Why Fountain Pens?
Some of you have no doubt asked, “Why on earth would I have a need for a fountain pen, Kevin? Aren’t those relics of the past?” You may be unaware, but fountain pens have had quite the resurgence in popularity as of late. In this post, I’ll give you an almost comprehensive list of reasons why. I’ll explain why I love my pens - and the hobby - so much. It’s my hope that it might lead you to take the leap for yourself. After all, so much of the world still enjoys a good pen. Why shouldn’t you?
You no doubt have at one time or another picked up a decent rollerball pen from a friend. You’ve jotted down a note, and you’ve thought, “Now that’s a good pen! I’ve gotta get me some of those.” Let me tell you: even the most inexpensive starter fountain pen will blow whatever that was out of the water. And it will be far, far better than what Americans sadly carry around - terrible ballpoint instruments. Fountain pens put down wet, consistent, dark lines, and they do it with very little effort.
Ballpoints - and even rollerballs - are simply too much work. It’s difficult to write for very long without your hands becoming tired or even cramped. It’s not hard to understand why. The typical American discount store pen requires by its very design that your wrist and hand exert effort to get the ink out. Right? The rolling of the little metal ball gradually works the ink from the pen’s reservoir onto the page. Take a fountain pen, on the other hand. Utilizing what is called “capillary action,” the ink flows the moment the pen’s point hits the paper. The ink goes down effortlessly and comfortably. There really is no comparison. If you want a workout, go to the gym.
Now for some, having black and blue will serve them just fine. There are, however, thousands of hues of ink available. There are inks that shade, that sheen, and that shimmer. You can even mix two or more and create your own color. Before you know it, you may be like me - with a desk drawer full of ink bottles and on the lookout for more. In addition, there is flexibility in how you ink your pen. You can use the traditional bottle, as I like, or you can opt for cartridges. Pop in a new one, and you’re good to go. Cartridges provide the convenience many modern users prefer.
One reason many younger Americans are returning to fountain pens is a desire to free themselves from dependence upon technology. They’re putting down their smartphones, and they’re grabbing a quality journal and pen. They’re unplugging, and they’re loving it. Christian friend, I know there are many helpful apps on your smartphone for studying the Bible these days. I’ll challenge you. Set it aside. Grab a paper Bible and a notebook. Slow down and write. You’ll be less distracted. You’ll be more connected - with the Lord, that is.
Fountain pen “nibs” come in a number of sizes - from extra-fine to fine, to the medium point (a great place to start), all the way up to the broad nib and beyond. Nibs also come in a number of styles. You can purchase a “stub,” which is a flat nib that allows you to write broad strokes going down and narrow strokes going across. There are italic nibs, flex nibs, architect nibs, music nibs, and more. Fountain pens are highly customizable.
Using fountain pens improves handwriting. It causes you to slow down, think about what you’re writing, and carefully - maybe even beautifully - put words on the page. It’s hard to lay down anything but chicken-scratches with a ballpoint pen. And do we really want to move entirely away from the literal written word? I’m not sure we do. Utilizing fountain pens result in an experience that keeps it alive - at least for a little longer.
Fountain pens encourage note-writing. Handwritten notes require intentionality, effort, and care. They communicate something. If you’ve received a handwritten note in the last decade, it no doubt stood out to you. Fountain pens and quality paper lead to communication that is more personal and thoughtful.
Google fountain pens, and you’ll quickly realize there is a massive, enthusiastic community around the hobby. Brian Goulet says, “Because no one has to use them, everyone who does uses them because they want to.” Passionate users come together online via Reddit, Facebook, and the Fountain Pen Network. Pen “Meet-Ups” are a growing trend in the U.S. In addition, to my Christian readers, there is a also a growing group of Christian leaders and Christ-followers who love their pens, along with journaling their meditations and thoughts. Stay tuned, as I’ll soon be interviewing some of them for this site.
Some look at the cost of fountain pens and think they’re too expensive. Of course, falling down the rabbit hole and becoming a collector does get quite expensive. However, buying an inexpensive pen and a bottle of ink is quite economical. For example, a Kaco Edge and a bottle of Noodler’s Ink would easily last you a year. You could grab both for $30. How many cheap ballpoints and gel pens would you go through during that time?
Also, wouldn't they all end up in a landfill? Maybe this isn't a concern for you, but shouldn’t it be? That fountain pen, with minimal care, will still be going years ahead. Grab a good pen. It’s good for the environment, also.
Not too long ago, after my mother’s death, I found a Parker 51 in her drawer. It’s one of the best pens ever made. I had it restored. I now use it all the time. Purchase a nice writing instrument today, and you can pass it on to your kids later. Lord willing, you’ll have time between now and then to give them an appreciation for fine writing, as well.
Along those lines, there are also many vintage pens to be found. Head over to eBay and look for yourselves. Many fountain pen users love to hit up flea markets, looking for a vintage steal. Pen manufacturers are producing some great writing devices now, but some of the older instruments can’t be beat.
Type in “fountain pen” on eBay or Amazon and you’ll likely be overwhelmed by all the options out there. There are almost limitless options to fit your personal taste and style. You can choose from various colors, textures, shapes, and sizes. There are some talented pen craftsmen out there. Some are works of art. I tend to be more practical as I pick out pens. How do they function? For you, they could be a fashion statement!
Yes, there are extremely expensive options out there. For example, here’s my “grail” pen. I have a buddy who has one, and it’s amazing! However, I won’t be getting one of those anytime soon - if ever. Honestly - and obviously - it’s not really necessary. You can start with one of my top five here for a minimal investment. There are thousands of inexpensive Chinese pens on eBay (like this Shark!) that will get you started. The on-ramp into the fountain pen world is easy and inexpensive.
Lastly, and most importantly, the experience of writing with a fountain pen is supreme and sublime. It’s satisfying, relaxing, and fun. Give it a try. Ignore the hecklers. I dare you.
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