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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised March 30, 2024)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]

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sac (also bag or sack, especially in period literature, or bladder) A flexible rubber, PVC, or silicone plastic ink reservoir, tubular and closed at one end. The open end is attached to the gripping section, usually with an adhesive such as shellac. Most sacs are plain cylinders, but some are necked down at the opening, and a few are tapered to make better use of the space within a tapered barrel. Illustrated here are several sacs for different pen models; the parts in the bottom row are a Vacumatic diaphragm (left) and a sac for Waterman’s Ink-Vue filler. See also Pli-Glass, White Rubber Company.
Sacco & Vanzetti (Сакко и Ванцетти in Russian) A brand of fountain pens produced in the USSR by the Mzpp, the Ministry of Health Care and Food Industry (Министерство здравоохранения и пищевой промышленности), so named as part of an anti-U.S. propaganda campaign launched in 1927 after the U.S. executed Italian-born American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who were convicted of murdering a guard and a paymaster during a 1920 armed robbery. Shown here is a pen made in the 1970s. This pen’s filler is like a piston converter except that it is built into the pen instead of being removable.
Fountain pen
sac guard (also sac protector) A rigid protective tube that encloses a sac to protect it in squeeze- and pneumatic-filling pens. Shown here are sac guards in an Aero-metric Parker “51” and a Sheaffer’s Touchdown.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
sac section A small rubber part, within the mechanism of a Sheaffer’s Snorkel, onto which the Snorkel tube, sac, and sac guard are mounted. The sac section, illustrated here with the Snorkel tube in place, might be considered the vestigial remains of an ordinary pen’s gripping section. See also gripping section, Snorkel.
Sac section
sacless (also sackless) A pen that has no sac; includes pens with capillary, cartridge, eyedropper, piston, plunger, and syringe fillers. Bulb fillers and their direct descendants (Ink-Vue and Vacumatic) have no sacs in the usual sense and are called sacless on the basis of this technicality, but they do have flexible rubber parts in direct contact with ink. View descriptions and filling instructions here.
saddle A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A saddle-shaped piece of metal wraps partially around the barrel. Attached to the saddle is a “cinch,” a loop that enters the barrel through a hole at each side of the saddle, passing around a pressure bar that lies at the bottom side of the barrel, beneath the sac. Pulling the saddle upward, away from the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally. View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
safety Term applied to pens whose design reduces or eliminates the possibility of leakage in the user’s pocket or purse. Safety designs arose in the early part of the 20th century, when most pens were made of hard rubber and had a slip-fitting cap that was (more or less) secured by friction. Retractable nibs and screw-on caps were common safety features; the Gold Starry (French) pen shown here has both of these features. Pens with an aperture in the barrel, such as lever fillers, are inherently “unsafe” because they contain a sac that can split or burst and leak through the aperture. See also disappearing, Italian overlay, leakproof, non-leakable, retractable nib, screw cap. Read a discussion here about safety pens and how they work.
Fountain pen
Safety Ink Shut-Off Wahl’s name for the clever ink shut-off device it introduced in the late 1930s (illustrated here; note the metal tab protruding from the section). When the user capped the pen, the inner cap pressed on the tab to close the shutoff. Early units had steel springs that corroded rapidly in the presence of acidic ink; Wahl corrected this problem by using a spring made of gold alloy, but the device was found not to live up to its inflated advertising claims. In 1939, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission prohibited Wahl from advertising it, and the company withdrew it from production. See also shutoff.
Wahl Shutoff
Safety-Sealed Parker’s name for the design of its button-filling pens produced beginning in 1912, sealed against leakage in the user’s pocket by the barrel-end blind cap and by a well-fitted cone cap that lacked breather holes. Below is a Safety-Sealed pen, shown capped, posted, and with both caps removed.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Safford (Safford Pen Company) A sub-brand used by Parker for pens made for the F. W. Woolworth Company; derived from George S. Parker’s middle name. See also Fifth Avenue (definition 2).
SAFIS See King, The.
Sage Green One of three green colors used on Sheaffer’s Snorkel, a high-cachet color due to its relative rarity. See color chip at Pastel Green.
Sager (Sager Pen Corporation) A pen manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois; founded in the latter half of the 1920s by Solomon M. Sager. Sager’s pens featured a transparent barrel and a sophisticated and very effective single-stroke (upstroke ejecting, downstroke filling) plunger-type pump filler (U.S. Patent No 1,868,257), a combination that led the company to create the “Barrel-O-Ink” trademark and a corresponding logo. Shown below is a Sager combo (U.S. Patent No 1,901,414). In 1933, Sager patented the concept of a nib made of Monel metal and plated with chromium or other finishing metal (U.S. Patent No 1,909,900), as a less costly alternative to gold that would be more resistant than stainless steel to ink’s corrosive effects. It does not appear that Monel metal nibs actually reached production. It is not clear when the company ceased operation; it might have set up the Graphomatic Corporation as a subsidiary in about 1943, or it might have changed its name. Sager himself remained active until at least 1947, when he applied for a patent on the design of a ballpoint pen. See also Monel metal. For information on Sager’s “Inkmaker” Pen, see Graphomaatic.
Fountain pen/pencil combo
Fountain pen/pencil combo
Fountain pen/pencil combo
Fountain pen/pencil combo
Sailor (Sailor Pen Company, Ltd) A pen manufacturer located in Hiroshima, Japan; founded in 1911 by Kyoguro Sakata after a British sailor introduced him to fountain pens, and named to honor that unknown sailor. Early production was typical Japanese ebonite eyedropper-filling pens; Sakata avoided sac-filling pens because the latex sacs decayed rapidly in southern Japan’s hot, humid climate. After World War II, the company rebuilt and in 1948 began offering colorful lever-filling celluloid models; this line lasted until 1956, and its heyday was accompanied by the resumption of branding in English, which had been abandoned at the beginning of the war. Today, Sailor’s line is remarkably diversified, with the 1911 collection (1911 full size shown below) reigning as its most popular range. Prices range from about $10.00 to $5,000.00. Sailor is recognized for the quality of its nibs, which it offers in a bewildering variety of styles, many invented by Nobuyoshi Nagahara, who before his death in 2015 was declared a living National Treasure by the Japanese government. See also Zoom nib.
Fountain pen
St. George (St. George Fountain Pen Company) A fountain pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded c. 1913 and lasted until some time in the 1920s.
Salz (Salz Brothers, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City, probably best known today for its diminutive Peter Pan novelty pens. Founded c. 1909 and operated by brothers Jacob, James, and Ignatz, the company produced primarily overlays of low to moderate quality; but some of their models were very good. Manhattan and Salbro were among their sub-brands; Manhattan filigree overlays are virtually identical to contemporaneous models produced by Morrison and may actually have been made by the latter company. Sometime in the latter part of the 1930s, the company changed its name to Stratford; Stratford pens are principally of low quality, some of them assembled from parts that appear to have been supplied by Wearever. (One of the most innovative Stratford pens was the Magnetic, which was of good quality.) The company lasted into the early 1950s. Shown here is an example of The Salz Fountain Pen, a syringe filler of very high quality. See also Magnetic, Peter Pan.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
SAN Styrene-acrylonitrile, an injection-moldable thermoplastic resin of which pens are made, a copolymer of styrene and acrylonitrile. The combination provides good strength and rigidity with a high-gloss surface: an improvement over the qualities of polystyrene, which is more brittle. SAN and ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) are today the most common materials for the manufacture of low-priced pens, with polystyrene being used for very cheap products. Better pens are usually machined of acrylic. See also ABS, acrylic, polystyrene, thermoplastic, thermosetting.
Sanford  1  New name of the Sanford & Bennett Company after its 1919 reorganization. See Sanford & Bennett.  2  (Sanford Pen Company, Inc.) An apparently short-lived pen company located in Cleveland, Ohio, c. 1908–1909. The company sold manifolding mechanical pencils and a fountain pen that was designed to use commonly available steel pens (dip nibs). It is not clear whether Sanford produced its own pens and pencils or bought them for resale.  3  Sanford L.P., founded as the Sanford Manufacturing Company in 1857 to produce ink; presently a division of Newell Rubbermaid; the owner of Parker, Waterman, Paper Mate, and several other high-level writing instrument brands.
Sanford & Bennett (Sanford & Bennett Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded c. 1900 by William W. Sanford and Frederick D. Bennett. The company produced fountain pens, including a blow filler (U.S. Patent No 703,479) and sleeve fillers (U.S. Patents Nos 807,500 and 828,973), and stylographic pens. ¶ In 1919, upon Bennett’s death, the company was reorganized and renamed the Sanford Pen Company, Inc.
saturation (of interest primarily to writers who enjoy using a selection of inks) The aspect of color that describes the intensity of hue. See the color wheel below. The colors at the periphery of the wheel are 100% saturated, with the saturation decreasing to zero at the center of the wheel. ¶ To increase the saturation of color in ink, the maker increases the amount of dissolved dye so that the ink will better hide the paper beneath it. However, increasing the dye load also increases the probability that some of the dye will precipitate out of solution. When this happens in a bottle, a sediment of solid dye appears at the bottom. When it happens in a pen, the dye collects most readily in small spaces, especially feed channels and the nib slit; the result is flow problems or, in more severe cases, a clog. See also hue, shade, shading (definition 2).
Color wheel
Saturday afternoon
Collectors’ term for a pen that appears to have been created unofficially, perhaps by a factory worker in his or her off hours. The term derives from the usual 5-day work week of the early 20th century. The category of Saturday afternoon specials could include pens in colors that were not catalogued for their particular models, pens of unusual sizes, pens with nonstandard combinations of features, or other pens that “should not exist.”
sautoir (French for “long necklace,” pronounced so-TWAR; also cordelier (Parker) guard (L. E. Waterman), lanyard) A long necklace, often made of silk grosgrain ribbon, to which a ringtop pen is attached by means of a clasp that is part of the sautoir. Shown below is a Sheaffer’s No 2 Self-Filler on a sautoir from the same period. See also chatelaine, ringtop.
SaWaCo A brand name used by De Witt–La France on pens made for them under contract by the Samuel Ward Manufacturing Company. See also De Witt–La France.
Schaaf See Autofiller.
Scheible See Lotz.
Schmidt (Schmidt Technology GmbH) A manufacturing company located in St. Georgen, Germany; founded in 1938 by brothers Hermann and Wilhelm Schmidt to produce clock parts. In 1952, the company redefined itself with the entry of Hans Schmidt to become a full-scale manufacturer of writing instruments and parts. Schmidt steel nibs, marked SCHMIDT IRIDIUM POINT, are widely known among users of inexpensive fountain pens. In 1964, Schmidt launched a new division to produce high-precision industrial machinery of the types that the company itself was using to make its writing instruments. In 1969, Rolf Schmidt became Managing Director, and as of this writing, the company is being managed by the fourth generation of the Schmidt family. See also Bock, JoWo.
Schnell  1  The Julius L. Schnell Pen Company. See also combo, Master Pen, Penselpen.  2  The filling system used by Schnell pens, a “shift” (slide) system (U.S. Patent No 1,144,436). A metal tab, resembling a lever, slides lengthwise in a barrel slot to depress the pressure bar. Lifting the tab as if it were a lever will destroy it.
school pen (also student pen) An inexpensive pen designed to be used by school students. Shown here are a Sheaffer cartridge-filling school pen from the 1960s (essentially a scaled-down adult pen) and a modern Lamy abc pen (a purpose-built model used in Europe, not widely available in the U.S.A.).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
scratchy A term describing a nib that does not write smoothly. Scratchiness can result from improper shaping or finishing of the tipping material, misalignment of the tines, fractured or pitted tipping material, or wear. Because all of these defects tend to create sharp edges or corners on the nib’s tip, scratchy nibs frequently tear the fibers of the paper; if torn fibers are caught between the tines, the result can be a clog, bleeding and feathering, unduly wide and sloppy ink lines on the paper, or all of these problems. See also tooth.
Screaming Souls
in Purgatory
A term coined by David Isaacson, referring to the chaotic appearance of the gray and green “birdseye” colors used by Sheaffer on some WASP Clipper pens. For more information, see this WASP Clipper profile.
Color chip
screw cap (also threaded cap) A cap that screws onto the body of the pen to protect the nib and to prevent evaporation of the ink. Screw caps evolved shortly after 1910 and are much more reliable than the slip caps that preceded them. See also slip cap.
screw thread A screw thread is in essence a spiral ramp running around the outside of a rod or other cylindrical object (male thread), to mate with a matching ramp on the inside of a hole (female thread). Screw threads are defined by their diameters, thread profile, pitch, and lead. The crown diameter is the measurement over the threads on a rod, and the root diameter is the measure of the rod itself; i.e., at the base of the threads. Most threads have a triangular profile, with the crown and root somewhat rounded, or relieved, so that the threads will not present a sharp edge. Pitch is the distance between one thread and the next along the length of the threaded object. When an object is threaded, the thread can start at any point on the circumference. Lead (pronounced leed) is a number describing how many starting points a particular thread has. A single-lead thread, the most common type, advances 1× the pitch for each complete rotation. A two-lead thread has two starting points spaced 180° apart. It advances 2× the pitch per rotation, and so on. Multi-lead threads always have their starting points equally spaced around the circumference. Shown here are single- and four-lead threads as used on Sheaffer nib units in the 1940s. In pens, single-lead threads are most commonly used to secure the section and barrel together, or the nib housing into the section. The principal use of multi-lead threads in pens is for caps. Most caps use a three-lead (triple-lead) thread so that the cap will screw down with just two or three turns instead of requiring three times as many turns. See also left-hand thread, right-hand thread.
single_lead_thread four_lead_thread
Single-lead thread Four-lead thread
Scripto (Scripto Manufacturing Company) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in Atlanta, Georgia; founded in 1918 by Monie A. Ferst as the M. A. Ferst Company, Ltd, producing only pencil leads. The company name was changed to Scripto in 1924, and by the late 1930s its line had been expanded to include promotional and commemorative writing instruments such as a mechanical pencil shaped like a baseball bat. The one illustrated here (first image below) is imprinted “Souvenir of Marshalltown Iowa,” the home town of 19th-century baseball superstar Adrian “Cap” Anson (fl. 1871–1897). During World War II, Scripto produced 75-mm brass artillery shell casings and other munitions. In 1947, under the leadership of James V. Carmichael, Scripto became an international business and quickly emerged as the world’s largest producer of writing instruments. Beginning in 1955, the company began producing refillable butane cigarette lighters. In 1957, Scripto acquired Anja Engineering Corporation, an international supplier of writing instruments, and Scripto’s mechanical pencils became nearly ubiquitous, the most common being the K780 twist-action pencil (shown below, second). Lever- and squeeze-filling fountain pens were of typical low-line construction (below, third, a squeeze-filling model), but Scripto did for a period sell a cartridge fountain pen that was mechanically identical to Waterman’s student pens of the time (below, bottom) and was probably made by JiF-Waterman. In 1973 the company was acquired by Wilkinson Sword, a British producer of razors and blades, knives, and other edged tools. In 1974, Scripto’s lighter production was changed to disposable lighters engineered by partner company Tokai-Seiki of Japan. By 1978 Scripto had been acquired by Allegheny International, which sold it in 1984 to the Tokai Corporation (formerly Tokai-Seiki). In 1989, most production was moved to Mexico. At some point thereafter, Scripto ceased production of writing instruments and today makes only lighters and related products. ¶ Rights to the use of the Scripto name for writing instruments appear to have been acquired by an unrelated producer of promotional writing instruments, and Scripto-branded ballpoint pens and mechanical pencils are in current production as of this writing.
Mechanical pencil
Mechanical pencil
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Scriptograph See Signagraph.
SE See special edition.
Seas A series of cartridge/converter pens made by Sheaffer for Levenger, featuring transparent colors. Seas pens appeared in two versions, the first (shown below, upper) identical to the Sheaffer Connaisseur and the second (below, lower) a slight variant identifiable by its use of a washer clip with a metal cap crown instead of the original Sheaffer-style tab-mounted clip on the first-version pen. The six first-generation colors were named after bodies of water as listed in the table below; the four second-generation colors (muted shades of blue, gray, green, and orange) had no special names. See also Connaisseur, Levenger.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen

First-Generation Sea Name Color

Red Red
Caribbean Yellow
Aegean Green
Tasman Aqua
Mediterranean Blue
Adriatic Purple

second line Term denoting a model with fewer features, a less extensive warranty, or other qualities that make it worth less than the top, or first line, model; for example, the Parker Vacumatic Major and Junior models from the late 1930s and the 1940s. The two models were the same size, but the Major had slightly fancier trim than the Junior, and it also had a lifetime warranty that the Junior lacked.
second tier Term applied to a pen of moderate or high quality from one of the lesser manufacturers. Also applied to a manufacturer of such pens. Among the second tier of U.S. manufacturers were companies such as Aikin Lambert, Chilton, Moore, and Morrison. See also first tier, third tier.
Secretary  1  A full-sized flat-top pen made by Sheaffer, colored brilliant red to distinguish it (according to Sheaffer’s advertising) from the boss’s pen. Initially advertised in 1924 as a BCHR pen (but also known to have been made in RCHR), the Secretary migrated in 1924 or 1925 to unchased Radite along with the rest of Sheaffer’s line. Fitted with a No 7 nib instead of the No 8 used in the same-sized Lifetime pen, the Secretary sold for $1.75 less than the Lifetime. See also BCHR, Radite, RCHR.  2  A brand used by the Newark Pen Company. See Newark.
section See gripping section, sac section.
Security  1  (Security Pen Corporation) A pen manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois; originally founded in 1919 as the Securograph Pen Company in Terre Haute, Indiana, by John H. and George H. Kritikson. The brothers soon moved their business to Chicago and incorporated as Kritikson Bros to produce hard rubber pens bearing the Security brand; before the end of 1923, their company had become the Security Pen Corporation. John Kritikson’s inventive skill produced a series of patents that went together in a pen featuring a special device for preventing check fraud, called a check protector. (Desktop check protectors were a popular office accessory at that time, and a pen offering the same feature was thought to be a sure-fire winner.) Concealed under the top of the cap as shown below, Kritikson’s check protector (U.S. Patent No 1,480,690) consists of a small toothed roller that runs in a pad of red ink; rolling it over the writing on a check cuts tiny slits in the paper, impregnating the fibers with the red ink. Alongside its pens, the company sold check-protector fobs under the Securograph name, for people who were not in the market for new pens. Security pens bore an elegant (although somewhat odd looking) spring-loaded clip (U.S. Patent No 1,339,359), and they filled by means of a twist mechanism (U.S. Patent No 1,482,568) operated by a knob on the end of the barrel. Turning the screw-threaded knob counterclockwise pulled on one arm of a bellcrank, pushing a pressure bar into the sac to squeeze it; turning the knob clockwise reversed the motion, allowing the sac to fill. The Security Pen Corporation failed in 1929; revived under its earlier name, it relocated to Oakland City, Indiana, subcontracting its assembly work to students at nearby Lincoln College. Production continued into the early 1930s; by then, the pens were made of celluloid, and the last models were streamlined. See also check protector.  2  The Security Pen, a screw-capped eyedropper-filling range produced by the Diamond Point Pen Company during the years following 1910. See illustration at Diamond Point.
Fountain pencheck protector
Securograph See Security.
Select-O-Point Wahl’s name for the interchangeable nib system that it used in Wahl-Oxford pens. See also Fineline, Personal-Point, Renew-Point.
Self The Self Fountain Pen Company. See Conklin.
self-filler (also self-filling pen) Any pen that fills by means of a built-in (i.e., non-removable) filling system. The term appeared with the advent of such pens toward the end of the 19th century, as a means to distinguish them from “regular” pens (eyedropper fillers). See also cartridge/converter, filler, regular.
Self-Fitting Point See adjustable nib (definition 1).
semiflexible See flexible.
Senator See Merz & Krell.
Sengbusch (Sengbusch Self-Closing Inkstand Company) A manufacturing company located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; founded in 1903 by Gustav J. Sengbusch to produce and market his patented inkstand (U.S. Patents Nos 726,194 and 726,195). Remained in business until 1970. Sengbusch inkstands featured a float valve; when the user dipped a pen, the pen pushed the valve down to admit ink to the center well, where the pen would be dipped only to the proper depth, reducing the amount of excess ink that must be shaken off. Removing the pen allowed the valve to close. ¶ For use with its inkstands, Sengbusch also developed an interchangeable-nib dip-less pen that it called the Hand-I-Pen; the nibs could be used in some other makers’ dip-less desk pens but, because of their greater length, not in the same makers’ pocket pens. See also dip-less pen.
service pen (also loaner) A pen produced for sale to dealers and repair stations, to be lent to customers whose pens required repairs that could not be performed while their owners waited. The Sheaffer Balance illustrated here is immediately identifiable as a service pen because Sheaffer never offered a Balance to the public in plain bright red. Not all service pens are recognizable by their color, however, and service pens were engraved to identify them; this one bears the legend SERVICE PEN LOANED BY A. LA ROCHELLE.
Fountain pen
service set A pen and pencil set provided with a case suitable for carrying on the belt (or in the pocket); so named because of its convenience for military personnel but not actually produced for, or procured by, the U.S. military establishment. The term may be the source of the misconception that Morrison’s Patriot (crestless Navy set shown below) was made to conform to military regulations.
Service set
Servo A type of filling system (U.S. Patent No 1,212,297); operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A U-shaped operating lever pushes upward on a metal pressure bar to squeeze the sac. The pressure bar has a pair of tabs on its under surface that straddle the end of the operating lever to prevent the pressure bar from wandering sideways. There is also a hole in the pressure bar through which the operating lever passes; this hole keeps the lever from sliding back and forth relative to the pressure bar. View filling instructions here. See also Welty.
Filler schematic
Settles (Settles Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Chicago, Illinois, during the early decades of the 20th century, with A. E. Barnes as president. Settles produced pens of high quality under the Supremacy brand and also sold the Kritikson brothers’ Security pen until the Kritiksons set up to sell the pen themselves. Shown below is a Supremacy ringtop. See also Security.
Fountain pen
shade (of interest primarily to writers who enjoy using a selection of inks) The aspect of color that describes the darkness of a given hue. See the color strip below. The middle of the strip shows red. To the left, the color lightens through a range of pinks and finally to white; to the right it darkens through a range of burgundies and finally to black. See also hue, saturation, shading (definition 2).
Color bar
shading  1  (also shaded writing) Term for writing with line variation; used by Esterbrook to describe the intended use of its flexible nibs (x048, x128, x788).  2  Variation in color depth and saturation due to uneven application of ink to the paper as the pen moves more or less rapidly and in changing directions.See also hue, saturation, shade.
Shadow Wave Parker’s marketing name for a set of colors for the Vacumatic Junior that featured longitudinal striation in an irregular pattern insead of lateral striping in distinct rings. Shown here is a Silver Shadow Wave Speedline Junior. See also Vacumatic.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
shaft See holder.
sharpened A variation of italic or oblique italic nibs developed by John Mottishaw, in which edges are sharply defined as on a crisp italic; a calligrapher’s nib. To reduce the likelihood that the nib will dig into the paper upon rapid changes from up/down to sidewise motion, the outside corners — but not the edges — are slightly rounded (not to the same degree as on a cursive italic) as shown below. See also crisp, cursive (definition 2), DailyItalic, italic, oblique.
Nib shape
Shattuck (Shattuck Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded c. 1888 by Laforest A. Shattuck to produce eyedropper-filling pens to his patented designs (nine patents between 1888 and 1892, including U.S. Patent No 482,592 for a jointless design). Shattuck’s pens, which won a gold medal at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, featured a multipath feed for improved flow control and a flange at the open end of the barrel, where the nozzle screwed in, ostensibly to prevent the user’s fingers from coming in contact with any ink that might leak through the joint. The company survived at least until 1900.
Sheaffer (Walter A. Sheaffer Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Fort Madison, Iowa; founded in 1912 by Walter A. Sheaffer, a jeweler, to produce pens using his revolutionary lever filling system, patented in 1908 (U.S. Patent No 896,861) and improved in 1914 (U.S. Patents Nos 1,114,052 and 1,118,240). Sheaffer continued to innovate and is known for bringing to market the first widely successful plastic (celluloid) pens in 1924. Among the company’s notable pens have been the Balance (illustrated below by a Marine Green Oversize example), the “TRIUMPH”, the Snorkel and PFM, and the Targa. Sheaffer sub-brands included Craig, Univer, Vacuum, Vacuum-Fil, and WASP. A family-run company until 1966, Sheaffer was acquired in that year by Textron, a motley conglomerate, which in 1976 combined Sheaffer with paper manufacturer Eaton. By 1986, Textron was bowed under the weight of debt, and in 1987 it sold Sheaffer Eaton to Gefinor S.A., a Geneva-based investment bank. Purchased from Gefinor by BiC in 1997, Sheaffer was sold to A. T. Cross in 2014. In 2022, Cross sold Sheaffer to William Penn, a company based in Bangalore, India. See also Craig (definition 1), Cross, first tier, sub-brand, Vacuum-Fil, WASP.
Fountain pen
Sheaffer names A set of names applied to Sheaffer’s various pen models beginning in 1938, before which the pens had only model numbers. The range of names grew and changed slightly over the years; the table here lists them as they appear in the August 1, 1938, catalog. See also Commandant, Defender, Mercury (definition 2), Sheaffer numbers, Sovereign DeLuxe, “TRIUMPH”, Valiant, Vigilant.

Name Nib Description Price

Masterpiece Lifetime Full length, std girth, 14K cap and barrel $80.00
Heritage Autograph Lifetime Full length, std girth, broad 14K cap band $20.00
Excellence Autograph Lifetime Short length, std girth, broad 14K cap band $20.00
Lady Autograph Lifetime Short length, slender, broad 14K cap band $18.00
Crest Lifetime Full length, std girth, metal cap $13.75
Lady Crest Lifetime Short length, slender, metal cap $12.75
Premier Lifetime Oversize $10.00
Statesman Lifetime Full length, std girth $10.00
Sovereign Lifetime Full length, slender $8.75
Lady Sheaffer Lifetime Short length, slender $8.75
Admiral Feathertouch No 5 Full length, std girth $5.00
Milady Feathertouch No 5 Short length, slender $5.00
Craftsman No 3 (later, No 33) Full length, slender $3.50
Miss Universe No 3 Short length, slender $3.50
Junior Junior Short length, slender $2.75

Sheaffer No 33 See nib number.
Sheaffer numbers Numbers included as the last line of the barrel imprint on Sheaffer pens and pencils to indicate the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP). These numbers, including 275, 350, 400, 500, 875, 1000, 1250, 1500, etc., were not model numbers; hence, there is no such pen as a “Sheaffer 1000.” Rather, a pen whose imprint reads 1000 was intended to retail for $10.00. From the table at Sheaffer names, it is clear that more than one model fits this description. See also Sheaffer names.
sheath See trumpet.
Sheath point See “TRIUMPH” point.
sheening ink An ink that produces a sheen (often metallic in appearance) upon drying slowly. The effect is due to thin-film interference between light waves being reflected from the surface of the dried ink and is caused by differences in the crystalline structures of the different dyes that are combined to produce the ink’s basic color. Sheening inks are true solutions containing no particulate matter, and they do not tend to cause flow issues or clogging. See also shimmer ink.
shell  1  (also hood) The conical cover that encloses and conceals a hooded nib, such as that on a Parker “51”.  2  A type of patterned celluloid used on the Wahl Doric Airliner, Merlin 33 and Merlina, and several other pens; notable for the grating-like parallel lines appearing on the surface of the flakes. Shown below is Eversharp’s Silver Green Shell.
Color chip
shellac A solution of purified lac (the resinous secretion of the lac insect) in denatured alcohol; used as a wood finish. Various joints in fountain pens, such as that between the sac and the section, are secured using shellac as an adhesive. See also lacquer, palm shellac, urushi, varnish.
shimmer ink (also glitter ink) An ink that includes very finely ground flakes of a reflective metallic or metalized substance to make the writing shimmer or glimmer in the light. These inks have demonstrated a greater tendency to clog than ordinary inks because the particles are likely to settle in the tight passages of a feed; one of the earliest shimmer inks, Sheaffer King’s Gold, was notorious for clogging pens. See also sheening ink.
shiro (pronounced shee-ro) The Japanese word 白 (“white,” as a noun), used to refer to the unplated steel nibs that were universal on Japanese pens from 1938 until sometime after World War II, during which time Japan was under a total gold embargo.
short/long See long/short.
shoulder (also web) The widest portion of a nib; the corner where the side edge of a nib turns inward to become the edge of the tine. See illustration at nib.
shutoff (also ink shutoff, shut-off) A device that prevents ink from flowing to the nib when operated. The most common shutoff is a shaft extending the length of the barrel in an eyedropper pen (usually, Japanese). The shaft connects to a blind cap that screws in or out; its conical end engages a mating depression in the back end of the section, blocking the flow of ink when the blind cap is screwed down. This inconvenient design requires the user to open the shutoff after uncapping the pen and then, occasionally, wait for the flow of ink to reëstablish itself. For a description of the Wahl ink shutoff, see Safety Ink Shut-Off.
sided See faceted.
Side Talks A magazine for Parker dealers, published quarterly until 1915 by the Parker Pen Company. In 1915, Side Talks was replaced by Parkergrams. See also Parker, Parkergrams.
Signagraph A machine produced by the L. E. Waterman Company from the early 20th century into the 1930s; manufactured under license from the Signature Company of New York, which called its product the Scriptograph. The Waterman version held from five to twenty Waterman pens (depending on the machine model) such that the actions of a person signing with a pen-shaped handle that operated one of the pens were duplicated by means of a pantograph arrangement to sign multiple documents simultaneously. The machine could use different models of pens, but Waterman offered special pens that could be filled without being removed from the machine. Shown here are a magazine cut of a four-pen Scriptograph in operation and several views of one of the special Waterman pens. In addition to the fixed-mount design illustrated here, there were also portable models that folded into a leather-covered hard case for carrying. See also Waterman, L.E.
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Fountain pen
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Signet  1  A “house brand” used for pens sold through Rexall stores. Signet pens were made for Rexall by De Witt–La France. See also De Witt–La France.  2  Parker’s trim name for some of its pen models when fitted with a gold-filled cap and barrel, first applied to an Aero-metric “51”.
silicone grease A grease based on a silicone (siloxane) compound rather than petroleum; used on pens because it does not react with rubber parts such as sacs and feeds. See also silicone spray.
silicone spray An aerosol lubricant based on a silicone (siloxane) compound rather than petroleum. Despite its silicone base, this product is inappropriate for use on many pens because the propellant is usually heptane, a petroleum distillate. See also silicone grease.
silver A soft white precious metal (atomic number 47). Used (usually as sterling) to make pen bodies and furniture, and as an alloying component with other metals to adjust color or mechanical properties. See also Argentium, coin silver, green gold, rose gold, palladium silver, sterling, white gold.
singing A squeaking or squealing sound that some nibs make as they write. Singing is a harmonic vibration that occurs when friction between the nib’s tip and the paper causes the nib to “stick” and release repeatedly at the resonant frequency of the nib. When a nib that sings is stroked very rapidly across the paper, as in signing with a flourish, the vibration can be sufficiently energetic to atomize the ink, creating an aerosol spray that peppers the paper with tiny droplets. When this happens, the stroke itself usually becomes very broad and fuzzy in appearance, as shown below. See also clicking, talking.
Spray from singing nib
single action A type of piston mechanism. See piston.
single jewel (abbreviated SJ) Term for a pen with a jewel (with or without a tassie) on the cap crown but none at the end of the barrel. See also bullet-bottom, double jewel, jewel, tassie.
Siphoïde A piston-filling reservoir pen with a stopcock for controlling flow, introduced in 1864. See Mallat.
SITB Colloquial abbreviation for “Slime (Stuff) In The Bottle”. Commonly caused by chemical incompatibilities between components of an ink. SITB can appear as “strings” in a bottle of ink, or it can look like lumps of jellied inky sludge, either in a bottle or in a pen. Contrast with mold.
Sixty Four A pen model introduced by Eversharp in 1943. The Sixty Four was a higher-priced version of the Fifth Avenue; the latter featured a vermeil cap and barrel tassie while these parts were solid gold on the Sixty Four. The model designation derives from the price of a pen/pencil set; the pen alone was $40.00, the pencil was $24.00, and the set was $64.00. Eversharp made a clever tie-in with a popular radio show called Take It Or Leave It (also known as The $64 Question) by applying a 6?4 imprint to the caps of some Sixty Fours as shown here. See also Fifth Avenue.
Fountain pen
SJ  1  “single jewel.” See single jewel.  2  A member of Esterbrook’s “J” family of pens. The SJ is shorter and thinner than the J. Shown below are a green SJ and a black J. Read a profile of the J family here.
Fountain pen
Skidmore (Skidmore Pen Company, also Skidmore Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in Toledo, Ohio; founded c. 1915–1920 as successor to the Major Fountain Pen Company by Major F. Skidmore and sold by him in 1921 to his brother Elmer L. Skidmore for $250.00, with Major continuing to participate in the business. Apparently never incorporated, the company (styling itself also as the Wm. Bolles Dollar Pen Company and the Toledo Gold Filler Fountain Pen Company) produced pens of good quality. Principal among its products, however, was a crescent-filler that was a very good copy of Conklin’s pen, although some production was marked with Skidmore’s name. On August 20, 1924, the Federal Trade Commission issued a cease-and-desist order, citing unfair competition, that forced Skidmore to cease production of crescent-filling pens. See also Major (definition 2).
skipping Failure of a pen to produce a continuous line when writing. Skipping can be caused by flow issues within the pen (either mechanical or ink related), a nib that is set to write too dryly, a nib so scratchy that it scrapes paper fibers into the slit to cause a clog, excessive rotation of the pen, an excessively chalky coating on the paper, or foreign substances such as skin oils from the user’s hand.
Skrip Sheaffer’s registered trademark name for a proprietary fountain pen ink introduced in 1922. In order to distinguish the product from its competition, Sheaffer’s advertising referred to Skrip as writing fluid rather than as ink; this may have been an attempt to distract attention from the public-relations disaster of Sheaffer’s first ink, an alkaline formulation that reacted unfortunately with the acidic inks then in common use when mixed in a pen. See also RC-35.
Skripsert Sheaffer’s name for several series of cartridge-filling pens introduced c. 1957. The term encompasses models ranging from $2.98 school pens to Lady Sheaffer pens retailing for more than $100.00. Shown here are a Skripsert Deluxe and a Lady Sheaffer XII Skripsert.
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Fountain pen
Skyboy A special version of Sheaffer’s Balance, introduced in 1939; offered in short and long sizes with a radius clip and, later, in 1941, with Sheaffer’s elegant military clip. The Skyboy featured a SKYBOY imprint on its clip and was advertised as being specially adapted to air travel. See also Balance.
Skyline A pen model introduced by Eversharp in 1941, designed by noted industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss. The streamlined Skyline was an excellent writer and was the company’s most successful model ever. The Skyline shown here is in the attractive Modern Stripe Red color (often called moiré). Read a profile of the Skyline here. See also moiré, Streamliner.
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Fountain pen
Skywriter A series of medium-priced pen models sold by Waterman under the Aikin Lambert brand in the 1920s and early 1930s. When Waterman subsumed the Aikin Lambert name, Waterman Skywriters appeared on the market for a brief period. See also Aikin Lambert.
slab-sided Term describing a nib whose tipping material is ground so that the sides are essentially flattish, as opposed to one that is more rounded on the sides. See also nib.
sleeve (also thumb) A type of filling system used by Waterman (U.S. Patent No 950,817) and others. Operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. The sac is partially exposed through an opening in the side of the barrel. A pressure bar spans the opening. A movable sleeve covers the opening; in some implementations, the sleeve can travel along the barrel of the pen to expose the opening (as illustrated below, upper image), while in others it has a cutout that matches the cutout in the barrel when the sleeve is rotated, as shown by the Coit’s READY FILL pen below (lower two images). Depressing the pressure bar with a thumb or finger squeezes the sac laterally. View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
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Fountain pen
slip cap A cap that slides (slips) onto the body of the pen to protect the nib and to prevent evaporation of the ink. Hard rubber slip caps were very unreliable, and most pen makers had abandoned them before 1920. See also cone cap, straight cap, taper cap.
slip-on clip See accommodation clip.
slipper cap An asymmetrical cap design created by Raymond Loewy for the Eversharp Symphony. As shown here, the cap appears almost to have been made from the halves of two caps welded together, with the clip attached to the shorter side. See also Symphony.
Slipper cap
slit The cut that divides the tines of a nib. The slit must be narrow enough for capillary action to draw ink to the tip while at the same time wide enough to deliver the quantity of ink that the nib demands when writing. Ordinary nibs have a single slit and two tines; some so-called “music” nibs have two slits and three tines. See illustration at nib. See also capillary action.
Smaragd See Barclay.
Smith, H. M. Horace. M. Smith was a New York stationer and manufacturer of gold and steel dip pens beginning after the Civil War. He also handled mechanical pencils, possibly of his own manufacture. He later began selling pens from makers such as Paul Wirt, and he bought job-shop pens and pencils imprinted with his own name for resale. Among his suppliers was D. W. Lapham, which provided him with Beaumel-designed pens branded “The Rival” (shown below). See also Beaumel.
Fountain pen
Snake (also snake pen) A pen, almost always black, with a decorative sculptured silver or gold overlay using snakes as its motif. The best known and most desirable Snakes are the Parker No 37 and No 38 eyedropper fillers, c. 1900. Shown here is a Reform-Rekord piston-filling Snake.
Fountain pen
Snakeskin See Lizard.
Snapfil See Houston.
snap cap A cap that is designed to snap onto the pen, usually with an audible clicking or snapping sound. Many modern pens have snap caps; probably the best known collectible pen with a snap cap is the Parker 75.
snap ring (also C-ring or circlip) A C-shaped ring made of spring wire; snaps into a groove machined inside the barrel of a lever-filling pen to provide a mounting and a pivot for the lever.
Snorkel A series of pens made by Sheaffer beginning in 1952, noted for its unique filling mechanism (see below). View filling instructions here. See a profile of the Snorkel series here and a cross-section of the anatomy of a Snorkel pen here.
Fountain pen
Snowcap The official name for Montblanc’s six-lobed logo, a stylized white hexafoil in a black circle as shown below. Collectors refer to the logo irreverently as a snowflake, or sometimes — rudely — as a “bird splat.” ¶ The Snowcap could be viewed as resembling the Star of David, and for a brief period in the 1970s, when Israel and Saudi Arabia were at odds, Montblanc replaced it on pens for the Saudi market with a white triangle. An unexpected backlash from both the Israeli and Saudi Arabian sides brought a quick reversal of this exercise in political correctness, and today those triangle-marked pens are rare and highly desirable among Montblanc collectors.
Snow Pen A limited edition of the Sheaffer Prelude, decorated with roll-engraved snowflakes on the barrel and produced for the Christmas season in 1997, the second and last of an annual holiday series that lasted only two years. See also Holly Pen.
Fountain pen
Soennecken (Soennecken Verlag) A pen manufacturer located in Bonn, Germany; founded in 1875 as a stationery shop in Iserlohn and moved to Bonn a year later. By 1883, Soennecken had about 40 employees producing steel pens, loose-leaf notebooks, and some office furniture. At some point before 1890, the company began making both straight-cap and conical-cap eyedropper-filling fountain pens. Helical-cam safety pens appeared in the 1905 catalog. 1927 saw Soennecken’s introduction of lever-filling pens, but these models were discontinued in 1930 in favor of a button filler with a collar, or shell, that screwed down to allow filling and screwed up to prevent accidental pressing of the button (German Patent No 532,849). This filler was introduced on a new high-end range branded Rheingold (Model 613 shown below, upper). The Präsident appeared in 1935. During World War II the Bonn factory was completely destroyed; the founder’s son and grandson rebuilt and in 1945 resumed production of a reduced range of Rheingold and Präsident models. Other designs followed, the most prestigious being the 111 (111 Extra below, lower), which featured a locking piston filler. Sales of office furniture and stationery declined in the 1950s, and the rise of cheap ballpoints put paid to much of the market for high-quality fountain pens. Soennecken closed its doors in 1967.
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Fountain pen
soft  1  (as usually applied to nibs) Not firm or rigid, but not flexible in the sense of a true flexible nib. Most soft nibs are springy or bouncy (“live”). The Pelikan M1000 and most Omas Arte Italiana models have soft nibs. The Namiki Falcon’s nib is identified as being soft, but it is somewhat closer to semiflexible without being particularly live.  2  (as usually applied to metal objects in general) Easy to bend without significant ability to return; easy to scratch or otherwise mar. The 22K gold nib used on the Platinum “22” is so bendable that even moderate writing pressure will spring it; and its surface pits badly under attempts to polish it with the most common tool for buffing nibs, red rouge on a muslin wheel.
soldier clip See military clip.
Solv-X A “secret ingredient” in Parker Quink; claimed to clean the pen while you use it. First advertised during World War II, possibly as a marketing ploy to encourage patriotic consumers to use Quink in order to avoid wasting critical materials by allowing their pens to become ruined by clogging. See also Quink.
Sonnet A pen model introduced by Parker in 1994. The Sonnet (illustrated below in black lacquer and sterling silver Fougère) was designed by Geoff Hollington as an evolution on his Insignia chassis, with fancier trim. Like the Insignia, it features a screw-interchangeable nib unit. The Sonnet has turned out to be a workhorse pen that has appeared in a broad variety of colors and trim variations at many price levels with both steel and gold nibs. See also Insignia (definition 2).
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Fountain pen
Soper & Sievewright A fountain pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded c. 1900. Producers of the Keystone Fountain Pen, which featured an ink shut-off (based on U.S. Patent No 663,590). See also Keystone.
Sovereign See Sheaffer names.
Sovereign DeLuxe A model name assigned by Sheaffer to a Lifetime Balance model pen that was identical to the Sovereign except that it was fitted with a longitudinally-grooved jeweler’s band (illustrated below) and was sold in jewelry stores instead of the usual pen outlets. See also jeweler’s band, Sheaffer names.
Fountain pen
Soyuz (Союз, “Union” in Russian) A pen manufacturer located in Leningrad, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (now St. Petersburg, Russia). Produced a broad variety of pens, including accordion-filling copies of the Parker “51” and cartridge/converter pens similar to the Montblanc Generations. See also Moscow, Passport.
spade nib Term for a triple-broad nib (BBB or 3B).
spear feed The earliest practical feed design, with no special features to increase the capillary surface for flow buffering, as shown here. See also buffer, feed.
Spear feed
spearhead feed See Christmas tree.
Special  1  The Parker Duofold Special (1920s), a pen of Senior length but having a narrower, Junior-sized girth.  2  The Parker “51” Special (from 1950), a less costly version of the “51” having an Octanium nib, a black cap jewel, and a non Aero-metric squeeze filler fitted with a plastic breather tube shortened so that the sac could never fill completely: the ink level would fall below the end of the breather tube when the pen was held nib upward. See also Octanium.
SPECIAL ALLOY Term imprinted on untipped nibs used by third-tier manufacturers during the 1930s and 1940s, a marketing term used to disguise the fact that the nibs were made of ordinary stainless steel. See also DURIUM, iridium, steel.
special edition (colloquially, SE) A pen model whose production run is limited in some way, such as for a particular retailer. See also limited edition, limited production.
Speedline Parker’s name for the second generation of its Vacumatic pen design. The Speedline filler (shown here) differs from the earlier Lockdown version in that the plunger lacks the notches at the outer ends of the slots in the Lockdown’s plunger and therefore does not lock in the depressed position. See also filler, Lockdown.
Spencerian  1  An American round hand writing system developed by Platt Rogers Spencer (1800–1864). Spencer based his system loosely on English Round Hand (copperplate) styles, but it is less formal and more “alive” than most copperplate work. Shown below (upper) is a short exemplar set in a font called Spencerian Palmer Penmanship. See also calligraphy, copperplate, round hand, Zanerian. (View an envelope inscribed by master penman Edward B. Weyman here.)  2  (Spencerian Pen Company) A pen company located in New York City. The company was established as the Spencerian Steel Pen Company in 1858 by Ivison Phinney and was well established on its own by 1883. Until the latter half of the 1920s, its only business was the importation and sale of English-made steel pens (dip nibs) from Perry & Company and from a now-unknown maker for sale under Spencerian’s own name. At some time after 1925, it began jobbing Spencerian-branded lever-filling fountain pens from Conklin, and during part of the 1930s it also offered piston fillers. Later in the 1930s, it began offering third tier-level pens of low quality, possibly from Conklin after the company’s sale and move to Chicago. Shown below (lower) is a Conklin-made Spencerian from the mid-1930s. See also Conklin, steel pen.
Spencerian script exemplar
Fountain pen
Split Arrow clip A clip design used by Parker from about 1938 to 1948, so called because it looks like an arrow that is split lengthwise, with the name PARKER running vertically down the split. Read an article that includes a discussion on variations of the Split Arrow clip, with illustrations, here. See also Arrow clip and the illustration at clip.
split band A cap decoration consisting of two (or more) narrow bands in lieu of a single broader one.
split feed A feed design used on Montblanc Meisterstück 149 pens from 1975 to 1991. The feed is ordinary except that there is a transverse capillary slit running from the front to about halfway through the finned area as shown here. This slit provided extra flow buffering, but it also made the feed more prone to breakage of the part above the slit if the feed if the pen was dropped on its nib. See also Meisterstück, Montblanc.
Montblanc split feed
Spoon feed An early feed design (U.S. Patent No 625,722) used by Waterman into the 1940s, with vaguely spoon-shaped cutouts along its upper surface, as shown here, to provide increased capillary surface for better flow buffering. The external shape of the feed, with sharp edges along the periphery of a broadened under surface (U.S. Patent No 735,659), was intended to conceal most of the inky and potentially dirty underside of the nib from the user and to create a barrier between the liquid ink lying there and the user’s clothing or fingers. (Photo has been retouched to show features more clearly.) See also feed, Inquaduct feed.
Spoon feed
spoon filler A type of filling system. A pressure bar shaped much like an ordinary eating spoon is pivot-mounted at the end of the barrel so that the spoon’s “handle” extends alongside the sac and its “bowl” is a small toggle that is exposed by removal of a blind cap. Pressing the toggle laterally levers the pressure bar against the sac to squeeze it. View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
spoon nib (also spoon-tip nib) A cheap nib design used for third-tier pens, primarily in the first half of the 20th century. A spoon nib is made of steel without iridium tipping; the tip is stamped into the shape of a spoon’s bowl to provide a rounded writing pad. The illustration below shows a NOS Velvet Point No. 6 spoon nib installed in a no-name pen. See also butterfly nib, rolled-under nib.
Spoon nib
Spors (F. Spors & Company; later, Spors & Company) A mail-order importing business founded in 1923 by Frank Spors, of Le Sueur Center (also seen as Lesueur Center, renamed Le Center in 1931), Minnesota. Disabled and unable to work in any of the jobs that would otherwise be available to him, Spors set up a business to import all sorts of cheap East Asian merchandise, which he advertised in the backs of magazines such as Popular Mechanics. The business prospered, and by 1949 it had 182 employees. In about 1960, it became a division of L. & C. Mayers. Spors pens are typical of the lower end of the third tier: fitted with glass nibs, they were Japanese made, and they were truly cheap, with thin celluloid and wooden inner caps. Spors sold both lever fillers and crescent fillers, of which the latter are more common today. In 1926, he was jobbing these pens for 67¢ each, to retail for $1.25. Shown here is a typical Spors crescent filler. See also HARO, Jumbo, Mayers.
Fountain pen
Spot See Mentmore.
springy Term describing a nib that will bend a little and spring back, giving the user a pleasant, light “road feel,” but is not suitable for use as a flexible nib. Attempting to use a nib that is merely springy to create copperplate, Spencerian, and other similar scripts will spring the nib. See also flexible, sprung.
sprung (past tense of spring)  1  A term describing a nib (often a flexible one) that has been permanently bent upward away from the feed by excessive writing pressure. In severe cases, there is a distinct crease across one or both tines where the stress was greatest. The sprung Waterman’s Lady Patricia nib illustrated below (left) shows a crease about of the way from the breather hole to the tip. The Omas 360 nib shown to the right below is also sprung; note the gentle upward sweep of the nib away from the feed and the visible gap between the nib and the feed. The damage to the Omas nib, although it may look slight, is more than sufficient to stop the nib from working because the tines have been lifted from the feed and spread far enough apart that the nib cannot maintain capillary action. See also capillary action, flexible, work hardening.  2  Term describing a clip that has been bent away from the cap.
Sprung nibSprung nib
squeeze bar (also squeeze-bar, squeezebar) A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze, with or without breather tube; differs from Aero-metric in that a squeeze bar filler’s breather tube, if present, lacks the tiny lateral hole that permits air-pressure equalization in the sac. The sac is contained within a metal sac guard to which a spring-steel pressure bar is affixed. The barrel conceals the filler during use and must be removed to expose it for filling. Depressing the pressure bar with a thumb or finger squeezes the sac laterally. View filling instructions here.
Filler schematic
SST Stainless Steel Trim. See also stainless steel.
Stacked Coin band A jeweler’s cap band with several parallel grooves around its circumference, having the appearance of a stack of coins. The band illustrated here is on a Wearever mechanical pencil. See also Jeweler’s band, milled band.
Stacked Coin cap band
Staedtler (Staedtler Mars GmbH & Co. KG) A stationery products manufacturer lcated in Nuremberg, Germany, founded in 1835 by Johann Sebastian Staedtler in 1835 as a pencil factory. Pencil making was in Staedtler’s blood; in 1662, Friedrich Staedtler’s fledgling pencil manufactory was prohibited by a regulation requiring that such work be developed by two experts, not one, but Friedrich Steedtler’s work later contributed to the abolition of that regulation. Johann Staedtler received permission to make pencils with blacklead (graphite), red chalk, and pastels. By 1866, his factory was producing more than two million pencils per year. Staedtler registered the Mars brand in 1900, with the head of the Roman god of war as its logo. In 1937, the company changed its name to the Mars Pencil and Fountain Pen Company and began producing fountain pens and other mechanical writing instruments, although mechanical pencils did not appear in its catalog until 1950. In 1858, the head of Mars became the official corporate logo. Technical pens (stylographic pens for drafting) entered the line in 1962. In 1978, Staedtler bought the Eberhard Faber factory in nearby Neumarkt. In 2009 Staedtler sold the rights to the Eberhard Faber brand to Faber-Castell but retained the Neumarkt factory for the production of wooden pencils. Today the company produces writing and technical drawing instruments, art materials, and various accessories and supplies. Shown here is the Initium Resina fountain pen. See also Elysée.
stainless steel A class of strongly rust-resistant steels, gray in color, sometimes with the slightest hint of a brownish tint, containing varying amounts of chromium (no less than 11.5% by weight) and nickel. 18-8 stainless, for example, contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. Used for making furniture on some pens (notably Esterbrook) and for making nibs. Contrary to popular conception, stainless steels are not absolutely rustproof. Better grades of stainless (austenitic steels) are nonmagnetic. See also chromium, CN, corrosion, nickel, pitting, steel.
Stalwart A model name that Waterman introduced shortly after the United States entered World War II, a renaming for patriotic reasons of an existing $3.50 model, the 352. The 352 had been designed with a military clip, and the Stalwart maintained that profile, facilitating Waterman’s ability to advertise it as being suitable for those in the military. Shown here is a blue Stalwart. The Stalwart name was retired shortly after the end of the war. See also Commando.
Fountain pen
Standard See Bolles, International (definition 2), Manos.
Stanhope (also stanhope) A tiny picture viewer built into a personal object such as a ring or a sewing needle case. Invented by René Prudent Patrice Dagron (1819-1900) and named for Charles, 3rd Earl Stanhope (1753-1816), the viewer comprises a modified Stanhope lens and a microscopic photograph printed on glass. Dagron sectioned Stanhope’s rod-shaped biconvex lens, creating a plano-convex lens to whose flat surface he bonded the photograph. When built into a pen, a Stanhope is usually arranged to be viewed by peering through a small hole in the side of the cap. Shown here are two pens fitted with Stanhopes: a souvenir dip pen from Barnard Castle in northern England and a Waterman’s Ideal No 7 commemorating the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first F. W. Woolworth store. The view in the Waterman pen is a portrait of Frank Winfield Woolworth; shown below the pen is the image as seen through the viewer.
Dip pen
Dip pen
Stanhope view
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Star clip A variation of Parker’s Split Arrow clip, used on Vacumatic pens for a short period from late 1938 to early 1939, with a star in the location later occupied by the Blue Diamond. See a cap with a Star clip here.
star nib Early L. E. Waterman nibs, primarily from the late 19th century, bearing a star in the imprint; uncommon and desirable.
Starr (Starr Pen Company) A pen and pencil manufacturer located in Chicago, Illinois; founded as a wholesaling business in 1935 by brothers Joseph, Samuel, Jack, and William Starr, with their parents. Starr purchased the entire assets of the Conklin Pen Company (also in Chicago) in November 1941 and continued producing pens of third-tier quality under the Conklin name as well as introducing pens, pencils, and combos manufactured by other companies for sale under the Starr name. The company was dissolved as a result of legal action over business irregularities. See also Chicago Conklin, penman (definition 2).
Statesman See Sheaffer names.
steel  1  Generally, any alloy of iron that has been strengthened by the inclusion of small mounts of carbon.  2  Commonly, in reference to fountain pens, the stainless steel of which inexpensive nibs are made. See also DURIUM, Octanium, SPECIAL ALLOY, stainless steel, steel pen.
steel nib (distinct from steel pen) A nib, for either a fountain pen or a dip pen, made of stainless steel instead of carbon steel. Steel nibs came into use in 1926; they can be either tipped or untipped, and they can be partially or fully plated with gold for corrosion resistance or appearance. See also stainless steel, steel pen.
steel pen (archaic) A dip pen nib made of carbon steel. Steel pens are not tipped with iridium or any other durable alloy, and they wear relatively rapidly. Illustrated below is an R. Esterbrook Radio steel pen, No 954. This pen is nickel plated for corrosion resistance; but many steel pens are simply coated with light oil, and users of these types of pens frequently suck on a new pen for a few moments to allow saliva to dissolve the oil so that ink will adhere to the pen. See also dip pen, gold pen, nib (historical note), offset pen, steel nib.
Steel pen
stem winder Term used by the Charles H. Ingersoll Dollar Pen Company to denote the filling knob (illustrated below, upper) located at the back end of the barrel on an Ingersoll twist-filling pen (below, lower); borrowed from the stem winder on a pocket watch such as those produced by the Robert H. Ingersoll & Bros. Watch Company. Later used by Sears, Roebuck & Co. for their twist fillers that “wind like a watch.”
Fountain pen filling knob
Fountain pen
Stephens (Stephens’ Ink Company, later Henry C. Stephens Ltd) An ink and pen company, located in London, England; founded in 1832 by Henry Stephens MD. Stephens began experimenting with inks in 1829, founded his company in 1832, and in 1837 received his first patents, covering a variety of inks, inkstands, and dip pens. In 1851, The company exhibited in the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, displaying existing products and innovations such as a “Fountain Ink-Holder” (presumably some form of fountain pen). In 1852, in addition to its inks and wood stains, the company was advertising propelling pencils and other engineering instruments. Stephens died suddenly in 1864, leaving the company, now a partnership, to his son Henry C. Stephens, his widow Anne, and Anne’s sister Ellen O’Reilly. Stephens inks were used by the ill-fated Robert Falcon Scott expedition to reach the South Pole, by the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, and for the signing of the Versailles Treaty ending World War I. The company was reorganized as Henry C. Stephens Ltd in 1925. It introduced its first modern fountain pen, Model 106 (shown below), in 1935 and the deluxe Model 21, in 1937. In 1940 the patented “Leverfil” appeared, and 1946 saw the introduction of Stephens’ first postwar model, the “Royale.” The identity of the manufacturer(s) of prewar Stephens pens is not known; after the war, several makers are known, principally the Lang Pen Company of Liverpool. As ballpoint pens began to supplant fountain pens, Stephens’ profits declined, and there ensued a series of takeovers, mergers, etc., ending in 1990, when the Royal Sovereign Group, which then owned the Stephens company, was sold to the Mitsubishi Pencil Company, forming the basis of Mitsubishi’s U.K. distribution network. See also Lang.
Fountain pen
sterling  1  A designation indicating an alloy in which 92.5% of the total metal content, by weight, is silver; the other 7.5% is usually copper. The same as 925. On pens, used for caps, barrels, furniture, and overlays. See also Argentium, coin silver, silver.  2  (when capitalized, Sterling Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Boston, Massachusetts; founded in 1901 by the Davidson Rubber Company. Using brand names such as The Hub Fountain Pen, Sterling produced hard rubber pens like the eyedropper-filling model illustrated at middle joint; some models also appeared with overlays. The company was divested in 1919 to Francis A. Harrigan, a Boston attorney, who relocated production within the city and continued to produce pens until the mid-1920s. See also middle joint.
sticker An adhesive paper or plastic label affixed to a pen to indicate nib size, model name or number, price, and so on. Shown below are paper stickers on a Parker VS and a plastic sticker on a Waterman Skywriter. See also chalk mark.
Paper stickersPlastic sticker
stiction An elision of static friction, the friction that exists between two objects that are in contact and are immobile relative to each other. Once stiction is broken by a force that slides the two objects relative to each other, kinetic friction takes over, and they will continue sliding against each other with much less effort than was required to start them going. An example of stiction is the movement of the piston in a piston- or syringe-filling pen.
Stipula A pen manufacturer located in Florence, Italy; founded in 1973 by Renzo Salvadori, who had begun his career at age 15 as a turret lathe operator in 1945. After successfully repairing his father's retractable safety pen, Renzo realized that he had a natural affinity for pens. He began repairing them as a sideline, including in some cases manufacturing his own repair parts; this effort reflected his quest for perfection, and it grew to become a full-time occupation and, in 1973, a manufacturing company. At the outset, the company produced clasps and other fittings for leather goods, soon branching into desk accessories and pens that it jobbed to other companies. Not until 1982 did it begin making its own pens. In 1991, the company took for its name the Latin word stipula, meaning a piece of straw that in Roman times would be broken to signify acceptance of an obligation — in Salvadori’s case, an obligation to quality. Stipula is a small company, with fewer than 25 employees, and it manufactures pens in lots of 50 or 100 pieces at a time. The company produces complete pens, including nibs made using many of the tools and techniques developed by Mario Cecchini in the 1930s. Shown below is a Stipula Etruria Tortoise. As of this writing, Stipula remains a family-owned company.
Fountain pen
Stonite A marketing name for the celluloid used in Gold Bond pens (produced by the National Pen Products Company). See also Celluloid.
straight cap A short slip cap that mates with a straight cylindrical area of reduced diameter on the pen body (the straight holder), as shown by the Onoto pen below. See also cone cap, slip cap, taper cap.
Straight cap
straight holder See straight cap.
Stratford See Salz.
Stratowriter Sheaffer’s name for its first ballpoint pens, produced from 1946 to 1950. The initial version looked like a button-actuated retractable model, but it had a press-then-twist mechanism that required two hands to operate. Beginning in late 1947 or early 1948, Sheaffer abandoned this clumsy design, and the Stratowriter began appearing in versions matching, and available in sets with, several fountain pen models. The Sentinel Stratowriter shown here was made in 1948 and came from a set that also included a fountain pen and a mechanical pencil.
Ballpoint pen
streamlined Shaped in such a manner as to offer the least possible resistance to a current of air, water, etc.; in general, teardrop or torpedo shaped. Beginning with the 1929 introduction of Sheaffer’s Balance, streamlined pens rapidly supplanted the blocky flat-ended models that had hitherto been in general use. See also Balance.
Streamliner A down-trimmed version of the Eversharp Skyline. Designated as models 98 (demi) and 99 (standard size), priced at $3.95, and offered in only plain colors, the Streamliner lacked the Skyline’s Double-Checked logo and stylish wrapover clip but was otherwise mechanically identical to the Skyline. See also Skyline.
Fountain pen
striated Another term for striped. Frequently applied to the Parker Vacumatic (horizontally or laterally striated, shown below, left) and Sheaffer’s pens of the later 1930s and early 1940s (vertically or longitudinally striated, below, right).
Color chip Color chip
stub (more correctly, stub italic.) The nib shape that is characterized by a moderately wide thin tip ground straight across, for creating broader strokes in a generally up-and-down direction than in a generally sidewise direction. A stub nib is narrower and produces less line variation than an ordinary italic or oblique italic. Stubs are also ground to be relatively smooth in use. Read a tutorial on nibs here. See also italic, music nib, nib, oblique.
Nib shape
stud See button.
student pen See school pen.
Stylist A pen model introduced by Sheaffer in 1966. Initially, the Stylist was fitted with a two-sided steel nib that wrote a finer line when “flipped” so that the nominal upper surface of the nib was downward (below, upper). This model did poorly, and in 1967 Sheaffer replaced it with the Stylist II (below, lower), which was fitted with the small “TRIUMPH” point nib that had earlier been used on Skripsert models and the Imperial II and III. See also 180, Skripsert.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
stylographic pen (also ink pencil; appears as stylografic pen in some 19th-century documents) A pen with a tubular tip and an ink reservoir. The flow of ink is controlled by a wire that can move within the tip. Modern stylographic pens are called technical pens and are used mostly by artists, draftsmen, and illustrators. Shown below are a Conway Stewart Ink Pencil and a Keuffel & Esser Leroy® technical pen. See also Acetograph, dip pen, fountain pen, Inkograph, Koh-i-Noor, Rapidograph.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Stylomine (Société Anonyme des Etablissements Stylomine) A writing instruments manufacturer located in Paris, France; founded shortly after World War I by Yves E. Zuber and registered in 1921. Initially produced metal parts such as clips and fountain pen nibs; production of mechanical pencils began in 1921, and fountain pens followed in 1925 with the appearance of helical-cam safety pens. In 1930, the company introduced the Stylomine 303, whose advanced bulb filler required only four or five strokes for a complete fill. In 1938, Stylomine patented a hooded nib (French Patent No 850,525), which carried ink on its exterior surface; the hood, or sheath, was designed to prevent dryout. Stylomine’s most significant development, however, was the accordion filling system (French Patent No 854,177), patented in 1940. Stylomine introduced a ballpoint pen, model 707, in 1948. BiC’s invention of disposable ballpoint pens struck all French manufacturers, Stylomine included, and neither a 1956 alliance with Météore (La Plume d'Or), J. M. Paillard, and Unic to produce a new squeeze-filling pen pen called the Pulsa-pen nor a second alliance with Bayard and Unic to develop the BUC cartridge system could save Stylomine, and the company ceased operations in the early 1960s. See also Bayard, Paillard, Plume d'Or, Unic.
Stylpoint  1  A series of cartridge-filling pen models produced by Sheaffer c. 1960.  2  The nib design used on Stylpoint pens, a small steel nib that fits into an opening at the front of the pen body so that the nib is partially hooded. Shown below are a Stylpoint pen and the nib section of an Imperial I pen, which also used the Stylpoint nib.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen nib
styrene See ABS, polystyrene.
sub-brand A companion brand associated with a first-tier manufacturer; typically used on pens sold at a price point lower than the primary-brand products. Used most frequently to allow a manufacturer to penetrate the entry-level market without diminishing the stature of its primary brand; in some cases used as platforms to test unproven features or technologies without risking the primary brand’s reputation for reliability. Some manufacturers explicitly linked their sub-brands to their primary brands, as in the case of Oxford pens, which were imprinted MADE IN U.S.A. BY THE MAKERS OF EVERSHARP. In other cases, the kinship of the brands is revealed by commonalities of design or styling. In addition to Oxford, well-known sub-brands included WASP, Vacuum-Fil, Univer and Craig (Sheaffer); All-American Pen (Conklin); and Remex and Penanink (L. E. Waterman).
Sumgai  1  (as originally conceived by Bill Riepl, who invented him in 1997) The dread nemesis of all collectors, Sumgai (“some guy”) always visits the antique store and snaps up all the bargain pens just before you get there. Read “The Story of Sumgai” here.  2  (as commonly used among hobbyists) A pen acquired at a ridiculously low price.
Sunburst A design element used on Esterbrook’s 3000-series (and some 8000-series) nibs, illustrated here by a 3550 nib. See also Esterbrook, Renew-Point.
Renew-Point nib
Superchrome Parker’s registered trademark name for a proprietary fountain pen ink introduced in 1947 to replace the company’s superfast-drying but highly corrosive “51” ink. Superchrome’s principal selling features were its brilliant colors (produced by the use of metallic dyes) and its quick drying; but it too was rather corrosive (pH approximately 12), and Parker withdrew it in 1956. See also “51”.
Superite See De Witt–La France.
Supremacy See Settles.
Supreme A model name used by David Kahn, Inc., for a 1930s Wearever lever filler that had an untipped steel “spoon” nib and was near the bottom of the company’s line (shown below). See also Kahn, spoon nib.
Fountain pen
surfactant (also wetting agent) A substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved. Used in ink to enhance flow characteristics; without a surfactant, the surface tension of water is sufficiently great to prevent flow through the channels of a pen’s feed or the slit in the nib. Many surfactants are detergent in action; thus, Parker’s World War II-era claim, that Quink with “Solv-X” cleaned the user’s pen, was not mere advertising hoopla. See also ink.
swaddle  1  To wrap something snugly (usually a baby, in a blanket or other cloth article) to prevent movement. Some vendors swaddle merchandise in paper waste or bubble wrap to protect it for shipment.  2  When used specifically in connection with fountain pens, to soak surplus ink out of the nib area of a freshly filled pen in order to prevent the pen from throwing a blot or writing with an excessively wet stroke until the surplus is exhausted. The method is to hold the pen vertically with its point downward and enclose the nib and feed as shown here in several thicknesses of a paper towel, tissue, or soft cloth rag, applying gentle pressure sufficient to bring the wrapping into contact with the feed so that it will soak surplus ink out of the feed and the space between the nib and the feed. Release after three seconds, and proceed to wipe any remaining ink from the nib and the section or hood.
swaging (pronounced SWAYJ-ing) A technique for forming metal by pressure using a shaped tool or die. Vintage pen manufacturers swaged the cap band into a groove in the cap; a few modern makers still do this but most modern bands are attached in easier or less costly ways.
Swan  1  A name used by Mabie, Todd & Company for its top-line models. See Mabie Todd.  2  (Swan Fountain Pen Factory Company) A Japanese pen manufacturing company founded in 1900 by Nobuo Itō. By 1912 the Swan catalog carried numerous pens that were lookalikes for their “Swan” counterparts in the catalog of Mabie, Todd & Company. When Mabie Todd sued, judgment was in favor of Itō’s company, which had registered the Swan name before Mabie Todd began exporting pens to Japan. By 1918, Swan had captured 60% of the Japanese market. During World War II, the Swan factory was devastated, and after the war the company fell into a gradual decline and finally failed in the late 1970s. Shown here is a Swan pocket pen from the 1960s or 1970s.
Fountain pen
Swastika Pen The common name for two rare overlay eyedropper-filling pen models produced by Parker (models 52 and 53); the hammered sterling silver and tree-bark 10K gold overlays include several swastikas in their designs (shown below, a portion of a Parker catalog page, c. 1910). Parker ceased producing Swastika pens c. 1918, long before the rise of Nazi Germany; but these pens frequently stir controversy because of the Nazis’ use of the swastika for a national symbol, as many people are unaware that the swastika, or “broken cross,” has existed for more than 2,000 years in many cultures, including India and ancient Rome, as a symbol of good luck. See also Aztec.
Catalog cut
sweet spot (also contact patch, writing pad) The area of the nib’s tip that is smoothed and curved just right so that it will glide across the paper on a thin layer of lubricating ink. If the pen is held at the wrong angle or rotated too far away from the sweet spot, it will write roughly and may be prone to skip. Read a discussion of the sweet spot here.
Swivodex A trademark of the Zephyr American Corporation, of Long Island City, New York, a manufacturer of desk accessories, for an inkstand for dip-less pens, comprising a fixed base and an essentially spherical inkwell resting on the base so as to allow the inkwell to pivot or swivel through a limited range in any direction (U.S. Patent No 2,466,736). Invented during World War II, the Swivodex was produced throughout the war and for some time thereafter, but it never really took off in the market. Shown here is a version of the Swivodex produced for the U.S. Navy for both land-based and shipboard use; two were on the table for the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, and one of them was used to initial a correction that the Japanese representatives required before they would accept the document, thereby bringing World War II to its final conclusion. See also dip-less pen.
Dip-less pen
Dip-less pen set
Sword clip An ornamental clip design (shown below) used on the Parker Royal Challenger. Some Royal Challengers had Sword clips, while a larger number had plainer clips. The Sword-clip pens, far less common, are highly sought after and bring premium prices. See also Challenger.
Cap with sword clip
Symetrik See Endura.
Symphony A pen model introduced by Eversharp in 1948, designed by noted industrial designer Raymond Loewy. The very modern Symphony (below, upper) was internally identical to its predecessor, the Skyline, but the company quickly backed away from Loewy’s edgy design; the second-year model (below, lower), was much softer in its lines. Read a profile of the Symphony here. See also slipper cap.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
syringe (also pull filler) A type of filling system; uses a mechanical piston (U.S. Patent No 510,145. The filler shaft is connected directly to the piston head; extending the shaft draws ink into the pen, and depressing it expels ink. This filling system is commonly referred to as a Post filler, after its inventor, Woodruff Post. Shown below is a DU-PONT syringe filler from the World War II years. View filling instructions here. See also post (definition 1).
Filler schematic
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen

  1. Source: advertisement in The Daily Oklahoman, June 1, 1947, page B-5.  Return

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