PEN. A well-known instrument for writing. In the earliest ages, writing was executed with styles of metal or other hard substance, which, after a time, were superseded by pens and coloured inks. The first pens were made of reeds, or small hard canes, about the size of the largest swan quills, cut and split in the same manner as the pens in present use. According to Isidore, and some other writers, quill-pens were first introduced about the year 636; they did not come into general use, however, till the middle of the seventh, and were not common till towards the close of the eighth century. Reed-pens continue to be employed up to the present time, for writing some of the oriental languages, and by artists, for sketching outlines. The greater number of pens now in use, are made from the quills of the goose—those of the swan, turkey, duck, and crow, being occasionally employed—the two latter exclusively for very fine writing or drawing. As the making or mending of quill-pens is to many per sons difficult of attainment, and to all, at times, inconvenient, various attempts have been made to render the process less frequently required. One of these methods consisted in arming pens made of turkey-quills with metallic points or nibs, by which their durability was somewhat increased, although at the expense of the natural elasticity of the quill ; nor was the durability sufficiently extended to be commensurate with the additional cost. To do away with the necessity of frequent pen-mending, Mr. Bramah took out a patent for an im provement in pens, which consisad in dividing,. quill longitudinally, and cut ting it into four or six lengths, according to the size of the barrel. Each of these pieces formed a pen--some two, by being cut at each end. The pens thus formed were held in a jointed silver holder, which imparted great firmness to the quill, while it permitted the free action of the nibs. Pens have been made from horn, also from tortoise and other shells ; but no useful application has hitherto been made of such pens, as they are more expensive and even less durable than those made from quills. Some successful attempts have been made to form the nibs of pens of precious stones, in order that they may be used a long time without wear or corrosion. The first that we recollect were introduced
by Messrs. Hawkins and Mordan, whose specification of 1823 states, that they make use of tortoise-shell or horn, instead of quills ; and when the material is cut into nibs, these parts are softened in boiling water, and then small pieces of diamond, ruby, or other precious stones, are imbedded into them by pressure; by this means, it is said pens of great durability as well as elasticity are made. To give stability to the mbs, the patentees proposed to affix to the tortoise-shell, or horn, thin pieces of gold or metal, and attaching the same by the before-mentioned or any other convenient means, as cement or varnish. It is likewise suggested that springs may be placed on the back of the pen, as shown in the annexed figure, which may be elided backward or forward, to vary the elasticity according to the different hands that may be required in writing. We are informed by a gentleman who had one of these pens many months in constant use, that it had exhi bited no signs of deterioration or wear. Mr. Doughty, of Great Ormond-street, has likewise devoted much attention to the con struction of pens, the nibs of which are rubies set in fine gold. They are said to write as fine as a crow-quill, and as firm as a swan-quill-.to possess considerable elasticity, and produce an uniform manuscript, unattainable by ordinary pens. Mr. Doughty states, that " some of his ruby pens have been in constant use upwards of six years, and continue still perfect ; and that if a little care be taken of the nibs, by preventing their being struck against hard substances, and occasionally washing them with soap and water, with little brushing, they will be found, notwithatinding their first cost, economic pens." The rhodium pens, consisting of two fiat strips of gold placed angularly side by side, and tipped with a hard metallic alloy, are very durable, though not equal to the ruby nibbed. Under the head INKSTAND, we have given Mr. Doughty's contrivance to prevent injury to his pen-nibs in dipping for ink.