We have always written with a 'pen'. In the western world the pen's most common form was originally a quill from our feathered friends. Geese were popular. The quill had to be sliced to hold ink, and sharpened to write; then resharpened until pencil-like it wore out. That's what a penknife was for.
With the industrial revolution steel pens (nibs) were invented. These needed a pen holder, the shaft into which the pen was inserted. Still, unlike the man of steel, they wore out or clogged up with ink. But these were cheap and the penholder fancy.
Gold became the pen of choice. Tipped with iridium, it wore in, not out. And the shaft became a fountain, a ready pocket supply of ink. Ergo the 'fountain pen'.As language changed the replaceable ends came to be called 'nibs', and 'pen holder' reserved for the fancy desk resting place.But the nib, shaped to match the writer or the task, like music pens, stubs, accounting nibs, etc, is the pen's heart. N is for nib.
Text by David, photos by Ann.
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