Fountain pens

2011-03-30

in Geek stuff, Writing

Earlier, I wrote a mini review of an inexpensive Pelikan fountain pen. It also seems worth commenting on the pen type generally.

The two principal virtues of fountain pens seem to be that it takes very little pressure to write with them – which eases the task of writing for hours on end – and that it is a fun novelty to write with an unusual implement.

Those virtues being recognized, there are also good reasons why fountain pens are no longer prevalent. At least when it comes to the inexpensive ones I have used, it can be hard to start writing with one when it has been left alone for a day or two (much less for a week or two). Getting the ink flowing often involves the messy business of spinning the pen like a centrifuge to drive ink down through the nib. Similarly, fountain pens experience issues with the flow of ink being randomly interrupted while writing, which is especially annoying when you are trying to jot something down quickly. Avoiding this requires that you clean the nib regularly, which is messy and a bit annoying, since you need to write with extra-watery ink for a good while after you clean it out.

Fountain pen cartridges run out of ink much more quickly than your standard ballpoint / rollerball / gel ink cartridges, and are messier and more difficult to replace.

In short, there are many inconveniences that seem to be associated with fountain pen use. They may be less of an issue for very expensive pens, but I am hardly going to spend hundreds of dollars to find out. Fountain pens can be fun to use from time to time – and are genuinely useful for circumstances like three hour essay exams – but I doubt they should be replacing anybody’s favourite modern pen options for ordinary day-to-day uses.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

oleh April 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

Another advantage of using a fountain pen is feeling sophisticated while using it, or at least I felt that way when I used one quite a bit in high school. I do recall messy as well.

Milan April 20, 2011 at 7:33 pm

An honest slogan could be: “Fountain pens! Fashionable, but nearly extinct for a reason!”

Tristan April 21, 2011 at 12:11 am

I bought a cheap fountain pen for 4$. It’s been working perfectly since I got it. Nicer than a gel pen, and (nearly) just as cheap and disposable.

Fountain pens may be fashionable, but I like them for their use-value.

Milan April 21, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Have you experienced the problems described above? In particular, do you find that fountain pens work poorly after not being used for a few hours or overnight? Do you find that they are liable to leak?

. April 25, 2011 at 11:48 pm

The roots of the Ottawa Fountain Pen Society (OFPS) stretch back to shortly after the turn of the century… this century. One fine day in 2001 a few local fountain pen enthusiasts decided to get together to discuss their shared interest.

By 2002 the group was attracting additional members. The OFPS quickly evolved from a small group, meeting informally and with little structure, to a group which is currently 20 members strong. Artwork created in 2003 was readily adopted as the official OFPS logo.

Today, we meet monthly from September through June, at a location in central Ottawa that is easily accessible from all parts of the city. Our schedule is set well ahead of time to allow people to plan around the meeting dates. Dedicated members have been known to travel from as far away as Halifax to attend our meetings!

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