D. Wood "Red Dwarf" stylograph


Stylographic pens like this one are the frequent subject of "identify please" messages on the various pen forums on the 'net. Several types of stylographics were actually in circulation before the invention of the Waterman feed, so these could lay some legitimate claim to being the first practical portable pens.

This particular example is inscribed "Imported/Red Dwarf Ink Pencil/D.Wood & Co. New York"; the country of origin is not identified, but it closely resembles an Eagle Russet stylograph shown in Fischler and Schneider's little paperback (p. 44). Inexpensive stylographics were being made at the time both in the UK and in Japan; I would guess the former for this model.

The stylographic pen writes through a small polished steel tube that has a tiny wire "whisker" inside it; the whisker helps regulate the flow of ink through the tube. The pen must be taken apart and filled with an eyedropper, and it requires a somewhat thicker grade of ink -- like India ink -- than is normally used for fountain pens. Good examples of these pens write very smoothly with a line of uniform thickness, and can also take pressure to write through carbon paper. Although several manufacturers in the U.S. and abroad made general-purpose stylographics through the first half of this century, they weren't really popular with the general public. Shortly after World War II, the German firm Riepe AG found that their stylographics were being used by draftsmen as an alternative to the drawing pens of the day; in conjunction with Pelikan, Riepe developed the Rapidograph technical pen, which soon became the pen of choice for technical illustrators and graphic artists everywhere (the red-ringed Rapidograph was such a success that the Riepe soon changed its name to Rotring -- "red ring"). These modern stylographics aren't really suited for normal writing, but are just the trick for drafting.

This file last posted on:
2005-Jan-20 17:50:26 CST
MCMVIII, the red network