Day 5: I’m Glad You Didn’t Buy Me A Fountain Pen For Christmas @petedenison

Day 5 header
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.

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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.

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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.

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Thank You

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.

This post was written by Pete Denison (Twitter: @PeteDenison), who lives with his wife and two children in Brisbane, Australia. During the day he spends his time as a manager in a corporate office, however his spare time is largely devoted to family, pens and stationery, and roasting and brewing coffee. He blogs at as a way of both sharing some knowledge and learning more about the things he enjoys.

8 Responses

  1. Anna 6 January 2015 / 5:45 AM

    Great post! For the past two years my dad has given me fountain pens for Christmas. It’s fun for him to shop for them because he loves fountain pens too. This year, he bought me a gorgeous fountain pen that I had lusted after a while ago but given up on due to cost and bought a similar pen that cost less. It kind of fell off my radar, and I was really hoping to get a specific pen that I’d put on my wishlist. I had mixed feelings when I received the one from my dad. On one hand, I was extremely happy because, like I said, it’s gorgeous! It’s also a fantastic pen, but it wasn’t the one I wanted most in the moment, so I couldn’t help but be a tad disappointed. I ended up getting the one I wanted myself, and now I can enjoy them both. 😛 It was only a disappointment because it wasn’t the one I had been hoping most for, but next year, I will try not to wish so hard for a particular pen and just be happy to receive one at all (if I do)! It still means a lot to me when the giver enjoys the giving, which my dad definitely does.

  2. AC 31 December 2014 / 12:08 AM

    Perfectly said. You read my mind.

  3. Brian Anderson 30 December 2014 / 11:03 PM

    Interesting read, however, I am surprised you never mentioned gift certificates. Most retailers can provide them and then you could pick just what you want or contribute towards your next pen. Even if it was only $20, you could get a bottle of ink and you would think of your friend every time you used it.

  4. molossus, whose life imitates doodles 30 December 2014 / 1:49 AM

    Thoughtful post, and though I’ve been surprised in the past, and fallen in love with such a gift, unexpectedly, I’m like you. I know what I want next, and anything else is likely to disappoint. This is probably why I mostly receive gift cards for presents, lol!

  5. Janet Salmons 29 December 2014 / 10:28 PM

    I hear what you are saying but I must note that I’ve been delighted by fountain pen gifts. I’ve received a couple of beautiful hand-made pens, and a Levenger True Writer that are all in my rotation for writing pleasure. I remember my thoughtful friends and family members when I use them.

I would love to hear your thoughts!