Saturday, May 4, 2013


“I don’t remember when…” seems to be the default opening line in way too many of my posts, and I have given up trying to avoid it.  So…

I don’t remember when I first acknowledged my fondness for fountain pens.  There were always one or more on my desktop from the time I first started having desktops, nothing very fancy, just a simple leaky, scratchy, student grade pen.  During college, medical school, and residency I relied on the ubiquitous ballpoint pen for daily, non-stop use, and the fountain pen was reserved for writing letters and notes.  Some of us still remember when we literally “wrote” letters on pastel tinted stationary, folded them, stuffed them in an envelope with a stamp and return address and put them in the mail.  We could expect a possible reply in several weeks or more, depending on where and to whom it was sent.

In the early 1970’s I purchased a Parker 45 fountain pen that would serve as my workhorse for many years to come.  I used it extensively for all of my early “on the spot” drawings and sketches, and even in some of the studio work.  I eventually replaced it with a felt tip pen for my drawings.  I don’t know what happened to that pen, and in the years that followed I didn’t give much thought to fountain pens… until I did.

The Beloved Parker 45

Most likely it was one of those colorful, enticing catalogs that flooded mailboxes back in the ‘80s and ‘90s that uncovered my latent enthusiasm for these writing instruments.    Once again my memory is woefully inadequate, but I think the next pen was a Mont Blanc, and from that point the collection slowly evolved, some pens I purchased, and others were gifts.  I never spent more than $100.00 for a pen, but my dear wife has given me several pens that I believe exceeded that self-imposed limit.  In addition to the Mont Blanc, my very modest collection includes several Sheaffers, 2 Parkers, including a new Parker 45, a Wearever, a Bexley, a Cross, an Aurora, a Voyager by Fujiyama, and several off the wall makes. 

I am not a serious collector…I simply enjoy writing with fountain pens.  I love the feel and sound of the nib moving across the paper, and my handwriting, which needs all the help it can get, is much better with a fountain pen.  Sadly, there is little call for hand written anything today, so the pleasures from my fountain pens are limited to my journal entries.  Every morning I settle into a recliner in my study with a lap top desk, my journal and a small wooden cup holding the pens I will use.  Without regular use a fountain pen nib will dry out and function poorly, replacing pleasure with frustration, and even outright anger.  I learned this lesson the hard way, and now I keep 5 of my favorite pens available and use each of them in every journal entry.  I know…it’s a little weird, maybe even bordering on obsessive, but hey, it works for me. 

 on the spot drawings using the Parker 45 (1973)

1 comment:

Katherine Thomas said...

I completely understand the lure of pens and pencils! And the act of writing one's thoughts down on paper with one's own hand. It's so much more meaningful, I think. I'm going to be doing a project involving old letters and envelopes for that very reason. Maybe I shoudl start looking for the pens that the letters might have been written with also!