Originally an insurance broker in New York, in 1883, Lewis Edson Waterman was about to sign a big contract. For this occasion, he had bought a fountain pen, which was considered far more stylish than the cumbersome dip pen and ink well. However, the pen refused to write, and leaked ink on the document. Horrified, he ran to his office to get new documents, but upon his return, a competing broker had already closed the deal. Frustrated by this, he turned to making fountain pens in his brother's workshop.
Lewis Edson Waterman founded his company in New York in 1883 with the invention of a new feeder. He used the capillarity principle which allowed air to induce a steady and even flow of ink. He worked on his invention for ten years before placing it on the market. Waterman got a patent for his new fountain pens in 1884.
Waterman began selling his fountain pens behind a cigar shop and gave his pens a five-year guarantee. He opened a factory in Montreal, Canada in 1899, offering a variety of designs.
Waterman also invented a successful method for preserving and condensing grape-juice.
Following his death in Brooklyn in 1901, his nephew Frank D. Waterman took the business overseas and increased sales to 350,000 pens per year. After Frank took over, he renamed the business Waterman. S. A.
- Several newspaper obituaries list his date of birth as November 20, Boston Daily Globe, New York Times, (May 2, 1901)
- About.com Inventors
- Lewis Waterman at Find a Grave
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