A dip pen or nib pen or pen nib usually consists of a metal nib with capillary channels like those of fountain pen nibs, mounted in a handle or holder, often made of wood. Other materials can be used for the holder, including bone, metal and plastic; some pens are made entirely of glass.
Generally, dip pens have no ink reservoir, so the user must recharge the ink from an ink bowl or bottle to continue drawing or writing. There are simple, tiny tubular reservoirs that illustrators sometimes clip onto dip pens, which allow drawing for several minutes without recharging the nib. Recharging can be done by dipping into an inkwell, but it is also possible to charge the pen with an eyedropper, a syringe, or a brush, which gives more control over the amount of ink applied. Thus, "dip pens" are not necessarily dipped; many illustrators call them "nib pens".
Dip pens emerged in the early 19th century, when they replaced quill pens and, in some parts of the world, reed pens. Dip pens were generally used before the development of fountain pens in the later 19th century, and are now mainly used in illustration, calligraphy, and comics.
The dip pen has certain advantages over a fountain pen. It can use waterproof, pigmented, iron gall ink, particle-and-binder-based inks, such as India ink, drawing ink, and acrylic inks with virtual impunity while fountain pens must use water based inks (except in a few special cases), should be thoroughly and regularly cleaned to prevent clogging when used with pigmented or waterproof inks and can corrode when used with iron gall ink (dip pen nibs may also corrode when used with iron gall ink but it is not as likely nor as problematic as the nib of a dip pen is often cleaned after each use and is easily replaced if irreparably damaged).