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    

Vintage Waterman's Ideal Sterling Silver Overlay Filigree Basket Fountain PenMontblanc 164 Solitaire 925 Sterling Silver Ballpoint Pen. Boxed.Parker 51 Special Edition Turquoise & Sterling Silver Fountain Pen. 14k M Nib. Vintage Watermans 452 Sterling Silver Overlay Fountain Pen - Usa - Med NibParker 75 Cisele 925 Sterling Silver & Gold Fountain Pen. 14k M Nib.Lovely Scarce Vintage Parker Number 75 Ballpoint Pen - Sterling Silver CiseleNice Parker 75 Sterling Silver Fountain Pen. Fpen #3 No Reserve1947 Parker 51 Fountain Pen W. Sterling Silver CapParker Cisele 75 Sterling Silver Crosshatch Fountain Pen W/ 14k Nib - K2579Rare Parker 75 Sterling Silver Crosshatch Grid Dish Tassies Fp Fountain Pen 67'sParker Cisele 75 Sterling Silver Crosshatch Cap Actuated Ballpoint Pen - K2579Parker Cisele 75 Sterling Silver Crosshatch Roller Ball Pen - K2579Parker Lucky Curve Sterling Silver Overlay Engraved Memorial Fountain PenParker 75 Sterling Silver Fp- Box, Papers, Nib Wrench-nmParker 75 1st First Year Sterling Silver Cisele Pen Metal Threaded SectionWaterman Serenite Fountain Pen In Black With Sterling Silver Mint Never InkedWahl Sterling Silver Ringtop Pen, , Lever Fill, C1925 Rare Hartline Tip TampaVintage Nos Dunhill Sterling Silver 4 Color Ball PenMontblanc Meisterstuck Wedding Fountain Pen Sterling Silver Gold Accents Antique Sterling Silver Waterman Fountain Pen & Pencil Set No Reserve #2Parker 75 Sterling-silver Ball Point Pen "collector's" With Gold Arrow Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Ball Point PenMont Blanc Meisterstuck Ball Pen Pix Black Ag925 Sterling Silver MontblancMontblanc Meisterstuck Solitaire Doue Sterling Silver Pinstripe Rollerball PenParker Sonnet Sterling Silver Cisele 14k Nib Fountain Pen In BoxSheaffer Sterling Silver Fountain Pen And Pencil SetVintage Waterman 452 1/2v Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Ideal 1920's EraParker Sterling Silver Ball Point PenVintage Parker # 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain 14 K Nib - M Tip -1980s-Parker Gray 51 With Sterling Silver Cap (3446) Lot Of 4 Parker Sterling Silver Writing Instrument Set (look)Waterman L'etalon Parts Only:sterling Silver Gold Trim Cap&barrel As Mint FranceSterling Silver Yard O Led Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal 6 Sided W Case UnengravedParker Cisele 75 Fountain Pen 925 Sterling Silver Crosshatch W/ Gift CaseMontegrappa "la Traviata" Limited Edition Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Korloff Pen, Sterling Silver Collectible, Authentic And NewAurora Pinstriped Sterling Silver 925 Twist-action Ballpoint Pen Parker Sonnet Ballpoint Pen, Sterling Silver Cisele With Gold TrimAuthentic Tiffany & Co. T-clip Ball Point Pen In Sterling SilverPilot Namiki Sterling Silver Carp Fine 18 Karat Gold Rhodium Fountain Pen 63423 Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Clip Pen And Pencil W/ T Symbol - Parker 75 Premier Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 18k Gold NibAuthentic Tiffany And Co 925 Sterling Silver T-clip 21g Ball Point Pen With BoxParker 75 Cisele Sterling Silver Fountain Pen Barrel OnlyTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Pen With Judge Gavel Symbol On Clip. Rare Montegrappa St Andrews Links Fountain Pen Hand Painted Sterling Silver, GolfParker Sonnet Cisele Fountain Pen,sterling Silver, 18k Gold NibParker 75 Sterling Silver And 14k Gold Filled Ballpoint Pen Parker 75 Premier Sterling Silver Fountain Pen 18k Gold Nib NewAntique Sterling Silver Wahl Pen With 14k Gold Nib Wahl Eversharp Silver Pencil Tiffany Classic T-clip Ballpoint Pen Sterling Silver With Box And Dust Bag *new*Parker 75 Sterling Silver Cisele Cap W/ Flat Tasse Screw 1960’sOld Rare Vintage Sterling Silver Parker 75 Cisele Rollerball Pen UsaCross Co 150 Th Anniversary Sterling Silver Pen Gorgeous! # 1718 Of 1750 Only!!!Set Cross Sterling Silver Near Mint Condition