The History of Glass Pens

Posted by Wancher Pen on

Bohemian Glass Pen

If you have an appreciation for calligraphy, then you have no doubt encountered glass pens or glass dip pens in your forays into the art of writing history. While the exact origins of glass pens are unclear, many believe that the first glass pens originate in the Venetian island, Murano, in the early 17th Century. Meanwhile, there are those who claim that the first glass pens were created in Japan

Regardless of whether it was an Italian or Japanese innovation, the reason behind their popularity in their respective countries is an interesting example of how one’s writing needs are greatly influenced by their cultures. In the case of the Venetians, many people opted to use glass pens because the average quill’s nib was much flimsier than an expertly made glass pen. Similarly, many Japanese people preferred the use of a glass pen for writing, because the fountain pens of those days had nibs that were not suitable for the writing of kanji or Japanese characters from Hiragana and Katakana. This would later lead to the creation of semi-flex nibs, which were made perfectly for this use case, but until then, the glass pen or glass dip pens were the ideal choice. 

Kunisaki Glass Pen Special Edition
The Fall of Glass Pens

Just as television killed the radio star, the popularity of glass pens would eventually wane in the mid-20th Century with the creation of the ballpoint pen. Glass pens had already become less and less common in daily usage due to the fragility of their construction in comparison to their fountain pen counterparts. However, the onset of the Second World War meant that the use of typewriters, pencils, and telegrams instantly became more convenient than having to dip a glass pen into a bottle of ink to write urgent missives. 

Glass Pens in the 21st Century

In recent years, we seem to have regained our appreciation for glass pens or glass dip pens, which also raises the question - What’s the difference between a glass pen and a glass dip pen? A glass pen like the Kunisaki Glass Pen is a pen that is made entirely out of glass, while a glass nib pen like the Shizuku Pen Mars may have a body constructed out of other materials with only the nib made out of glass. 


Shizuku Glass Nib Pen


As with fountain pens, however, glass pens have their own unique differences, which could be attributed to the source of their creation. For example, the Kunisaki Glass Pen’s construction is a mixture of straight as well as half-twisted grooves all over its body and nib. On the other hand, the brand new Bohemian Glass Pen from the Czech Republic has a smoother, swirling design in its instruction, which indicates that the glassmaking process is different from the Kunisaki example. 


We have obviously come a long way from the days of writing on scrolls using glass pens and glass dip pens, yet we continue to produce and use these beautiful writing instruments simply for the joy and love of writing. If you want practicality, a fifteen cent ballpoint pen could do the trick. However, if you want something that honors history and retains the art of calligraphy, then a glass pen is simply one of the best options available today. 

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