Posted in Pens, Stories

The Etymology of Pen Logos, Trademarks, etc

Have you ever seen a thing and wondered why?  No this is not philosophical, I’m talking about names, logos, and trademarks.  The Pelikan pen trademark is a family coat of arms; Frosted Flakes cereal has Tony the Tiger – why? 


The Bic logo has a somewhat mysterious sidekick. “Who is that little guy standing next to the BIC logo?” The answer: the BIC boy, originally a schoolboy. When Marcel Bich founded BIC, it was just a pen company. The first logo wasn’t the recognizable black and yellow we know today. It was just an orange, parallelogram with a handwrittenish “BIC” until 1952 when the schoolboy theme was introduced.

In 1961, the iconic logo was introduced when the schoolboy’s head was replaced with a ballpoint pen ball and he was given a pen to hold behind his back.


Montblanc’s rounded star symbol represents the snow-covered peak of Mont Blanc, intended to symbolizing the brand’s commitment to the highest quality and finest European craftsmanship.” The star was introduced in 1913.

Parker Arrow Clip

Arrows can symbolize quality when shot from a bow traveling fast, being able to traverse great distances, and the ability to reach out and communicate, eventually touching someone. Could also represent the ability of a person to free his or her spirits and travel far and wide. Arrows also represent a singularity of purpose – a way of going directly from Point A to Point B, reaching the heart of a matter, hence the expression “Straight as an Arrow”.

The clip design is attributed to Joseph Platt and Ivan Tefft. Could the symbolism of the arrow influenced the Platt and Tefft’s design? The design patent was filed on October 13, 1932. The Parker Arrow was inspired by Kenneth Parker’s passion for revolutionary transportation and aviation. First featured as a clip on the Vacumatic pen, symbolizing Parker’s pioneering attitude. In 1958 it became the brand’s emblem.


In 1899, Heinrich Koch and Rudolph Weber acquired the company, which became the Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik Koch, Weber & Compagnie, with marketing carried out under the brand name KaWeCo, derived from the abbreviation of Koch, Weber & Compagnie. In 1926, the company officially adopted the name Kaweco. The company goes bankrupt on 24 May 1929, and forced into liquidation. KWG bought the brand and assets, changed its name to Kaweco Badische Füllhalterfabrik, Woringen & Grube, and introduced a new Kaweco logo – a merger of the two company logos.


The former plant manager and chemist Günther Wagner (1842-1930), took over the company soon after in 1878 adopted the Pelikan, the emblem of his family, as the trademark for his “Small Honey Paints”. Honey paints were a type of watercolor common at the time, in which honey was used as a binder.

In designing the trademark, Günther Wagner abandoned what he called the “oval” shape of the shield on which the pelican was displayed. The company logo originally showed a pelican with three chicks in the nest. When Wagner fathered a fourth child, the number of little chicks increased to four. To sharpen the logo’s character and make it more recognizable, the number of chicks was reduced to two in 1937. Then in 2003, reduced to one little chick in the nest.


Mentmore owes its name to the location of its first office in Mentmore Terrace, Hackney, London. Fortunately, Mabie Todd retained the original name opposed to adopting the location of their first UK office as their name. Speaking of Mabie Todd, does anyone know why they choose Swan as the name for their pen?


I’m sorry but am I only the only person who thinks the TWSBI logo looks like it was derived from the biohazard symbol?

TWSBI’s name stands for the phrase “Hall of Three Cultures” or “San Wen Tong” in Chinese. The phrase “San Wen Tong” also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The initials of the phrase “San Wen Tong” was reversed and thus turned into “TWS”. The last letter “Bi” was added with its literal meaning of “writing instruments”. Thus combining the two segments, to create TWSBI.

Back to the logo.  It appears to be a play on Wen 文 times 3, maybe representing the “Three Cultures” or “Three Rare Treasures.”

Now you know the beginning of the story.

Posted in Ink, Stories

Ink Usage Tracking

Let’s be honest, I hated the first several versions of this post and had every intention of skipping it. Yup, I was going to skip a post this week; however, I decided on the last rewrite to add a little comedy. I am going on the record as suggesting you skip this post as it is boring and lame.

As you have learned, I keep track of my pens, nibs, and ink usage using software called Airtable. This is the fourth and last discussion detailing how I use Airtable to manage my collection. To recap, Airtable is an online software database for dummies (like me). Each base is divided into tabs, one to detail pens, another for manufacturers, plus I have two focusing on inks and today’s topic.

As my wife likes to remind me, I suffer from a condition known as “old man’s brain” – I forget stuff. To help mitigate my condition I use Airtable to track my ink usage (if I remember that is).

Let’s begin with the inks. As I buy acquire inks I enter them on the “Inks” tab. Basic info, ink name, manufacturer, if it’s waterproof, and type of ink (dye vs pigment vs wine).

As I ink up a pen, I complete the data on the “Inked Up” tab, creating a link to the pen and nib, I also have the option to specify notes containing my impression and if the ink is worthy of another go. Assuming of course I wasn’t feeling lazy and remembered to actually update the tab.

What I enjoy is the “Ink” tab tracks each time I used the ink. If I click an entry on the list, the detail appears including the pen and nib used when I inked the pen. A great memory aid, assuming I entered the data when the pen was inked up. It would appear I inked up a pen in May 2022, I doubt very much there is a pen still inked up from 2022. Just another example of a case of “old man’s brain.”

Posted in Pens, Stories

Fountain Pens Helped Me Solve Problems

Did you know understanding the workings of a fountain pen can help solve everyday problems? Yup, sure does. Let me explain, my wife purchased a set of clear glass coffee mugs on Amazon. The mugs were made in China and of dubious quality. These glass mugs are double-walled and “hand blown.”

Hence the appeal, but the glass-blowing process leaves a small hole in the bottom outer wall. The manufacturer mentioned the hole has a purpose and that no water should enter.

Even though the hole had been “sealed” it contained a defect, in short, the hole has a hole. Naturally, when washing the mug soapy water enters and stays.

Isn’t this nice! In response, I shook the mug, cursed the mug, ignored the mug, and the water remained. I got to thinking (scary)….. wait, have you enjoyed the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law? In the movies, there are slow-motion depictions of Sherlock considering the cause-and-effect relations needed to solve the problems. Sorta-kinda what happened with me.

  • Problem: Water trapped inside a double-walled coffee mug
  • Solution: Fountain Pen

I made all kinds of unrelated associations (take that CharGPT) until it occurred to me that the fountain pen held the solution to my problem – capillary action courtesy of water molecule affection for one another (cohesion and adhesion).

Yes, the process by which liquids travel along the surface of a solid material because of attraction (to each other not the solid). Think how water spreads across a paper towel when soaking up a spill. I set the mug on a cloth and capillary action did all the work.

Following my thoughts can be dangerous (ask my wife why she is often frustrated with me and frequently asks, “What are you talking about!”). Several hours later, I had an empty coffee mug, inside and inside! Naturally, I got out the Nespresso machine and repeated the whole process, less the cursing.

Posted in Pens, Reviews

Eco-T or Prera Iro-Ai

A couple years back I was looking to purchase my first demonstrator, either a TWSBI Eco-T or a Pilot Prera. Subsequently, I purchased both but a bright idea occurred to me – compare the two. Apparently, this was not an original idea – more on that in the reference material section.

Both pens should be considered entry-level fountain pens which are more than sufficient for me. I believe anyone can make a wonderful expensive pen. Impress me with a wonderful budget-friendly pen. The two pens are in the same price range and thus budget friendly. I did my due diligence and came across comments about TWSBI and quality issues, their customer service earned gold stars (meaning very helpful). The Pilot quality was great and has an impeccable history.

When I made the purchase I bought the Prera. Naturally, I searched until I found a good price. Granted at this price point a deal was insignificant but a “deal” is a deal.

The Prera has a snap-on cap with chrome accents (gotta accessorize), while the Eco-T has a screw-on cap that is off in 1 complete turn, and no chrome accents. The Eco-T is a significantly larger pen (don’t forget I have small hands and stubby fingers). The Prera included a Pilot CON-50 converter vs. the Eco-T piston filler. Some may say the converter is a deal breaker when the other choice is a piston filler but I can always remove the converter and use it in a future Pilot pen. Pilot converters are proprietary.

Both pens sport M nibs, as you can see the Pilot medium nib tip is finer. When put to the test, I found the Prera glides over paper while the Eco-T has a slight drag. Not that it is an issue, it is simply not as smooth as the Prera. Maybe a little TLC is in order.

The cap clips on both pens are chrome, Eco-T feels like it has better-staying strength while the Prera is less likely to bend to the left or right. Ignoring my fingerprint, the Prera clip appears far more refined. Both are flat-bottom pens and we know I have a preference for those.

In case you are wondering, the Prera is my fave but the Eco-T is equally impressive, just a little larger than I prefer. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with both.

Don’t Believe Me, See What Others Say

Posted in Pens, Stories

For the many, not the few

In the spirit of the coronation, I decided to highlight the British pens in my collection. While musing a title I came across this political slogan, “for the many, not the few.” I felt it exemplified the intention of my post – to expound on the vastness of British fountain pens by presenting my few. To be clear, I am not supporting any political party. I personally believe politicians are the reason for the issues in the world.

Conway Stewart Commemorates

The following should by no means be considered encompassing, it merely scratches the surface. All my British pens are vintage. I do not own a contemporary British pen, but maybe I should remedy that.

My British Pens

Mabie Todd

Mabie Todd is one of the longest-lived manufacturers of writing instruments. Mabie Todd became a wholly-owned British company in 1915. Mabie Todd and the Swan brand were known internationally as “the pen of the British Empire.”

Although the company initially prospered in the postwar years, production ceased prior to the conclusion of the ’50s. Here we have two Swans, a lever-filled and self-filling flanking a Black Bird eyedropper.

Conway Stewart

Conway Stewart was a major manufacturer of fountain pens in England for a hundred years, from 1905-2005. During the pre-WWII years, they sold far more pens than any other brand in England; possibly more than all the other companies combined.

Entering receivership in 2014, fountain pens with the “Conway Stewart” brand are manufactured and marketed by Bespoke British Pens. Here we have two model 15s, a Nippy #3 pencil, and a Relief pen they made for Esterbrook.


Osmiroid roots run deep, having invented a metal pen with a slit to provide flexibility and controlled ink flow in 1819. Manufacturing pens in Manchester, Birmingham, and London. Their success rivaled Esterbrook, making them the second-largest manufacturer of pen nibs in the world. Post World War II, the company focused on fountain pens.

Acquired by Berol in 1989, independent manufacturing and general operations ceased. Newell acquired Berol in 1995, discontinuing the Osmiroid. Ending a 170-year-old company. Here I present a white model 65 and an Easy Change model.


The Mentmore was founded in 1919 in London. Platignum Pen Company was established in 1925 focusing on low-end models. For some time both brands were produced together. During the war, it was reported that the company produced pens for spies with maps, compasses, or with poisonous darts.

The company adopted the Platignum name in 1981, yet Mentmore and Platignum remain independent brands. I found an odd Platignum with a hooded nib and a piston-filler Mentmore.

For more information

If a contemporary British pen is more your speed, might I suggest reviewing the list of British Pen Manufactures by Dapprman. The list includes independent, corporate, and kit pens.

An amazing source of information on vintage British Pens (common and uncommon) I suggest a visit to Goodwriterspens blog. Though retired now, Deb still continues to publish the occasional article on unique British pens.

Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories


They’re BACK! I’m commemorating Nurses Day (the 6th of May) in this flashback. “Nurse’s Pens” are a special genre of fountain pens marketed to nurses throughout the 1940s and ’50s, mainly by Waterman and Esterbrook. Sounds interesting? Nurse’s Day is the 6th but “TBS” doesn’t sound correct. Click the PingBack below to read the whole story.

Happy Nurse’s Day – Pen set


“Why did nurses need a specialized fountain pen? Because hospital medical charts were written by hand in different colored inks designating the shift. These pens came with different colored top jewels, in black, green, and red – representing all three common nursing shifts at the time: 7am to 3pm (BLACK ink), 3-11pm (GREEN ink), 11pm-7am (RED ink).”

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Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

I started the month rotating in an Esterbrook Dollar pen with a 9461 Ridgid Fine nib for “manifold” writing. Manifold nibs are intended to be used with carbon paper. This pen is 85 years old.

The usual suspects this month include a Wing Sung 3013, a Pilot Prera, and a Wing Sung 601.

For May, I am rotating in the Delike New Moon 3. It was inked up for review last month. As I mentioned how much I loved the nib, it seemed only appropriate to keep it in rotation.

Did you miss any of the prior month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started April with a review of March. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how did the pens from last month fared? Also included is a recap of the month’s posts.
  • Esterbrook Dollar Pen, The Review I said to myself, “Self! You have never reviewed a pen that you refurbished, now is a good time.” Agreed, thus I present to you my 1938 Esterbrook Dollar pen.
  • Inky Fingers and Removal Some people have a phobia when it comes to ink on their fingers. For me, it usually happens when a vintage fountain pen is having issues. It is what it is. You should read some of the home remedies attested to by manic people with inky fingers.
  • What? All inks are not created equal I noticed some of my inks had formed condensation inside their bottles while others did not. Why? How? Aren’t all inks simply inks? I have an idea, if geekiness doesn’t scare you, read on.
  • Delike New Moon 3 Delike New Moon 3 is a blatant copy of the Sailor Pro Gear Slim. I’m not advocating the theft of intellectual property. I purchased the pen because it included a Fude nib and was inexpensive. What a surprise when the pen arrived.
  • Dracula Daily I found this interesting and wanted to share Dracula Daily, the email newsletter that sends you the full text of Dracula in real-time. The emails start 3rd of May.
  • Enjoy Your Local Libraries (National Library Week is starting) Consider this a public service announcement, in an effort to add more depth to the blog I wanted to highlight libraries in general. Expose my readers to some of the most breathtaking libraries in the world. Places I would never read a single work because I would be in awe. Enjoy!
  • World Stationery Day World Stationery Day is an annual event observed every last Wednesday of April. You could pop into a stationery store, or handwrite a letter, poem, or greeting card. You could. For those who are crafty, super geeks looking for a more personal touch, I have options for you.

In the News

About a third of book bans reported in fall 2022 were a result of new state laws. Pen America reports book banning in public schools rose during the first half of the 2022-23 school year, and nearly a third of them were the direct result of newly enacted state laws. From July to December 2022, the group says, there were 1,477 book bans directed at 874 different titles. The bans were most prevalent in five states – Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina.

Pencil Maker Doms Is Said to Eye $300 Million IPO. Indian stationery company Doms Industries Pvt. is planning to file as soon as June for an initial public offering in Mumbai. The majority owner is Milan-based Fabbrica Italiana Lapis ed Affini SpA. Doms traces its roots to 1975 with the founding of pencil manufacturer R.R. Group. The company runs more than 15 production facilities in India and its products, including pencils, erasers, and rulers, are available in over 50 countries.

Blog Update

I survived the home improvement project. I am exhausted but happy with the results. The carpet in 70% of the house was replaced. I offer one room before and after. Next up, new railing for the staircase.