About Fountain Pens and Inks

Erato, the muse of poetryWhen Writing Poetry, With What Should I Write?

Possets Perfume is celebrating Poetry this Summer with a line inspired by the verse of some of the finest poets who ever wrote. But most of them scribbled the old fashioned way, and perhaps it would be fun to explore the flip side of poetry: writing instruments–notably, fountain pens!

If you want to write poetry, nothing will put you in the mood like a good old fashioned fountain pen and some exciting ink. BUT WAIT! Fountain pens are enjoying a major renaissance now and the pen you buy in 2013 will undoubtedly be a superior instrument to the one with which your great grandfather wrote in the 1930’s. Also, ink has changed since the last century.

So, all of you budding poets, grab a ream of your favorite paper (or “support” as it’s called in art school) and let me tell you about the esoteric, exciting, stimulating world of fountain pens.

Why Write With A Fountain Pen?

Fountain pens are a sensual experience and a big part of the fun of writing becomes laying down that super saturated plush wet line as your minds hums along directing your hand and steering you into immortality. There is an exquisite tactile thrill from feeling the surface of the paper polished and lubricated by a lovely ink, it’s a vibration which begs you not to stop. It encourages you to write.

I will recount for you some of the nicest pen to paper moments I have felt in the past two years and the instruments which pleased me so:

  • Writing with a TWSBI 540. The fountain pen world has been taken by storm thanks to a medium priced new pen called a TWSBI. The company is from Taiwan and they spent and immense amount of time researching what the average fountain pen affectionado wants. Here are the results: a smooth nib with a little flexibility for line variation, a clear body so you can see which ink you have loaded and how much you have left, the ability to take apart and put back together the entire pen, interchangeable nibs and a wide assortment of nib sizes, a reasonable price of around $50, the chance to buy it in major outlets (like amazon.com or their own website), a great presentation with tools and an instruction manual. Their research paid off handsomely and they are one of the most well loved of all the modern fountain pen makers. They have had some problems with their product, but in each case they were immensely responsive to their customers and have gone through great pains to improve every model. The 540 is out of production now, but the 580 is a very good pen, too. I have to admit I enjoy the 540’s a bit more but you can’t go wrong with their latest pen.
  • On the high end of the spectrum, I had the chance to use a Mont Blanc recently, and I have to say ooo la la. All the things I have heard about it are true. Such a smooth writer, the sensuous pleasure of having the correct balance of road feel and velvet. A gold nib must be part of it, the “precious resin” body, and how well it was made are all a delight. Of course, you have to be prepared to shell out a lot of money for a pen like this, the one I used was worth about $700!
  • If you are on a budget, you have quite a few choices under $25. Remember, you don’t throw these pens away and ink is pretty cheap (we will talk about that later). I do recommend that you get a broad nib in the cheap category, they write a lot smoother than the fine ones. The Kaweco Ice Sport is a triumph of great pen making. At $23.50 (from Jet Pens) this little wonder will last you a lifetime. The nib is smooth and never skips right out of the box. It’s made to be an ultra compact pen which folds up to a tiny size and you can use it anywhere. It uses ink cartridges but you can always refill them with a syringe from a bottle of ink and save a lot of money. They come in a mad variety of colors. The Classic Sport model (same price) comes in all black and would be suitable for situations where whimsy is not appreciated.
  • If you are really down and out but still pine to own a pen (because you are a starving artiste) then buy a Varsity. They come in at least three colors (black, blue, and purple) and are made by the venerable Pilot Pen company from Japan which also makes pens at the $500 level and are renowned for their smooth nibs. Though the Varsity isn’t a glassy smooth writer, it is certainly a cut above a lot of pens I have used which are worth more than $25! The ink is good and intense as well. It is supposed to be a disposable pen BUT there are plenty of videos on YouTube which show you how to refill them which REALLY makes them a steal.

There, that is the first in the series from Possets on fountain pens and inks. I hope you subscribe so that you don’t miss the next chapters which detail this fascinating hobby which is a great companion to writing poetry.

This blog was brought to you by Possets® Perfume which is featuring a Summer Collection of Poetry Perfumes this year. Go there and see for yourself. Ever wonder what Gingberg’s Howl would smell like? Or what Emily Dickinson would be if translated into perfume? Find out at www.possets.com.

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