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Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised August 11, 2023)

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Reference Info Index | Glossary of Paper Terms  ]


zamac (also zamak) A family of gray-colored alloys with a base metal of zinc and alloying elements of aluminium, magnesium, and copper. Zamac can be die cast with extremely fine detail, and zamac castings have frequently been used for inkstands, pen stands, and other small items such as scale-model vehicles.
Zaner-Bloser (Zaner-Bloser, Inc.) An educational publishing company based in Columbus, Ohio, that grew out of a partnership between Charles Paxton Zaner, founder of the Zanerian Art College, and Elmer Ward Bloser, an instructor in Spencerian penmanship. During the 1930s, Zaner-Bloser commissioned Parker to manufacture special fountain pens and pencils based on the Duofold Special. These instruments had a unique shape, said by Zaner-Bloser to “fit the hand,” that featured a contoured extra-long section and a “wasp-waisted” barrel. One of the most attractive Zaner-Bloser models was made in Parker’s Modernistic Blue color (shown here). Parker-made Zaner-Bloser pens and pencils are now rare. See also Modernistic Blue. (Pen lent by Gary Lehrer, pencil lent by Joe Nemecek.)
Fountain pen
Mechanical pencil
Zanerian An American round hand writing system developed by Charles Paxton Zaner (1864–1918), known by his contemporaries as “the world’s best all-around penman.” Like Platt Rogers Spencer’s styles, Zanerian is less formal and more “alive” than most copperplate work. Shown here is a short exemplar typeset in a font called P22 Zaner. See also calligraphy, copperplate, round hand, Spencerian.
Zanerian script exemplar
Z-clip A type of clip that was used on many pens throughout the earlier two-thirds of the 20th century; so called because it is bent into a Z shape that can be seen clearly when the clip is viewed from the side as shown here. To install a Z-clip into a cap, the worker slips the top tab through a small lateral slot in the cap and pivots the clip downward to its final position. Inserting the inner cap secures the clip in place by pressing the tab against the inside surface of the cap. See also inner cap.
Zebra (Ishikawa Pen-saki Seisakusho, later Zebra Co. Ltd.) A pen manufacturing company located in Tokyo, Japan; founded in 1897 by Tokumatsu Ishikawa, who produced the first Japanese-made steel nibs in that year. In 1914, he chose Zebra as his company’s name because the animal’s herding instinct aligned with his family-oriented management philosophy. The company’s facilities were totally destroyed in the 1945 Allied firebombing of Tokyo; rebuilding was completed in 1950. In 1951, Ishikawa was honored with Japan’s national award for distinguished services to industry. Zebra introduced its first ballpoint pen in 1959 and has been an innovative manufacturer ever since. The name change to Zebra Co., Ltd., came in 1963. Beginning in 1982, the company began extending its reach by establishing wholly-owned corporations in other countries, beginning with the Zebra Pen Corporation in the U.S.A. Zebra is still very much in business as of this writing.
Zenith  1  A model name used by David Kahn, Inc., for a Wearever lever filler, introduced in 1943 with a gold nib in compliance with U.S. wartime material restrictions and demoted to a steel nib after the end of World War II. The Zenith, made with injection-molded plastic parts, was near the top of the company’s line (shown below, upper). The postwar Zenith model range also included a ballpoint pen (below, lower). See also Kahn.  2  A pen company located in Milan, Italy; founded in 1929 by Giuseppe Morandino, who was a pen wholesaler and also sold stationery supplies. Although a minor brand, Zenith is said to have been well known. The company did not manufacture its own pens, instead jobbing its products from various manufacturers such as Montegrappa and Pagliero. At one time, it was selling a rebranded version of the Pagliero Condor. During its later years, Zenith offered copies of recognized pens such as the Eversharp Skyline and the Parker “51”. The company ceased operation in 1963. See also Montegrappa, Pagliero.  3  (Zenith Pen Company) A pen company located in Janesville, Wisconsin, during the early years of the 20th century. Known to me only from a 1904 advertisement in Hoard’s Dairyman, a trade publication for dairy farmers. The advertisement described a straight-cap ebonite eyedropper-filling pen with a 14K Warranted nib, priced at 75¢, with a guarantee reading, “Kept in repair for one year free of charge.”  4  A series of relatively high-quality copies of the Parker “51”, produced beginning in 1975 by the Omega Fountain Pen Factory of Częstochowa, Poland. See Omega (definition 2).
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Zephyr A lever-filling bottom-line pen model (properly the Parkette Zephyr) produced by Parker beginning in about 1940. See the illustration below. See also Parkette.
Fountain pen
Zerollo A fountain pen company located in Genoa, Italy; founded c. 1932 by Dante Davide Zerollo, who was also a cotton controller in partnership with his brother Mario Giovanni Zerollo. The company produced a surprising number of variants on what what was essentially a single model called the Duo Color: a writing instrument housing within a single barrel two complete matchstick-filling pens separated by a metal plate (U.S. Patent No 1,893,130, issued to Mirko Chelazzi and Dino Frulli on January 3, 1933). When the instrument was not in use, the two pens were both partially retracted. To use one of the pens, the user uncapped the instrument and turned a knob at the back end of the barrel; working through an ingenious screw mechanism, this action simultaneously extended one pen and retracted the other fully. For filling, the cap crown screwed off the cap; fixed to to the underside of the crown piece was a short metal rod that served as the matchstick and would be inserted into two holes in the barrel, one after the other, to fill the respective pens. The system worked well, but the mechanism was delicate and hard to repair if it became damaged, and it is doubtful whether the Zerollo pen possessed any significant advantage over the simpler solution of carrying two separate pens. Initial production was in hard rubber, including rolled-gold overlay versions. Later, Zerollo introduced celluloid models in a broad range of attractive marbled colors, featuring an unusual faceted treatment with an extremely long-pitch spiral twist. It is not known whether Zerollo manufactured its own pens; based on the quality of the work, some authorities have suggested that the pens, or at least some of the parts, were made by Omas. In addition to selling in the Italian market, the company licensed its design to Dunhill in England and Unic in France. Unable or unwilling to produce other types of pens, Zerollo gradually fell out of favor, and it ceased operation after World War II. See also Colorado.
Zigzag A chasing pattern used by Wahl on metal pens, with groups of nine zigzag longitudinal lines opposed by one line zigzagging in the other direction to create rows of triangular or diamond-shaped areas. Shown here is a close-up of the Zigzag pattern.
zogan (pronounced zo-gaan, where aa sounds as in father)  1  A type of Japanese decorative metal inlay work, created by engraving grooves in the base metal and then hammering matching pieces of a precious metal, usually gold, into the grooves. The grooves are cut wider at the bottom than at the surface, forming a “key” that prevents the inlaid metal from working loose. ¶ Use of the term has expanded to include wood or shell on wood, clay on clay (pottery), and many other forms of inlay.  2  Collectors’ term for a small arrow or similar device inlaid above the nib of a pen with a hooded or partially hooded nib; introduced on the Parker 61 and seen primarily on Japanese pens such as the Center pocket pen shown here. Also sometimes inlaid into the sections of certain high-end Japanese pens with open nibs.
Fountain pen
Zoom nib A nib shape developed by master nib designer Nobuyoshi Nagahara (1932–2015) of Japan’s Sailor company. A Zoom nib produces a line that varies in width from broad when the pen is held at a relatively low angle to the paper, to very fine when the pen is held nearly vertically relative to the paper. See also 52 Degree nib, nib, Sailor.
Zürcher (Zürcher Füllhalter-Fabrik, Zürich Fountain Pen Factory) A fountain pen company located in Zürich, Switzerland; founded in 1911 by Fritz Dimmler, a young German merchant who had worked for some years as a field representative for Kaweco. Dimmler’s company’s initial offering was hard rubber retractable safety pens resembling Kaweco production, probably jobbed from Kaweco, and marketed under the Monte Rosa brand. In the following years, the company jobbed pens from various makers, including Montblanc. It is not clear whether Zürcher Füllhalter-Fabrik actually manufactured any of its own pens. In 1920, after a legal battle lasting several years, the company lost the rights to the Monte Rosa name to Montblanc, but the company continued producing pens until at least the latter 1930s, during which time it diversified into a broad range of writing supplies and remained active at least until 1945. Dimmler himself received six patents for pens and related goods, the last one (Swiss Patent No 195,985, for a feed-mounted capillary device to prevent fountain pens from dripping) being awarded on February 28, 1938. See also Monte Rosa.

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