(This page revised March 26, 2013)
|Introduction A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z|
[ Reference Info Index ]
If there is a magnifying-glass symbol () next to an image, click the magnifying glass to view a zoomed version for more detail.
(also sack, especially in period literature, or bladder) A flexible rubber 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 White Rubber Company.
(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.
|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.|
|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.|
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 Continental, disappearing, leakproof, non-leakable, retractable nib, screw cap. Read a discussion here about safety pens and how they work.
|Safety Ink Shut-Off||Wahl-Eversharp’s name for the clever shutoff 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-Eversharp corrected this problem by using a spring made of gold alloy, but in practice the device was found not to work well, if at all. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission prohibited the Wahl-Eversharp from advertising it, and the company withdrew it from production. See also shutoff.|
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.
|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).|
(Sager Pen Corporation) A pen manufacturing company locagted 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 here 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. The Sager company appears to have survived World War II; its last U.S. patent, for a ballpoint pen design, was granted in 1947. See also Monel metal.
|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 Brothers, Inc.) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City, probably best known today for its diminutive Peter Pan novelty pens. Founded c. 1918 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.
|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.|
|Sanford & Bennett||(Sanford & Bennett Company) A pen manufacturing company located in New York City; founded c. 1904 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 to the right. 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).|
|Saturday afternoon special||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 51/2-day work week of the time. 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.”|
(French for “long necklace,” pronounced so-TWAR; also guard, 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 contact by the Samuel Ward Manufacturing Company. See also De Witt-La France.|
|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.|
(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.).
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
(Scripto Manufacturing Company) A pen and pencil manufacturing company located in Atlanta, Georgia; founded before 1922 as the M. A. Ferst Company, producing only pencil leads. The company name was changed to Scripto in 1924. In 1957, Scripto acquired Anja Engineering Corporation, an international supplier of writing instruments. Scripto’s mechanical pencils became nearly ubiquitous during the 1950s, the most common being the K780 twist-action pencil (shown below, top). Fountain pens were of typical low-line construction (below, middle, 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 may have been made by JiF-Waterman. Beginning in 1955, Scripto began producing refillable butane cigarette lighters, and in 1974 changed over to disposable lighters engineered by partner company Tokai-Seiki of Japan. In 1989, production was moved to Mexico; at some point thereafter, Scripto ceased production of writing instruments and today makes only lighters and related products.
|SE||See special edition.|
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.
|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.|
|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.|
|section||See gripping section, sac section.|
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.
|Select-O-Point||Wahl-Eversharp’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||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).|
(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.
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.
|Servo||A type of filling system; 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.|
(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.
|750||A designation indicating an alloy that contains 750 parts of gold, by weight, per 1000 parts of the total metal content. The same as 18K.|
|1750||See Sheaffer numbers.|
A pen model introduced by Parker in 1963. Produced in myriad variations, and arguably the most collectible pen from the latter half of the 20th century, the 75 is noted for its writing qualities and for its user-interchangeable adjustable nib unit. See also adjustable nib (definition 2), VP.
|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 to the right. 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).|
|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.|
|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.|
(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). 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-Fil, and WASP. Now a subsidiary of BiC, the company continues to produces pens of good quality. See also BiC, Craig (definition 1), first tier, sub-brand, Vacuum-Fil, WASP.
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, Sheaffer numbers, “TRIUMPH”, Valiant, Vigilant.
|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, 500, 875, 1000, 1250, 1500, etc., were not model numbers; hence, there is no such pen as a “Sheaffer 1250.” Rather, a pen whose imprint reads 1250 was intended to retail for $12.50. See also Sheaffer names.|
|Sheath point||See “TRIUMPH” point.|
|shell||(also hood) The conical cover that encloses and conceals a hooded nib, such as that on a Parker “51”.|
|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.|
|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. See also Safety Ink Shut-Off.|
|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 proerties. See also Argentium, coin silver, green gold, rose gold, palladium silver, sterling.|
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.
|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.|
|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.|
A pen model introduced by Parker in 1956; the first successful capillary-filling fountain pen. Shown here is a First Edition 61. In 1969 Parker replaced the capillary-filling 61 with a cartridge/converter version in response to persistent complaints from owners who were dissatisfied with the pen’s need for more care and maintenance than other fountain pens. Read a profile of the 61 here. See also First Edition, Rainbow.
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. See also Fifth Avenue.
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.
|Skidmore||(Skidmore Fountain Pen Company) A pen manufacturer located in Toledo, Ohio; founded c. 1915-1920 as successor to the Major Fountain Pen Company by brothers Major F. and Elmer L. Skidmore. Apparently never incorporated, the company produced pens of good quality; however, among its products was a crescent-filler that was a very good copy of Conklin’s pen, although marked with Skidmore’s name, and in 1924 the company was forced to cease all production by a court that found in favor of Conklin in a patent-infringement suit.|
|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.|
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.
|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.|
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 Red Modern Stripe color (often called moiré). Read a profile of the Skyline here. See also moiré, Streamliner.
|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.|
(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 here), 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. Depressing the pressure bar with a thumb or finger squeezes the sac laterally. View filling instructions here.
|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.|
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.
|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.|
|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.
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.
|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 pivot for the lever and secure the lever in the barrel.|
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.
|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 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.|
A pen model introduced by Parker in 1993. The Sonnet (illustrated below in black lacquer and sterling silver Fougère) features a screw-interchangeable nib unit and is 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.
|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.|
(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. Shown here is a high-end “51” copy called the “Moscow.” This pen has a faceted garnet set into its cap crown and a second, very small, one set at the peak of the Kremlin gate on the back of the cap band.
|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.|
|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 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.|
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 grew out of an earlier concern established in 1860 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.
|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.|
|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 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.|
(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.
(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 Mayers.
|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.|
(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 2/5 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. 2 Term describing a clip that has been bent away from the cap.
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|Standard||See Bolles, International (definition 2).|
|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, 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 to the right 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.|
|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. Sterling produced primarily hard rubber middle-joint eyedropper-filling pens like the HUB-branded 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.|
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.
|Stonite||A marketing name for the celluloid used in Gold Bond pens (produced by the National Pen Products Company). See also Celluloid.|
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 holder||See straight cap.|
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.
|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.|
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.
|striated||Another term for striped. Frequently applied to the Parker Vacumatic (horizontally or laterally striated, shown near right) and Sheaffer’s pens of the later 1930s and early 1940s (vertically or longitudinally striated, far right).|
|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.|
|student pen||See school 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 here are a Conway Stewart Ink Pencil and a Keuffel & Esser Leroy® technical pen. See also Acetograph, dip pen, fountain pen, Inkograph, Rapidograph.
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 and to the right are a Stylpoint pen and the nib section of an Imperial I pen, which also used the Stylpoint 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) The dread nemesis of all collectors, Sumgai (“some guy”) always visits the antique shop just before you and gets all the good pens. 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.|
|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.|
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.
|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.|
|swaging||(pronounced SWAYJ-ing) A technique for formimg 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.|
|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.|
|Sword clip||An ornamental clip design (shown to the right) 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.|
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.
(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).
Source: advertisement in The Daily Oklahoman, June 1, 1947, page B-5.
The information in this Glossopedia is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.