W. F. Stanley Lifting-Nib Drawing Pen

This 5-7/8" steel, brass, and ivory drawing pen has a spring inside the point to draw the tips of the point together when the screw is tightened to make a narrower line. The point is also jointed, so when the screw is removed, one side of the point may be opened to a 90° angle. The handle is marked: STANLEY.
William Ford Stanley (1829–1909) began making mathematical instruments in London in 1853. In his influential 1866 volume on the construction and use of drawing instruments, he called this form of drawing pen a "lifting-nib" or "jointed" pen. It was supposed to be easier to clean than a standard drawing pen. This example was probably made in the late 19th century.
References: William Ford Stanley, Mathematical Drawing and Measuring Instruments 6th ed. (London: E. & F. N. Spon, 1888), 12; T. Potter, "Aids and Accessories," Journal of the Society of Estate Clerks of Works 8, no. 3 (1895): 33–36; David M. Riches, "W. F. Stanley," Mathematical Instruments: A Private Collection, http://www.mathsinstruments.me.uk/page43.html.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
late 19th century
Stanley, William Ford
Physical Description
ivory (overall material)
steel (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: .5 cm x 14.7 cm x .5 cm; 3/16 in x 5 25/32 in x 3/16 in
place made
United Kingdom: England, London
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Pens and Pencils
Science & Mathematics
Drawing Instruments
Drafting, Engineering
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Pens and Pencils
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Ruth A. Ming

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