the pen body, and stainless steel can be used to make pen components. Precious metalssuch as gold, silver, or platinum are plated onto more expensive pens.The ink can be specially made by the pen manufacturer. To be useful in a ballpoint pen,the ink must be slightly thick, slow drying in the reservoir, and free of particles. Thesecharacteristics ensure that the ink continues to flow to the paper without clogging the ball. When the ink is on the paper, rapid drying occurs via penetration and someevaporation. In an ink formulation, various pigments and dyes are used to provide thecolor. Other materials, such as lubricants, surfactants, thickeners, and preservatives, arealso incorporated. These ingredients are typically dispersed in materials such as oleicacid, castor oil, or a sulfonamide plasticizer.
A 1963 plastic and metal ballpoint pen commemorating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jr.
(From the collections of Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village.)
Until the advent of the computer, humans have scrambled to find writing instruments torecord story and song. The earliest scribbles were made with a burnt stick in sand. By the fourth century
, the Sumerians used wedge-shaped reed pens to cut pictorialshapes into clay tablets. Eygptians painted hieroglyphics with brushes made from marshreeds and the ancient Chinese wrote with brushes of stiff hair. Ancient Greeks andRomans sharpened stiff reeds to a point, resulting in chirography that was taut andprecise.The quill pen, made from goose or swan feathers, was favored by writers for over 1,000 years. The soft quill was honed to a point, split at the tip to permit ink to flow freely, andconstantly resharpened. A monumental improvement over the quill pen was JosephGillott's invention of the steel pen nib in the late nineteenth century, which required no