Ballpoint pen

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Ballpoint pen drawing
MFA# 2010,953


A writing tool composed of a small ball loosely held in a funnel-shaped nib and connected to a tube filled with ink. Friction from moving the ball over paper makes it rotate; its surface is continually coated with fresh ink which is rolled onto the paper. Ballpoint pens were patented in the U.S. in 1888 by Loud, but not marketed successfully until the 1940s.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ball point pen; ball-point pen; rolling pointed pen; Biro

Resources and Citations

  • M.Holben Ellis, "Ball Point Pen", in Media and Techniques of Works of Art on Paper, New York University Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York, 1999.
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 410
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • A Glossary of Paper Conservation Terms, Margaret Ellis (ed.), Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York City, 1998
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998