What a fountain pen looks like

The elements of a pen


The type of pen synonymous with elegance and class par excellence: where there is a fountain pen there is a fan of writing instruments, an experienced collector, a lover of calligraphic styles or, simply, a person with refined taste.

Writing with the fountain pen is an experience that stimulates imagination and recovers the primordial and more intense relationship of man with writing, what is established between the support and the instrument, between paper and ink.

The ink pen we know today as the fountain pen conquers the world in the late 1800s, thanks to the intuition of Lewis Edson Waterman: despite the many evolutions there are elements that remain fixed points in the fountain world.


The nib of a fountain pen

Characteristics and classification

Let’s start with one of the fundamental elements of our pen: fountain pens have the task of transferring ink to paper. They derive from the dippings used in the ancient stliografica with the straw: to make this element more resistant to the corrosion of the ink, it was initially decided to make the nib in precious materials such as gold and silver, then, A corrosion-resistant steel nib was also created.

Regardless of the material used to produce it, the nib must have a reinforced tip that can withstand wear. Generally this reinforcement is guaranteed by the fusion of an iridium ball, equally distributed on the two wings of the nib, divided by the cut through which the ink of the fountain pen passes.

The nibs are classified according to the size indicated by an abbreviation. The main ones are

  • EF = Extra-fine
  • F = End
  • M = Medium
  • OM = Middle-Oblique
  • B = Wide (Broad)
  • BB = Double width
  • BBB = Triple width
  • OF = Oblique end
  • OB = Wide oblique
  • OBB = Oblique double width
  • M = Musical (Music nib)
  • KF = Fine kugel
  • KM = Kugel medium
  • KB = Kugel largo

Depending on the flexibility, then, we can have

  • Springy nib: which responds to pressure, but without significant variation of the stroke;
  • Semi-flexible nib: which responds to pressure with a significant variation of the stroke, but not when used normally;
  • Flexible nib: which produces a variation of stroke even in normal writing;
  • Super flexible nib: which leads to very marked stroke variations at minimal pressure;

The power supply and the junction

The heart of the fountain pen


Also called conductor and feeder, it represents the heart of the operation of a fountain pen: the power supply concentrates the forces that allow the correct passage of the ink from the tank to the nib that then flows on the sheet of paper. So the power supply is, in fact, the element that allows you to write with a fountain pen.

In early pen prototypes, the power supply consisted of an ebonite cylinder with a channel through which the ink flowed. This channel was subsequently perfected and additional grooves were added to facilitate the capillary passage of the ink.


The shape of the fountain pen components has also changed over time and has been designed to block the flow of ink when the pen remains unused for a long time and significant losses in the cap are likely.

Appropriate mechanisms have been developed that allow the excess ink to accumulate in the folds to avoid accumulation on the nib: In this way the pen will slide on the paper writing without leaving unsightly and annoying stains that risk irremediably spoiling the sheet, but that could also damage clothes and accessories.

Let’s talk about junction in reference to the final block of the tip of the pen, the part where the nib and power supply are inserted.

The joint is also the point where you hold the pen during writing and is properly worked and shaped to facilitate grip.


The body of a fountain pen

The evolution of design

The body is divided into stem and back. The stem is the most substantial part of the fountain pen. It was once used directly as an ink tank, while today it has the task of structuring the pen, as well as covering the part where the refill of the fountain pen is contained. Originally made in cylindrical form, it then followed the evolution of stylistic trends, declining according to the ideas of designers in faceted, triangular, square, octagonal and much more.

The materials in which the body of the fountain pen is made have also taken place over time: from ebonite to precious metals, through artificial resins such as bakelite, galalite and celluloid. Many models have a back that covers the back of the body of the pen: also this element can be the subject of decorative motifs or particular engravings, but mainly serves to cover access to the loading system and can be detached or unscrewed to access the mechanism. In some pens, the case back directly constitutes a part of the loading system itself and right on it you have to act to activate the loading.


The hood and the clasp

Protection and aesthetics

The cap has two important functions: protecting the nib from any accidental impact and leakage, but also preventing air from entering the tank by drying the ink when the pen is not used for a long time. Of course there are several ways in which you can open or close a cap and as many ways in which you can insert it on the bottom of the pen as an extension of the body.

The hood can be interlocking, with screw closure, with clutch closure or with snap closure. The snap closure is the most classic system: the closure is done by inserting the hood and applying pressure until you feel the snap, to open just pull. The screw closure, on the other hand, is the system preferred by fans: to close and open it is done by screwing and unscrewing.


On the hood focus the characteristic design elements, such as special decorations, precious gems and precious rings. On the top of the cap of the Montegrappa pens stands the ambigram, the symbol of brand recognition, a seal that is a guarantee of product quality and reliability, as well as great aesthetic value.

Although the first fountain pens were not equipped with a clasp, this element has established itself as characteristic of the writing instrument.

The famous clip becomes fundamental to allow the classic attachment of the pen to the shirt or jacket pocket, turning into a precious object to exhibit with pride. The clasp is a distinctive element of the pen that plays a stylistic function, as well as technique: the clip focuses on refined engravings and precious applications treated in detail, designed to tell the style of each with class and elegance. Another characteristic sign of a Montegrappa pen is the presence of the "ruzzolino", the elegant sphere applied on the ends of the Montegrappa pen clips.


A series of perfect joints, parts that blend into a single precious writing jewel signed Montegrappa, elements held together by the common thread of design, the passion for collectible pieces, the maniacal care for perfection. The elegance and style Made in Italy are the guarantee, to complete wonders of technique and aesthetics to be pinned on the chest, in the place closest to the heart.