The Fountain Pen – A Sword in the War of Time

I am not always at a computer. Sometimes I am forced to use a pen. I am also old enough to write in cursive. This is not to show off. I understand cursive to kids today is akin to riding a dinosaur to work or listening to Neil Young on a phonograph. I use cursive when I find the need to write quickly or take notes.

Sometimes I like to use a fountain pen when I write. I do love the old fountain pens one finds at antique stores. The only problem is that they often don’t work. When one leaves ink in a pen for fifty or more years the ink tends to dry up and the pen no longer works. Certainly Mont Blanc can provide a good modern fountain pen but I don’t like to spend hundreds of dollars for an item I am likely to loose. Cross makes a nice fountain pen as well. The ink cartridges are cheap and easy to find and the pens are less expensive than Mont Blanc. They are also available at most office stores where Mont Blanc is not. Yet, even if you can get a Cross fountain pen for less than a hundred bucks (some are significantly less than fifty) it is still a drag to loose one.

Thus, I have tried a couple of cheap alternatives to see how they work. Pilot makes a disposable fountain pen called a Varsity. These pens come in a variety of colors but I have only used blue and black. I purchased them at an office supply store for less than three dollars each. I have not had one run dry before I lost it. They also flow well without getting gummed up. Pilot also makes a fountain pen called the Metropolitan that is not disposable and sells for less than twenty dollars. I have not tried this pen yet. That is partially due to the office supply store having trouble finding the cartridege number that goes with the pen. Sheaffer also makes fountain pens. I have not yet tried any but have had luck with their other prodcuts.

I just purchased a Zebra V-301 fountain pen at a Walgreens in Wisconsin. It was less than six dollars and more substantial than the disposable pen. I am not sure of the availability of cartridges since this was the first time I have seen this product. I have used other Zebra pens with success.

I have found a number of problems with fountain pens in general. They do take a moment for the ink to dry so the ink can smear on the page. Over time it is possible to get fountain pens gummed up. This includes some of the more expensive brands. The old pens with an ink sac often have the ink solidify and the pen may need to have surgery.

I would not recommend the exclusive use of fountain pens. I love roller ball, felt tip, and ball point pens. These types of pens are all inexpensive and do a great job. Yet, sometimes I feel nostalgic or just like a different look to my writing.

There is also a bit of luxury associated with a fountain pen. A quartz watch may keep as good if not better time than a luxury Swiss timepiece but it is not the same. In some ways the whole concept of writing seems old fashioned with computers and all. A fountain pen feels like a good way to strike back at technology.




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