Don’t get me wrong. If you did buy me a fountain pen, we would be lifelong friends you and I.
My appreciation would know no bounds. Not being a pen person yourself, you tried so hard to understand what I like. What my passions are. You came up with the fantastic idea to give me a gift I would absolutely love. For that I cannot fault you, nor your wonderful intentions.
The fountain pen itself? Highly likely to be another matter entirely. You? I love. The gift? Perhaps not so.
I so don’t want to disappoint you, and if you were to ask whether I like it, I might say it’s a nice pen; I may even say I’ve been using it at work today and it’s been great. On the slight chance you have managed to somehow pick the right combination of looks, size, weight, balance, nib size/style and an infinite number of other intangible factors then yes, I would truly love it.
Unfortunately, without specific instruction on the pen I have chosen as my next, that is unlikely to happen.
The problem? Mine dear friend, not yours.
Problem? What problem?
If someone you know is into pens. No – I mean really into pens, particularly fountain pens, it is almost guaranteed any pen you buy for them would not be a pen they would buy for themselves. For those who point out the very essence of a gift is giving something the receiver may not necessarily buy for themselves, I do not disagree. Usually. However with fountain pens, it most certainly does not apply.
Is it because you would not have spent enough? Of course not (I love my Pilot Kakuno and Metropolitan as much as any pen I own). Nor is it because you wouldn’t put enough thought, time or effort into what you bought (I know you would sweat over the possibilities). It is simply because one of the greatest joys in this fabulous journey of acquiring more fountain pens, is in the very process of choosing the next one.
That very journey is perhaps where pen lovers can become just a little bit obsessive. Further, there are times when I myself am not even sure which fountain pen should be next on my list to buy, so how can I expect you, the gift giver to have any hope?
If the choice is so difficult, you might rightfully ask how I could possibly enjoy it so much.
The answer here is simple. It isn’t difficult at all. It is a pure joy.
Choosing my next fountain pen
Choosing my next fountain pen is about learning and discovery — about both the pen and myself. I cannot recall the exact designer who said the following, however I recently read a quote which went something like this:
When acquiring items, ensure they will increase in value, either monetary or emotionally
For myself, buying a fountain pen is emotional as much as it is financial. Probably more so. I am not a collector as such, and do not see my pen choices as investments. The sensible, non pen obsessed amongst us might argue a purchase based on emotion is fraught with danger, however they are all at once both correct and missing the point.
A fountain pen is something that grows with you, and a well chosen one will do precisely that for many, many years. The longer it is with you, the more its emotional value will increase. Yes, depending on the pen, its monetary value may increase as well, but again, it’s not about the money.
Personally, the journey itself and subsequent bond I will develop with a pen begins with its discovery. Actually no, it begins before that. It begins with the desire for more writing experiences with truly great fountain pens. Pens which, by their very nature, make me want to write — perhaps a quick list or an entire story until the ink runs dry.
What may start with appearance, soon goes much deeper, as I seek to learn more about the manufacturer, the history, and craftsmanship involved in producing what just might be my next fountain pen.
From there, more research into other’s experiences, including online reviews, impressions or comments from those I respect, however personal preference and emotion continue to play their part. Here, there is no better example than one of my favourite pens, which some have found, shall we say, a little highly strung, the Pelikan M205. A pen I just wanted when I saw it, though a purchase I may never have made if online reviews were the sole criteria.
Events, times in my life, coincidental happenings or missed opportunities all play their part in what a fountain pen ultimately means to me. My very first fountain pen, a Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique, was purchased over 17 years ago by my wife and I to commemorate our wedding day, and is a pen which means the world to me.
So thank you.
Thank you so much for thinking of me. For seeking out, or knowing how much I love writing with fountain pens. My greatest appreciation? That in the end, you didn’t buy me one.
When I do purchase my next one, I’ll certainly show you. I’ll share my thoughts feelings, joys and reservations. I’ll describe how it feels in my hand, how it writes, and how it excites me to now “learn” another pen. That is, to find that perfect angle so the nib sweet spot really sings, consider the colour and wetness of the perfect companion ink, and match it with paper that is oh so smooth but with just enough feedback so it “talks” to the pen — and by extension, my hand.
I expect as we talk, you will listen and likely nod, perhaps smiling at my obvious joy and excitement. There is a good chance you will not entirely understand, which I expect, however appreciate you coming along for the ride.
That journey — the one I mentioned before? Down the often difficult, emotional, and a little obsessive path to the next fountain pen? That must be mine dear friend, and mine alone.