- In 1903, William A. Welty was a blank book salesman and auditor
for the firm of Matt Parrott & Sons. He
also sold fountain pens for the company.
- Fountain pens were a fairly new invention at that time.
- Fountain pens were not like ballpoint pens of today. Fountain
pens had to be filled with liquid ink from a bottle. The ink was
released from the pen onto the paper as it was used for writing.
- Mr. Welty heard customers complain often that their fountain
pens leaked, blotted and dropped ink where it was not supposed to
- After thinking about the problem, Mr. Welty developed a plan.
He invented a new fountain pen design that didn’t leak. It
had a small air vent that allowed the ink to flow smoothly onto
- In 1905 he patented his new invention. Mr. Welty continued to
improve the Welty Fountain Pen and new patents were written in 1906
- At first, Mr. Welty’s new invention was manufactured in
Janesville, Wisconsin. But as he began to sell more and more pens,
he decided to manufacture them himself. He made them in the rear
of a little office supply store.
- A firm in Minneapolis gave him his first big order of 500 pens
at $2 each.
- As Mr. Welty sold more and more of his pens he needed more and
more help. So he hired an expert pen maker who could manufacture
pens much faster.
- Mr. Welty advertised his products in trade journals and magazines.
- A competing company that produced pens in Toledo, Ohio, didn’t
like having Mr. Welty take their sales away. This company tried
to buy Mr. Welty’s company. He refused their offer. Then the
company in Toledo tried a different plan. They wanted to buy all
of his products and be the only distributor. Again Mr. Welty refused
- Mr. Welty thought his pens could be sold all over the world.
So he took out patents in foreign countries as well as the United
- Because Mr. Welty couldn’t make pens fast enough, he asked
William T. Fitzpatrick to be his business partner.
- This new partnership worked very well. Their business continued
to expand and grow rapidly.
- Mr. Welty’s company was incorporated in 1913.
Source: John C. Hartman's History of Black Hawk County,
Iowa, and its people, Volume II, 1915.