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and its manufacture


Stipula writing instruments are manufactured in the Florence – Vallina factory, on the banks of the Arno river.


Inside the factory, Stipula carries out the entire design of the product and all the processes necessary for the creation of the finished writing instrument.


Stipula has always combined various manufacturing techniques that are traditionally very distant from each other, in particular mechanical techniques and those typical of goldsmithing.


It is thus possible to transfer to the pen original contributions that derive precisely from the union of different traditions.













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anatomy of fountain pens

cap band

macro on writing section


Postal Code

iridium point

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cap top

bottom end/tail or knob/blind cap

ink feeder


nib body


writing section


grip/front end

inner cap

cap locking threads
Postal Code

main body or barrel/tank

ink filling system: piston, ink sac, eyedropper, cartridge, etc.


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Today those who speak of pens normally mean to refer to the most commonly available writing instruments, ballpoint pens, those which in the 1950s replaced fountain pens for reasons of apparent practicality of use. But in reality it is precisely with the fountain pen, born at the end of the nineteenth century, that there is the real conceptual and technical discontinuity compared to the past.

In the past, that is, until the last years of the nineteenth century, writing was linked - without wanting to go back to very distant historical eras - to the possibility of carrying, in addition to paper or parchment, ink and a tip to dip in to draw lines. The fountain pen, initially called a reservoir pen, revolutionizes this method by making writing instruments easily pocketable and therefore transportable anywhere and by anyone. “Reservoir pen”, and in fact quite a few imagine that the fountain pen can be schematized as a container with a hole in it. Colored liquid would be poured into the container and through the small hole it would reach the tip with which the liquid is spread on the paper.

Things are actually a little more complicated, even if there is the container and the little hole.

The principle behind the operation of a fountain pen is known as the law of capillarity. The law of capillarity or Jurin's law was formulated already in the early eighteenth century by Mr. Justin Jurin, an Englishman very interested inphilosophy naturalis - as physics was then called - but it had been widely anticipated and made possible by the many empirical observations in the field of pressure, in particular by the experiments of our Florentine Evangelista Torricelli.


Without going into too many technical details, suitable for those who are familiar with physics or its applications in fluid engineering (but for which we refer the more curious to: ) Jurin's law or capillarity law establishes that in the presence of certain conditions a liquid can travel up a capillary tube, i.e. a very small tube, even in the presence of a force that pushes it in the opposite direction.


What happens with the fountain pen. The feeder, that element on which the metal nib rests, is nothing more than a "sponge" capable of making the liquid contained in the tank or ink cartridge rise towards the nib.

In turn, the nib with its central cut acts like a further sponge that accompanies the liquid in its final stretch, up to the tip of the nib, which we thus always find moistened with ink and ready to leave a colored trace on the paper.


Many aspects contribute to the correct functioning of the fountain pen (characteristics of the feed channels, air recovery, materials from which the feeders are made, viscosity of the ink, width of the nib cut, etc.) but this is the underlying mechanism.


It is around this basic mechanism that a triumph of technical and aesthetic solutions developed since the end of the 19th century which constitute the history of a sector of extraordinary technical advances such as that of the fountain pen. It contributed to overturning the social and professional habits of the time  and was rewarded with almost a century and a half of unlimited expansion, comparable in penetration and importance only to the advent of the smartphone in the 2000s.



The qualityof materials is an essential part of the manufacturing of the Stipula pen, guaranteeing its durability and attractiveness.


The traditional processing of celluloid and ebonite alternates with the creation of exclusive resins that Stipula develops in its laboratories with casting and fusion processes. 




Ebonite is a vulcanized compound of rubber and sulphur, also known as "hard rubber". In practice  it is obtained through a process of slow roasting of natural rubber, the one obtained from the latex of the rubber tree. Ebonite was originally the raw material chosen for  the manufacturing of fountain pens. It was in fact the only material available in the early years of the pen industry that possessed all the necessary qualities: it was durable, inexpensive and easy to produce; furthermore, it offered a marked resistance to the chemical aggressiveness of the ink of the time.

As for the appearance of the pen, it was the material itself that determined it. The number of colors that could be created was small. Normally, ebonite was polished to a deep black lustrous surface, but around 1895 the procedure for producing fountain pen ebonite in red and flamed red-black versions was discovered. A guilloche was also applied to modify the appearance and surface of the ebonite. Regular geometric motifs were engraved by machine, but we also find rather complex motifs, resembling theatrical shots, waves and roses.

Another method used to modify the external appearance was to apply precious metal coatings. Some of these embellishments were carried out directly in the factory, but the majority of the coverings were carried out by specialized external companies. The most beautiful and complex ones were made by famous artists and goldsmiths. The coating was not a purely aesthetic device, but also performed an important practical function: it covered the smell of sulphur, typical of hard rubber.


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Celluloid is one of the most beautiful raw materials in the universe of fountain pens. We could summarily describe it as the most brightly colored and stable material ever used in their production; but to understand the true complexity of this material, apparently so simple, we must examine both its history and the industrial process from which it was born.

Celluloid is a very stable but at the same time highly flammable material.


It is possible to verify both of these qualities with the help of a ping-pong ball. After playing and counting the many hits it manages to take before breaking, wrap the pieces of the broken ball in foil and light the wrapping: a flame of surprising intensity will be released.

The development of celluloid began around 1845, as a response to the new industrial need to find a substitute for certain natural materials such as tortoiseshell, ivory and mother-of-pearl. All these raw materials, donated directly by nature, began to run out already at the time and costs, consequently, rose.

Nitrocellulose is obtained from cotton treated with two acids, nitric and sulfuric. Subsequent processing with alcoholized camphor, hot and under pressure, produces celluloid, which however requires further treatment which reduces the camphor content and allows the material to harden. The ingredients of this new industrial cocktail were all natural and easy to find.

Starting around 1890, celluloid came into use for the mass production of many products, as it proved capable of imitating, almost perfectly, materials such as horn, ivory, precious and semi-precious stones, and coral. It was stable, and lent itself well to both hot modeling and lathe machining.

But the most appreciable quality was, and remains, the almost infinite variety of colors and patterns obtainable from the coloring of the raw material. In its natural state, celluloid is a semi-transparent substance, straw yellow in color and, depending on the camphor content, either gelatinous or solid in consistency.

It is during this phase of production that coloring agents can be added. Or, for example, blocks of variously colored celluloid can be cut into sheets to compose new blocks with alternating layers, thus obtaining the striped effect that we know, for example, thanks to the Parker Vacumatic of the 1930s.

The marbled or mottled effect, however, is obtained by adding celluloid flakes of different colors to a fluid mixture and subsequently recooking everything to obtain a new block. The higher the residual rate of camphor in the celluloid, the softer the material.


To obtain a solid material, ready for use in the production of fountain pens, it is necessary to subject it to a seasoning process which allows the camphor to evaporate almost completely. During this phase of its processing, the material, still in a highly flammable state, continually shrinks.

Likewise, a pen made from material that is too fresh will decrease in diameter over time. And since celluloid can take up to 12 months to fully cure, the temptation to use “young” celluloid was great, especially during periods of unexpected sales increases.

As early as 1890, celluloid was successfully used in many industries. But another 30 years had to pass before it was well accepted as a material for fountain pens. From 1924, the year in which Sheaffer marketed its first, highly successful celluloid pens, all its competitors found themselves forced to follow its example. But some were quite recalcitrant, at least for a while. Waterman made a counter move, releasing “ripple” hard rubber in several new colors, and in early 1928, Mont Blanc circulated a warning letter regarding the new pens among its retailers.

Stipula has great experience in the use of these materials and - among the few producers in the world - has large historical stocks of raw material. Celluloid has in fact become unavailable for over twenty years due to the cessation of historical producers in Japan and Italy.


Both for the rarity of the raw material and for the high commitment of the workmanship, Stipula celluloid productions are to be considered in all respects a unique manufacturing of excellence of its kind. In fact, it is not possible to produce a high quality celluloid pen using automated processes. The best quality pens are hand-turned from bars of solid celluloid with long periods of maturation interspersed between the various manufacturing stages and constitute an absolutely limited number of fountain pens each year.   

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Acrylic resins made their appearance already during the war period of the Second World War. The Germans were the first to experiment with these synthetically derived plastic materials as expensive but indispensable substitutes for glass in the manufacture of transparent parts of the cockpit of their fighter planes.


In fact, the aim was to avoid the complete shattering of the plane's windows when they were hit in flight by a bullet. Acrylic resins were well suited for this purpose since they had an even higher degree of light refraction than crystal, but at the same time if hit in one point they avoided the "explosion" of the entire sheet.


With the end of the war, acrylic materials had a vast industrial diffusion and today they constitute the raw material which, due to its brilliance, colorability and docility to mechanical processing, can compete with the aesthetic value of celluloid, which has now become a very rare material.


The acrylic resin used in the production of Stipula pens is cold cast into sheets of appropriate thickness, from which the bars are obtained which, like ebonite or celluloid, can be manually turned to obtain the components of the pen.

Starting from the 1950s, new thermoplastic materials suitable for injection molding were also experimented, which today constitute a rather widespread alternative to traditional mechanical processes, especially for large-scale production. Stipula sometimes uses these techniques to create precision components inside the pen.

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All the productsStipulation they are made with artisanal techniques in the historic factory of Firenze, according to a typical philosophy of the unique piece, even when production takes place in small series.

Each example of pen is individually designed during the construction phase and developed for maximum writing performance.

At the end of a transformation process that goes through dozens of manual steps, the fountain pen is tested with mechanical calibration steps for the moving parts and tested in writing with ink to optimize the power supply and performance of the nib.

It is finally cleaned of all traces of ink and finely polished before being delivered to its recipient. 

The pact that Stipula honors every day is the result of a commitment to making every fountain pen that comes out of its Florentine laboratories a unique pen in the world. A pen made in every part by hand and destined to pass through time and generations.

David BN



The modeling and prototyping of the details is the basis of the originality and beauty of the Stipula pen. It is done through constant dialogue with tradition and according to manual methods. Here the mother piece takes shape gradually and according to a process of constant revision and improvement of the detail.



The details of the Stipula pen are worked by hand. With the help of the lathe and other machine tools, the material is given shape. The components of the pen are machined with very tight tolerances to allow their coupling according to criteria of great accuracy and resistance. The Stipula pen, although an ancient artefact of around one hundred and fifty years, is in fact a precision instrument.

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The metal details of the Stipula pen are made one by one using goldsmith techniques that are thousands of years old. Casting in bronze, silver, gold and platinum takes place starting from a wax model. The molten metal is then finished by hand and calibrated so that it can be assembled with the other mechanical parts.




All the components of the Stipula pen, once finished on the surface, through brushing and the external protection that maintains their freshness and brilliance over time, are sent to the final assembly operations. Here, on a bench equipped for this purpose, the final operations that ensure the functioning of the Stipula pen are carried out, up to the writing test and the final fine-tuning of the nib.

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Manual skill has different ways of expressing itself. Sometimes displayed dramatically, as in the richness of detail of a large projection casting, or in a chisel or burin decoration, where even the Master's breathing influences the plastic rendering of the work. Other times, that ability of the hand is applied to less ostentatious solutions but equally capable of stimulating the senses. This is the case of the artistic miniature with which Stipula makes its pens unique. An ancient technique dating back over a thousand years which evolved from ancient illuminated manuscripts to eighteenth-century ivory jewels and now applied to the world of Stipula writing.



The Stipula pen is subject to a high degree of customization, through engravings that are made by embossing with a chisel or by carving the metal with a burin. Chisels and burins are typical tools of the Florentine goldsmith and silversmith tradition with which the finest detail can come to life in the metal coating of the pen or in the decorations that enrich its body. 




Once the assembly is complete, the final assembly of the ink feeder and nib onto the pen is carried out. The Stipula pen is finally tested with ink individually. The suction and release charging system is tested; the correct coupling of the power supply with the nib blade has been verified; and finally it is proven alive power efficiency and nib performance. A  At the end of the ink testing the Stipula pen is completely cleaned and re-polished for shipping.    

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