The History of The Pen

history of the pen

Writing is a timeless art, and its main tool is the pen. It is one of the rare objects that crosses ages, cultures, and all populations.

A noble object of prodigious power, the pen comes in an countless number of forms and uses that have shaped the way we write today. But what are the origins of the pen? How did he appear?

The Lyon store, specialist in writing, Aux Trois Archers invites you to discover the history of the pen, its creation and its developments, which have enabled it to become the writing instrument that the tool now knows.

When was the pen invented?

Since the birth of writing, writing techniques have evolved a lot. The calame is the first writing instrument strongly reminiscent of the models of pens that we know today.

They appear in Ancient Egypt and allow, once soaked in ink, to write on papyrus. Then followed one another by bird feathers from the 6th century onwards and steel nibs in the 19th century, very similar to the modern fountain pen. The ballpoint pen will not arrive until much later.

What are the different types of pen?

Each pen model has its own characteristics, each suitable for a particular use and writing method. Each type bears witness to an era and carries within it the technological advances of its time.

Fountain pen

The operating system of a fountain pen takes into account all the elements that constitute it:

the cap, which protects the tip of the pen; the duct, which is connected to the nib and ensures a homogeneous flow of the ink; the body, which holds the fountain pen in hand; the nib, made of steel or gold, which allows the writing itself.

The most technical element of the fountain pen is the eye, because it promotes the capillary system between the ink reservoir of the pen and the paper, allowing air to pass through the duct.

It is the most practical tool on the market, because it is the easiest to recharge. There are several ways to put ink back into a fountain pen:

  • By fitting the ink into the fountain pen
  • With the use of small ink cartridges
  • By using a converter that is filled with ink
  • Or by filling an empty cartridge with a syringe

Ballpoint pen

Also called bic antonomase, the ballpoint pen originally had a format very similar to a pencil. Its internal reservoir is filled with viscous ink, which allows writing thanks to a friction system on the paper.

The ball, located at the end of its point, rolls on itself to let the ink spread on the paper. It is to this marble that it owes its name. Thanks to the almost immediate drying of its ink, the ballpoint pen is the easiest model to use.

Roller pen

Halfway between the ballpoint pen and the fountain pen, the rollerball pen offers incomparable ease of use. No need to insist on the pressure to obtain a quality rendering.

It is for this same reason that the roller pen is known to be durable over time. Some models of rollerblades are so comfortable that they seem to resemble markers, where others look like the writing of a fountain pen.

Who invented the ballpoint pen?

We find the origin of the ballpoint pen system in 1888, by the American inventor John J. Loud. However, it was in 1919 that the French Pasquis presented the ballpoint pen to the famous Lépine competition. The model he presents there will win the first prize, but is only an outline of what will be the ballpoint pen as we know it today.

We owe its improvement to the Biro brothers who in 1938 developed a pen whose ball, located at its tip, allows ink to be laid on paper. They patent it and it is therefore to the Biro brothers who are granted the invention of the ballpoint pen.

Who invented the fountain pen?

Difficult to answer since the fountain pen does not really have an inventor. It is the end product of a long process of developing techniques. We trace the filing of a patent outlining the operating system of the fountain pen on May 25, 1827 in Paris, by a Romanian inventor, named Petrache Poenaru. At the time, we spoke of a portable pen.

Later, it is to Lewis Edson Waterman that we owe the invention of the ink tank, which really marks the birth of the modern fountain pen. For the first time in history, the latter has the idea of ​​using capillary action to solve the problem of excessive ink flow.

What is a rollerball pen?

The very purpose of its creation is to combine the ease of use of a ballpoint pen with the comfort and quality of a fountain pen. Created in 1967, it is the most successful and recent type of pen available on the market.

The particularity of roller pens is their ink: they can receive viscous inks, but also inks in gel form, or water-based. These last two inks offer total fluidity of writing, but also a wider range of colors than ballpoint pens.

Best Pen Brands

Certain brands have strongly influenced the development of writing instruments and more specifically pens. Each has brought its share of technical innovations and revolutions in design.

ST Dupont

The ST Dupont brand brings to the world of writing instruments a revolution in their design. The goal is to turn pens into luxury items. It is thanks to Jackie Kennedy that in 1973, the brand decides to embark on the creation of pens.

The first American lady at the time then had a lighter of the brand she loved, and asked the artisans of ST Dupont to create a matching pen for her.

Thus, appears the first luxury ballpoint pen. Thereafter, the brand will put a high point to offer, throughout its existence, prestigious designs, with the use of precious materials.


The novelty brought by Montblanc in 1906 is the invention of a pen with an integrated refillable ink system. This small revolution will be the brand’s gateway to the market for exceptional writing instruments.

From that moment on, Montblanc will seek to style its pens as much as possible. The engraving of the logo, representing a snow-capped summit, will be their signature. It will decorate all of their models, with the aim of making each Montblanc pen an art object in its own right.

Caran d’Ache

Originally, the Caran d’Ache brand offered very high quality pencils and mechanical pencils. But, in 1953, the Swiss House offered its first model of ballpoint pen.

In the same vein as its pencil models, Caran d’Ache pens offer remarkable strength, due to the use of highly resistant materials. This know-how still makes it one of the most influential brands in the luxury ballpoint pen market today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *