Glossopedia of Pen Terms

(This page revised July 5, 2017)

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Reference Info Index  ]

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lacquer (also laque; more usually seen as laqué, literally “lacquered” ) A remarkably durable and very glossy clear coating made by dissolving nitrocellulose or a similar material together with pigment in a suitable vehicle and applying the solution to a surface. In reference to pens, usually used on metals. See also enamel, intarsia, maki-e, shellac, urushi, varnish.
Lacquer Red See Chinese Red.
ladies’ pen See ringtop.
Lady Autograph See Sheaffer names.
Lady Crest See Sheaffer names.
Lady Patricia A pen model introduced in 1930 by L. E. Waterman as a ladies’ companion to the top-of-the-line Patrician, introduced the preceding year. Like its larger sibling, the Lady Patricia features Art Deco styling, most notably in the flat cap crown and elegant stepped “military” clip. In addition to the colors of the Patrician, Lady Patricia colors include the exotic (and fragile) Persian. During the mid-1930s, Waterman made a version of the Lady Patricia that used the company’s Ink-Vue filling system (shown below). See also Ink-Vue, Patrician.
Fountain pen
Lady Sheaffer See Sheaffer names.
Lahn Gray LahnA decorative material featuring silvery metallic threads embedded in transparent celluloid (U.S. Patent No 2,081,538, owned by the Celluloid Corporation). Tinting the celluloid material produced Lahn in various colors. Shown here is Gray Lahn as used by Sheaffer for caps and barrels of Wasp pens from 1936 to about 1938.
Lakeside A “house brand” of fountain pens produced by the National Pen Products Company for Montgomery Ward & Co. See also Lapp & Flershem, National.
Lalex (Lalex 1938) A pen company located in Naples, Italy; founded in 1938 by Leopoldo Tullio Aquila. The name combines Aquila’s initials L. A. with the Latin word lex (law); Aquila’a intent was to create a company based on his own propensity for technical details combined with solid principles of honesty, two characteristics that are important when distributors and dealers consider whether to carry a given brand. Lalex built a staff that included superb jewelers working in Naples, and the company’s products soon entered the upscale market. Since its founding, Lalex was joined by other companies to form the Aquila Group, which sold Montegrappa to the Richemont Group in 2000 and, under Gianfranco and Giuseppe Aquila, subsequently developed plans to strengthen the Lalex brand. Lalex 1938 is still operating as of this writing.
Lancaster (Lancaster Fountain Pen Company; later Lancaster’s Pens; later Warren N. Lancaster Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in several cities in succession. Warren Lancaster founded his business in New York City in 1879. He moved to Baltimore, Maryland, c. 1899; in 1916, he appears to have lost control of his business there and moved it to Springfield, Massachusetts. By 1920, he is listed as being in New York City. Lancaster’s pens were marketed as twist fillers made to a portion of August Eberstein’s design in which the user removed the pen’s barrel to twist the sac with the fingers (U.S. Patent No 721,549). Eberstein had included a vent hole at the back end of the barrel but did not explain the purpose of this hole in his patent. It is easy to surmise that this hole allowed the pen to function as a blow-filler without infringing Seth Sears Crocker’s blow-filler patent. In 1905, Lancaster designed a pen with an adjustable feed (U.S. Patent No 816,344, issued the next year). Lancaster’s pens are similar in appearance to A. A. Waterman pens of the time, even to the unusually shaped breather hole in the nib. See also blow, Colonial (definition 3).
lanyard See sautoir.
Lapham (D. W. Lapham & Company) A pen manufacturer located in New York City; founded c. 1884 by Daniel W. Lapham. The company produced several models, including the “Rival” (shown below). In 1897, Lapham was the beneficiary of a suit filed by William W. Stewart against the American News Company, which was selling a pen called the “Ever Ready,” for patent infringement; the case was decided in Stewart’s favor, and he immediately licensed the design to Lapham, which thereafter produced the “Ever Ready” pen for American News. See also Ever-Ready.
Fountain pen
Lapis Blue Lapis Blue(also Lapis, Lapis Lazuli Blue) A color offered by Parker (Duofold), Conklin (Endura), and other manufacturers during the Golden Age and by Parker on modern Duofolds, featuring flecks of white, pale blue, or (infrequently) yellow in dark blue material as shown here.
Lapp & Flershem A jewelry manufacturer and jobber located in Chicago, Illinois; founded in 1876 by a Mr. Lapp and Lemuel H. Flershem. Advertising itself as “the busiest house in North America,” the company sold clocks, watches, and watch parts and accessories. At some time around the turn of the century, it began offering hard rubber fountain pens as well, under brands that included Banner, Lakeside, and Remington (not to be confused with the celluloid Lakeside and Remington pens that appeared in the 1930s). The company lasted until 1922. See also Lakeside, Remington.
laqué See lacquer.
Latremore (Latremore’s Fountain Pen Exchange) A pen repair and sales business located in Boston, Massachusetts; founded c. 1905 by Lewis W. Latremore. In addition to repairing clients’ pens, Latremore sold pens that he assembled from parts made by the Sterling Pen Company and the Pollock Pen Company, using nibs made for him by the Bay State Gold Pen Company. In 1936, his son, a naval aviation cadet, was killed while on a training flight; three years later, Latremore sold his business and moved to California to be with his daughter-in-law. The Boston business remained in operation until 1951. See also Pollock, Sterling (definition 2).
Lattice See crosshatched.
Laughlin (Laughlin Manufacturing Company) A pen manufacturing company located in Detroit, Michigan; founded in 1896 by James W. Laughlin. Until c. 1912, the company produced eyedropper-filling pens that were of high quality but otherwise ordinary for their time. In 1912, Laughlin received U.S. Patent No 1,042,695 for a clever sliding-barrel thumb filler, and his company immediately put his design (illustrated below) into production. (Interestingly, he assigned the patent to his wife, Catherine.) In about 1926, the Laughlin company ceased production and sold its assets to the Carter’s Ink Company, which then produced fountain pens for about six years. Laughlin did not dissolve his company, however; documents exist showing that it was still in the fountain pen business as late as 1943.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
LE See limited edition.
leakproof (also leak-proof) Post-1925 synonym for safety, indicating a pen that is designed so that it cannot leak while capped in the user’s pocket or purse. A leakproof pen has no external openings in its body and is fitted with a threaded cap that seals the nib area. See also non-leakable. Read a discussion of leakproof pens here.
LeBoeuf (LeBoeuf Fountain Pen Company, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in Springfield, Massachusetts. Incorporated in 1921 by Frank LeBoeuf, Edward E. LeBoeuf, Leroy J. Learned, John H. Williams, and Eugene E. LeBoeuf, the company appears to have been in business by 1920, possibly as early as 1918. It based its pen design on Frank LeBoeuf’s patented technique (U.S. Patent No 1,302,935, issued May 6, 1919) for making pen barrels and caps using celluloid tube instead of rod stock. LeBoeuf is thought to have been the first company to produce and market celluloid pens, but this conjecture would apply only to complete pens; celluloid pen barrels are mentioned in passing in a 1909 article dealing with electrodeposition to produce metallic overlays on nonmetallic objects. ¶ First or not, LeBoeuf used a broad range of very attractive celluloid colors and patterns, many of them unique. Initially, the pens were lever fillers (shown below, upper, a 75 in Cocobolo); but the company is better known for the sleeve fillers it began producing in about 1930, of which there are two types: first, a version in which the back half of the barrel slides backward to expose the squeeze-type pressure bar (shown below, lower, U.S. Patent No 1,804,522, issued May 12, 1931, to Frank T. Walsh), and second, one in which the entire barrel slides (U.S. Patent No 2,148,853, issued February 12, 1939, to Homer J. Bissette). Sleeve-filler barrels were metal lined, and the company advertised these pens as being unbreakable. The LeBoeuf Fountain Pen Company, Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 1933; by the time of Bissette’s patent, the LeBoeuf-Pilgrim Pen Company, Inc., had risen from the ashes of the original company.
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
Fountain pen
LEC LEC overlayLower End Covered. Refers to an overlay pen whose overlay extends to cover the back end of the barrel (the crown) as shown to the right, in contrast to the usual overlay that leaves the barrel end uncovered so that the pen can use a cap of the same size as an ordinary pen. The LEC abbreviation appears in Waterman’s Standard Numbering System; the phrase therefore properly applies only to Waterman pens, but it is frequently used to describe pens of other manufacturers. See also overlay.
Leeds See Kahn.
left oblique An ambiguous term for an oblique nib. The ambiguity arises from the fact that some manufacturers call the usual oblique nib a left oblique based on the direction of slant while others use the term for a nib that is intended principally for left-handed writers. See also nib, oblique, reverse oblique, right oblique.
lever Filler schematicA type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, located beneath a slotted hole in the side of the barrel, squeezes the sac laterally. A pivoting lever is mounted in the slot, with its pivot about 13 of the distance from one end to the other. Lifting the lever’s longer end depresses the shorter end to push against the pressure bar.) View filling instructions here.
lever box Lever boxA somewhat trough-shaped metal box, fitted into the barrel with tabs at the ends or sides, designed to provide a mount and pivot pin for the lever in a lever-filling pen. Patented by William Ferris and Edwin Britten (U.S. Patent No 1,197,360, filed August 17, 1914, and issued September 5, 1916) and used by L. E. Waterman (shown here, on a RRHR Ideal No 7), the boxed lever was a way to circumvent Sheaffer’s 1908 patent, which specified that the lever pivot be a pin through the material of the barrel. A few other companies used variations of the concept. During the 1930s, when pen makers began securing levers with ring-shaped clips fitting into grooves inside the barrel, at least one third-tier maker produced pens with a ring-secured lever and a dummy lever box.
Leverless Filler schematic 1  A type of filling system; operates by mechanical ink-sac squeeze. A metal pressure bar, attached to a rotating knob at the end of the barrel, squeezes the sac by grasping and twisting it. View filling instructions here. ¶ A postwar version of the Leverless is actually an ordinary button filler, with the knob actuating a helical cam to depress the button. See also button.  2  A series of Swan pen models using the Leverless filling system, produced by Mabie Todd & Co., in England. Illustrated here is a 1930s celluloid Swan Leverless pen.
Fountain pen
lever ring See snap ring.
Lever-Vac Wahl-Eversharp’s name for a variant of the lever filler that the company used on Doric pens. The filling mechanism is ordinary; the section is assembled from two screwed-together pieces, the visible portion of hard rubber and the concealed portion of clear celluloid. The clear part lines up with a clear region of the barrel (just above the threads) to provide a visible ink supply. With two layers of celluloid, the visual area is now frequently too deeply ambered to be usable.
Partial fountain pen
L. E. Waterman See Waterman, L. E.
LF Lever filler. See filler.
Liberty  1  (Liberty Fountain & Gold Pen Company, later Liberty Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded before 1914 by George F. Barrett, and lasted until c. 1930. In 1916, the company was reorganized and incorporated by Edward Turnburger (president), Hazlitt A. Cuppy (secretary), and Barrett (treasurer). Liberty pens, at first eyedropper fillers and later lever filling models, had 14K nibs and were of moderate quality. There exist examples in BHR, BCHR, and MHR.  2  A name used by George M. Kraker for pens made probably by his Pencraft company, which was located in Libertyville, Illinois, c. 1930.
Lifetime Sheaffer’s name for the warranty it offered on its more expensive models beginning in 1920; initially the nib, and from 1925 the entire pen, was covered during the lifetime of the first owner. The company withdrew the lifetime warranty after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 1946 outlawed the terms under which it was offered; but it has since been reinstated under terms acceptable to the U.S. government.
limited edition (colloquially, LE) A pen model whose production run is limited to a predetermined number of pieces, which are usually serially numbered as piece X of Y, imprinted or engraved on the pen as X/Y (e.g., 273/350). See also limited production, special edition.
limited production A pen model whose production run is limited to a predetermined time period, with no specific limit on the number of pens to be produced during that period. See also limited edition, special edition.
Lincoln See National.
lip See cap lip.
Lipic (Joseph Lipic Pen Company) A pen manufacturing company located in St. Louis, Missouri; founded in 1863 by George Berg to produce gold pens (dip nibs) and holders. The company was named after Berg’s son-in-law, Joseph Lipic, Sr. In 1910 Lipic patented a self-filling fountain pen (U.S. Patent No 976,815) that was a variation on the ordinary matchstick filler. Sold as Lipic’s Radium Point Pen, it used the clip, which extended below the cap lip, as the tool for operation. The pressure bar had a boss on it that projected part of the way through the hole in the barrel wall. Instead of the usual ball, the clip had a small cylindrical projection that fitted through the hole in the barrel to engage the pressure bar. The body of the pen was designed so that the projection lined up with the hole when the cap was posted; once the pen was filled, the user turned the cap so that the clip no longer engaged the filler. The company became a major producer of promotional products such as pens, pencils, letter openers, pocket knives, screwdrivers, keychains, and so on. In 1968, Lipic Pen became a division of ISC Industries; as of this writing the company is still in business as Lipic’s, Inc., specializing in business promotion products and services and employee-recognition gift programs.
Liquid Lead Parker’s trademarked name for its line of ballpoint “pencils” introduced in 1956. Liquid Lead was a paste, or slurry, of graphite in a volatile fluid. The intent was that the instrument would write like a ballpoint pen but would produce a true dry graphite line that could be erased just like marks made by a real pencil. Because the slurry was fluid enough that capillary action drew it back into the refill when the instrument was not actively writing, Liquid Lead pencils were not retractable. The product worked, but not well enough to achieve a permanent market, and Parker withdrew it in 1962. Liquid Lead pencils with plastic barrels are imprinted on their barrels with the letters LL and a diamond.
Lizard Green Lizard(also Snakeskin) A celluloid pattern offered by several pen makers, notably Pelikan, Soennecken, and Wasp; so named for its appearance of reptile scales. Illustrated here are Wasp Green Lizard and a modern Pelikan M101N pen in Gray Lizard.
Fountain pen
loaner See service pen.
Lockdown Lockdown fillerUnofficial common name for the first generation of Parker’s Vacumatic filler design; uses a slotted tubular metal plunger with notches cut at the outer ends of the slots to lock the plunger in the depressed position as shown to the right. See also filler, Speedline.
lock ring Lock ring(also doughnut, lockring) A ring open on one side, like the letter C, that rotates around the barrel of a crescent- or hump-filling pen to prevent the projecting filler “button” from being depressed (“locking” it). Shown to the right is a Spors crescent-filling pen with its lock ring oriented so that the open segment is visible; the image has been altered to emphasize the lock ring. See also filler.
Lock-Slip Waterman’s name for its clutch-type cap closure, introduced in the 1940s to compete with the clutch cap on the Parker “51”. Basically similar to the Parker design, Waterman’s version added two slight corrugations to each of the cap’s spring fingers so that the pen would snap gently into position when capped, coming to rest with its clutch ring between the corrugations. See also clutch cap.
long/short (also short/long) A pen designed to be unusually compact when capped; but when it is posted, it is long enough to be used comfortably. Shown here is an Eversharp Kimberly Pockette ballpoint pen.
Ballpoint pen
Ballpoint pen
lose prime See prime.
Lotz Rudolph W. Lotz, a patent attorney who worked for George Kraker; credited with inventing two latching lever designs (U.S. Patents Nos 1,263,260 and 1,263,261), both of which Kraker used in his pens and almost certainly had designed himself. Kraker, who had already lost the entire assets of one pen company to Walter Sheaffer, may have used Lotz as a shield should further legal action arise between himself and Sheaffer. See also Kraker.
lowercase See minuscule.
Lox-Top A feature of the Chilton Wing-flow; a section with notches into which a small tab attached to the cap fits, locking the pen together to prevent the cap from unscrewing inadvertently when the pen is clipped in a pocket. See photo at Wing-flow.
lozenge  1  A rhombus or diamond shape.  2  A repeating pattern of diamonds, used as a decorative surface treatment as on the Pelikan pen shown below. See also Harlequin.
Fountain pen
lubricated Term used to describe inks with additives said to improve the action of piston- or syringe-filling pens by lubricating the working parts within the barrel. No such ink has ever been produced by any known pen manufacturer, suggesting that these inks provide no real benefit.
Lucite A registered trademark of E. I. DuPont de Nemours for its acrylic resin products. See also acrylic.
Lucky Curve FeedParker’s name for its patented feed design (U.S. Patents Nos 512,319 and 606,231, used 1896-1928) that featured a curved extension at the rear end of the feed; the extension brings the capillary fissures into contact with the wall of the sac, allowing excess ink to drain back into the sac when the pen is stored nib uppermost. This design was said to reduce the tendency of a pen to throw blots when first applied to the paper after being uncapped. Due to the increased difficulty this feed presents to repairers, many (including even Parker’s own servicemen) simply cut the extension off when replacing the nib of a Lucky Curve pen. See also feed.
LUS (Legnani Umberto, Saronno) A pen manufacturer located in Saronno, Italy; founded in 1929 by Umberto Legnani, registered in 1931. Legnani, an experienced machinist, had been laid off due to a slowdown caused by the ripple effects of America’s Great Depression. Together with his wife, Giuseppina Carnelli, he set up in business to produce fountain pen nibs and other stationery items. Initial production was essentially limited to steel nibs. In 1934, LUS moved into new quarters and began to produce complete fountain pens as an adjunct to the primary business of nibs and office supplies. After World War II, LUS concentrated on pens, producing models to fit niches across the range of the market, from top to bottom. Ballpoint pen manufacture began in 1948. In about 1952, stealing a march on Waterman’s C/F by about a year, LUS began selling the Atomica, which is widely considered to have been the first modern cartridge-filling fountain pen. The Atomica’s cartridge (U.S. Patent No 2,902,978) featured a metal ball that sealed the ink in and then, when the pen’s piercing tube pushed the ball into the cartridge, served as an agitator to improve flow by reducing the ink’s tendency to cling to the surface in the distal end of the cartridge. As of this writing, LUS is still in business under the name Mondial LUS Spa, producing primarily school pens and economical low-end models that it sells through stationers, tobacconists, and vending machines. See also C/F.
Lustraloy Parker’s name for the stainless steel caps of various Parker models (notably the “51”) beginning in the 1940s. Most of these caps have a frosted surface finish, and it is this finish that most collectors today associate with the name. See also Astralite, frosted.

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