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The steel pen museum on the internet with historical information

The steel pen museum on the internet with historical information

The manufacturing of steel pen nibs

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 1, blanking
1. Blanking: The nib plates are punched out of steel strips.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 2, stamping
2. Stamping: The nib plates are stamped with company and number.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 3, perforating
3. Oblong perforation: The nib plates are given a differently shaped perforation in the center.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 4, cross punching
4. Cross punching: The nib plates are given lateral incisions, making the finished nib more flexible.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 5, annealing
5. Annealing: The perforated nib plates are softened in a purpose-built annealing furnace so that they can be bent.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 6, bending
6. Bending: The soft platelets are bent out under heavy presses and get the right shape.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 7, hardening
7. Hardening: The bent, very soft nibs are made glass hard (by heating and shock cooling).

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 8, tempering
8. Tempering: The nibs are gradually made flexible over fire.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 9, blank scouring
9. Blank scouring: The nibs are scrubbed and cleaned in iron barrels.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 10, grinding
10. Grinding: The nib tips are slightly grinded on grinding wheels to make them more flexible.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 11, splitting
11. Splitting: The nibs are split at the nib beak in a barely noticeable way by means of screw presses that act like scissors.

Manufacturing of pen nibs, step 12, colorizing
12. Colorizing: By tempering over fire or by galvanic process, the nibs get the appropriate color.

The steel pen is the real cause of all the evils from which society as a whole suffers in our days. One need only compare the steel nib used today with the friendly goose quill that served our good, noble ancestors. The steel pen, the modern invention, makes an unpleasant impression on us. It is like falling in love, against one's will, with a small, barely visible dagger dipped in poison. Its point is sharp like a sword, and it is double-edged like the tongue of a slanderer ...

Jules Janin, French critic, written around 1857

From an article in the "Gartenlaube" of 1875

Strict division of labor is carried out everywhere to achieve perfect products. The nibs are first formed from thin strips of sheet steel twice the width of the nib lengths in the cutting room. The nibs are cut tip to tip in such a way that the lowest possible amount of waste remains. Cutting the nibs from thin sheet steel Since most of the work does not require any special use of strength, it is easily done by girls. By means of the piercing machine, a girl can eject three hundred per minute (two and more pieces at one stroke); a second similar machine stamps the holes and any side slits in the nib.

The nibs are then taken to the stamping room, where they are stamped with numbers and the name of the manufacturer (often also that of the customer) by means of a kind of rocker.

After previous red annealing of the nibs to soften them, they are then bent through a semicircular stamp shape. In order to restore the hardness, a large quantity of nibs is heated in shallow sheet-iron boxes under exclusion of air until white annealing and then suddenly poured into deep thrane or oil vessels. This gives the nibs such hardness that they crack like glass when pressed lightly. The adhering grease is removed by turning in a cylinder filled with sawdust.

The nibs are now tempered over a slow fire, whereby the excessive hardness is somewhat softened again for further processing. After repeated cleaning of the oxides adhering as a result of annealing and hardening by means of a reciprocal scouring process lasting several hours, grinding follows. The grinding of the now steel-white appearing nib on its convex side has the same purpose as the scraping of the keel feather on the back side of the beak above the tip, a certain part of the metal is made somewhat thinner and more flexible, and the tip, in which the gap is to come, thus becomes more flexible and tender. The longitudinal grind extends upward from the tip to near the hole, while the transverse grind must not touch the tip.

The nibs are then allowed to tarnish to the desired color. This is done by tumbling the nibs in a rotating iron cylinder over a charcoal fire. Depending on the degree of heat, the nibs first take on a light brown, then a dark brown, and finally a blue color, and this process further reduces the original brittleness.

Only now the splitting of the nib follows. It is placed in a recess in such a way that exactly half of the beak rests firmly on it. The upper punch of the piercing machine, starting from the tip of the spring, now presses the half exposed beak downwards from the other half in a scissor-like manner, and the flexibility is so high that the bent-down, now split-off part springs back into its former position of its own accord.

The subsequent testing and sorting requires the best and most skilled workers. The tip of each nib is pressed onto a piece of ivory to determine its quality. The flawless ones are then polished and given the final touches. Depending on whether the nib is to be sold as a gold tip, copper, silver, zinc composition (amalgama), gutta-percha or cement nib, it is galvanically treated or stained or lacquered with acid (cyanide).