… man? Sorry to disappoint you, but nah, today I will not be talking about dating, romance, or living happily ever after. Today, I launch a new label on my blog, called “Two Drops”. It will consist of my humble two cents’ (drops) on things in general, but of course related to stationery and writing. Not fortnightly inkings, nor a review, but just some scribblings of the things I think about. Today, in particular, I will talk about what I would look for in a fountain pen.
The reason why I am collecting brands of fountain pens now instead of focusing a few favourite brands is that I want to try the lower price range of pens from different brands before moving up the ladder. I always try to buy the cheaper pens of each brand to start with.
NOTE: The following paragraph may not be suitable for all readers. Censor it yourself and move on to the next paragraph…
When I visit other people’s abodes or other countries, the most important thing I will look out for to determine my impression of them would be the toilets. I think that many people take toilets for granted, thinking that since all the waste goes there, it doesn’t matter if it is filthy or not. Hmm, not exactly. Toilets represent our very basic needs, and if our basic needs cannot be fulfilled properly and hygienically, it really says a lot about the people who are responsible for the toilet. Sorry to use toilets as an example to make my point. But it really is important to me.
– END of potentially unsuitable section –
So, my principle is the following: if you cannot design a cheap range of products nicely, I am not sure I would be interested in your premium ones. It’s a very simple logic, and I’m pretty sure many people will agree with me. Imagine looking a lousy-looking fountain pen, the cheapest of Brand X. You might be curious and think: “Hmm, I wonder how their better ones are like.” Then maybe you see a premium grade Brand X, and you would probably think: “Wow, a beautiful pen, but it is too expensive for me!”
On the other hand, if you see a beautiful but cheap pen from Brand Y, you are already won over. Great price, great design, totally value for money. Doesn’t matter if the nib is falling apart, let’s get a replacement nib somewhere. Then you check out Brand Y’s premium collections. And you decide that you want all of them because the “Brand Y’s pens are value for money” concept is already stuck in your brain.
(Wait wait, let’s take a sip of coffee and talk about disclaimers. Brands X and Y above do not, whether implicitly or explicitly, refer to any particular brand of pens. Also, the above principle and opinions are NOT representative of any sample group that I paid to tell me the opinions I want to hear. They are simply my own analysis based on my own personal opinion.)
The shape, size and weight
The shape of the pen is important. I love fat pens that have a bit of contour in the pen’s body. Or they could be cigar-shaped. I don’t mind that too, as long as they are fat. If your pen is dead-cylindrical, better cut more faces into the barrel, or make a beautiful cap, highlights or motifs to take away the mundane straightness.
While there are people who like light pens, I prefer heavy ones. The reason is that I have a tendency to write really hard on the paper, which does not help since I am a left-handed person who pushes a pen across a page. If a pen is light, I tend to grip it tightly and push it more into the paper. A heavy pen already rests firmly on the paper surface, so I use a little less effort to write (more energy spent on controlling the pen), which might eventually improve my handwriting and my control over the pens. Yes, I am optimistic about this! But then I grew up using cheap and light ballpoint pens and rollerballs, so I can actually adapt to both heavy and light pens pretty well.
Of course, you are writing using the nib to transfer the ink onto the paper, so what can be more important than the nib! In my quest for smooth-as-silk nibs, I have found out that not everyone may like gliding, smooth nibs. Some people prefer to feel the nib on the paper. I therefore group them into two factions: the smooth voyagers and the tactile feelers. And which faction do I join? Probably somewhere in between, peeking at the smooth voyagers.
I have had a few fountain pens, none of which are silky-smooth on paper (never tried a gold nib before in my life, only steel ones). But I discovered that my quest for ultra-smooth comfort nibs is unnecessary, since I already have so many fountain pens that I love, which may not be ice-skating on paper. The quest is probably just an excuse for me to buy more fountain pens to try out, then.
Another aspect of the nib which is über-important to me is the nib design. I love unusual nibs. To me, “unusual” is anything that is not the conventional fountain pen (e.g. the type of FP you would draw when you need to do a quick illustration for someone). Also, the engravings on the nib are also a pull factor. I can live with a plain-looking nib, but most of my favourite fountain pens are those with pretty nib designs. The pen can look ugly, but if it has a beautiful nib I might even like it very much.
And so, the above are what I look for in a fountain pen. They may seem to be very obvious things, but I’m sure other people focus on different aspects as well. Such as the filling mechanism, the material of the pen, the type of cap, the functionality of the clip. To me those are less important.
What are the things you look out for in a fountain pen? Have you found your ideal one yet?
I am the founder of this website.
Chemist by day, slacker by night, fanatic of stationery all the time.
I write with my left hand, but can also do the same with my right hand – it just won’t look very pretty.