what is a fountain pen?

What Is a Fountain Pen?

A fountain pen is a classic writing instrument. We see them in movies and receive them on special occasions. Often, they are a symbol of style and luxury. Unfortunately, this also gives them an air of mystery and intimidation. 

Our goal here is to help you understand what sets fountain pens apart from other writing instruments. Once you understand the basics, like how to use them, you can see for yourself how they enhance life. 

As a retailer of pens, ink, stationery, and more, Dromgoole’s has over 60 years of experience in this world. Moreover, we have introduced many people to the stunning world of fine writing instruments. So now, we’re here to demystify fountain pens. 

Let’s talk about what they are, how they work, and why people love them. 

Fountain Pens Explained

A fountain pen is a refillable writing instrument that holds ink in the body. When you write, the ink flows to the tip, or nib, and onto the paper. There are many designs for fountain pens, and there are many methods for cleaning or filling them. However, they all share this core function. 

The History of Fountain Pens

Petrache Poenaru patented the fountain pen in 1827. Still, it took several years for these pens to become popular. 

1850 saw the production of the first pen with a hard rubber reservoir with ink that flowed through a gold nib. Then, Alonzo T. Cross and Duncan MacKinnon invented a variant of this model in 1870 that used a wire in a tube as a valve. Back in that time, people used eyedroppers to fill these pens with ink. 

All that changed with the realization that these models had no control over the flow of the ink, which caused leaks. That’s when Lewis Waterman improved upon the pen with a capillary loading system that prevented spills. 

how do fountain pens work

How Do Fountain Pens Work? 

Fountain pens work in a simple yet elegant way. The pen body has a reservoir of ink. When you touch the pen to paper, the ink flows through a channel called the “feed.” This is a principle called “capillary action,” similar to how plants draw water from their roots and into their branches and leaves. 

Next, the feed delivers ink into the nib and out onto the paper. The paper’s absorbency continues the process. So, when you stop writing, the ink stops flowing. As you write, the paper draws the ink out of the pen until it’s time to refill it. 

Why Should I Use a Fountain Pen? 


The typical fountain pen writes for dozens if not a hundred pages before you have to refill it. Moreover, the average bottled ink lasts for around a year. The option to refill means that the pen can last for years, with proper cleaning and maintenance

Less Stress on the Hand

The ink in fountain pens flows smoothly, so you never have to press down too hard. Through the capillary process, the ink moves with the weight of the pen. So, there’s less stress on the hand and wrist. In turn, you can write longer without your hand getting tired.

Improved Handwriting

Often, people who use these pens find that their handwriting improves. In part, this is due to the reduced stress and impact. However, people often find more joy in using fountain pens to write and find themselves writing more. 

They also lend themselves to writing in cursive and calligraphy, which many users grow to enjoy. 

More Options

Ballpoint pens and rollerballs have limits on the inks they can use, utilizing only mass-produced ink cartridges. Additionally, nibs are interchangeable, allowing you access to different styles and line widths. 

You also have numerous options for ink, with thousands of choices. Due to the design, fountain pens allow you to use inks from different styles and makers. Additionally, you have access to a full spectrum of colors as well as properties, like shimmering inks or shading inks. 

benefits of fountain pens


Fountain pens have a whole world for you to explore. It can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but our team is always ready to offer our thoughts and advice. We’ve spent decades working with inks and pens, so we can help you find the best experience for your writing. 

Writing with fountain pens also opens you up to a community of other users. Every person in the community is enthusiastic and passionate about them. From authors and teachers to students and executives, the fountain pen community is diverse and stunning.

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