While the history of pens in the 19th and 20th century usually follows the story of their internal technology—how dip pens evolved to “safety” fountain pens with leak-proof reservoirs—the outsides of pens show off the ways in which materials such as sterling silver have decorated vintage writing instruments. From Waterman eyedroppers to Wahl Eversharp Skylines, sterling silver has been a favorite material for pen manufacturers, both as a shiny accent to contrast with a pen’s celluloid barrel or cap (perhaps as a pocket clip or decorative band), or as the covering of the entire pen itself.

Some of the most popular silversmithing techniques used by pen designers include repoussé, in which a design is hammered into a piece of silver from behind, and chasing, which achieves a similar relief effect by hammering from the opposite direction. Engraving is similar to chasing inasmuch as the visible surface of the silver is worked by the craftsman, except that small amounts of surface material are removed through the engraving process. Other pens proudly show off their hammer marks, like metalwork produced during the Arts & Crafts era.

Piercing silver to create a filigree design is perhaps the most recognizable pen-decoration technique. In this exacting and time-consuming process, voids are cut into a piece of silver, which may also be engraved or chased. The voids reveal the surface underneath, which is often a hard black plastic to set off the bright silver that partially covers it. Filigrees range from floral motifs to paisleys to snakes, which sometimes get three-dimensional as serpent pocket clips with jeweled eyes.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Parker51.com

Parker51.com

Ernesto Soler's extensive homage to one of the most popular pens ever produced, the Parker "51," introduced in 1941… [read review or visit site]

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Penhero.com

Penhero.com

Jim Mamoulides' vintage and modern pen-cyclopedia. Start at the main gallery, featuring detailed articles (with pho… [read review or visit site]

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

An extensive reference guide to silver marks, hallmarks, trademarks and maker's marks found on antique and vintage … [read review or visit site]

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

This is a great reference site on silver, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can view silver items acc… [read review or visit site]

The Gilbert Collection

The Gilbert Collection

The late Sir Arthur Gilbert's collection of European silver, gold, enamel, and other items is now housed at the Vic… [read review or visit site]

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

“Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj” was the title of a 2008 exhibition at Columbia University’s Mi… [read review or visit site]

TheStieffCompany.com

TheStieffCompany.com

Scott Perkins is an enthusiastic evangelist for The Stieff Company, a significant Baltimore silversmith and maker o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Omas Paragon Arco Sterling Silver Vermeil Cap Pen Never Used"ultra Rare" Vintage Mont Blanc Fountain Pen 144 Sterling Silver 900Montblanc 14k Gold Nib Gold Rolled On Sterling Silver 925 Body With Blue Gem1890's Waterman's Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Ideal Eyedropper # 404 ~ Rare ~Montegrappa La Traviata Limited Edition Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 1596/1912Montblanc Meisterstuck Ballpoint Pen Gold Tone Sterling Silver Ag925 Stod UsedJudd's Vintage Sterling Silver Parker 51 Fountain Pen For PartsOmas For Maserati 925 Sterling Silver Limited Edition 18k Nib Fountain Pen $1nr!Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Fountain Pen In Original Box Montegrappa Alchemist 925 Solid Sterling Silver Rollerball Pen. Isaknrac. NewVintage Parker Sterling Silver Cap & Barrel Ball Point PenVintage Sterling Silver Overlay Fountain Pen * 14k Gold Nib *Montblanc Solitaire 146 Sterling Silver Barley Fountain Pen 18c Gold "obb" NibVintage Parker 75 Fountain Pen Sterling Silver -14k Gold Nib -usaVtg. Parker 75 Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen,pencil,& Box/gold Trim/grid DesignParker Sterling Silver 75 Fountain PenVintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Cap & Barrel Fountain Pen W/ 14k NibParker Classic Sterling Silver CiceléWaterman's Sterling Silver Fountain Pen IdealMontblanc Meisterstuck Fountain Pen 925 Sterling Silver And Ligther Dupont TableAurora Optima Sterling Silver Barley Ballpoint Pen Very Nice Condition No ReservAuth Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver 925 Caduceus Medical Clip Ballpoint Pen Used Waterman 452 Gothic Sterling Silver Set Flex Nib: F-bbCollectible Waterman Le Man 100 Sterling Silver Ballpoint PenWonderful Vntg Parker 75 Cicele~sterling Silver Cap /barrel Fountain Pen~vermeilParker 51 Fountain Pen Blue With Sterling Silver Cap...restoredTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Lot Of (4) Ball Point PensTiffany T Clip Sterling Silver Ball Point Pen In Good ConditionParker Sterling Silver Plated Sonnet Fountain Pen 18k Gold Trim Nib Tip Gift UsaS.t. Dupont Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen, 18k Gold TrimVintage Parker Flat Top Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen, Checkered PatternJudd's New Montegrappa Micra Yellow Rollerball Pen Sterling Silver TrimParker Sonnet Cisele Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen & Fountain Set W/ Box Vintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Ball Pen & Pencil Set Usa #009tRare Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cap & Barrel Flat Tassies Xf Fountain Pen Fp 70'sParker Classic Ballpoint ~ Sterling Silver Cicele (lot #1)Judd's Waldmann Sterling Silver Broken Section Fountain PenAntique Waterman's Sterling Silver Fountain Pen. 452 1/2v. 14k Nib.Parker Sterling Silver Checkerboard Arrow Clip Usa Ball Point Pen No ReserveParker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Cap Actuated Ballpoint Usa Made New Old StkTiffany & Co. Ag 925 Sterling Silver Elsa Peretti Ballpoint Pen Germany W/ BoxTiffany & Co. Purse Pen In Sterling Silver & Tiff Blue Lacquer Retail $160Vintage Cross Sterling Silver Pen And Pencil Set Original Box W Felt SleevesAntique Sterling Silver Repousse Shells Leaves Dip Pen W/hallmark Ww BaroqueVintage Parker Sterling Silver Ball Point Pen Checkerboard Pattern 925 Usa