Pool: now let’s praise famous pins | Frank pool
Over the years, the appeal of retro has grown. By that I don’t just mean the pre-postmodern, post-war literature and the furniture I grew up with – it also extends to everyday objects and objects of beauty. like pens.
I chose fountain pens and have come to love the feel of writing with them, even though they require more attention and care than ballpoint pens and rollerballs.
They realize early on that they usually go through ink much faster than ballpoint pens. The size of the nib also matters, as a wider nib will put a lot more ink on the paper. I have a beautiful red Namiki Falcon that I keep filled with red ink. If I tick just a few sentences of student work, it’s refill time.
Fountain pens can be refilled in two basic ways, cartridges and pistons. Plastic cartridges are easy to replace and do not get dirty. I keep boxes of these in desks at home and at work. Although there are some standard cartridges, some pen manufacturers use proprietary cartridges.
The piston system uses bottled ink and is more economical. It requires dipping the tip into an ink bottle and twisting or pulling to operate a plunger. You also get a wider choice of ink colors; I’ve fallen in love with a muted green ink.
Many pens come with converters so they can use both systems. A pen that rotates from the back of the barrel, like my old Montblanc 221, leaves less ink on your fingers. The Lamy inkwells I use are wider than they are tall and are non-tilting. I would imagine some things more disturbing than knocking over an ink bottle.
Fountain pens can be luxury and status items, often whipped out by executives signing documents. You can spend insane amounts of money on a good fountain pen, but I won’t. One of my favorites is a $30 Sailor pen in transparent olive green with a steel tip. I use green ink in it and can see how much ink is in the pen.
Although a well-made steel nib can provide a good writing experience, gold nibs are smoother and more fun to write with. Entry-level gold nibs cost around $200 and can last a lifetime.
Writing with a fountain pen is a more expressive experience than writing with a ballpoint pen. I write in italics, something I gave up when I was in sixth grade. I write slower than with other pens and much slower than I can type. Especially when I slow down, my writing skills improve noticeably. Writing is one of those declining, fading arts.
Although many good pens are made in the United States and Europe, the Japanese love them. Her writing system was originally designed for writing with brushes, and the impact of a medium-tipped pen can capture much of the style and beauty of her writing.
Fountain pens can make excellent gifts. Recipients who use them regularly can be reminded of the giver for many years. I sent my daughter a lovely blue Sailor pen for her birthday this year and I have other recipients in mind.
I usually write these columns on my computer, but the first draft of this column was done on lined paper with five pens and four different colors of ink.
I have a small collection of fountain pens that I try my best to keep from growing.
— Frank T. Pool is an award-winning columnist and poet who grew up on Maple Street in Longview and graduated from Longview High School. He is a semi-retired teacher living in Austin. [email protected] .