Scientific American 25, 13.3.1847
Although millions of metallic pens are consumed in Europe and other parts of the world yet the manufacture of them is little understood, and carried on extensively only in England and the United States.
The principle of this manufacture is extremely simple, nevertheless, the operations necessary to bring this small article to the state in which we see it, are more complicated than we should be led to expect. he following is the information on the subject which we have been able to collect:
The material of which metallic steel pens is made, consists, in general, of plates of steel, of the same thickness oft he pen when finished. these steel plates are from 1.25 metres to 1.50 metres long, by 0.60 to 0.90 metre wide - (the metre is equal to 39.371 English inches.) They are cut by a machine entirely similar to that used for cutting the pasteboards for Jacquard looms, into bands or strips, the width of which is about double the length that each pen should have when finished.
These stripts are taken to the cutting press, which nearly resembles the fly press used in coining, but is smaller and more simple. A young girl takes, with the left hand, one of the loaded levers of this press, and with the right hand pushes successively the metallic strips on to the die or matrix of the press.
When this operation is completed, the work woman strikes a blow with the press, which cuts out many blank pens at a time; these are so placed in two rows, that the point of one of the pens of the one row is cut out of the interval that separates two adjoining pens of the other row, and so reciprocally. The die, which lies below, and the counter die, which the screw of the press successively raises and lowers, have forms corresponding to the bumber and pattern of the pens that are to be cut at one blow. As soon as the blow is struck, the workwoman drives back the lever, the cut-out blank pens fall into a box placed to receive them; the work-woman pushes on the strip of steel, and the same operation is repeated. A young girl can in this manner cut out 300 blank pens in a minute.
The pens in this state are taken to another workwoman, whose business is to pierce the hole which they are to have near their centre. This hole is made by a press exactly like that used to cut the pens, but smaller. The piercer or punch, has the shape of the hole intended to be made, and the matrix has a corresponding cavity.
The blank pens just cut uot, being placed to the left of this workwoman, she takes a certain number of them in her right hand, which she holds by the fingers by the widest part, opposite to the point: she introduces this point between the dies, until she meets with a resistance caused by a stopper, she then adjusts it, fixes the pen in its places, by means of a small elevation on the counter-die, so arranged, as that not only the point, but also its oblique edge, exactly fit it, and the pen is placed in a fixed and determined position under the screw of the press. In this position, the workwoman strikes the blow with the fly press, pierces the hole, and whilst, with the same hand, she draws back the lever, with the right she throws to the same side the pierced pen, which had been held firmly during the operation, and immediately, with quickness and dexterity, replaces it with another, which is to be similarly treated. These pens thus pierced, pass into the hands of a third workwoman, who makes two lateral slits, which gives them the necessary elasticity. This operation is performed exactly in the same manner as the preceding.
Among all the before mentioned operations, none presents more difficulties than the cutting or sinking of the dies and counter-dies, and their adjustment in the press. These require, in fact, much ability, care and exactness; but when one good tools are prepared the manufacture may go on steadily, furnishing products of a good quality, and always of the same pattern.
(To be concluded.)