The action of the oblique steel pen is altogether remarkably good, and, from the shape of the nibs immediately below the shoulder, it has a most excellent spring, producing a pleasing effect both in the up and down strokes of the writing; it glides smoothly over the paper, and is altogether free from the harshness so much complained of in steel pens. These oblique pens are made of the best steel, in a very thin and highly elastic state; the arched form gives the requisite strength, where it is necessary they should be firm and unyielding, and also enables them to carry more ink than any previous pens. The advantageous property of this particular form, for holding a large quantity of ink, was at once perceived by other manufacturers, and led to the construction of the Lunar, Gonidon, and some other similar pens. Messrs. Mordan & Co.'s specification describes a variety of modifications of pens and pen-holders, illustrated by numerous figures. In the first place are shown quill-pens and portable pens, (the latter implying short pieces,) having inclined slides, and metal pens similarly formed.
To apply the principle to pens cut in the usual manner, with straight or longitudinal slits, handles are provided, which have at their lower ends curved metal arms, with clips or holders, which fix the pens at an angle, diverging from thirty to forty degrees out of the line formed by the handles. Some of these pen-holders are furnished with joints and set-screws, to enable the writer to place the pens at such an inclination, with respect to the handle, as will accord with the inclined position of the letters he is making. The latest improvement in steel pens is one by Mr. Gowland, consisting in the introduction of an additional nib. The following engravings represent three pens of this Fig.4 description, as manufactured by Messrs. Mordan & Co., under a recent patent Fig. 5 are back and side views of Messrs. Mordan and Co.'s patent three-nibbed slip-pen. Fig. 6 are similar views of their patent three-nibbed fat-spade, or, as the Birmingham manufacturers call it, the lunar pen. In each of these pens, the additional nib is formed by cutting it out of the stem or shank of the pen, where there is always a superfluity of metal, and turning it back over the other nibs. Fig. 7 are back and side views of Mordan & Co.'s patent three-nibbed counter-oblique pen.
Many persons having been strongly prejudiced against the one-sided appearance of the original oblique pen, Messrs. Mordan & Co. were induced to attempt an improvement in this respect, and they have fully succeeded. The improvement has been accomplished by the introduction of an additional shoulder, opposed to the former. This novel and curious pen has been very much admired, and it is as useful as curious; it has the advantage of holding a very considerable quantity of ink, and of retaining, from its obliquity, a position adapted to the slope of the writing, while to the eye a perfect equilibrium is preserved. The effect of the third nib in metallic pens, is to enable the pen to carry a larger quantity of ink, and to force it down in uniform and never-failing succession to the paper. Every time such pens are pressed on the down-strokes of the writing, the ink flows in a body towards the point from the effect of capillary attraction, at the precise time when it is most wanted. This result is produced by the third nib forming a conical tube with the other nibs of the pen, with its smallest end downward, and always causes the ink to flow equally, as much on the centre of the down-strokes as the two points of the pen itself.
The capillary attraction, which is brought into operation in this ingenious contrivance, completely counteracts the defects existing in other pens, arising from the opening in the slip tapering in the opposite direction to that which is requisite, for the purpose of fairly conveying the ink to the paper; of this any one may convince himself by pressing the points of any ordinary pen on the thumbnail, until the slit opens wide enough for large-text writing, when the ink will instantly recede from the points towards the upper extremity or angle of the slit. Capillary attraction always causes fluids to flow towards the narrowest part or opening of every conical tube; and, therefore, in three-nibbed pe s, the ink is forced down upon the paper, and the thickest ink would be propelled lownwards most effectually by the action of the three nibs. Another advantage of the third nib is, that it clears the slit of the pen, removing the fibres as they are gathered from the paper, thereby removing the greatest objection that has hitherto existed to the use of metallic pens.
The following is the process of making steel pens, as witnessed at the extensive and well-conducted manufactory of Messrs. Mordan & Co., Castle-street, Finsbury, whose liberality, condescension, and urbanity to visitors on all oc a-sions, is gratefully acknowledged by many individuals who have in vain endeavoured to obtain a sight of this interesting process elsewhere. A hardened steel punch and matrix, of the exact size and shape of the pen to be made, having been attached to a powerful fly-press, sheet steel of the finest quality, reduced to about 1/160 of an inch in thickness, and in strips of two inches and a half wide, is taken, and every pen is struck out singly, till the metal is exhausted. In this state the pens are called blanks or flats. After cutting out, the next operation is softening or annealing; this is performed by putting a great number of the flats into an iron box, with a small quantity of tallow on the top of them; the box being shut up close, is" placed in a furnace, and there kept until the box appears to be equally heated all over. The box is then withdrawn, and the pens emptied out upon some hot ashes, covered with the same, and left to cool gradually.