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Fountain pen

A fountain pen is a type of writing instrument, more specifically a pen, that contains a reservoir of water-based ink that is fed to a nib through a "feed" via a combination of gravity and surface tension. Refilling ink either involves replacing an ink cartidge or sucking ink from a bottle.

It was commonly used in the past but has become more of a status symbol and collectible since the mass production of the ball point pen and other easier to use pens in the mid 20th century.

The nib is usually made of stainless steel or gold. Gold nibs are tipped with a hard, wear-resistant alloy that typically utilizes metals from the platinum group. Tipping material is often called "iridium", even though hardly any penmakers still use that metal in their tipping alloys. Steel nibs may also have harder tips; those with steel points will wear more rapidly due to abrasion by the paper.

The nib usually has one slit cut down its center, to convey the ink down the nib. The whole nib narrows to a point where the ink is transferred to the paper. Broad calligraphy pens may have several slits in the nib to increase ink flow and help distribute it evenly across the broad point.

Although the most common nibs end in a point of various sizes (fine, medium, broad), other nib shapes are available. Examples of this are oblique, reverse oblique, and italic.


Parker Fountain Pens, 1920s
 
Fountain pens are widely regarded to be the best tools for writing or drawing with ink on paper. However, they are more expensive, harder to maintain, and more fragile than a ball point pen. In addition, they cannot be used with the various oil and particle-based inks (such as india ink) prized by artists, as can a dip pen, reed, or quill.

Fountain pens are often works of art. Ornate pens made of precious metals and jewels are made, appealing to the same people who like diamond encrusted gold Rolex[?] or Patek[?] watches. However, good quality steel pens are available for only a few dollars. Even some "disposable" fountain pens are available.

An avid community of pen enthusiasists collect and use antique[?] as well as modern pens and also collect and exchange information about old and modern inks, ink bottles, and inkwells. Collectors often tend to prize being able to actually use the antiques, instead of merely placing them under glass for show.

Companies that manufacture fountain pens include Parker, Pelikan, Waterman, and Sheaffer. Companies who manufacture high quality ink include Sheaffer, Parker, Pelikan, Montblanc, Private Reserve and the French company Herbin. Pilot is one of only a few companies that make disposable fountain pens.

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