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]

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]

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 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    

Montblanc Meisterstuck Mozart Cap Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen Scottish Provincial Georgian Antique Sterling Silver Porte Crayon Dip Pen Seal Waterman Ideal #452 Sterling Silver Gothic Overlay Fountain Pen No Mono NrMontblanc Meisterstuck Sterling Silver Solitaire 4810 Fountain Pen With Fine NibMontblanc Sterling Silver Pinstripe , 925 Ballpoint Pen Meisrerstuck , Engraved3 Vintage Parker 51 Fountain Pen Sterling Silver Cap 14k Gold Nib Yard-o-led 925 Sterling Silver Trim Retro Fountain Pen Fine Vgc - Lot 6Sheaffer Imperial Sovereign Rollerball Pen - Sterling Silver - No Reserve!!!Sheaffer Legacy Sterling Silver Victoran Special Edition, Medim 18k NibMontblanc Fountain Meisterstuck 144 Solitaire Sterling Silver CapMontblanc Meisterstuck Solitaire Sterling Silver 925,barley Rollerball PenVintage Sterling Silver And Gold Plate Parker Pen And Pencil SetSt Dupont 925 Sterling Silver Fountain PenVintage Parker Cisele 75 Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen Made In The Usa Flat TopVintage Parker 75 Cisele 14k Nib Sterling Silver Cap And Barrel Fountain PenVtg Parker 75 Classic Sterling Silver Cisele Ballpoint Pen And Pencil Set W/boxYard-o-led Solid Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen - Vgc - Made In England Lot 7Judd's Very Nice Sterling Silver Parker Sonnet Rollerball PenVintage Parker Sonnet France 18k Nib Sterling Silver Cap And Barrel Fountain PenRare 1905 Waterman No 14 Sterling Silver With Bloodstone Seal Fountain PenVintage Sterling Silver, Nl Cisele Parker 75 Ball Point Pen, C1970, NosSterling Silver Waterman Ideal Safety Fountain Pen Model 442 & 1/2 EstateCisele Parker 75 Fountain 14k-nib Sterling-silver 925 And Parker Vacumatic FountVintage Parker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Cap Barrel Ballpoint Bp Roller Ball PenParker 75 Sterling Silver Vermeil 14k Gold Filled Fountain Pen Usa "parker 75 Sterling-silver Ball Point Pen With Arrow Clip"Judd's Very Nice Parker 75 Classic Sterling Silver Rollerball PenGenuine Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver T Clip Ballpoint Pen Pouch & Box Vgc NrSterling Silver Repousse Fountain Pen Heavy Floral Flower Design 14k No Mono NrJudd's Very Nice Parker Sterling Silver Classic Ballpoint Pen & Pencil SetParker 75 Cap Actuated Ballpoint Pen - Sterling Silver Ciselé - No Reserve!!!Wahl-eversharp Sterling Silver Guilloche Fountain Pen - 14kt Flex Nib - 1920sDelta Fountain Pen Barocca White L.e. Sterling Silver 925 - Nib Fusion - A0471Montegrappa Extra Yellow Celluloid Sterling Silver Rollerball PenJudd's Very Nice Cross Sterling Silver Century Ballpoint PenCross Century Classic, Sterling Silver Trio, Fountain Pen, Ballpoint & Felt TipLalex Sterling Silver 925 Pen Purse Pocket 5"Vintage Sheaffer Grapes & Leaves Sterling Silver Pen - White Dot Original BoxVintage Designer Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Diamond Chased Purse PenDelta Fountain Pen Barocca Black L.e. Sterling Silver 925 - Nib Fusion - A0472Parker 75 Sterling Silver 925 With Gold 14 K Fountain Pen And Ball Point Pen SetDelta Fountain Pen Barocca Black L.e. Sterling Silver 925 - Nib Fusion - A0473Vintage Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain Pen With 14k Nib Flat TassieDelta Fountain Pen Barocca White L.e. Sterling Silver 925 - Nib Fusion - A0470Bossert & Erhard B&e Germany Sterling Silver Gold Enamel Rollerball Ink Pen VtgVintage Sterling Silver, Cisele Parker 75 Ball Point Pen, C1980, NosParker Classic Sterling Silver Cisele Ballpoint Pen Usa Made Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen With Golf Ball & TeeVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Pen "no Reserve" Vry Nice ConditionVintage Sterling Silver Parker Classic 75 Cisele Fountain Pen & Ballpoint CapCross Sterling Silver Limited Edition Fountain Pen 18k Solid Gold Nib New I Bx Cross Sterling Silver Vintage Ball Pen Works Excellent Condition In Box W PapersVintage Cross Sterling Silver Ball Point PenMontegrappa Extra Ballpoint Pen, Light Blue Celluloid & Sterling SilverVintage Parker Sterling Silver Cisele Fountain Pen 14k Nib UntestedMontegrappa Emblema Ballpoint Pen Red Celluloid And 925 Sterling Silver Waterman L'etalon Ballpoint ~ Sterling Silver BasketweaveParker 75 Sterling Silver Cicele Cap-activated Ballpoint Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cicele Pencil Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cicele Rollerball