On January 7, 1890, Purvis received a patent for the fountain pen. The pen eliminated the need for an ink bottle by storing ink within a reservoir within the pen which is then fed to the pen’s tip. Of his accomplishment, Purvis said, “the object of my invention is to provide a simple, durable, and inexpensive construction of a fountain pen adapted to general use and which may be carried in the pocket.” The creation of the fountain pen has made office work cleaner and less expensive for businesses all over the world.
In addition to his fountain pen, Purvis, a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also successfully patented a number of other inventions. Between 1884 and 1897 he patented bag machines, a bag fastener, a hand stamp, an electric railway device, an electric railway switch and a magnetic car balancing device. He also is believed to have invented , yet not patented several other devices such as the edge cutter found on aluminum foil, cling wrap and wax paper boxes.