an instrument for writing with a fluid. Pens of some sort have been in use from very early times, adapted to the material on which the characters were to be inscribed. The metallic stilus for the production of incised letters was probably the earliest writing implement. It was used by the Romans for writing on tablets coated with wax; but both they and the Greeks also used what is the true ancient representative of the modern pen, namely, a hollow reed, as is yet common in Eastern countries. It has been asserted that quills were used for writing as early as the 5th century A.D. In 1803 Wise produced steel pens of a barrel form, mounted in a bone case for carrying in the pocket. They were of indifferent make, and being expensive, were little used. Joseph Gillott commenced the manufacture about 1820, and succeeded in making the pen of thinner and more elastic steel, giving it a higher temper and finish. Mr. Gillott was followed into the same field by Mr. Perry and others, and their improvement so reduced the cost and raised the quality, that a gross of better pens are now sold by the same makers at less than one-sixth of the price of a single pen in 1821. Gold pens tipped with minute particles of iridium are now in extensive use, and a good one will last for years. Fountain pens and penholders, to carry a considerable supply of ink and to discharge it in an equal manner, were invented by Joseph Bramah.
Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.