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Folk-art calligraphy
MFA# 47.1362


A writing and drawing tool that uses Ink such as a ball-point pen, felt-tipped pen, or a fountain pen. The earliest ink implement (aside from a brush) was a Reed cut to a point and dipped in ink used by the Romans in the 1st century CE. The reed was replaced by the Quill pen. Although Metal pens were available since Roman time, their use did not become widespread until the early 19th century. Fountain pens, patented in 1884, were the primary writing tool in the early 20th century. The ball-point pen did not gain success until an oil-based viscous ink was developed in 1938. Porous-tipped or felt-tipped pens, made with fiber tips impregnated with a Dye, were introduced in 1963.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ball-point pen; felt-tipped pen; fountain pen

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998