Fountain Pens: Who uses them, and why?

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Shangas, Oct 22, 2009.

  1. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I'm a massive fan of history. It's full of fascinating things. History is like going into the cluttered attic of an old house and discovering all these quirky little items which the previous owners have left behind. While I'm interested in nearly any and all aspects, facets and periods of history, it's the little things that interest me most.

    Like...

    Fountain pens.

    I'm only a young chap. Twenty-two years and three months at last count. And yet I've used fountain pens exclusively since the age of seven. If that isn't an anachronism, I don't know what is. My story with the fountain pen started when one day, I opened a drawer in my brother's bedroom, where my father dumped all kinds of fiddly things (stationery, mostly), and I found a cheap, 'Pilot' brand fountain pen. I'd seen pictures of these things and I wanted to see how it wrote. So I got some paper and started doodling.

    I never looked back.

    My reasons for my obsessive and confusing love-affair with these archaic writing instruments are several in number and varied in nature. They're unique, they're beautiful, they're useful, they're stylish, they'll outlast almost anything made today, they write a hell of a lot better than a ballpoint, and they just have that "Oooooh!" factor.

    For most of my life, my father was my great enabler. But a few years ago, after I completed highschool, I started collecting pens (not just using, but collecting) in earnest. To date, I've got over 30 different fountain pens, ranging from the 1910s to the modern day. I've got pens from most major pen-makers, including Waterman, Parker, Sheaffer, Wahl-Eversharp, Montblanc, Conway-Stewart and Conklin. If my collection had a 'theme', it would be: "Famous and Significant Fountain Pens of the 20th Century".

    I get plenty of weird looks and comments from other folks. I don't know if it's because of my age or the fact that the writing-instrument in my hand is more than three times older than I am! Either way, it is fun to watch their reactions when I tell them. Or when I pull out another pen. Or even better, pull out my pocket watch to check the time (which just sends them screaming off down the corridor).

    Who around here uses fountain pens on a regular basis? Why? What are your reasons for using them and liking them? How did you start and have you ever recieved any weird looks or comments while using them? A sample of handwriting might be a nice thing, too.
     
  2. Highlander

    Highlander A-List Customer

    Messages:
    473
    Location:
    Missouri
    I used an old Sheaffer Lever pen that was My GreatGreatGreat Aunt's when she was Post Mistress in Winslow, Arizona about the turn of the century (19th to 20th). Great pen, it had been My Dad's when he was in High School. I carried it for ever, it sort of looked like a "poor man's Mont Blanc", as it had the same black pen, similar cap and a very nice gold nib. It only lacked the snow cap, but had a nice white spot instead.

    I saved my money for months about 1981 or 1982, at $10 per month til I had $220 to get a Mont Blanc 149. Now I have a 149, a 146, a Pelikan S800, and various other fountain pens. I carry the Pelikan almost exclusively.

    But the Fountain Pen allows for true self expression. There is NO POSSIBILITY of error that you used a "Ball Point" when you sign your name with a real pen. And the Inks... Much like a Bespoke Shirt, you can't find the same color inks that you can for fountain pens. And Lastly, Fountain Pen people know Fountain Pen work. It's almost like a club.
     
  3. bd3

    bd3 New in Town

    Messages:
    44
    Location:
    Kentucky
    I have been using fountain pens for many many years. I always had a bunch of cheap, low quality fountain pens until a while back when I purchased a Waterman.

    The reason I use one is I prefer the look of its writing to that of a ball point. I have also noticed that with this Waterman I can relax my hand and wrist more while writing which obviously cuts down on hand and arm fatigue.

    I am in an industry where I have to have customers sign off on paper work quite often so I do carry a ball point. I just don't personally use it. I fill out all my paper work with the Waterman and hand the customer my Cross ballpoint for use signing.
     
  4. ThesFlishThngs

    ThesFlishThngs One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,007
    Location:
    Oklahoma City
    Love the fountains. I used to have several of the basic, office supply type in the 80s, when they were more easily acquired.
    I don't have any fancy, high-priced models now; maybe one day. But my poor girl's versions are working fine and keeping me happy.
    The Mr. was going through gel pens like nobody's business, with his medical school studies and notes. He had to revert to ball points once his rotations began, as gels aren't allowed in practice - something about smearing and bleeding, I believe. Imagine his delight at finally having a nice hefty fountain to use instead. Several of the doctors he's worked with use them as well, and one even gave him her bottle of Waterman ink to tide us over while we searched the city for a source of our own. So far we've only discovered one little downtown office supply that offers it, but I intend to support that shop (with a bit of supplemental online shopping when necessary).
    Now the teenage daughter is asking why we get fountain pens and she doesn't. ;)

    Recently I acquired a set of 5 pens from this place: http://www.xfountainpens.com/Fountain-Pens-s/6.htm

    Perhaps I'll ink one up and give it to her for Christmas.
     
  5. Dixon Cannon

    Dixon Cannon My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,157
    Location:
    Sonoran Desert Hideaway
    My Dad gave me a Parker [​IMG] in '66 and I used it until it began to leak.
    My wife at the time bought me a Mont Blanc 'Noblesse' [​IMG] which I used for a couple of years.
    On a visit to Salzburg, Austria in '84 I bought myself a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck [​IMG] that I carry with me everyday, everywhere.

    -dixon cannon
     
  6. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Hi Miss Neecerie,

    I *did* search, but I didn't think any of those were what I was really after in terms of discussing fountain pens (one of my chief interests), which was why I created my own.

    This is the chief (practical) reason why I use a fountain pen and have done, for so long. As a student, I do a hell of a lot of writing every single day. In school and university, I found a laptop FAR too cumbersome to lug around. The bag, the computer, the mouse, the power-adaptor, AND my books and...uuugh. Forget it! On the other hand, I hated using ballpoints because they just wore me out so much. And when you're covering anywhere from two to eighteen pages of handwritten notes a day, a ballpint pen really doesn't cut it in terms of comfort. A fountain pen requires no friction, so you don't need to press, so you can relax and write neater, faster and more comfortably. The other guys look at me like I'm nuts, but I'm not the one stopping every five minutes to wave my arms in the air like a lunatic because they've seized up in cramps.

    Pens in my collection, include...

    Parker...

    Duofolds (1)
    51s (3)
    45s (1)
    17s (1).

    Sheaffer...
    Balance OS (1)
    Balance regular (1)
    School pens (2) (My first serious, branded pens, these were. Got them at the age of 10).

    Waterman...
    Phileas (1).
    I have a few more Watermans, but they're rather nondescript, run of the mill ones.

    Wahl-Eversharp...
    Skylines (1).
    Metal Art Decos (3).

    Conklin...
    Crescent-filler (1).

    All in working condition.
     
  7. Miss Molly

    Miss Molly New in Town

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    The Shire, England
    Shangas, I completely agree. I'm 19 and use a fountain pen constantly. My friends think I'm strange, especially since rollerballs are so much cheaper, but my hand writing is so much neater and more flowing when using a fountain pen. Biros make my writing so scrawly.

    Fountain pens are generally just more exciting I think! So many different ink colours, and so many different types of pen! They look so much more elegant I always think.

    My fountain pen at the moment is getting fairly old and is starting to fall apart, I'm thinking for buying myself a new, good quality pen. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what to get? There are so many brands there, I never know what to choose! I'd love something slim and black, with a gold coloured trim. Ideas?!
     
  8. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Slim? Black? Gold trim? I suggest the Waterman Harmonie.

    Miss Molly, I KNOW what you're talking about when other guys/girls look at you funny. I've had everything from:

    "Hey, an old-timey pen".
    "Is that one of those ones you have to dip?" (Once they've said that, I take out my dip-pen & pencil combo from my pocket).
    "Sweet pen".
    "WHYYYYYYYY would you use THAAAAT? It's so OOOOOLD!!"
    "Is that real gold?"
    "Not many people use FOUNTAIN pens anymore!"
    "Nice handwriting!"

    My reasons for using a fountain pen are numerous, but they are...

    They're smoother and easier to write with. Nothing beats the smoothness of a fountain pen.

    They're classy / stylish. Think of how stylish these things are and the reputation they have - if you've got a fountain pen you're supposed to be some Park Avenue big-shot these days. Yeah? I could live with that.

    They're unique. Who the hell uses one of these things these days?

    They're (if not living), then at least functional history. Fountain pens WERE made to LAST. I've got pens more than four times my age in my collection, and they work JUST as good as when they were new, back in the 1920s. Name me something made today that's still working in perfect condition, 80 years from now. They don't make 'em like they used to.

    They have more varieties than Heinz. Different nibs, different pen-styles, writing-styles, different inks. You don't get this kind of variety with ballpoint pens. Fine, medium, broad nibs. Flexible nibs, stub nibs, more ink-colour varieties than the rainbow, more pen-styles than a bespoke tailor has suits on Saville Row.

    Cost-effective. Yeah this one's a bit harder to see, but they are. A ballpoint pen lasts for the length of the refill. A fountain pen lasts for the length of the nib. And it takes about 50 years (if not more), to wear down a fountain pen nib. And once it's worn down, all you have to do is solder a new tip on, cut it, and write! All you gotta do in that time is buy ink, and keep the pen clean. You could literally buy ONE PEN when you started school, and still use that same pen 90 years later to write your will. A good fountain pen will last your entire life. Once you've made that one purchase, you'll never have to make another. Not only that, but a fountain pen will most likely outlive your children and your grandchildren as well. You just can't kill them. Name me something made today that can last over 100 years in working condition, I'll drink my ink.
     
  9. Michaelshane

    Michaelshane One Too Many

    Messages:
    1,927
    Location:
    Land of Enchantment
    Back in the 60s on the first day of school,my art teacher said."Anyone using a ballpoint pen in this class will get an F for the day".He only allowed fountain pens or number two pencils.Nothing like signing your name with a fountain pen.
     
  10. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I've heard stuff like that a lot. In older times, you weren't allowed to use a fountain pen in school. And then later, you weren't allowed to use a ballpoint.

    Why is that?
     
  11. When I was a small boy, I found a cheap fountain pen in my sister's desk, and the memory stuck in my mind. During 7th grade, I had to label a map, and someone suggested that I get a dip pen so that I could fit the words in. My mother went to some stationery store and came back with a dip pen and a bottle of ink (Scrip, I think). Anyway, that same year I went to NYC and found some NOS 39 cent fountain pens on blister board, and bought three of them. That fall, I went to a stationery store and purchased my first Esterbrook (this was the same year that Esterbrook went out of business, but it was still possible to find model Js around town). From then on, I became a fanatic, almost always using fountain pens in junior and high schools, mostly lever-fill and cartridge. Lately I've been carrying an inexpensive Parker with me, and also have a desk pen in my classroom. When you use a fountain pen, you usually stand out, and, as has been noted, your handwriting is personalized. When teaching handwriting, I issue my students cheap Shaeffer pens, which I encourage them to almost venerate (I said, almost).lol
     
  12. High Pockets

    High Pockets Practically Family

    Messages:
    569
    Location:
    Central Oklahoma

    :) What a great post,.....you really make me wish I'd hung on to some of the pens that I had years ago. Now I'm buying pens again,.....and falling deeply in love with them. I get a pen and pad out almost nightly for nothing more than the pure enjoyment of using a beautifully made pen and some fine ink.

    Well as you said back in "older times", (1960's), those of us on Long Island anyhow, were told that all work with the exception of math would be done in ink. And that meant real ink, not a ballpoint. Work done in ballpoint was given an "F".

    I have no idea why they did, but forty-five years later I'm sure glad.....as a big part of the enjoyment I get from using a fountain pen today is the nostalgia of it all.
    :D Oh how I remember the ruined shirt pockets and little blue finger tips, not to mention the many hours spent chewing on those little plastic ink cartridges!

    At the risk of repeating myself, on the Fire Dept we have to keep "Log Books" of everything that is done each and everyday. The person assigned to be the "Watchman" that day has the responsibility of filling out that log book as the shift goes on,....and I love to fill it out with my little inexpensive Lamy Safari Calligraphy pen,.....and even more I love the remarks made by everyone each shift when they see what I've done!:D
     
  13. You're part of a dying breed. According to an article in USA Today, teaching cursive is going out all over America.:rage:
     
  14. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    He said he taught handwriting, not cursive. Although I hope it is cursive. I think I was the last generation of Australian students to be taught cursive handwriting in school. I am always thankful for that. It just looks so cool!
     
  15. lairddouglas

    lairddouglas Familiar Face

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Fountain Pens - Who uses ... I do I do

    I have used a FP almost exclusively since 1999 ... I have small precise writing and I can get a nib to fit this ... sure there are very fine ballpoints out there .. I was a zebra and Pilot BP fanatic for years ... but my fountain pens are better.

    I have a factory needle point Parker 51 which I carry and use daily. Plus a couple Sheaffer Snorkels with Factory Accountant nibs. I like very fine nib'd pens and the Fountain Pens give me the precision I have come to expect.

    Plus I have and use the fountain pen my mother got for high school graduation and my fathers 51 which he used in high school and for the four years he was in the service and engaged to my mother. Both have been lovingly care for and serviced so I can continue to use them into my own later years.
     
  16. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Here is a sample of my handwriting, written with two of my Wahl-Eversharp Art Deco pens from the 1920s:

    [​IMG]

    Congratulations if you can read it!

    Double congratulations if you can tell me who said each quote and where it comes from. All these quotes are written directly from memory, so I apologise if they're a bit mixed up.
     
  17. Miss Molly

    Miss Molly New in Town

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    The Shire, England
    I would love to know how to write with cursive handwriting! My writing is neat, and much more distinctive when I'm using a fountain pen, but still, cursive is just so elegant.

    Shangas, the Harmonie pen looks lovely, thank you!
     
  18. Shangas

    Shangas I'll Lock Up

    Messages:
    6,084
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    I agree. Writing with a fountain pen is just one of the most pleasant experiences to be had anywhere. "Erotic" was one word I read being used to describe it. There's nothing like the soft scriffling of a nib, or the silky, slippery wetness of the ink or seeing the ink shimmer and glisten in the lamplight for a couple of seconds, before it dries on the page.
     
  19. Mike in Seattle

    Mike in Seattle My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Messages:
    3,027
    Location:
    Renton (Seattle), WA
    Something made today that'll still work the same in 100 years? Hmmmm, nuclear waste, of course immediately jumps to mind and, one hope, nuclear waste containers and the old mines they're being store in, for two.

    ;)
     

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