My fountain pen story, like many others’, is a story of constant development, learning,fountain pens, and hopefully, this may well help you get a head-start on your fountain pen journey! Be sure to check out my own blog for more exclusive content!
My first experience with a fountain pen was in purchasing stationary for year 7. I needed a pen to write with throughout the year, and so I visited WHSmith and purchased a very colourful, basic fountain pen. It did its job – was relatively smooth, affordable and most of all, it wrote. Just on a side note- I would not recommend this sort of pen for people wanting to get into the hobby. I’ll be doing a future blog post on what pens I’d recommend for beginners soon, exclusive to The Pen Boffin.
Anyways, as I was saying, I purchased this fountain pen, and used it for about a year, until I came across another pen in the school library – the Parker Vector. The pen was selling for £6 and I had always wanted a Parker pen – I could not resist! I purchased it, and a box of ink cartridges, and set about using that. Unfortunately, after about 4 months of use, I think I lost it, or it got stolen. It was incredibly sad, but in hindsight, it was probably the best thing that had happened to me!
I began to scour Ebay for Parker pens, until I came across a lovely pen advertised as “Vintage Parker” for £15. I decided to take the plunge, and bought it then and there. Two days later, the package arrived in a brown envelope. Sneaking it upstairs, so as to prevent unwanted questions from my sister, I opened it, and found that it had a ‘weird slidey cartridge inside’ which I later came to know to be a converter! The pen was the Parker 45, with a beautiful gold italics nib attached. My problem – I could not write with it! I didn’t have a bottle of ink, and all my Parker cartridges had been used up. That night, I purchased a bottle of Waterman Inspired Blue ink, and after watching several YouTube videos, I was able to fill it up! God, the pen wrote flawlessly across the page, and the line variation that pen provided was astounding! That was the beginning of my fountain pen (addiction) hobby.
From there, my next pen was a Jinhao X750 which I still have and adore! I also later purchased a Delta Dolce-Vita Federico – my first piston filler! Unfortunately, after a year of use, it broke – and I was truly heartbroken. I believe I even shed a tear the moment that section gave way from the main barrel of the pen. Following that, I kept acquiring some relatively inexpensive fountain pens, and notably found a beautiful Cross Townsend for just £30 – one of the best purchases I’ve ever made! I also switched all my pens to converter fill – and was using a range of inks, such as black, blue, red and even yellow!
After several months of scrounging and saving, I was finally able to afford my GRAIL pen at the time – The Montblanc 146. Purchased 2nd hand, it was still gleaming, with no scratches, a nib that flowed beautifully, and a piston that moved up and down the barrel with such ease! Then came my next major development… I could not fully appreciate my collection if I did not have good enough paper!I set about looking for some decent paper for taking notes – and the Oxford Campus Refill Pad fell into my hands! At 90GSM, and significantly cheaper than Rhodia, it let me write with my hand so much lighter on the paper. I began to dabble with calligraphy as well, and began to love Gothic Script. Of all the steps to improve my handwriting, the Calligraphy taught me to appreciate the beauty of each letter, and to slow down. I would recommend to all my readers to take it up, for it was one of the most calming and enjoyable things in my life – and still is!
So… There you have it. In a nutshell, that is my 5 year long journey with fountain pens. What really did help me along were online guides and blogs, and so this is dedicated to all you beginners and novices out there! As always, write on!
By Ali Abbas Panju