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    

Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver & Enamel T Clip Ball Point PenShaffer Fountain Pen Sterling SilverLimited Edition 0139/1000 Montegrappa Paulo Coelho Sterling Silver Box &papers MJudd's New Montegrappa Reminescence Coral Sterling Silver Fountain Pen W/18kt.Montegrappa Rare Bassano Del Grappa Sterling Silver Mint ConditionMontblanc Meisterstück Solitaire .925 Sterling Silver Pinstripe Ballpoint PenParker 75 Flat Top Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain PenParker 75 Pen Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 14k Gold Nib Cisele Grid Vintage UsaJudd's New Montegrappa Sterling Silver Vermeil Eleganza Ballpoint PenRare Parker 75 Crosshatch Sterling Silver Vermeil Fountain Pen & Case Lot # 1 Montblanc Mozart Vermeil 925 Sterling SilverParker 75 Flat Top Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain PenCross Sterling Silver Pen And Pencil SetRare Limited Edition 092/300 Omas For Unicef Sterling Silver 925 "fendi Sisters"Vintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain PenNice Vintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 14k Nib W/box Omas Limited Edition 0212/1877 Herman Hesse Sterling Silver Cap Fountain Pen FNamiki Dragon Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 18kt Medium NibPelikan Hunting 1994 Green Barrel Sterling Silver Barrel Fountain Pen M NibPlatinum Metal Body Pin Stripe Sterling Silver 925 18k Gold M Nib Fountain PenSuperb! French Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 14k Nib M Vtg Sheaffer Sterling Silver 925 Engraved Ball Point Pen Pencil Set W/ Case SamNice Antique Waterman's Ideal Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 452 1/2 V No Reserve Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver & 14kgf Classic Pencil Usa Lot # 2Judd's Vintage Sterling Silver Basket Weave Waterman PencilVintage Sheaffer Sterling Silver Lever Filling Fountain Pen & Pencil SetRare Limited Edition 083/300 Omas For Unicef Sterling Silver 925 "ornella Muti "Waterman's Ideal Fountain Sterling Silver Pen And Pencil Set. Vintage Parker Sterling Silver Gold Trim Cap And Barrel Ball Point PenVintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Converter-fil Extra-fineCross 150th Anniversary Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen Limited Edition In BoxWaterman Sterling Silver Safety Eyedropper PenSheaffer Sterling Silver 925 Imperial Diamond Fountain Pen 14k Gold Nib W/boxExtremely Scarce Parker 75 Fountain Pen Sterling Silver Cap & Barrel 18k NibUnderwood London Diplomat Sterling Silver Jumbo PenCross Sterling Silver Limited Edition Fountain Pen 18k Solid Gold Nib New I Bx Beautiful!! Pilot Sterling-silver 925 18k-gold Cross-hatch Fountain Pen Jpan FpRare Aurora Paolo Portoghesi – Sterling Silver Vermeil Ballpoint From 80’sVintage Cross Sterling Silver Rollerball PenVintage 1970's Cross - Sterling Silver Ball Point Pen & Pencil Set W/ CaseA Very Scarce Sterling Silver Capped Parker Pen Med Grade Gold Nib Excellent Parker 75 Cap-activated Ballpoint ~ Sterling Silver 1960s Mib Vintage Cross Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen W Rose DecorationTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 4" Purse Pen With Pouch Box No Ink 1965Judd's New Sterling Silver & Green Ebonite Laban Ballpoint PenVintage Parker Cisele Arrow Clip Sterling Silver 14k Gold Nib Fountain PenBeautiful St Dupont Sterling Silver & Gold Plated Fountain Pen - 18k Med NibAuthentic Tiffany & Co 925 Sterling Silver T-clip Ball Point Pen VintageTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Tiffany Notes 727 Fifth Ave Purse PenParker Premier Ballpoint ~ Sterling Silver Tiffany Co Elsa Peretti Sterling Silver Ball Point Pen Pouch Box.Vintage Waterman Ideal Fountain Pen Fancy Scrolled Sterling Silver #6 Nib Red 16Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Felt Tip/rollerballVintage Tiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen - Rare Shovel SpadeMontegrappa " Gea 2001 Limited Edition" Sterling Silver Rollerball PenPapermate 2 Hearts Stainless Fountain Pen And Sheaffer Sterling Silver PencilVintage Waldmann Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen - Original Box - Made In GermanyParker75 Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 14kt VintageCross Co 150 Th Anniversary Sterling Silver Pen Gorgeous! # 1718 Of 1750 Only!!!Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cap & Barrel Flat Tassies Fountain Pen Fp 70's