, published quarterly from 1915 to 1957. Stopped during World War II, the magazine was restarted in September 1946 with Volume 1 No 1. In 1957, Parkergrams was replaced by Parkergrams International, which lasted about one year before being in turn replaced by two publications, Parkergram U.S.A. and Parkergram World. See also Parker, Side Talks.
Parkette The model name that Parker applied to its bottom-of-the-line lever-filling pens. In the middle and late 1930s, the company produced a Parkette (shown below, upper) and a Parkette Deluxe (illustrated at fluted); the Parkette name reappeared in 1950 on a hooded-nib model (below, lower) intended to compete with Scripto, Webster, Eclipse, and other third-tier hooded-nib models. See also Parco, Zephyr.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Park Row See Eclipse.
Passport (Паспорт in Russian) A Soviet-era Parker 61 lookalike fountain pen produced c. 1960 by the Soyuz factory in Leningrad, USSR. The Passport differs from the 61 in that its filler is like a piston converter that is built into the pen instead of being removable, and in its use of marbled plastics in lieu of Parker’s solid colors. See also Soyuz.
Fountain pen
Pastel (also Petite) A small Parker pen model introduced in 1926. Offered in two sizes, the Pastel came either with a clip or as a ringtop, and its delicate solid colors befitted its name. In 1927, Parker added a series of moiré colors to the Pastel range; shown below is a smaller-size Pastel in Coral Moiré. Read a profile of the Pastels here. See also moiré.
Fountain pen
Pastel Blue (originally Aqua, later renamed) One of three blue colors used on Sheaffer’s Snorkel. Shown here are Pastel Blue (upper), used from 1952 to 1956; and Peacock Blue (lower left) and Periwinkle Blue (lower right), used from 1956 to 1959, both high-cachet colors due to their relative rarity.
color chip
Color chipColor chip
Pastel Green One of three green colors used on Sheaffer’s Snorkel. Shown here are Pastel Green (upper), used from 1952 to 1956; and Fern Green (lower left) and Sage Green (lower right), used from 1956 to 1959, both high-cachet colors due to their relative rarity.
color chip
Color chipColor chip
Patrician A pen model introduced in 1929 by L. E. Waterman. The Patrician was the top of Waterman’s line, but it never achieved the widespread popularity it probably deserved because in the same year Sheaffer introduced the Balance, whose torpedo shape made the Patrician’s Art Deco styling appear old fashioned. The Patrician shown below is in Moss-Agate, one of Waterman’s most attractive colors. Read a profile of the Patrician here. See also Balance, Lady Patricia.
Fountain pen
Patriot A pen model produced during World War II by Morrison. The Patriot was made in several versions to commemorate each of America’s military branches: Army, Navy, Army Air Forces, and Marine Corps. A syringe filler, it was marketed to civilians, with the suggestion that it would make an excellent gift for their relatives in the service. Shown here is an Army Patriot pen-and-pencil set, which was priced at $7.50 (including $1.25 excise tax). Read a profile of the Patriot here. See also Cameo Top, Morrison, syringe.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Paul Wirt See Wirt.
PdAg See palladium silver.
Peacock Blue  1  One of three blue colors used on Sheaffer’s Snorkel, a high-cachet color due to its relative rarity. See color chip at Pastel Blue.  2  An ink color formerly produced by Sheaffer, now sought after by collectors who use their pens.
Pearce (F. T. Pearce & Company) A jewelry manufacturer located in Providence, Rhode Island; founded in 1879 when Frank Thomas Pearce, senior partner in the manufacturing firm of Pearce & Hoagland, bought out his partner. Pearce’s firm also made gold pens (dip nibs) and pencil specialties, and, beginning within a few years of 1895, fountain pens. In 1907, the company was reorganized as the F. T. Peace Company, Inc., with Pearce as president and his son, Aldridge Gardiner Pearce, as treasurer. Both Pearces died in 1913; the next year saw the company reorganized, with D. M. Wall as president and general manager, and J. J. Laney as secretary and treasurer.
pearl Colloquial shortening of pearlescent: having a translucent, iridescent appearance like that of pearls or, more particularly, mother-of-pearl. Usually refers to whitish or off-white colors. See also mother-of-pearl, Pearltex.
Pearl and Black (also Black and Pearl)  1  A color offered by Parker on Duofold pens (c. 1930) and by a few other makers such as Morrison, featuring black “rivers” flowing over a pale pearlescent celluloid as shown here (below, left); catalogued by Parker as Moderne Black and Pearl.  2  (also Nacre) A color offered by Sheaffer on Flat-Top and Balance pens (c. 1924–1934) and by other makers such as Chilton, Wahl, and Waterman, featuring somewhat blocky black and pearlescent areas (below, right). Waterman referred to this color as Nacre.
Color chipColor chip
Pearltex  1  The name given by the Carter’s Ink Company to the range of beautiful pearlescent pens and pencils it manufactured beginning in 1929 (example below). See also Carter’s, pearl.  2  The pearlescent material used by Carter’s to make its Pearltex pens; manufactured using a patented process that combined celluloid with pearl essence. Carter’s claimed that the pearl essence used in Pearltex was “nature’s own,” a translucent substance that occurs in the silvery scales of certain fishes such as herring. That claim is somewhat doubtful given the high cost of the natural material and the ease of simulating it using nanoflakes of various metallic salts such as lead (II) iodide (PbI2) or tin (IV) sulfide (SnS2).
Fountain pen
Peerless  1  (Peerless Fountain Pen & Pencil Company, Inc.) A pen company located in New York City; probably founded c. 1944, the company lasted at least until 1961, when it was the subject of a court order requiring it to mark its pencils clearly as to country of origin. (This order suggests that the company was jobbing pencils; it may also have done so with at least some of its pens.) Peerless pens were of fair quality, using cheaply plated furniture (as shown by the pen illustrated below, top); but they featured 14K nibs. The company stood behind them with a GUARANTEED FOR ALWAYS! warranty, according to a 1947 advertisement.  2  A model name (the PEERLESS FOUNTAIN PEN) used by Cross in the years 1889 et seq. and revived in 2014 for the Peerless 125, a top-line metal-bodied pen fitted with a Cross-branded 18K nib made by Sailor (below, middle), celebrating 125 years of company history.  3  (in quotation marks, as “The Peerless”) Model name for an eyedropper-filling pen (shown below, bottom) that appeared in Sears, Roebuck & Company catalogs during the years c. 1910; the nib imprint shown in catalog advertising cuts (14K within a shield) indicates that the nib, at least, was manufactured by the Eagle Pencil Company. See also Cross, Eagle, Sailor.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
peg See nipple.
Pelikan (Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG) A pen manufacturing company located in Hannover, Germany; founded in 1838 by Carl Hornemann, a chemist, to produce inks, dyes, pigments, etc. In 1863, Günther Wagner joined the company as a chemist and as plant manager; in 1871 he took over the company. In 1878, he registered his family crest, which contains a pelican, as the company logo (shown below). In 1925, Pelikan purchased the rights to the piston filling system patented two years earlier by Hungarian engineer Theodor Kovàcs (U.S. Patent No 1,706,616, issued in 1929). In 1927, the company hired Kovàcs and Carola Bako to perfect the system for production use, and in 1929 Pelikan introduced its first fountain pen. This introductory pen had no model identification, but the company soon dubbed it the 100 to differentiate it from future models. Shown below are a mid-1930s 100 and a 2009 M400. See also piston.
1878 Pelikan logo
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
pellet See ink pellet.
Penanink See Waterman, L. E.
Pencil Quill A fountain pen produced by Byers & Hayes of New York City. Introduced in about 1918, it featured a nib (shown below in an advertising cut) that was curved downward along its length but flattened from side to side, with an over/under feed. The design allowed the nib to flex gently without spreading its tines so that stroke width would remain constant like that of a stylographic pen or a pencil, but with the smoother, less tiring feel of a fountain pen. Advertising claimed that the Pencil Quill was “[e]specially suitable for recording data on cards, folders, etc., where the texture of the paper generally used is such that an ordinary steel pen or fountain pen will catch in the fibres and frequently cause an indistinct record.” See also Byers & Hayes.
Penco A “house brand” of fountain pens produced by a now-unknown manufacturer for the J. C. Penney Company.
Pen-Co (also seen as Penco) A fountain pen manufacturer located in the small town of Sandrigo (near the city of Vicenza), Italy; founded in 1923 as Fratelli Rossi by brothers Rinaldo and Marcello Rossi. Initially producing pens under the Caesar brand (with a Fascist-inspired logo consisting of a plaque surmounted by a Roman imperial eagle), the company aimed its production toward the lower end of the market. Nibs, however, were of high quality and were apparently sold to other manufacturers. Fratelli Rossi pens were marked with the letters FRV, standing for Fratelli Rossi Vicenza, on the barrel and nib. After World War II, the name was changed to Pen-Co and production was divided into three brands: Palladium, Diplomat, and Pen-Co, targeted respectively toward the lower end, middle, and upper end of the market. The best known postwar Pen-Co product was the Model 53, a knockoff of Sheaffer’s conical-nibbed pens of the time. The company ceased operation at the end of March 1957.
Pencraft (Pencraft Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Minneapolis, Minnesota and, at one time, in Libertyville, Illinois; founded by George M. Kraker. See also Kraker, Liberty (definition 2).
pen flush A water solution produced and sold by several pen vendors, containing small quantities of ammonia and surfactants, designed for thorough cleaning of fountain pens prior to changing ink colors or brands, or when putting a pen out of one’s rotation; it also assists in breaking down dried or coagulated inks. Properly formulated pen flushes are safe for use in all fountain pens, but they are not suitable for soaking pens made of hard rubber or casein. See also flush, Rapido-Eze, rotation (definition 2).
pen holder See holder.
penman  1  A highly skilled user of pens, usually one who is expert at ornamented handwriting styles such as Spencerian or Zanerian.  2  When capitalized (Penman), the Penman Company, located in Chicago, Illinois; a division of the United Advertising Company, also located in Chicago. In business c. 1935–1943, Penman was a jobber of third-tier pens manufactured for it by the Starr Pen Company, selling them by mail order. Shown below is typical prewar Penman button filler. In 1942, in response to an acute wartime shortage of fountain pens, the company stopped selling pens at retail; thereafter it wholesaled to jobbers all of its own stock and whatever other pens it could purchase until Starr’s supply of pens ran out in early 1943. At that point, Penman turned over to Starr all the orders it had remaining.  3  When capitalized (Penman), Parker’s trademarked name for its line of highly saturated premium inks formulated and made by Dokumental in Germany and introduced in 1993. Penman inks used dyes containing metallic salts to create their brilliant colors, and they were notorious for staining and clogging. Parker withdrew the line in 2001.
Fountain pen
Pennant  1  A model name used by David Kahn, Inc., for a 1950s lever-filling Wearever “dollar pen” that had a tipped, unplated steel nib decorated by a narrow gold-plated bar of steel resembling an overfeed (U.S. Patent No D158,973). The cap, made of plastic, was fitted with an aluminum overlay; and the feed was clear injection-molded plastic. Virtually ubiquitous at the time, the $1.95 Pennant (shown below) was produced in greater quantity than any other Wearever model. See also Kahn.  2  The magazine of the Pen Collectors of America.
Fountain pen
Penol (Penol Aktieselskab) A pen manufacturing company located in Copenhagen, Denmark; founded in 1928 by Christian Olsen, who was at that time Parker’s Scandinavian distributor. While introducing his own brand of high-quality pens, Olsen remained connected with Parker, manufacturing Parker pens under license after the Danish government embargoed the importation of fountain pens in the 1930s. During and after World War II, Olsen continued to produce Penol and Parker pens, in some cases enhancing the Parker designs (e.g., a squeeze-filling version of the Parker VS, illustrated below). Olsen’s license-made Parker pens are marked in various ways, including M.I.D. (Made in Denmark) and a small anchor trademark, and examples are known in colors not used by the parent company. In the mid-1960s, Penol shut down its Copenhagen factory to concentrate its business on marking pens. As of this writing, all Penol production is outsourced. See also Olsen.
Fountain pen
Pen Prophet A magazine for L. E. Waterman dealers, published quarterly beginning in 1904 and probably ending with the failure of the L. E. Waterman Company in 1957. See also Waterman, L. E.
Penselpen Schnell’s name for its combination fountain pen/mechanical pencil, a concept not invented by Schnell but successfully marketed by the company in 1929. The Penselpen uses Schnell’s ingenious “shift” (slide) filler. Shown here is an example with the famous “Airplane” clip (designed to commemorate Lindbergh’s 1927 transatlantic flight). See also combo, Schnell.
Fountain pen combo
Fountain pen combo
pen wiper A small piece of fabric (often felt), frequently home made and decorated with hand work, made for cleaning dip and fountain pen nibs. One account recalls schoolboys using 1936 “Alf Landon for President” sunflower-motif campaign buttons, which were made of felt, as pen wipers.
Periwinkle Blue One of three blue colors used on Sheaffer’s Snorkel, a high-cachet color due to its relative rarity. See color chip at Pastel Blue.
Permanite The name Parker gave to the DuPont celluloid used in Parker’s pens beginning with the Duofold in late 1925. See also Celluloid.
Personal-Point Wahl’s name for the interchangeable nib system, introduced in 1929 and produced into the 1930s, that it used in its top-line pens. The illustration here shows a Doric’s section and screw-out nib unit (with an adjustable nib). See also Fineline, Renew-Point, Select-O-Point.
Nib unit
Pet (“The Pet”) A midget fountain pen model manufactured by Aikin Lambert, priced at $1.00 and frequently sold from display cards (shown below) in dealers’ shops. Identical pens appear to have been jobbed to Salz Brothers, who sold their version as the Peter Pan. See also Aikin Lambert, Peter Pan.
"The Pet" card
Photo © David Nishimura. Used with permission.
Peter Pan  1  Salz Brothers’ name for its series of midget eyedropper- or lever-filling pens (approximately 3" capped). Introduced in the April 15, 1916, issue of The American Stationer as a hard rubber pen priced at $2.50 and sold from a card as shown in the cut below, taken from the magazine. The Peter Pan continued in production, making the transition to celluloid, through the 1930s. Shown below are an early BHR eyedropper-filling pen and a lever-filling pen from about 1939. See also Bantam, midget, Pet, Salz.  2  A common misnomer for tiny pens in general.
Peter Pan card
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Petite See Pastel.
petrify See ossify.
PF Usually, piston filler. When referring to vintage U.S.-made pens, often means plunger filler. View descriptions and filling instructions here.
PFM (“Pen For Men”) A pen model made by Sheaffer beginning in 1959; it introduced Sheaffer’s unique Inlaid Nib and is considered by some collectors to be the last of the classic pens preceding the era of the ballpoint’s dominance. Shown here is a PFM V. Read a profile of the PFM here. See also Inlaid Nib™.
Fountain pen
pH The decimal logarithm of the reciprocal of the hydrogen ion activity, aH+, in a solution. Stated more simply, it is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of the solution. pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 14, with 7.0, the pH of pure distilled water, being neutral. The lower the pH, the more acid the solution is; conversely, the higher the pH, the more alkaline the solution is. An alkaline substance is referred to as a base. Of concern in fountain pen inks, as inks that are overly reactive can damage pens, sometimes irreparably. See also ink, iron gall ink.
phenol Any of a class of organic compounds that include one or more phenol units (a hydroxyl group (–OH) bonded directly to an aromatic hydrocarbon group (–C6H5)). The simplest of the class is phenol, a weakly acidic volatile white crystalline solid, also called carbolic acid (C6H5OH). It is an effective fungicide, acting as a protoplasmic poison, and was used for this purpose in ink until prohibited by law. (It is also toxic to forms of life other than fungi and is regulated as a Class B poison.) Phenol has a sweet, tar-like odor that is readily detected in inks containing it. Phenolic compounds are classified as simple phenols or polyphenols based on the number of phenol units in the molecule. Bakelite is a phenolic resin made with phenol and formaldehyde. See also Bakelite, fungicide.
Philéas A pen model introduced by Waterman in the late 1990s and discontinued c. 2012. The Art Deco-styled Philéas was named after Phileas Fogg, the protagonist of Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days. It was the flagship of the company’s economy line and was designed to give the appearance of a better model, with a two-tone steel nib that locked into place on the feed; trim bands in the cap and barrel, including a gold-plated “cigar band’ at the back of the barrel; a spring-loaded clip; and a screen-printed marbled pattern on the barrel and cap as shown below (upper). A length of brass tubing was inserted in the barrel, increasing the weight to give a more substantial feel to the pen. A lower-priced companion model, the Kultur (below, lower), lacked plating on the nib, the extra trim bands, and the barrel weight, and was made in several transparent colors. Waterman did not sell the Kultur in the United States.
Waterman Kultur, Red
phone dialer See telephone dialer.
Pick (Pick Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Incorporated in 1920 by Arthur Schoenberger, the company (named for Schoenberger’s cousin Ed Pick) might have been operating for several years before that date. Schoenberger knew nothing about fountain pens or pen manufacture and hired a former employee of O. E. Weidlich, named Weidling, to set up his factory. The company remained in business until c. 1933, finally folding due to its inability to assemble and retain an experienced sales staff. Pick produced pens of very high quality (example shown below), marketing the product to dealers by driving a pen into a block of balsa wood, removing it, and showing that it still wrote well.
Fountain pen
piercing tube (also cartridge nipple) A short metal or plastic tube located at the back end of a cartridge/converter pen’s nib unit, designed to pierce the sealed proximal end of a new cartridge. The piercing tube also serves to hold a cartridge or converter in place and provide a path for ink to flow to the feed. This system is part of U.S. Patent No 2,802,448, for the Waterman C/F, issued to Donald H. Young on August 13, 1957, but an earlier version embodying the basic concept was the basis of U.S. Patent No 2,240,604, issued to Hans H. Berger on May 6, 1941. ¶ Depending on the pen model, the piercing tube might be exposed to view when the barrel is removed, or it might be recessed inside the open end of the section. Shown here is the section from a Sheaffer Levenger Seas pen, with the metal piercing tube, at the right end, exposed.
Section with piercing tube
Pilot (Pilot Corporation) A pen manufacturing company located in Tokyo, Japan; founded in 1918 by Ryōsuke Namiki and Masao Wada as the Namiki Manufacturing Company, Ltd. In 1915, Namiki had begun producing gold nibs, and, in 1916, complete writing instruments. In 1926, Namiki established overseas offices in Malaysia, Singapore, Boston, London, and Shanghai. In 1938, the company became the Pilot Fountain Pen Company, Ltd. Through the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, Pilot formed several sub-companies to cover the manufacture of pencils, ink, and other products; Pilot Corporation is the umbrella name for all of these companies. Pilot’s fountain pen lines range from the disposable Varsity, priced at less than $2.00, to hand-painted maki-e collections under the company’s more prestigious Namiki brand, priced in excess of $5,000.00 (below, upper, a Yukari Royale Chrysanthemum Dew). Pilot’s best known and most popular fine writing instrument is its Capless (Vanishing Point) pushbutton retractable pen (below, lower), introduced in 1964 and never out of production since that time.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
pink gold See rose gold.
Pioneer See Kahn.
piston A type of filling system; uses a screw-driven piston. A knob at the end of the barrel drives a long-pitch screw shaft on which rides a piston. In some piston fillers, the knob is also threaded so that it “unscrews” slightly as the piston goes toward the nib and returns to its rest position as the piston is drawn back. This is the “differential” system (sometimes called “double action”), shown here; patented in 1923 by Hungarian engineer Theodor Kovàcs (U.S. Patent No 1,706,616, issued in 1928) and introduced in 1929 by Pelikan. In other versions, the knob is fixed so that it can turn but does not travel lengthwise as the piston moves (“single action”). View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
pitch See screw thread.
Pitman A phonetic shorthand writing system for stenographers, devised by Sir Isaac Pitman and first published in 1837. Pitman shorthand is written with an extra-fine flexible nib; it uses thick or thin strokes to signify different sounds. Several major manufacturers advertised their extra-fine flexible nibs as being suitable for Pitman shorthand. Esterbrook produced both tipped and untipped Pitman nibs in its Renew-Point system, numbering them n128. Illustrated below is the first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights,” in the Pitman New Era system. (Idealized example provided by Pierre Savoie.) See also Gregg.
Pitman writing sample
pitting The development of craters, or pits, in metal due to corrosion. In pens, pitting most often occurs in steel nibs; stainless steel is not actually 100% proof against corrosion, and highly acidic inks can attack it. The steel nib shown below illustrates pitting in several places, most seriously in the slit and at the spot indicated by the arrow, where the metal is so thin that the tine bends as if it were made of aluminum foil. See also corrosion, stainless steel.
Pitted steel nib
plain (also Plain) Undecorated. Used by Waterman and others to describe pens, usually all metal or with overlays, that were not decorated with “filigree” (cutwork), engraving, or other artistic embellishments. The Waterman’s ideal No 552 shown here illustrates a plain solid 14K gold overlay.
Fountain pen
planned obsolescence See Dynamic Obsolescence.
plastic An all-purpose label applied indiscriminately to acrylics, cellulosics, styrenes, and other synthetic resins. See also ABS, acrylic, Celluloid, polystyrene, resin.
plated Finished by the application of a very thin metal coating, usually by electrodeposition. The clips, bands, and other metal trim parts of most modern pens are electroplated with such metals as chromium, rhodium, or 23K gold. See also gold filled, vermeil.
Plathenium An alloy of platinum and ruthenium (U.S. Patent No 2,328,580), sometimes with trace amounts of one or more other platinum-group metals; probably the first of the modern highly refined nib tipping materials, introduced by Parker in mid-1943. Nibs made in 1943 but before the introduction of Plathenium are imprinted OS-PL to indicate an osmiridium-platinum tipping alloy; with the introduction of the new tipping material, the imprint changed to RU-PL. In 1947, it was changed again to RU, and in 1951 the imprint changed to PU. See also platinum, ruthenium, tipping material.
Platignum See Mentmore.
platinum  1  A strongly corrosion-resistant gray-white metal (atomic number 78), used in pens as plating on two-tone nibs and as an alloying component in some tipping alloys. See also tipping material.    2  (Platinum Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in Tokyo, Japan; established in 1924 by Shunichi Nakata as the Nakaya Seisakusho Company, Ltd. The company considers 1919 as its birth year year because Nakata had begun making pens in that year. In 1928, Nakata changed the company’s name to the Platinum Fountain Pen Company, but that name was not official until 1942. By 1935, Platinum’s production included eyedropper-filling and lever-filling pens as well as mechanical pencils. After World War II, the Allied Occupation authorities required the company’s name to be changed to the Platinum Industry Company. In 1947, Platinum introduced its first product authorized by the Occupation for export, a ballpoint pen. The company’s most popular model, the #3776 (Orange Blossom maki-e model shown below), was introduced in 1978; the number 3776 is the height of Mount Fuji in meters. Platinum’s range is not notably broad, but Platinum pens are known for value and excellent writing qualities. Platinum also has factories in China and Viet Nam.
Fountain pen
Plexiglas A registered trademark of Rohm & Haas for its acrylic resin products. Now owned by Arkema, Inc. See also acrylic.
Plexor A brand used to sell Parker pens in France during World War II, when the country was under Nazi occupation. The pens, fitted with Split Arrow clips lacking the Blue Diamond and reading PLEXOR instead of PARKER, are generally considered to have been produced by Fernand Laureau, Parker’s licensed manufacturing agent in France. Body styles (see below) resembled the Speedline Vacumatic; sections and blind caps were interchangeable mechanically, although not stylistically, with parts from the streamlined Duofold. See also Loro.
Fountain pen
Pli-Glass Parker’s name for the polyvinylchloride (PVC) material of which the ribbed semitransparent sac used in the company’s Aero-metric filling system is made. See also Aero-metric.
Plum Arguably the most collectible high-cachet color used for the Aero-metric version of the Parker “51”; shown below. Plum is similar to a burgundy but is darker and much bluer than any of Parker’s burgundy variants.
Color chip
Plume d’Or (La Plume d’Or) A pen manufacturing company located in Paris, France; founded in 1916 by L. Demilly (general manager) and L. Degen (managing director) as Manifacture Parisienne de Porte Plume Reservoir, then located in Nanterre and producing pens under the Météore and L. Badois brands as well as jobbing for third parties. (L. Badois pens were based on patents held by Louis Badois, especially French Patent No 527,150; Badois himself collaborated directly with the company on several later patents.) In 1921 the company was renamed La Plume d’Or (The Gold Pen). Early Météore models were ordinary black or mottled ebonite eyedropper-filling pens of both "regular" and helical-cam safety designs; later, lever fillers appeared. A white band at the cap crown and nibs imprinted with the founders’ initials D&D (both features present on the safety pen illustrated below) were distinguishing features of Météore pens. The company switched to celluloid rather late, in about 1932. but chased ebonite pens remained in its line. The Pullman 35, introduced in 1932, was a retractable button-filling pen with a sliding exterior barrel (U.S. Patent No 1,789,522, by Egon Fritsch); this pen is widely considered the progenitor of the Pilot Capless. Other Météore models were rather conservative in design, with tapered streamlining arriving only in 1941. in 1951, La Plume d’Or joined the rush of French makers to get on the accordion-filler bandwagon; then, as the fountain-pen market fell apart, the company allied itself in 1956 with J. M. Paillard, Stylomine, and Unic to produce a new squeeze-filling pen called the Pulsa-pen. This venture was ultimately not successful against the ballpoint, and the company ceased operation before 1960. See also Paillard, Stylomine, Unic.
Fountain pen
plunger  1  A term commonly applied to Sheaffer’s Vacuum-Fil filling system (WWII-era Balance Vigilant illustrated below, upper).    2  The actuator in a Parker Vacumatic-filling pen (1940s plastic version illustrated below, lower). View descriptions and filling instructions here.
Vacuum-Fil pen
1940s Vacumatic filler
pneumatic A type of filling system; operates by pneumatic ink-sac compression. There are three variations of Chilton’s pneumatic system. In the first version (illustrated here), the barrel slides on an airtight seal over an aluminum tube that is fixed to the section. A small hole is at the back end of the barrel. When the barrel is extended, the hole covered, and the barrel returned to its rest position, air is allowed into the barrel through the hole and then compressed, squeezing the sac. When the hole is uncovered, the trapped air is released and the sac draws in ink by resuming its normal shape. In the second version, the barrel is fixed and the aluminum tube slides back and forth within the barrel. A blind cap is attached to the tube to give the user a suitable “knob” to operate. The third version resembles the second but has no hole in the blind cap. Instead, a valve opens and closes a concealed air passage. The third version was not successful because the valve proved unreliable. (Sheaffer solved this problem with its Touchdown filler, introduced in 1949.) View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
pocket calendar A one-year calendar, suitable to be carried in a pocket. Immensely popular in Japan, pocket calendars have been used as an advertising device by many Japanese pen companies. Shown here are Pilot’s 1939 and Platinum’s 1970 pocket calendars. See also advertising blotter.
1939 Pilot pocket calendar 1970 Platinum pocket calendar
pocket pen See long/short.
Pockette (full name: Kimberly Pockette) A long/short ballpoint pen introduced by Eversharp in about 1947. Shaped much like Sheaffer’s clipless wartime Tuckaway and produced in many colors and trim variations, the Pockette (shown below in a mid-line trim) is very compact closed but posts long enough to be eminently usable. Read a profile of the Kimberly Pockette here. See also Kimberly, long/short, Tuckaway.
Ballpoint pen
Ballpoint pen
Poenaru Petrache Poenaru (1799-1875), Romanian mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, teacher, politician, agronomist, and zoo-technologist; credited as the inventor of the first workable fountain pen (French Patent No 3208, issued May 25, 1827). Poenaru’s pen, which he patented as an improvement upon existing pens that carried their own ink, was said not to leak, and it was built from replaceable parts. It was light in weight and used a nib that could be made either from a quill or of metal. The cutaway drawing below, interpreted from Poenaru’s patent, shows its construction.
point The tip of the nib. Sometimes used as a synonym for the nib as a whole.
point section See gripping section.
Pollock (Pollock Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts; founded in 1921 to manufacture Robert T. Pollock’s cartridge-filling fountain pen (U.S. Patent No 1,658,940), which was called the John Hancock Cartridge Pen. Directors of the company were King C. Gillette, Louis K. Liggett, Henry G. Lapham, Daniel W. Gurneet, Frank L. Belknap, Robert S. Potter, and Pollock himself, with Pollock as company president. The company’s stock was still being traded as late as 1931, but it is not clear what kinds of pens Pollock was selling at that time. The pen screwed apart at a joint marked with a colored ring, near the back end of the barrel to accept a tubular full-length cartridge made of thin copper and fitted with a sealed threaded opening at its proximal end. The back end of the feed broke the seal when the cartridge was screwed into the pen. Shown here are a John Hancock pen and a cartridge case with two unused cartridges. Read a profile of the John Hancock pen here.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Cartridge case
polystyrene A class of injection-moldable thermoplastic resins of which pens are made, polymers of the monomer styrene, (C6H5CH=CH), which is an oily liquid. Polystyrene plastics came into use as a pen material in the early 1940s; but the earliest formulations suffered problems such as a tendency to shrink or to crumble with age. Much better formulations appeared before the end of the 1940s. Some polystyrenes used in the 1950s and 1960s, notably those in the Parker “21” and 61 and in Sheaffer’s PFM, are brittle and must be handled with care during repair of the pen. Today the most common materials for the manufacture of low-priced pens are ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) and SAN (styrene-acrylonitrile), with polystyrene being used for very cheap products. Better pens are usually machined of acrylic. See also ABS, acrylic, Forticel, SAN, thermoplastic, thermosetting.
Popular Doric Wahl’s name for the design of its lower-priced Doric pens, featuring an Art Deco cap band with solid diamonds in rectangular cutouts (shown below). See also Doric.
Fountain pen
post  1  (when capitalized, Post Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. Founded c. 1894 to manufacture pens using a syringe-type filling system (U.S. Patent No 510,145) invented by the Rev. Woodruff Post. Beginning in about 1903, Post appears to have been owned by the Reliance Trading Company, a commercial enterprise established by the Salvation Army in that year; but whether it had been founded initially under the auspices of the Salvation Army is not clear. (According to his obituary in the June 28, 1906, issue of The Christian Advocate, Post himself was a very religious man; and among those participating in his funeral services was the Ensign of the Salvation Army at Olean, New York, where Post had resided.) The Post name reappeared in advertising by about 1911. According to Trow’s New York Copartnership and Corporation Directory, the company’s name was discontinued in 1915; but the Post Fountain Pen Company is listed in reference indexes as being in operation, still at its original address, as late as 1921. ¶ The Post pen was very popular, and it was claimed that even Britain’s King Edward VII used one. Post fillers faded in popularity during the 1920s; but during World War II, restrictions on the use of rubber revived the design, and today the system is seen most frequently in crude form on cheap wartime pens. The basic design could be elaborated in quite sophisticated ways, as by the Franklin Pen Company. View a description of a syringe filler and filling instructions here. See also Franklin, Reliance, syringe.  2  To “park” the cap onto the back end of the barrel while writing, as a convenient storage location or to make the pen more comfortable to use. Some users prefer to post their pens because they like the longer shape or because they prefer having the weight farther back. Also (of the pen itself), to have the cap so placed. Some pens do not post well if at all, and some pens that post reasonably well also expose their caps to the risk of cracks at the lip due to the stress of being pressed down onto a tapered barrel. The Parker “51” (illustrated here, upper), with its gently tapered barrel and metal cap with a clutch spring, posts very well. Sheaffer’s Balance (lower) is notorious for cap-lip cracks because of its steeper barrel taper and relatively thin celluloid cap lip.  3  To enter figures in a ledger, as in accounting. Accounting nibs are commonly used for posting and are sometimes referred to as posting nibs. See also accounting nib.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Postal (Postal Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City. Founded in 1925 by G. N. Robinson, V. Buhr, E. Pape, and J. Gerdis, and incorporated in 1931, Postal sold a flat-top pen called the Postal Reservoir Pen (in two sizes, for men and women), fitting it with a clear celluloid barrel and a bulb filler (whence the term “Postal filler”). It should be noted that Postal did not invent the bulb filler; the basic concept was patented in 1903 by George W. Perks and Frederick C. Thacker (U.S. Patent No 723,726). Huston Taylor patented an improved design in 1905 (U.S. Patent No 802,668) and assigned his patent to Aikin Lambert. Postal used Taylor’s design, for which the patent had expired; the patent number imprinted as part of the Postal logo on the cap (U.S. Patent No 1,359,880) refers to the mounting method for the breather tube, patented by Charles Dunn. ¶ Selling its high-quality $2.50 pens (illustrated below) only by mail order, Postal operated a clever “send no money now” marketing system that looks like, but was not, a pyramid scheme. With his pen, the purchaser received five post cards to send to friends. By mailing in one of these post cards, its recipient could buy his pen for $2.00. If all five of a given purchaser’s cards were returned, that person got his pen free. The company produced essentially identical pens for sale by sales agents or at retail under the Bonded and Transo brands, respectively, each ostensibly made by its own incorporated company. All of these pens are today relatively uncommon. Read a profile of the Postal Pen here. See also Bonded, Dunn-Pen, filler, Transo.
Fountain pen
posting See ACCOUNT.
posting ring A ring around the back portion of a pen’s barrel, caused by pressure and wear from posting the cap. See the illustration below.
Posting ring
pounce A claylike powder designed to be applied to unsized paper before the paper is written on. Rubbed gently into the paper, pounce helps to seal the porous surface; this makes the paper smoother and improves the appearance of the written text by retarding absorption of the ink. Pounce can also be sprinkled on written text to absorb excess ink, but a blotter is usually more convenient. Pounce had fallen out of general use by the early 19th century; today it is most commonly used by artists and technical illustrators.
powdered ink See ink powder.
Precious Resin Montblanc’s name for the material of which it makes pen bodies. According to Brad Torelli, a pen maker and plastics expert, the material is a relatively ordinary acrylic resin that is manufactured as pellets and is made into pen parts by injection molding. It retains its bright polish exceptionally well but is somewhat brittle due to the lighter molecular weight of moldable acrylic relative to cast acrylic and to stresses created by the molding process. See also resin.
pregnant Term for a pen with bulges caused by pressure from the inside, most commonly at the pivot point of the lever (from the snap ring that secures the lever in place) or on the underside of the back end of the barrel (from the short end of a J-bar pressure bar). Pregnancy occurs most frequently in low-priced plastic pens, and exposure to heat accelerates its development. Shown below is the barrel of a pregnant Stratford pen; note the outward distortion in the area of the lever slot. See also pressure bar, snap ring.
Fountain pen showing pregnancy
Pregnant Parker Collectors’ nickname for the now-rare Parker No 47 eyedropper-filling pen, whose pearl barrel overlay has a bulbous shape as shown in the photo below. See also abalone, alternating pearl, mother-of-pearl.
Fountain pen
Premier  1  A low-priced pen model produced by Parker Canada from 1932 to 1934, one of the models known as a group to collectors as Thrift Time pens. The Premier (shown below, upper) was the Canadian equivalent to the U.S.-made Duette Sr. See also Duette (definition 2), Moderne (definition 2), Thrift Time.  2  Beginning in 1938, Sheaffer’s name for its oversize Balance model. See Sheaffer names.  3  A pen model produced by Parker from 1983 to 1992. Based on the 75, the Premier was longer and heavier, and it featured some remarkably attractive finishes such as the Athenès shown below (lower).  4  A pen model introduced by Parker in 2016, similar to its 1980s predecessor but thicker and heavier, and featuring a nib and feed design used earlier on the Waterman L’Étalon, Philéas, and Kultur. See also Philéas.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Presidential Parker’s name for any of its pen models when fitted with a solid gold cap and barrel, first applied to an Aero-metric “51”.
pressure bar (also, especially in early usage, presser bar) A metal strip, sometimes with formed channels on its long edges, sometimes made of springy metal or attached to a spring, whose purpose is to squeeze the sac in a pen that uses a sac-based filling system. Some pressure bars are formed in the shape of the letter J and are called J-bars. Illustrated here are a button-filler pressure bar from a Parker Duofold Junior and a J-bar from a lever-filling Esterbrook J. See also filler.
Pressure bars
prime (more correctly, priming) The ink that remains in the nib slit while the pen is not in use. A pen that loses prime is one that allows this ink to drain out of the nib when it is in a nib-upward position, and such a pen will not write until it is reprimed by being held nib downward so that ink flows back into the nib. Shaking can accelerate repriming, but — especially with vintage pens and their more primitive feeds — can cause the pen to throw blots. See also hard starting.
Prince (Prince Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded by Newell A. Prince c. 1855, with Thomas G. Stearns as manager and agent to the public. Prince’s Protean Fountain Pen (U.S. Patents Nos 12,301 and 13,995) was among the earliest relatively successful fountain pens. The pen filled by means of a syringe-type plunger, antedating Woodruff Post’s design by some 40 years. The later of the two patents listed here shows the plunger shaft with a threaded end so that it could be unscrewed from the head, rendering the pen suitable for carrying in a pocket.
propel See mechanical pencil.
Protean See Prince.
proud (chiefly British usage, also common in the pen turning community) Slightly projecting from a surface. Because it stands proud above the surface of the cap, the cap band of the pre-1927 Parker Duofold is a diagnostic feature for identifying Permanite Duofolds of 1925 and 1926.
Proud cap band
pull filler See syringe.
pump A filling system that requires multiple strokes to fill the pen, such as Parker’s Vacumatic. View descriptions and filling instructions here.
pushy Term for a nib that feels “draggy,” i.e., resists motion, on upstrokes. Pushiness can be caused by improper tip shaping, by a flow that is too dry, or by a tip surface that is insufficiently smooth.
Pyralin A trade name for a particular celluloid formulation; used by Wahl and Esterbrook for the material employed in their pens beginning in 1929 and 1932, respectively. See also Celluloid.
pyroxylin (also collodion) A solution of cellulose nitrate in diethyl ether or acetone, sometimes with the addition of various alcohols; used in wound dressing and as a photographic emulsion in the 19th-century wet-plate process. Pyroxylin is toxic and explosively flammable. As the solvent evaporates, the substance dries to a celluloid-like film. Note: some respected authorities refer to pyroxylin as a material of which some vintage pens were made; this is a terminological error that had its origins during the Golden Age. See also Celluloid, Pyralin.

  1. At least one source gives the date as 1932, but Penol’s own website and all other sources I have seen say 1928.  Return

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