Pen (technical)


Rapidograph (1953)

The stylographic pen (a fountain pen with a narrow steel tube instead of a conventional nib) was common in America and in fact pre-dated the conventional fountain pen. The first stylographic pen was invented by Duncan MacKinnon. He lacked the funds to begin production, so he showed a sample to A.T. Cross, who saw that a spring could improve the design and Cross got a patent for the new design. MacKinnon was so annoyed that he asked John Holland of Cincinnati to manufacture the pens for him. To add to the insult, when MacKinnon added a spring to his own pens in 1882, Cross sued him.

Meanwhile in Europe, where the stylographic pen had not been previously marketed, Rotring (named after the red ring which is placed around the barrel of their pens) unveiled the first nib-less fountain pen in 1928. The design combines the ink-flow regulator with a tubular nib and a regulator wire. Stylographs never overtook fountain pens for use in writing, but when Rotring released the Rapidograph in 1953, it became the prototypical technical pen of its age. Its technology virtually replaced the ruling pen and greatly simplified technical drawing. Neither Cross nor Mackinnon became the name associated with such pens throughout the world today: Rotring wins in this product category.

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© Rotring, Hamburg, Germany

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