Pen noun 1: an implement for writing or drawing with ink or a similar fluid; 2: a writing instrument regarded as a means of expression; 3: the internal horny feather-shaped shell of a squid

Hey, it was a good try

Hyman Lipman was issued a patent in 1858 for attaching an eraser to a pencil. But it was later determined to be invalid, since it was just a combination of two things and didn't provide an adequate new use.

Keep your erasers refrigerated

In the 1700s, Europeans used small cubes of rubber to erase pencil marks. But the cubes were hard to work with and easily rotted. Charles Goodyear and his vulcanization process paved the way for today's erasers.

Maybe the person's name was Number Two

Graphite, a form of carbon, was discovered in 1564 by an anonymous person in Borrowdale, England. Not long after that, the first pencils went into production in the same area.

A pencil by any other name

Pencils were named from an Olde English word meaning “brush”. Penknives were named as such because they were used to shape feather quills into pens.

Where there's a quill, there's a quay

Quills were the main writing device of the medieval world — and stayed that way through the mid-1800s. Go to the dock (or the local farm), grab yourself a goose, do a bit of plucking, and you had a pocketful of writing tools. The quills, heat-treated and shaped with a penknife, required frequent sharpening.

A fountain of ink leads to a ball

The fountain pen was first successfully produced on a commercial scale in the 1880s. The ballpoint pen came into existence about 60 years later, in 1944, giving scribes around the world a pen with a longer-lasting supply of ink — and a writing instrument that was less likely to stain the front of a crisp white shirt.

That's a lot of pens

BIC manufactures and sells 21 million stationery products every day around the world.

Two inventors, one claim to fame

Bernard Lassimone, a French mathematician, applied for a patent on a pencil-sharpening invention (1828). But Therry des Estwaux invented the manual pencil sharpener (1847).


The Meisterstuck Solitaire Royal, which is solid gold and encased with 4,810 diamonds, is possibly the most expensive pen in the world: $121,000 in 1998. Each Solitaire Royal takes six months to create. A skilled jeweller sets the diamonds close together to form a smooth surface.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary,;;;;;;;

Do you want to get the last word in? Send your ideas to