The Journey of the Pen Nib

August 12, 2020

Fountain Pen Fine Nib

When we think of the beauty and elegance of the premium fountain pen, we think of a finely crafted handle and a quality writing point, known as a nib, creating a delicate flow of handwritten ink onto the page. The nib is a vital element in the handwriting experience. As a premium pen maker, we are proud to be working with world-renowned SCHMIDT® Technology in Germany as a provider of our pen nibs, as we’ll discuss later. The journey the metal nib has taken over the years to become the precision instrument we know today is a fascinating story worth exploring.

The Origins of the Pen Nib

When we picture handwriting from earlier eras, the image that comes to mind is a feather quill pen dipped in an ink well (Link). Although we tend to think of pens with a metal nib as a relatively new invention, you may be surprised to learn that metal nibs have existed for centuries. Writing instruments with metal nibs date all the way back to ancient Egypt, made with metals like copper and bronze. In Italy, a bronze writing nib was found in the ruins of Pompeii, dated to the Year 79 A.D. (Link)

In 1792, The Times (London) advertised 'New invented' metal pens. A metal pen point was patented in 1803 by inventor Bryan Donkin. In 1822, John Mitchell of Birmingham, England, started to mass-produce machine-made, steel pen nibs and their popularity took off. 

The new, steel nibs were more reliable than quill pens, lasted longer, didn’t require sharpening, and performed consistently. Soon, other manufacturers in Birmingham opened shops for making pen nibs. It is said that by the middle the 1800s, half of the world’s metal nibs were manufactured in Birmingham, and, at its peak, there were about 100,000 varieties of pens manufactured there. (Link ) Because they were affordable and easy to produce, metal pen points were finally available to the masses, a breakthrough which helped expand education and literacy.

Through the 1800s and into the 1900s, there were a number of advancements in pen technologies, including the arrival of the fountain pen to replace pens dipped in ink wells, new mass production techniques, and other advances to improve both the quality of the metal nibs and the ability to manage the flow of ink.

The Arrival of SCHMIDT Technology 

In 1938, brothers Hermann and Wilhelm Schmidt founded their family company with the goal of supplying high-precision parts to the clock and watchmaking industries, supported by the keen sense of precision of the people living in Germany’s Black Forest region at the time.

In 1952, Hans Schmidt joined the company, giving the family business the impetus needed to transform itself into a full-scale industrial enterprise. At that point, the company made a decisive, visionary step to leave the clock industry and begin manufacturing writing instruments.

In 1969, Rolf Schmidt took the company in a more technical direction, developing and supplying equipment for small-tolerance manufacturing.  Over the years, the Schmidt name has become synonymous with quality, precision and consistency in the world of pen nibs and writing instruments. The pens, nibs and refills they have produced in the years following are sought after by aficionados and the general public alike. (Link)

Today, SCHMIDT Technology is still family led with more than 400 highly skilled employees worldwide with products exported to more than 80 countries. The company stands for solidity and reliability in all areas of its business. By maintaining its rich tradition of quality and precision handed down from its founders, SCHMIDT has developed into a technology leader recognized around the globe and as the world leader in high-performance, high-quality writing instruments.

At Zenzoi, we are honored to be working with world-renowned SCHMIDT Technology as a provider of our pen nibs. From traditional style fountain pens to the modern sleek design of carbon fiber pens, our products deliver an outstanding writing experience, made complete by the quality, precision and craftsmanship of SCHMIDT Technology pen nibs. (Link)

We believe in the power and value of handwriting, whether sharing thoughts and ideas, capturing important moments in one’s life in a journal, creating beautiful art, poetry or music, or even writing a letter to a long-lost love. As a maker of premium-quality pens, we believe in the beauty, elegance and inherent value of the handwritten word, which allows us to share our feelings and document our lives in a way that is unlike any other. We are proud to be part of this important tradition.