Thoughts on Fountain Pens

I’ve been collecting fountain pens seriously for a bit over two years, and sometimes I wonder whether I’m doing it for style, to encourage serious writing, or just to be different.  I see the modern “limited edition” and high-end pens that dominate the current market, and think, “that’s not for me.”  Perhaps that’s because I have an inclination toward things that demonstrate how we’ve progressed. 

Take, for example, filling systems.  There’s the Conklin Crescent Filler, the first really successful “self-filling” fountain pen.  Then there’s the Sheaffer Vac-fil and Touchdown and the great Snorkel system – most complex filling system ever made – all efforts to make the fountain pen more user friendly.

At the same time, I admire esthetic progress, because the fountain pen historically is not just a writing instrument, it is also a statement about its owner, that they understand something about the statement the pen makes.  It is a good thing to write with a Conklin Crescent Filler with an elaborate art noveau gold filigree overlay, or perhaps with the gold-filled dramatic inlaid nib of the Sheaffer Imperial*.  I say it is more than good, it is a way of saying “it is not just what you write, it is how you write it, how the words flow to the paper, from your hand, ultimately directly from your mind, that really counts.”

Is it possible that taking one’s time deliberately writing each letter, each word, each phrase, may actually contribute in a very positive way to the quality of that which is written?  In this era of digital entry, with spell checking, grammar checking, and almost instant and undetectable corrections, perhaps writing with care, with the understanding that it is virtually permanent – especially with Noodler’s “bulletproof” inks – may actually contribute some sort of thoughtfulness, some sort of permanence to the content?

I think so…

*I originally wrote this essay in my paper journal using my Sheaffer Imperial IV pen.

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