Interesting Facts About Pens

Pens are something that we come across every single day. Although they are quite useful, they don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve. ‘What’s so interesting about pens? I look at them every day. They aren’t really fascinating.’ – you might say to yourself.


Well, let’s change your mind with the following pen facts:


Interesting facts about pens that you probably didn’t know.

  1. An average pen can write about 45,000 words before running out of ink.
  2. The smallest pen in the world is the ‘Nanofountain Probe‘. Scientists use it for nanoscale on-chip patterning. The lines that this device produces are only 40 nanometers wide.
  3. The biggest pen in the world is a ballpoint pen created by Acharya Makunuri Srinivasa in 2011. The pen is 5.5 meters high and weighs 37 kilograms. It holds the Guinness world record and it’s fully functional. Besides that, it looks beautiful!
  4. The earliest records of the first pen invented date back to 3,000 years B.C. Ancient Egyptians created the first pens, which could write on papyrus. They made the ancient pens out of wood and bamboo straws, and the ink from soot or ochre combined with beeswax.
  5. From the year 700 A.D. to around the 1700’s, the quill pen was the main writing instrument. Although swan feathers made the best quills, common people usually used goose feathers because swan feathers were hard to find and they were expensive. Crow feathers were used for fine lines.
  6. The idea for a pen with an ink container was conceived in 973 A.D. by Ma’ād al-Mu’izz, an African caliph. He despised when the ink spilled on his hands and clothes, so he commissioned someone to invent a pen that could solve his problem. The result was a fountain pen quite similar to the modern design that we use today. Basically, this odd request changed the way we make pens forever.
  7. Although there is evidence that people have been using it since the 1700’s, the pen wasn’t patented until much later, in 1888. The owner of the patent is John Loud. To this day, he is still credited as the original ball pen inventor.
  8. The biro pen, which is the British term for the ballpoint pen, got its name from its inventor – Laszlo Biro. Loud was the first one to patent the pen, but his idea wasn’t good enough at the time. However, Biro’s patent was commercially successful and he took most of the credit. That’s why he is considered the designer of the modern pen.
  9. There are many types of ball pens. The most common ones are the ballpoint pen (biro pen), the gel pen, the fountain pen, the brush pen, and the marker pen. Highlighters and markers are also types of pens.
  10. The oldest preserved pen is a fountain pen from 1702 designed by M. Bion from France.
  11. Ballpoint pens have a small brass or steel ball at the end. The ball distributes ink evenly and doesn’t allow ink to dry. WWII pilots used them frequently because they didn’t leak when they were way up in the sky, unlike other pens.
  12. Because they use quick-drying ink, ballpoint pens are also left-handed writers’ first choice.
  13. Most ballpoint pens have brass balls at the tip. However, some manufacturers make these balls out of tungsten carbide – a chemical compound known for being tougher than steel.
  14. The most expensive pen in the world is Tibaldi’s Fulgor Nocturnus fountain pen. It contains rubies and black diamonds and it goes for the whopping price of 8 million dollars.
  15. In 1949, Marcel Bich designed the very first affordable pen as we know and recognise it today. He named it BIC after his own name.
  16. A regular BIC ballpoint pen can draw a line that’s about 2 kilometers long. That’s more than 6 times longer than the height of the Eiffel tower!
  17. The United States produces more than 2 billion pens a year.
  18. Paul Fisher designed the Space Pen for the 1968 Apollo mission. Of course, this was not a regular pen. The Space Pen used cartridge ink that worked in zero gravity, underwater, upside-down and could even write on oily surfaces. It also lasted 3 times longer than a regular pen. And not just that – it was able to endure extreme temperatures (from -40°C to 120°C). All these make the Space Pen one of, if not, the most unique pens in the world.
  19. Here’s another fun fact that involves an Apollo mission and a pen. During the Apollo 11 expedition, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong noticed that something had fallen off the circuit breaker. After a thorough examination, they realised that the missing piece was the engine switch and that they could not return to Earth unless they replaced it somehow. Buzz Aldrin came up with an interesting solution – he jammed a felt-tip pen in the hole where the switch used to be. Luckily, that worked, and they were able to return. The pen literally saved their lives!
  20. The US president always uses a different pen to sign important documents. He never uses the same one twice. He then gives the pen away as a gift to supporters who helped him create the document. The White House engraves these presidential pens beforehand.
  21. Out of all the promotional products around the world, surveys show that the most common choice is promotional printed pens.
  22. When you give a person a pen, the first thing that they will write is their own name. Well, at least they will in 95% of the cases.
  23. Fountain pens with gold nibs can adjust to your way of writing after using it for a while. Because gold is a soft metal, it can bend to fit the writer perfectly.
  24. More than 100 people a year die by suffocating on pen caps. The most common situation which leads to this is when a person puts the cap in its mouth, bites it, or plays with it. That can cause a person to swallow the cap and suffocate. This is why BIC pens have a hole in the lid to prevent such choking accidents occurring.
  25. Because of many reported deaths, some manufacturers, including BIC, started producing caps with holes that can prevent suffocation.


After reading these 25 interesting pen information, we hope you have more appreciation for the common pen. Historically speaking, it’s been through a lot in order to get to where it is today.

Here’s to pens, the unsung heroes of our everyday lives!

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