N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z # Home
accommodation clip an add-on clip, not permanently affixed to the cap; many independent manufacturers offered such clips, as did a number of major penmakers
account an extremely fine, firm nib suitable for account book entries
adjustable nib a Wahl-Eversharp exclusive of the '30s: a slider atop the nib controls its flexibility
Aerometric nearly foolproof Parker filler, introduced 1948 on the Parker 51, originally hyphenated as "Aero-Metric"; a form of squeeze-filler or thumb-filler with a specially-designed vented silver breather tube for extra resistance to pressure changes; in unhyphenated form, widely used by collectors to denote a squeeze-filler with a breather tube
Arrow nib Parker nib with a bold arrow imprint, used for Vacumatics and as replacement nibs for Duofolds; some late-production Duofolds were sold with such nibs
artist's nib Waterman's term for a long-tined, very flexible, and extremely fine-pointed nib, capable of wide line variation; the designation postdates Waterman's 1925 catalog, although similar nibs were offered from an earlier date without any special appelation
aspergillum Holy water sprinkler; sometimes made in pen form
Autograph Sheaffer's designation for pens and pencils with a solid 14K gold cap band, intended for a personalized engraving; since engraving was included in the purchase price, unengraved examples are relatively uncommon
baby bottom used to describe the shape of a nib's tip, where the bottom inner edges of the slit are excessively rounded; some rounding will stop the tip's inner edges from catching, but too much will prevent ink from getting to the paper
Bakelite often misapplied as a generic term for any old plastic; Bakelite was a specific material, not often used for pens due to its brittleness
banana to bend, as happens to pens in hot display cases at sunny flea markets
bbl barrel
BCHR black chased hard rubber
BF button-filler
BHR black hard rubber
"Big Four" a modern collector's term for Waterman, Parker, Sheaffer, and Wahl-Eversharp, which are, in the USA, the top-line vintage pens most commonly found
blind cap piece at end of barrel that screws off, typically to reveal the filler underneath
blow-filler a mouth-operated pneumatic filler: blowing into a hole at the end of the barrel to empty out the ink sac
BP ballpoint
brassing area of wear on gold filled or plated metal, where the underlying base metal (usually brass) becomes visible; with gold filled items, replating is usually not a satisfactory restoration option
breather hole see vent hole
breather tube a tube inserted into the back of the feed, essential for pump and bulb-fillers, but also used at times with squeeze, button, and lever-fillers
bulb-filler a simple and efficient filling system, using a small bulb at the end of the barrel and a long breather tube extending the length of the barrel; air is pumped out by multiple squeezes of the bulb, and ink flows in
"bullseye" jewel c. 1939 Vacumatic jewel consisting of an extension of the blind cap, expanded over the tassie ring; the jewel end resultingly shows concentric laminations rather than stripes under bright light
button-filler a button at the end of the barrel is pressed, bending an internal spring & pressure bar assembly which compresses the ink sac; in British usage, also called a stud-filler; usually, the button is concealed beneath a removable, screw-off blind cap, but in the push-knob filler, the cap and button are integrated
capillary-filler no moving parts: when dipped, the reservoir absorbs ink
Cardinal Waterman's designation for its red hard rubber pens and pencils
cartridge although first introduced in the late 19th century, ink cartridges were not widely used until the advent of plastic refills in the early 1950s; top-line fountain pens did not embrace the cartridge until the 1960s, and many still prefer to use their cartridge-filling pens with convertors
casein milk-derived plastic, vulnerable to moisture; rarely used in American production, except as colored ends on hard rubber pens, more commonly used in the UK and Europe; also called Galalith
celluloid first widely-manufactured synthetic plastic, made by plasticizing cellulose nitrate with camphor; dominant material for pen caps & barrels from the second half of the 1920s, able to be made in virtually any color or pattern
chalk marks stenciled marks applied to factory-new pens, typically denoting model, price, and nib grade; easily removed by rubbing
chasing patterns impressed into the surface of a pen or pencil, consisting of repeated lines of varying length; usually found applied to hard rubber, much less commonly to celluloid and colored hard rubber
chatelaine suspension fitting attached to a woman's dress or belt; attached items could include pencils and pens
Christmas tree feed see spearhead feed
clip mark circumferential mark on a cap made by a loose top-mounted clip
coin-filler early and uncommon self-filler, in which a slot in the barrel allows a coin to be pressed directly against the pressure bar; most examples are minor-brand, the notable exception being the very rare Waterman
collector finned ink trap inside the hood of pens such as the Parker 51 and 61
combo pen and pencil combinations have been around for a long time, but their main period of popularity was in the later 1920s and 1930s, chiefly in the United States
cone cap slip-fit cap of cylindrical form, not to be confused with a taper cap; the term originated with Waterman, and refers to the slightly tapering internal profile of the cap, which wedges onto matching tapers at either end of the barrel, the cap's outside diameter being significantly greater than that of the barrel
cork used for piston seals, safety seals, and many plunger-filler packing units, alone and in combination with rubber
cracked ice distinctive Conway Stewart pattern of irregular black blocks separated by thin lines of silver
crescent-filler Conklin's signature mechanism, in which a flat metal crescent protrudes from the barrel; after rotating a lock ring, the crescent is pressed, flattening the sac
Deco Band collector term for the Wahl-Eversharp oversized Gold Seal flat-top pen, after its Greek key pattern cap band; also often applied rather indifferently to the same pen when furnished with rhomboid pattern bands
Demi shorter model of the Parker 51 or late English Aerometric Duofold; sometimes misapplied to other Parker and even non-Parker models
demonstrator a pen or pencil that has cutouts, or that is made of transparent materials; originally, such pens were made in very limited numbers for salesmen only, and were not offered to the general public
doctor's pen either a pen in white, sometimes found with a matching thermometer holder, or an eyedropper-filling pen with a compartment in the barrel holding a thermometer
doughnut, donut collector slang for a Conklin crescent-filler lock nut
drop action pencil or porte-crayon which extends and retracts by gravity, with a manual release catch; sometimes also called a dropper
ebonite another name for hard rubber
ED eyedropper-filler; the simplest fountain pen, typically opened by unscrewing the section, and filled with an eyedropper (at the time, called a "dropper")
FDW initials of Frank D. Waterman, head of Waterman 1901-1938, nephew of founder Lewis Edson Waterman; found on English-hallmarked Watermans as a maker's mark
feed the part on which the nib rests, and which carries ink to the nib from the pen's internal reservoir
ferrule the metallic portion of a dip pen into which the nib is inserted
filigree an overlay with pierced work; technically incorrect, as true filigree is wirework, but common parlance in the American jewelry trade of the late 19th and early 20th century
Flighter Parker designation for models with caps and barrels of stainless steel; not applicable to non-Parker pens and pencils
German silver same as nickel silver; anti-German sentiment during WW1 led to the abandonment of this appellation on US-made products
GFT gold filled trim
gold filled a laminate of gold and another metal, usually brass, made by welding together sheets under heat and pressure; the gold layer is generally much thicker than with gold plating
Gregg a system of shorthand; several makers produced Gregg models, which often have an enamel Gregg logo set into the top of the cap
half-Balance recently-coined term for Sheaffer pens with streamlined cap & flat-bottomed barrel, hybrids produced to get rid of old parts after the introduction of the streamlined "Balance"; often mistakenly called "transitional"
half-overlay pen with its barrel but not its cap metal-covered
"halo" imprint Parker's logo of an arrow superimposed on an ellipse; the trademark application is dated Dec. 23, 1963, and dates the mark's first use in commerce to Sep. 1958
hard rubber also known as ebonite or vulcanite; early naturally-derived plastic made by vulcanizing latex rubber with a large proportion of sulphur; the usual material for fountain pens up until the second half of the 1920, and used for decades thereafter for feeds and sections
hatchet-filler John Holland's filler of the 'teens, an attempt to get around Sheaffer's lever-filler patents: a hatchet-shaped piece is used to depress a pressure bar; often used to describe Crocker's system as well, which might better be called an end lever filler
holder in older fountain pen parlance, the "pen" was the nib, and the rest of the pen was termed the holder
hooded nib a conical hood conceals all but the tip of a small nib inside; the Parker 51 was the first and by far the most popular such design
HR hard rubber
injector pencil same as repeating pencil
ink-pellet pen a number of firms made pens with a compartment to carry ink pellets, which were to be placed in the barrel and dissolved in water; most such pens were eyedroppers, but lever and button-fillers were also produced; sometimes also called a trench pen, in allusion to their marketing to the military during WW1
ink pencil another name for a stylographic pen
ink shutoff safety valve to prevent leakage; the most successful was Onoto's, a system widely adopted in Japan for eyedropper-fillers
Ink-Vue Waterman filling system introduced in 1935, essentially a lever-operated bulb-filler; Profile here
inlaid nib a nib permanently fixed to the outside of the section or hood
inner cap internal cup that seals against the front of the section when the cap is on
integral nib nib made as part of the section or barrel; Parker's T-1 is the prime example
iridium generic term for nib tipping material, though other platinum-group metals are more often used instead
italic chisel-like tip, which makes thick downstrokes and thin cross-strokes
J-bar cheap one-piece spring and pressure bar used in low end lever-fillers; too often used as an inferior replacement part in better pens
jewel decorative boss found on some pens at cap top and barrel end
JiF Waterman's French agency; from the initials of the franchise holder, Jules Fagan
Jointless Parker eyedropper design where the nib assembly was inserted en bloc inside the end of the barrel; read more here
ladies' pen general term for a clipless pen with a ringtop fitting, usually a smaller pen; also see vest pocket
LE abbreviation for limited edition; also the first two initials of Lewis Edson Waterman
LEC in Waterman's numbering system, a suffix on overlay pens denoting "Lower End Covered" 
lever box Sheaffer's original lever was pinned directly to the barrel; Waterman and others pinned it to a lever box, which was held in the barrel by tabs
Leverless Mabie Todd/Swan's twist-filling system utilizing an entangling bar and a conventional sac; read more here
LF lever-filler; the most common filling mechanism, first mass-produced by Sheaffer -- who was not, however, the first to patent it
lid pots and pans have these; pens have caps
LL Liquid Lead: a Parker exclusive, a ballpoint that wrote with liquid graphite; refills are no longer available
long and short
pocket pen with a long cap that covers most of the barrel when closed; when the cap is posted on the barrel end, the overall length is some 50% greater
Lucky Curve Parker's patented feed, whose part that extended inside the pen's body curved to contact the inside of the ink reservoir
Lustraloy Parker's name for its matte-finished stainless steel, as used on 51 and 61 caps
magic pencil retractable pencil with complex internal mechanism: when the end is pulled, the nozzle extends
Mandarin Parker's Mandarin Yellow, also called Chinese Yellow, a color used in Duofolds of the late '20s and early '30s; unpopular then, highly sought-after now
manifold a stiff nib, used for making copies with carbon paper
marbled an irregularly patterned combination of translucent colors; used to describe plastics such as celluloid, but not hard rubber
matchstick filler a hole in the side of the barrel allows a matchstick to be used to depress the pressure bar; some pens have a nub atop the cap which may be used similarly
MHR mottled hard rubber
middle joint a feature in some eyedropper pens, where the screw-joint was placed centrally; read more here
military clip a clip that permits the pen to sit flush with the top of the pocket, so that a uniform's pocket flap can close over the pen; the term is not generally used for pen models whose clips all fit the above criterion (e.g., the Parker 51)
mottled multicolored hard rubber, almost always red (orange) and black; the colors are mixed in a random pattern, as opposed to the more regular patterns of woodgrain or Ripple hard rubbers
music nib a very flexible nib with two slits instead of one, specially made for musical notation
nib a pen's point; in older parlance, the point itself was called the "pen", and the rest, the holder
nickel silver tarnish-resistant nonprecious alloy resembling silver; same as German silver
Night & Day overlay pierced with longitudinal slots; in most instances, this was not the name originally used by the manufacturer ("Moderne" being Waterman's appellation for this pattern, at least in the USA)
Nozac the only American vintage screw-action piston-filler, made by Conklin in the 1930s
nozzle the part of a pencil which holds the lead; in 19th-century and early 20th-century parlance, a pen's section
NPT nickel-plated trim; in most cases, the trim is actually solid nickel silver
oblique a chisel-like nib with a tip that angles back at its left; confusingly, also sometimes called a "right oblique"
Octanium Parker's name for its stainless nib alloy used for economy-line pens of the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Parker 51 Special and the 21.
overfeed an early type of feed which lies atop the nib; usually extends below as well, and would thus be more accurately termed an over-under feed
overlay a pen (most commonly made of hard rubber) covered in precious metal, or the metal covering itself; the term is not used to describe pens with all-metal caps or barrels
packing unit seal through which a shaft passes, whether rotating (as with most safety pens), or reciprocating (as with plunger-fillers and Moore safeties)
palladium silver white metal alloy (Pd-Ag) used for some Sheaffer nibs from the '50s on; these were originally cheaper than gold nibs, but this has changed as palladium prices have risen
PCA Pen Collectors of America: nationwide collector-run nonprofit organization
pearl short for "pearlescent", referring to celluloid displaying this property; generally off-white or yellowish if color not further specified
pen we now call the entire writing instrument a pen, but up until at least the 1920s, "pen" was often used to denote the nib alone
Permanite a trade name for celluloid
Personal Point Wahl's system of user-interchangeable screw-in nib assemblies; late '20s-'30s (click for illustration)
PF plunger-filler (see definition below)
PFM "Pen For Men": short-lived oversized Snorkel introduced 1959
piston-filler pen with a screw-action piston, filled by turning an end knob; the European standard by the 1940s, nearly the only American example being the Conklin Nozac
plastic to pen collectors, celluloid, cellulosics, and acrylic (as opposed to hard rubber, even though hard rubber is technically a plastic as well)
platinum black striated silver-grey celluloid of luminous pearlescence; used in the 1930s by Montblanc and OMAS, a highly prized material.
Pli-glass Parker's term for its transparent vinyl ink sacs used on Aerometric-filling pens.
plunger-filler fills on the downstroke by creating a vacuum behind the piston (see Onoto illustration); sometimes called "vacuum-filler"; somewhat tricky to repair
pneumatic filler the sac is flattened by air pressure, usually generated by a plunger
POC in Waterman's numbering system, a suffix denoting a screw-cap eyedropper (short for "pocket")
porte-crayon metal holder for a short wooden pencil or rod of graphite, which can be extended or retracted
post to place the cap on the end of the barrel opposite the nib (gently, please!)
posting fine firm nib designed for bookkeepers posting entries into account books
pregnant Parker modern collectors' term for the Parker 47, an early 20th-century pearl-slabbed eyedropper with a bulging barrel profile
Presidential Parker's term for models with caps and barrels of solid gold, from the 51 on
pressure bar rigid bar used to flatten the ink sac; a spring element is often incorporated
propelling pencil mechanical pencil; an older term, and preferred in British usage
propel-repel pencil mechanism that both advances and retracts the lead.
pump-filler a general term for multistroke filling mechanisms
push-knob-filler a button-filler with a non-detachable blind cap; the blind cap is unscrewed and then pressed to compress the sac
Pyralin trade name for celluloid
RB rollerball (a ballpoint using water-soluble ink)
repeating pencil the lead is advanced by pushing on the top of the pencil, new leads are automatically fed from a magazine within; same as injector pencil
resin modern pen marketers' fancy name for plastic
reverse oblique a chisel-like nib with a tip that angles back at its right, viewed from the top
RG rolled gold (see definition below)
RHR red hard rubber; note that the "red" is actually more of an orange
Ripple Waterman's term for its distinctive ladder-patterned two-color hard rubber pens; most are red and black, other color combinations are much scarcer; not to be confused with woodgrain
rolled gold same as gold filled; this term is used more frequently in the UK (NB: although there are technical differences drawn between rolled and filled in modern manufactures, this distinction is relatively recent)
roller clip clip with a rolling ball at its end; chiefly associated with Wahl-Eversharp, though previously licensed to Boston Safety and others
RR ribbon-ring or ringtop; also known as ladies' pens, though they could be used by men as well, hung on a watch chain
ruler mark notch-shaped wear on the side of a nib, from bearing against a ruler or straightedge
sac elastic rubber ink reservoir
safety fountain pen with a retractable nib; also used prior to c. 1920 to designate a pen with a screw cap and an inner cap, as with the Parker Jack-Knife Safety
section the tubular piece which holds the nib and feed, usually but not always a separate piece from the barrel; originally "gripping section"
self-filler/filling eyedropper-era label applied to any pen with an integral filling mechanism, not requiring a separate device (such as an eyedropper) to be filled
Senior model name for the largest Duofolds; sometimes used by collectors to refer to the oversize versions of other models and brands, often inappropriately, in that most were not so denoted originally
Signet Parker's term for models with gold filled caps and barrels, from the 51 on
silicone grease the most useful general-purpose pen sealant and lubricant, and the safest on plastics and rubber; not to be confused with automotive silicone greases with a petroleum base
sleeve-filler a form of squeeze-filler, with a movable sleeve that covers the pressure bar opening when not in use
snowflake irreverent collector term for Montblanc's trademark six-lobed star
Snorkel Sheaffer's pen with a extending tube for clean filling (see Profile)
spearhead feed original feed for Parker Duofolds, Jack Knife Safeties, and earlier eyedroppers, characterized by coarse sawtooth side cutouts, looking like a barbed spear tip; also called a Christmas tree feed
Special as used by Parker, either a slender Duofold of Senior length and Junior diameter, or an economy version of the 51 with an Octanium nib
Speedline Vacumatic filler with aluminum plunger but without the lockdown feature, c. 1937-41
spoon feed Waterman's second feed design, patented in 1899 (and 1903), incorporating semicircular ink-trapping cutouts alongside the capillary feed channel
sprung describes a nib or clip that has been bent out of shape by application of excessive pressure or tension
squeeze-filler fills by manual depression of a pressure bar through a cutout in the barrel or the filler housing
star clip a clip used on some Vacumatics c. 1939-40, incorporating a five-pointed star, which appears to have been a precursor symbol to the Blue Diamond
star nib early Waterman nibs with a star imprint; most seem to date to the last years of the 19th century and the very beginning of the 20th
Stonite trade name for celluloid
straight cap small, short slip-fit cap, the same outside diameter as the barrel, which fits on smaller-diameter sections at each end of the barrel
stub historically, the same as "italic"; now generally used to denote a slightly more rounded chisel-shaped tip
stud-filler another term for button-filler, most commonly used in the UK
stylo short for stylographic -- a pen with a fine tube with a wire inside instead of a conventional nib, similar to a modern drafting pen
syringe-filler fills by pulling on a plunger shaft; a long blind cap is usually necessary
taper cap a variation of the straight cap, extending in a long taper; not to be confused with the cylindrical cone-cap
tassie decorative trim ring at the end of the barrel, held in place by a "jewel"
test mark removal of a small patch of metal with a jeweler's file; crude and usually totally unnecessary method of ascertaining if material is solid gold or gold filled
thumb-filler another name for a squeeze-filler
Touchdown Sheaffer's pneumatic filling system, abbreviated "TD" (see Profile)
tooth friction between nib and paper; preferred (in moderation) by some as more responsive than a frictionless glide; to be distinguished from scratchiness, which is generally used to describe a nib that catches on the paper
trench pen WW1-era term for an ink-pellet pen, although by all evidence such pens were not actually used in any significant numbers in the trenches
Triumph nib Sheaffer's conical nib, introduced in 1942
turn-up nib nib with tip angled upwards; also called "turned up" and "ball point" in older catalogs
twist-filler a filling mechanism in which the sac is emptied by twisting it via a knob at the end of the barrel
two-tone nib gold nib partially plated with a white platinum-group metal -- although occasionally white-metal nibs were given partial gold plating to similar effect
underfeed the usual type of feed, which lies below the nib
Vacumatic (Vac) Parker's pump-filling pen, c. 1933-48 (see Profile); or, the filling mechanism used in these pens and in the Parker 51 from 1941-48
vacuum-filler often used to denote a plunger-filler, but rather confusing since many pens with diverse filling mechanisms bore this monicker or close variants; capitalized, a name used for the Parker Vacumatic while in early release
vent hole the hole in the nib at the end of the slit, serving both to allow air to return via the feed channels to the ink reservoir, and as a stress relief device to prevent crack propagation from the end of the slit; most dip pen nibs are ventless, while most fountain pen nibs have vent holes; also, small holes drilled in the cap, on slip cap pens, intended to prevent ink from being sucked out when a snugly-fitting cap was removed, and on pens with inner caps, intended to reduce condensation on and adjacent to the section, though usually dispensed with on modern pens; "vent hole" and "breather hole" are often used interchangeably
vermeil gold over silver
vest pocket a small, pocketable pen, with or without a clip or ringtop fitting; many ladies' pens could equally accurately be termed vest-pocket pens
visulated with a transparent area, used in reference to sections; Sheaffer invented the term in the 1930s, but it was never applied to other brands until collectors adopted the word decades later
VS Short-lived Parker button-filler, introduced in 1946, resembling a 51, but with a conventional nib; the letters stand for "Vacumatic Successor", though that title more accurately belonged to the 51; also a now long-obsolete lead size, 1.5 mm in diameter, a Victorian standard
vulcanite another term for hard rubber
VV clip an early spring-loaded rocker clip, used on Parkers, Conklins, Moores, and others; made by Van Valkenburg, US patent 844061
warranted nib an unbranded gold nib, typically marked "WARRANTED/14K", "warranted" meaning guaranteed as to gold content; many minor-brand pens originally came with warranted nibs, and such nibs were also widely used by independent repairmen as replacements
Waverley nib Macniven and Cameron dip pen nib of distinctive form; sometimes improperly used to denote a turn-up nib
web celluloid pattern with a freeform network of colored lines like a draped net (also called "candy stripe"), or the longitudinal brickwork-like pattern of the c. 1937 "Golden Web" Vacumatic
washer clip clip with its top end formed as a ring of the same diameter as the cap, and held between the cap body and a screw-in cap top; introduced by Parker in the 'teens on its Jack Knife Safety line
woodgrain multicolored hard rubber patterned with longitudinal striations, almost always red (orange) and black; not to be confused with Ripple or mottled hard rubber (although, confusingly, Waterman catalogs used "mottled" to denote both true mottled and woodgrain, without differentiation)
1/8 14K imprint on gold filled components, indicating a gold layer of 14K purity and constituting 1/8 the total weight of the laminate
18KR not solid 18 karat, but rather a common Italian abbreviation for 18K rolled gold, the "R" standing for "rinforzato"
375 375 fine, or 375/1000; decimal equivalent of 9K (usually only used in the UK)
585 585 fine, or 585/1000; decimal equivalent of 14K (though 14/24 = .583)
750 750 fine, or 750/1000; decimal equivalent of 18K (the legal standard for gold in certain countries such as France and Italy)