Esterbrook Wonderiter

Nobody seems to know exactly where or when the fiber-point or felt-tip pen was invented. Some might trace its origins back to the jijun-hitsu brushes used by Japanese calligraphers of the 18th century, although the Magic Marker people would tell you differently.

The Esterbrook Wonderiter pen (illustrated above, courtesy of Ed Bitto) is an interesting hybrid of felt-tip and cartrdige pens. A cartridge was dropped into the barrel, to be pierced by the section when it was screwed back in. Ink from the cartridge wicks through the replaceable (see below) fiber point. I don't know whether these pens required special ink, although I would suspect not. Other early felt tips for the industrial market used some rather evil solvent-based inks that required special cleaning solutions.

I can't imagine that the Flo-Tip units provided very long service life; if they didn't get clogged up with dried ink, they would get worn down to a fuzzy swab through use. So, if you have to replace the tip and the ink cartridge on a regular basis, and if the rest of the pen isn't exactly Faberge quality, what's the point? Most consumers decided there wasn't any, and abandoned low-end refillable pens like the Esterbrook in favor of disposable felt-tips like the Flair or the Sanford's Sharpie.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:23 CST
MCMVIII, the red network
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