Posted in Pens, Restoration, Stories

Ink-o-graph Sty·lo·graph·ic

Definition of stylographic

  • used in stylography (that’s clear as mud)
  • being a fountain pen that has a fine writing point fitted with a needle which by the pressure of the point on a surface is pushed back to release the flow of ink (now we are talking)

Stylographic pens, sometimes called “stylos,” have a writing tip made of a metal tube with a fine wire inside to regulate ink flow. Stylos were the first mass-produced fountain pens to achieve broad market success. Duncan MacKinnon, a Canadian druggist, patented his “ink pencil” in Canada in 1875, followed by Alonzo Cross patenting his “stylographic pen” which holds its own ink in 1880.

Company Back Story

The Inkograph Company aka Ink-O-Graph, is a pen manufacturer founded in 1914 by brothers Joseph and William F. Wallace of New York City. The company produced Inkograph stylographic pens, Leadograph mechanical pencils, and Wallace fountain pens. Their products were retailed primarily by F. W. Woolworth & Co. In the 1930s, the company introduced its own brand of open-nib pens under the Ink-D-Cator brand. After Parker released the “51”, Inkograph produced similar pens. Inkograph was purchased in 1952 by the Risdon Manufacturing Company of Naugatuck, Connecticut, and continued operations into 1962.

My Pen

Is a mottled ebonite Model 20M (I believe) circa the late 1920s. It is a lever filler model with a weighted gravity feed wire. It is nearly flawless, with minor scratching, no brassing, no teeth marks – looking good!

Inside the tiny tube is a wire. When the pen touches the paper, the wire is pushed inward allowing the ink to flow. The wire assembly is weighted at the opposite end and moves freely.

I gave the pen a quick surface cleaning and then set about taking it apart. It does need a new ink sac, and the wire did not appear to be bent – cool. I can hear the weight sliding as the pen is tilted and the wire makes an appearance, better yet.

Installed a #20 ink sac, the barrel easily holds a large sac. The lever is a little loose and doesn’t stay snug.

I removed the wire assembly and found it is ebonite. The wire attaches to an assembly arm, cone-shaped. The cone acts as a plug regulating ink flow when engaged.

The wire measure 11mm, the cone 27mm (excluding the weight); 3mm wide at the weighted end. The entire assembly is 50mm long.

The feed is interesting, it clearly does not have any fins or traditional “nib” features so how does air get into the reservoir displacing the ink? I tracked down patent applications for confirmation and the G1 grove allows air to enter into the chamber between the threads. Air then transverses the h1 hole into the reservoir as ink flows out along the wire. This is the same process as the breather hole in a fountain pen nib.

Wondering how to ink it, I stuck the nib into a bottle of Pelikan 4001 black and worked the filler lever. The ink was drawn in! The 1928 advertisement says this pen never leaks, so I shook and shook the pen. It did not leak. Stylographic pens often need to be held nearly vertically. I wrote with the pen in the same fashion as a typical fountain pen (55 degrees). It worked perfectly, plus the ink flowed immediately. I’m super happy with the pen.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 132mm
  • Uncapped length. 123.5mm
  • Barrel diameter 13mm
  • Cap diameter 16mm
  • Weighs in at 23g