It’s the season to write love notes to your sweetie and it’s high time that we discussed the instruments to execute your billet-doux (love letters). You can, of course, use the pedestrian ball point pen, or the modern gel writer. They are good and serviceable things to write with BUT if you want to make an impression, use a fountain pen.
Most of us have an unused fountain pen lying around. It’s probably got old dried up ink in it and won’t write. Well, cleaning them up is a bit off topic for here, so why don’t we just talk about getting a new one?
Modern fountain pens might look similar to the untrained eye but there have been huge advances and innovations and recreations in the new ones which makes them almost irresistible. The colors, styles, preciousness of latter day pens is extraordinary.
If you want something bargain basement but looks like a million dollars, try one of the Chinese pens. Jinhao and Hero are two brands which are very popular indeed and some can be had for less than $10 but look and feel like you stole them off the desk of the President of France. They take mostly bottled ink and have huge nibs. Quite glitzy.
Of course if you are interested in the less flashy type of modern pen, but you don’t have a lot of money to spend on this, try the Pilot 78G. This is a little wonder of a pen which writes like a dream and costs as little as $9.99. It looks good (OK, it’s a bit cheap looking) but the nib is so well made you will have a hard time believing how inexpensive it was.
Willing to go up a bit? Try a Pelikan Pelikano. Pelikan is one of the most respected names in fountain pens ever. They are a German company and make a gorgeous and wildly expensive line of pens, but they have an entry level pen for children which writes like a dream. I have never taken out my Pelikano and tried to write where it failed me. The line is pleasingly wet, always ready to go, and fun to use. Not a pen for the middle of a poe-faced meeting, it is a brightly colored and thick one, but very good and works well.
Willing to go up to about $30? Good, Lamy is a great pen. These have interchangable nibs and any number of different types of bodies. The Safari is a go-to pen for a great many people because it is light weight, works always on command, has a decent ink capacity and a see through window to tell when you are running low.
Go on line to e-Bay for the Cross Solo, or try looking it up on Amazon.com, too. The Cross Pen Company was the darling of M.B.A.’s everywhere in the late 1970s and 80s. Known mostly for their slim gold and gold filled ballpoints, they had lines of fountain pens which were usually thought to be dull dull dull. Well, they were pretty good pens, nothing particularly good or bad BUT they made an entry level pen (the Solo) which had a marvelous nib and put down such a reliable and wet line of ink that you just wanted to write on and on and on and….well you get the picture. The Solo just had “it”, that thing which made you feel like it was made just for you.
There are some really wonderful disposable fountain pens out there, too. The Pilot Varsity is a great find, usually in office supply stores. Lots of fun to use and lays down a lovely line, it’s reliable, doesn’t skip and makes the nib skate across the page. At about $2, this is a no brainer.
Where do you go to find these low priced wonders? Try Amazon.com, e-Bay has some good sellers, or try making friends with some of the best retailers on the internet who do nothing but sell pens. Todd Nusbaum at www.isellpens.com is a wonder. He has just about every entry level pen you could possibly want and more. Then there are The Goulets at www.gouletpens.com who consistently go over the top for their clients. www.jetpens.com should not be overlooked, they have a plethora a entry level/children’s/and novelty pens and it’s just good clean fun to get on their site and root around.
Even if you are using a kiddie pen, your handwriting will look so much better if you use a fountain pen. People can just tell that you have gone through a little bit more trouble to make your words heard. Hey, even Neil Gaiman uses a fountain pen, but more about that later.