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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised June 18, 2024)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]


Tab-Fil See De Luxe.
table A term for the flat end of a fountain pen’s gripping section (illustrated below), i.e., the surface that contacts the inner cap to seal the nib area when the pen is capped. See also inner cap.
Diagram of pen
tail See base.
talking A scratchy sound made by a nib that is actually smooth, not scratchy. (A nib that is perfectly tuned can still be talky.) Nibs that talk appear to cause the paper under them to vibrate rather than vibrating themselves as do nibs that sing, and the result is a sound reminiscent of the scratchiness of old dip nibs. See also clicking, singing.
Tamis (Louis Tamis & Sons) A high-end jewelry manufacturer located in New York City; founded in 1904 by Louis Tamis, a Russian immigrant. The firm initially produced gold boxes and objets d’art but gradually expanding to offer a much broader line. Tamis’ sons took over the business in 1948, and today it is run by the fourth generation of the Tamis family. The firm began selling gold, gold-filled, and sterling silver fountain pens and combos similar in appearance to those of W. S. Hicks and Edward Todd; it is not clear whether Tamis made or bought these pens. Fountain pen sales continued at least until 1971.
Tanager See Chinese Red.
taper (also desk pen taper, quill) A long shaft, usually smoothly streamlined, that is attached to the back end of a desk pen’s barrel for balance and a graceful appearance. Shown here is a Wahl desk pen; the image has been altered to emphasize the taper. See also desk pen.
Fountain pen
taper cap A straight cap that is extended into a long taper; posted, a taper cap resembles the taper of a desk pen and serves the same purpose. The taper-cap pen shown here is a Waterman’s Ideal No 24. See also cone cap, slip cap, straight cap, taper.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Taperite A pen model introduced by Waterman in 1945, intended to compete with the Parker “51”. The Taperite was arguably the most successful of the “51” competitors. Illustrated here is a Taperite Stateleigh, the top of the model line. Read a profile of the Taperite here.
Fountain pen
Targa An Inlaid Nib pen model introduced by Sheaffer in 1976; always referred to in advertising as Targa by Sheaffer instead of the Sheaffer Targa. Produced in many variations, the slender, reliable Targa is arguably Sheaffer’s best pen from the latter half of the 20th century. Read a profile of the Targa here. See also Fred Force.
Fountain pen
tassie A (usually metal) cup-shaped trim bezel applied to the end of the barrel or cap (or both), frequently as a ring surrounding a “jewel” or other decoration, as shown here. The ring to which the clip of a Parker Vacumatic or “51” is attached is technically not a tassie despite its ring shape and the presence of a jewel. See also finial.
Barrel end with tassie
Taylor (Taylor Pen Ltd) A pen and pencil manufacturer located in Goring-on-Thames, England; date of founding uncertain. From c. 1950, Taylor is known to have produced metal pens at various price levels, from inexpensive souvenir pens to prestige pens for Harrods, Rolls-Royce, and other high-profile businesses. Finishes included lacquered metal, stainless steel, gold, and silver. The chrome-trimmed pen shown below is a low-priced souvenir made to be given to tourist-class passengers on the Concorde SST; for those not familiar with fountain pens, ballpoints were an option. Taylor also made gold-trimmed pens for passengers in first class. The company closed down sometime in the 1970s.
Fountain pen
technical pen See stylographic pen.
teeth marks See tooth marks.
Teflon E. I. DuPont de Nemours’ registered name for the synthetic chemical polytetrafluoroethylene (abbreviated PTFE), which was discovered in 1938. Teflon surfaces exhibit extremely low friction, and the material is widely used to coat objects like cooking pots and pans to keep their contents from sticking. The exterior of the capillary filler cell in the Parker 61 was coated with Teflon so that the ink it collected when the pen was filled would slough off instead of needing to be wiped away. Because of its slipperiness, Teflon is also used as a component of certain liquid or spray lubricants, and its heat resistance makes it an ideal insulation material for electrical wiring in high-temperature environments. ¶ Teflon plumber’s tape is sometimes used in an attempt to seal the section joints in modern eyedropper-filling pens or for various other purposes in fixing pens; this practice is to be avoided because it will distort or split barrels or caps as the user applies more and more tape to to fill the space between loose-fitting parts or to prevent joints from slipping or leaking. There is no proper application for Teflon tape in pen repair or use.
telephone dialer (also phone dialer) A desk pen with (usually) a taper that is shorter, thicker, and more rounded on the end than usual, for use in dialing a rotary telephone.
telescoping pen (also collapsing pen) A pen whose barrel or cap is made up of two or more segments of different diameters such that the segments will collapse telescope-fashion to make the pen shorter to carry. Among American telescoping pens were eyedropper- and, later, lever-fillers with collapsing barrels made by the U.S. Victor Fountain Pen Company (below, first and second images), and lever-fillers with collapsing caps made by Waterman (below, third image). See also Victor; Waterman, L. E.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Television See Televisor.
Televisor A button-filling mid-line pen model produced by Parker during the latter part of the 1930s, probably so named to promote the value of its partially transparent Television ink-view section. See the illustration below (section deeply ambered). See also ink-view section, Visulated (definition 2).
Fountain pen
Tempoint  1  (Tempoint Pen Company) A nonexistent pen company with offices located in New York City, supposedly sharing space with the Eversharp Pencil Company (which was owned by the Wahl Company). Tempoint was initially intended by Wahl to be the name for the fountain pen business whose assets Wahl had acquired by purchasing the Boston Fountain Pen Company, but Wahl decided instead to concentrate on marketing its own name with the eponymous Wahl Pen.  2  A series of pens made c. 1918 to c. 1921 by the Wahl Company to designs acquired from the Boston Fountain Pen Company. Tempoint pens exist in both eyedropper-filling (illustrated below) and lever-filling versions. See also Boston (definition 1), Wahl, Wahl Pen.
Fountain pen
Ten-Year Pen, The The eponymous product of the Ten-Year Guarantee Pen Company of Ansonia, Connecticut. Guaranteed for ten years’ continuous use, The Ten-Year Pen was a cone-capped sliding-barrel sleeve-filler based on some of the features of Robert W. Gorham’s U.S. Patent No 800,129, issued September 19, 1905. In about 1906, advertising for the pen began appearing in magazines for clergymen. By 1913, the Ten-Year Pen had become non-leakable through the acquisition of a screw cap. It had also been sold to a court reporter named Hermann Frederic Post, who was manufacturing it a factory in Chicago, Illinois. Post changed its name to The Dependable Fountain Pen and was shifting advertising emphasis to magazines for stenographers and court reporters. The latest information I have found for the Dependable Pen is dated 1921. See also cone cap, non-leakable.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
thermometer case A case for a mercury oral thermometer, made to resemble a pen and often included as part of a doctor’s set with a pen and a mechanical pencil. Although its clip is of high quality and resembles that on Sheaffer’s pens, the thermometer case shown here was made by an unknown maker. See also doctor’s pen.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
thermoplastic Describes a plastic (resin) material that is solid at ordinary temperatures and softens when heated; many thermoplastics are suitable for injection molding. Celluloid, polystyrene, and acrylics are thermoplastics. See also thermosetting.
thermosetting Describes a plastic (resin) material that is manufactured as a liquid and sets (hardens permanently) when heated. Bakelite is a thermosetting plastic. See also Bakelite (definition 1), thermoplastic.
third tier Term applied to a pen of relatively poor quality, made with thin celluloid or other body material, with thinly plated furniture and almost always having an untipped steel nib. Also applied to a manufacturer of such pens. Many third-tier pens were made with remarkably beautiful celluloids. Among the third tier of U.S. manufacturers were companies such as Arnold, Majestic, Stratford, , and Welsh. See also first tier, second tier.
threaded cap See screw cap.
threads See screw thread.
Thrift Time Any of three low-priced Parker pen models produced from 1932 to 1934: the Duette (U.S.) and the Moderne and Premier (Canada). These models are known as a group to modern collectors as Thrift Time pens based on the “Thriftime” tag used in one of the few advertisements for the Duette. They are notable for having been offered in more than 20 colors, some of them remarkably beautiful and used only on these models. These pens were Parker’s means of preserving brand value while still producing revenue during the Great Depression; they met the need for inexpensive pens without forcing Parker to dump its marquee Duofold at bargain-basement prices. They were sold in dime stores and drugstores instead of stationers’ and pen stores, and the limited advertising done for them appeared in general-merchandise catalogs. Shown here is a Moderne. See also Duette (definition 2), Moderne (definition 2), Premier (definition 1).
Fountain pen
thumb See sleeve.
Tibaldi  1  (G. Tibaldi e C.) A fountain pen manufacturing company located in Florence, Italy; founded in 1916 by Giuseppe Tibaldi, with Giovanni Benelli, who had extensive experience in precision mechanics, as the production manager and overall factory director. The company’s claim to have been Italy’s oldest and most important fountain pen manufacturer was disputed by Montegrappa and Nettuno, both of which were founded before Tibaldi but neither of which began producing its own pens until the 1920s. Early production consisted of BHR retractable safety pens, both plain and with overlays, including a doctor’s pen with space for a mercury thermometer within its barrel. To cash in on a trend in Italy to prefer foreign goods, the company also produced sub-branded pens, virtually identical to Tibaldi-branded product, that were duplicitously imprinted THE GTB PEN LONDON. During the 1920s, Tibaldi made a range of lever-filling flat-tops styled after the wildly popular Parker Duofold; these were initially made of hard rubber and later produced using celluloid. The introduction of celluloid brought a new range of pens dubbed Infrangibile, which continued in production continued into the 1940s. The faceted Poligonale and the round Trasparente were introduced in the latter 1930s; they became the company’s flagship range and lasted into the 1950s. Giuseppe Tibaldi died in 1935, and the company languished until 1957, when it was bought by Remo Pagliuca, a wholesaler who had built his business as a distributor of various brands produced in Settimo Torinese. After World War II, cheap plastic fountain pens and disposable ballpoints ate into Tibaldi’s business. Pagliuca tried to compete by streamlining production and using jobbed parts, but quality suffered, and the company began a long decline, finally closing its doors in 1965. See also Uhlmann.  2  (Tibaldi S.R.L.) In 2003, the Tibaldi name was resurrected by Sergio, Alberto, and Davide Tibaldi, and the current company (located in Cuneo, Italy) produces a line of “easy couture” fountain pens using mostly model names originated by its predecessor. Its best known model, the No 60 (or Modello 60), shown here, is a triple-cap-banded pen with true vintage styling.
Fountain pen
Tiffiny (Tiffiny Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in Cleveland, Ohio; founded sometime before 1911 to produce eyedropper-filling pens that retailed for prices starting at 59¢, including models advertised in 1918 as “military style” (trench pens) and sold with a supply of ink pellets. Also produced lever and crescent fillers. Known to have remained in business until at least 1933 but might have been operating as late as 1939 under the name Parker-Tiffiny Pen Company (no connection with the Parker Pen Company). A large producer of cheap lever fillers throughout its history, Tiffiny may have tried to cash in on its name’s similarity to that of New York’s Tiffany & Company, a luxury jeweler. Early production was marked TIFFINY PEN CO. / CLEVELAND, O., but that practice changed at some point, and later pens were not so marked. Levers in Tiffiny pens made after about 1917 bear the date for U.S. Patent No 1,238,657, a design for a lever assembly that could be snapped into the pen without pins, screws, or other fasteners. This patent belonged to Marx Finstone, the founder of Eclipse. See also Eclipse, trench pen.
tine One of the nib’s tapered “fingers”, separated from each other by the slit. The tipping material, or “iridium,” is welded to the ends of the tines. See illustration at nib.
tip The pointed end of a pen’s nib. See also nib, tipping material.
TIPdip An open-nibbed Touchdown-filling pen line produced by Sheaffer in the 1950s as a lower-priced companion to the Snorkel line. A TIPdip pen’s feed is drilled through lengthwise, as for a Snorkel tube, and then fitted with a center feed that extends the entire length of the drilled hole. With an opening at the exposed end of the feed, the pen can take in ink with only about half of the nib and feed immersed (“dipped”).
Tip-Fill A feed design introduced by L. E. Waterman in 1933, illustrated below. Conventional in most respects, the Tip-Fill feed has a cover over the channels for most of their length, leaving about half of the exposed length open. With the channels covered in this way, the pen was said to be able to take in ink with only about half of the nib and feed immersed. The design was poorly conceived; pens using it did not write as well as pens with Waterman’s venerable Spoon feed, and the Tip-Fill was withdrawn before 1940. See also Spoon feed.
Tip-Fill feed
tipped Describes a nib made with the addition of a hard alloy at the tips of the tines to reduce wear. See also tipping material, untipped.
tipping material (also “iridium”) A small pellet or ball of a very hard alloy, welded to the tip of the nib and then ground to shape and polished to provide a smooth, durable point (shown below, the silvery gray area at the tip of the nib). Although “iridium” is a common term for the tipping material, modern tipping materials rarely contain the actual element iridium; the most common element used is ruthenium, with admixture of such other metals as platinum. See also Durium, iridium (definition 1), iridosmine, osmiridium, osmium, Plathenium, platinum, retip, ruthenium, tipped, untipped, and the illustration at nib.
Nib shape
titanium A hard silver-gray metal of the transition series, noted for its lightness, strength, and difficulty of working. Used by Parker for the body and integral nib of the T-1 (1970), a short-lived pen that wrote poorly and cost more than its wholesale price to manufacture. Used more recently as a nib material; produces a somewhat springy nib that is difficult to adjust and prone to bending if treated as if it were a true flexible nib. See also flexible, nib, T-1.
TM “Thin Model,” a descriptive name applied to Sheaffer’s newly designed, thinner Touchdowns in 1950. The company also applied the TM designation to its Snorkel pens (“Snorkel TM”) upon their introduction in 1952 but later dropped it from the model name. See also Touchdown.
Todd (Edward Todd & Company) A pen and pencil manufacturer located in New York City; founded in 1871 by Edward Todd, who was then a partner in Mabie, Todd & Company. The company produced both gold and steel nibs as well as complete pens. Incorporated in 1897, the company continued in business under Edward Todd, Jr., until 1932. In 1881, the company introduced the “Paragon Fountain Pen,” apparently some kind of piston-filler. See also Mabie Todd.
Toledo  1  A marketing name used by Pelikan to identify its pen models fitted with barrel Binden of hand-engraved sterling silver and niello in the style made famous by the swordmakers of Toledo, Spain. Some Toledo models have the silver portion plated as vermeil, while others leave it unplated. Shown below (upper) is a modern Pelikan Toledo M700. See also Binde, Damascened, niello, silver, vermeil.  2  (Toledo Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Toledo, Ohio; founded in 1923 by Isaac Kleeman, Abraham J. Kahnweiler, Henry G. Himelhoch, Leo Levitt, Charles B. Helburn, Charles J. McGovern, and Albert E. Van Meer. Toledo produced excellent copies of Conklin pens until c. 1925, when it was ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to cease and desist. Shown below (lower) is a Toledo “Ever Last” pen made to look like a senior-sized Conklin Endura. See also Conklin.  3  (Toledo Gold Filler Fountain Pen Company) One of several names under which brothers Major F. and Elmer L. Skidmore styled their Toledo, Ohio, company. In 1923, the company was named in a Federal Trade Commission complaint alleging fraudulent manufacture of pens intended to resemble those of Conklin. See also Skidmore.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
T-1 A titanium fountain pen (shown below) produced 1970–1971 by Parker and called the “Space Pen,” in tribute to the U.S. Apollo space program. The T-1 had an integral nib that was user adjustable by means of a screw on the underside of the feed. (U.S. Patent No 3,606,556). Because of the difficulty in working titanium and in procuring titanium sheet of sufficient quality, the T-1’s manufacturing cost was so high that the pen cost more to make than its retail price of $20.00. One major problem that resulted from the difficulty of working the metal was that weld securing the nib tipping material was weak, and even a slight impact can break the tipping material off. In 1978, Parker introduced a second integral-nib pen, this time made of stainless steel and called the Falcon. See also Falcon (definition 2), integral nib.
Fountain pen
tooth The microscopic surface roughness of a nib’s tip that allows ink to cling to the tip. A tip lapped to perfect smoothness will not write. A nib with somewhat more than the usual roughness is said to be toothy, and such a nib gives the impression either that it is somewhat reluctant to glide across the paper or that the paper is slightly rougher than it really is. This slight roughness gives a feedback that some users prefer to that from ultra-smooth nibs. See also feedback, scratchy.
Toothbrush See Geometric.
tooth marks (also chew marks, teeth marks, colloquially “toothies”) Dents in the surface of a pen, usually at the ends, made by a person with the habit of chewing on pens. Tooth marks seriously devalue a pen and are generally irreversible.
Toppolino See Ceriani.
Torpedo  1  The “Torpedo” Pen, a self-filling fountain pen offered briefly (c. 1909–1910) by Bloom & Co., Ltd., of London, England. The general appearance of the pen (see advertising cut below) and the claim that it contained no rubber suggest that the “Torpedo” Pen might have been an improved version of Adolf Hommel’s Meteor piston-filling pen, made of celluloid like Hommel’s pen but fitted with a 14K nib and an over-under feed to provide continuous flow, the essential feature lacking in Hommel’s design. See also Meteor.  2  The Torpedo Pen™, a cheap Japanese eyedropper-filling fountain pen, now rare, with a glass nib and without the customary ink shut-off. Shown below, it was made of urushi-covered hard rubber in the general shape of a naval torpedo. The cap (the aft end of the torpedo) screwed onto the barrel (the nose end) when posted. Offered during the Interwar Period, the pen disappeared very quickly from markets outside Japan after the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.
The Windsor Magazine
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Photos © David Rzeszotarski. Used with permission.
torpedo shaped A term describing a pen that is cylindrical in shape (not tapered or barrel-shaped) with one or both ends roundly streamlined. The classic torpedo shape is exemplified by Sheaffer’s pens of the 1929–1941 period, as illustrated here by a c. 1934 Oversize Lifetime Balance in Marine Green Pearl. See also cigar shaped, Flat-Top.
Fountain pen
Tortoise Shell (also Tortoiseshell, Tortoise-Shell) Widely used name for a pattern resembling the color of real tortoise shell, which is usually a mixture of brown and translucent amber. Interpretations of the color have varied widely; shown below are five different examples: upper row, from left to right: vintage Pelikan 101N, modern Pelikan M400, modern Pelikan M101N; lower row: Parker 75 & 180, modern Bexley and Gate City Pen. Note that the Parker chip illustrates lacquer over brass, not a translucent resin.
Color chip Color chip Color chip
Color chip Color chip
Touchdown A series of pens made by Sheaffer beginning in 1949; supplanted in 1952 by the Snorkel but resurrected in the 1960s as a version of the Imperial line. Operates by pneumatic ink-sac compression.The sac is protected by a close-fitting metal tube. A second metal tube, called the “Touchdown tube,” slides within the barrel on an airtight seal. A blind cap is attached to the Touchdown tube to secure it in the retracted position and to give the user a suitable “knob” to operate. There are a small hole partway along the length of the Touchdown tube and a small dimpled groove in the tube adjacent to the blind cap. When the Touchdown tube is extended, a partial vacuum builds until the small hole passes the barrel seal; air is then drawn into the barrel. The partial vacuum would normally distend the sac, but the sac protector prevents this distension. When theTouchdown tube is returned to its rest position, the air within is compressed, squeezing the sac. Pressure is released as the Touchdown tube nears the end of its travel and the dimpled groove passes the seal, and the sac draws ink in by resuming its normal shape. View filling instructions here. See also TM.
Filler schematic
Fountain pen
Tower A “house brand” of fountain pens produced by the National Pen Products Company for Sears, Roebuck & Co. See also National.
translucent feed See transparent feed.
Transo (Transo-Tank Pen Company, Inc.) A co-brand of the Postal Pen Company of New York City. Transo-Tank pens, produced for retail sale, were essentially identical to their Postal siblings (additional information and photo at Postal), even to the extent of substantially identical logo imprints hot-stamped on the caps. Shown below are the two brands’ logos, photographed from pen caps. (Photos enhanced for clarity.) See also Bonded, Postal.
Postal and Transo logos
transparent feed (also translucent feed) A feed that is made of a transparent material, usually either machined acrylic (e.g., Parker VS, 1940s) or molded polystyrene (e.g., most Wearever models, 1950s). See also feed, Kahn, VS.
trap door A small spring-loaded cover, located inside the metal nozzle at the nib end of a Pilot Capless/Vanishing Point pen. The trap door is closed when the nib is retracted, sealing the pen body to prevent dryout. When extended, the nib pushes the trap door open as shown in the image below. See also Capless.
Travelers (Travelers Pen Company, Inc.) A pen company located in New York City; founded by John F. Sullivan, probably in 1932. The company also had an accommodation address in Los Angeles, California. Travelers assembled poor-quality third-tier fountain pens and mechanical pencils and sold them through pitchmen and through newspaper advertising, using deceptive tactics such as offering a “Feather-Touch, Balanced, Solid Gold Fountain Pen,” supposedly priced at $7.50, with a “solid gold irradium [sic] tipped nib,” with a free $2.50 propel-repel pencil to match and a “Lifetime Guarantee,” all in a nice box, for $1.29. Pens and pencils appeared under the Travelers and Traveler names, and model names included VISAVAC and PUSH-O-MATIC. Filling systems included lever, button, and plunger. In about 1937, the company changed its name to the Remington Pen Company, inc., after which it attempted to pass its products off as though they were products of Remington Rand, which made high-quality typewriters. In September 1939, Remington Rand obtained a cease-and-desist order barring Sullivan and his company from using the Remington name, offering a meaningless lifetime guarantee, and claiming that its untipped nibs were “Durium tipped.” Sullivan thereupon reverted the company name to Travelers and remained in business until 1958. See also DURIUM.
trench pen (also ink-pellet pen) A pen design invented by Edward K. Bixby (U.S. Patent No 1,109,033) shortly before World War I and popularized by Parker during America’s involvement in the war; has a small compartment at the back of the barrel, in which the user stored pellets of dried ink. Mixing a pellet with water in the pen’s barrel produced a supply of ink. Bixby’s trench pen has a removable blind cap that is the pellet compartment; other manufacturers produced pens of similar design or with improvements such as Mabie Todd’s nonremovable screw-open compartment (illustrated below). See also Bicks, Camel, ink pellet, Instant Ink.
Pellet compartment
Triad A brand of high-quality fountain pens and pencils with a triangular cross-section (below, upper, the open end of a Triad pen’s cap), produced during the 1930s by the Tri-Pen Company of Providence, Rhode Island. Triad pencils are relatively ordinary except for their shape, but the triangular shape imposed a clever — and problematical — design on the pen. To uncap a Triad pen (below, lower), you must turn the knurled black knob at the cap crown. Most people who are not “in on the secret” will attempt to remove the cap by pulling it off or by unscrewing it and in so doing will almost always break the pen. For this reason, very few Triad pens survive from the company’s small and short-lived production; Triad pens are today highly prized and priced accordingly.
Cap end
Fountain pen
tribute pen A modern pen made after the design of a vintage pen, usually because the maker respects the older pen for its classic looks. Shown here are a Bexley Americana (upper) and the Wahl Doric whose design it emulates (lower).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
trim See furniture.
Tri-Pen See Triad.
triskelion (also triskele; plural triskelia or triskeles) An ancient sun symbol used by many cultures worldwide, consisting of three curved arms or three stylized human arms or legs that radiate from a common center. Parker used triskelia of Mesoamerican form (illustrated below) in the decoration of the so-called “Aztec” overlay eyedropper pen. See also Aztec.
“TRIUMPH”  1  The general name Sheaffer gave to the new “TRIUMPH” point pens it introduced in 1942, during the first few months of the U.S.A.'s involvement in World War II. Produced in both lever-filling and Vacuum-Fil models, these pens (shown below, first) are notable for the extravagantly broad cap band they feature. This band allowed the pen’s designers to extend the slender barrel silhouette to the cap without using an all-metal cap — which, in view of wartime restrictions on the use of brass and steel, would have been much more costly. Read a profile of the “TRIUMPH” here.  2  The specific model name Sheaffer gave to its all-gold-filled overlay Touchdown TM and Snorkel pens (shown below, second).  3  The general name Sheaffer gave to its Inlaid Nib pens in the 1970s (below, third); the name resurfaced again in the 1990s, as Triumph Imperial, for the company’s line of Inlaid Nib pens that were essentially a cheapened remake of the ’60s Imperials. See also “TRIUMPH” point.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Triumph Imperial See Imperial, “TRIUMPH”.
“TRIUMPH” point (also cylindrical nib in some Sheaffer documents; Sheath point) Sheaffer’s unique conical nib, introduced in 1942 (U.S. Patents Nos 2,303,373 and D130,997). Illustrated here by artwork from a wartime Sheaffer adver­tise­ment. Initially, Sheaffer made the nibs by forming shaped cuttings from a gold sheet and welding the joint on the underside; later, the company devised a way to form the nibs from tubing. See also hooded nib, Inlaid Nib, nib, open nib, “TRIUMPH”, turned-up nib.
1940s “TRIUMPH” point
True Blue See Modernistic Blue.
True Writer A pen model sold by Levenger, offered in ballpoint, fountain pen, and rollerball versions. Supposedly inspired by the inexpensive, colorful, and reliable pens of Esterbrook, the True Writer was introduced for less than $20.00 in February 1999, in a green color resembling the Kashmir used by Wahl for the Doric in the 1930s. The model has since appeared in more than 100 variations, including dozens of resin colors, several metal finishes, a Junior size (ballpoint only), and even a desk set. The fountain pen version has a steel nib and cartridge/converter filling. Shown here is a True Writer Classic fountain pen in Sea Glass. See also Levenger.
Fountain Pen
Fountain Pen
trumpet (also bowl, sheath, or tulip) The cup- or bell-shaped socket portion of a desk-set base, into which the pen is inserted. The trumpet is frequently swivel-mounted. Some Parker repair manuals refer to this part as the bowl. In some desk sets it is shaped like, and is called, a tulip. Waterman referred to it as a sheath. Shown here is a Parker Duofold desk base from the 1920s; the image has been altered to emphasize the trumpet. See also desk pen, desk set.
Desk base trumpet
Trupoint A “house brand” of fountain pens produced probably by the National Pen Products Company for Sears, Roebuck & Co. The Trupoint name sometimes appeared as a model name within the Tower brand. See also National.
Tuckaway A series of pens made by Sheaffer; notable for their small size and uniquely abbreviated clip design. Frequently abbreviated “Tucky” in speech. The Tuckaway’s short clip (also called a clasp), shown here on a Touchdown Valiant Tuckaway’s cap, is sometimes mistakenly called a “military clip.” Shown here are three Tuckaways, the original clipless version of 1940–1941, the 1942 revision, and the more common version with a clip, from about 1945 onward.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Tuckersharpe (Tuckersharpe Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturer located in Richmond Virginia; founded in 1952 by Percy A. Tucker, with himself as president, Raymond L. Scott as vice president, Robert J. Steinle as advertising manager, and Barnett Feldman as sales manager. The company produced third-tier fountain and ballpoint pens as well as mechanical pencils, including licensed Roy Rogers ballpoint pens during the 1950s. In 1960, the U.S. Tobacco Company acquired Tuckersharpe and began using its pens for advertising various tobacco produce such as Bruton Sweet Snuff. The company operated well into the 1970s, largely on the success of its 39¢ Tucker Mustang ballpoint. Tuckersharpe fountain pens were slip-cap lever-fillers that featured a clear plastic gripping section. Screw-out nib units, also of clear plastic, were interchangeable with Esterbrook nibs.
tulip  1  Collectors’ term for the flower-shaped clip attachment on certain late-1920s Wahl pen models. Illustrated below is a Wahl cap with a Tulip clip.  2  See trumpet.
Pen cap with Tulip clip
tuning See nib tuning.
Turban Top (also Turban-Top) Nickname for the earliest version of Parker’s Jack-Knife Safety pen (illustrated below), which featured a patented two-part cap design. To cap the pen, the user attached the main cap and then screwed the inner cap against the end of the section to effect a leakproof seal. The inner cap’s decorative knob gave rise to the nickname. See also Jack-Knife Safety.
Fountain pen
turned-up nib (abbreviated T. U.) An open nib whose tip is curved upward slightly so that the nib presents to the paper at what appears to be a lower angle of elevation. This design, invented in 1864 by Duncan Cameron and used by the Macniven and Cameron Pen Company for its Waverley-branded steel pens and, later, on Waverley-branded fountain pens, results in smoother performance. It also offers more usable surface toward the end of the tip so that the nib works better for users who hold the pen at a high angle of elevation, and it is consequently well adapted to many left-handed writers. Shown below are an original 1920s Waverley nib (left) and Sheaffer’s 1930s/1940s turned-up nib (right); the latter led directly to the design of Sheaffer’s famous “TRIUMPH” point. Note that Sheaffer never used the Waverley name in reference to its products; the name was a trademark of Macniven and Cameron. See also ball point, “TRIUMPH” point, Waverley.
Waverley nibUpturned nib
turquoise  1  An opaque mineral (a hydrous copper/aluminum phosphate) that is often “robin’s-egg blue,” a light blue-green, in color. The exact hue varies depending on place of origin. In its finer grades, turquoise has been prized since ancient times as a semiprecious stone.  2  When capitalized as Turquoise, Waterman’s name for a celluloid color consisting of gold/brown marbled patches on a rich blue ground, as shown below. First used on the Patrician.
Color chip
Tuscan A burgundy-like color used by Moore and Chilton (most notably for the Wing-flow). Tuscan (below, left) is somewhat browner than most versions of burgundy. Shown for comparison (below, right) is the earlier (and darker) of the two Burgundy colors used on the Sheaffer Snorkel.
Color chipColor chip
Twinpoint Brand name for a combo introduced in 1923 by the Pen-O-Pencil Company of New York City.
twist  1  (also wringer) A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. The sac is secured at both ends; turning a knob at the end of the barrel “wrings the sac out” by twisting it at that end. View filling instructions here.  2  (as Twist Filler) Esterbrook’s name for its 1943 piston-filling pen (illustrated below; note the black collar and knurled knob at the back end of the barrel), the immediate predecessor of the Model J. Because the filler mechanism is made of clear celluloid, the parts tend to become brittle with age and are often broken; Twist Fillers in working condition are rare and command very high prices. See also J.
Filler schematic
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
twizzle (term adapted from ice skating) A long point twisted from the corner of a paper towel, used for drying the interiors of pen barrels, caps, etc.; it is inserted as far as it will go into the part and then rotated in the direction that will keep it twisted. Can also be used for cleaning small parts if moistened with pen flush or Rapido-Eze.
two-tone nib (also 2T nib)  1  A yellow gold nib that is partially plated with a platinum-group metal (white or silver), such as the Sheaffer’s Lifetime Balance nib shown below (upper). In some instances, the nib is partially or entirely plated with a platinum-group metal and then, in the areas that are not to be silver in color, plated with gold of a different hue; on the Montblanc 75th Anniversary Meisterstück pens, for example, the second plating is rose gold.  2  A steel nib that is polished very brightly to resemble a richer metal and then partially plated with gold to simulate the appearance of a two-tone gold nib. Two-tone steel nibs are used on some moderately priced pens and also on certain counterfeit models; the Dupont Orpheo nib shown below (lower) is a steel Chinese counterfeit.

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information. My thanks to Jonathan Veley, who clarified my understanding of the Tempoint Pen Company’s history.

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

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