Writing in the West

27. Enamel pen and steel nib


Although there may have been earlier examples, dip pens or nib pens emerged at the beginning of the nineteenth century and steadily displaced quill pens and quill nibs. They normally consisted of a steel nib held in a shaft usually made of wood, although many other materials could be used (such as bone, glass, metal, or plastic). This one has brass nib and wooden handle. Handle ornately carved, nib has hatched design etched beneath inscription.



Enamel pen

Enamel pen, 2012-246


This one has silvered steel nib and brass handle. The upper handle resembles the hilt of a sword with ornate mosaic decoration in turquoise, dark blue, cream and gold.




Steel nibs were tougher, lasted longer and could draw finer lines than quill nibs. However, unlike fountain pens, they did not usually have any reservoir of ink, so the user had frequently to replenish the pen by dipping the nib into an inkwell. On the right is a travelling inkwell, square glass, bronze lid retained by ferruled knob.