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fountain pens

  • The Pilot Murex Is The Sexiest Pen Alive

    By Russ Stutler, stutler.ccThe other day, I happened onto the site of Japanese pen guru Russ Stutler. I'd visited it before, but there was one page I'd never noticed, 'til now.

    His photos and article about the Pilot Murex fountain pen.

    Regular readers know that I am not a fountain pen guy, in general. I've tried a Kaweco and a Waterman and various disposables and enjoyed using a few of them, but nothing that really got my heart racing.

    However, I have always wanted a Pilot Vanishing Point, not because they were retractable, though that helped, but because of their style. They were just the coolest looking fountain pens I'd ever seen, and, unfortunately, pretty pricey.

    The one thing I never loved about the Vanishing Point was the placement of the clip.

    And then recently, I saw Stutler's collection of Pilot Murex fountain pens. They're stainless steel, even sleeker and sexier than the Vanishing Point and, because they're capped, don't have the awkward clip placement.

    Just looking at this pen makes me feel like I'm driving Speed Racer's car. Continue reading

  • Revisiting 'Why I Don't Use Fountain Pens'

    black eyeSo, a while back, I wrote a post about the reasons I don't use fountain pens.

    As you might expect, I was roundly chastised for my blasphemy. Dan at FPGeeks was gentle, while others were less so, including one blogger who somehow equated my choice to puritanism, and two gentlemen who agreed I was simply low-class.

    Not much has changed since then.

    Dan, I'll give you your unicorns and bacon, but for me, using a fountain pen is still like standing in line at the DMV behind a fat, sweaty orc smelling of garlic and dead things while using a rotary phone to try to get a live person at tech support. And the DMV Muzak station only plays Miley Cyrus.

    But wait...don't start sharpening your stakes just yet. Continue reading

  • Why I Don't Use Fountain Pens

    OK, I'm going to just come out and say it: I don't like using fountain pens.

    I like looking at beautifully made fountain pens. I like handling them. And I love the idea of using fountain pens. But when it actually comes time to put ink on paper, I'll take a good gel or rollerball pen every time. Heck, even a ballpoint, if it comes to that.

    I know, sentiments like that are anathema to most pen geeks. Trust me, I've tried to make myself love them as much as the rest of you. But it just hasn't worked.

    To me, my reasons are valid, though.

    1. Fountain pens are distracting.

    I enjoy the sensory experience of feeling a good pen flow across clean paper. But, I don't write for that reason. When I'm writing by hand, it's for the sole purpose of putting ideas or information on paper.

    When you use a fountain pen, it's all about the pen. You have to always be conscious of how you're holding the pen, how it's moving, how the ink is flowing. If you let the fountain pen get out of the correct position, it won't work. You're forced to focus on the act of writing itself, rather than on the writing.

    That's a problem.

    I want as little impediment between my brain and the paper as possible. I want to think it and see the words appear, without having to consider my pen. The beauty of the right gel pen is that you just write. It does its job – moving effortlessly, putting down vivid lines – without demanding attention to itself like a fountain pen does.

    2. Fountain pens are too much work.

    Look, I already have enough to worry about between car maintenance, taking care of the computer equipment I use to make a living, keeping up with little repairs around my apartment, and the general minutiae of daily living.

    Fountain pens have to be cleaned carefully after use, stored just so to prevent damage or leaking, filled before use. I'm not interested in having to worry about my writing instruments like that on top of everything else. It's just unnecessary hassle and, for me, takes all the fun out of pens.

    I enjoy finding and buying and using new pens. But they have to be low-maintenance.

    3. Fountain pens are too expensive.

    As I've said before, my absolute favorite pen to date is the Pentel EnerGel, especially now that it comes in so many different variations. Not one of them costs more than about US$10.

    I know that there are good fountain pens to be had for under US$50. But, let's be honest, most of you are spending hundreds of dollars on fountain pens. Maybe I'm just cheap because the idea of parting with that kind of cash for a pen makes me cringe.

    (Of course, having said that, I want and eventually plan to own a Pilot Vanishing Point for occasional use...and we all know how expensive those things are.)

    The VP aside, for the cost of a high-end fountain pen, I can buy boxes of my favorite gel and liquid ink pens, all of which I would enjoy using more than a fountain pen. And I won't end up in tears if I drop one of them on a hard floor.

    So, what do you think? Ready to let me have it? Feel free to share your feelings about fountain pens in the comment section below.

  • UK Police Auction Off Fountain Pens

    Here's a tip for UK fountain pen collectors: If you can't find what you want on eBay, try the police.

    Among the unclaimed items that UK police forces sell through a website called Bumblebee Auctions are all sorts of writing instruments, from Lamy Nexx fountain pens to collector's edition pen-and-cuff links sets. The prices don't seem too bad, either, with new pens going for as little as one-third of retail.

    The idea started in 1997 with Surrey police, who were looking for a way to dispose of property seized during arrests or turned in by the public that could not be returned to the rightful owners. This eventually led to the creation of online services that allowed people to report lost or stolen property, search police databases for missing property, and, in 2002, to bid on auctions of unclaimed items.

    From reporter Naphtalia Loderick at Confused.com:

    Site administrator Chris Leach said the appeal of the police auction site was its curiosity factor.

    “With police auctions there’s a voyeuristic interest that makes the site very popular with users.

    “It’s not like a supermarket where people go in to buy milk and bread - the basics. It’s more of a treasure trove where people might go for a look and end up coming away with something completely random.”

    According to Leach, the most common items on the site are jewellery – “we get some very good pieces” - mountain bikes and power tools.

    Exess Consultants Ltd, the company that manages the auction site, reports that 3K to 4K people visit the site each day, and that there are more than 21K users signed up to bid on auctions. More than a dozen police services in the UK use the site to dispose of property.

    Recently concluded auctions included:

    (Keep in mind that there are shipping costs associated with each item.)

    That's not to say that there are always pens on the Bumblebee site. It seems to be hit and miss, depending on what criminals take and what police get back. Some months, there are several excellent pens listed on the auction, some months there are none.

    But, if you are a collector looking for a great deal on a pen, it's certainly worth checking periodically.

     

  • Instead Of Fountain Pens, Try These...

    Fountain pens are widely considered the ultimate in writing instruments, but as popular as they are, fountain pens just aren't for everyone.

    If you've never used one, getting started can be intimidating, what with the complexities of maintenance and decisions to be made about nibs, inks, and filling options. Or, you just might not be interested in fountain pens as a matter of personal preference.

    What will you be missing? Well, there are three primary reasons that people use fountain pens: fluidity of the writing experience, ability to vary line width and diversity of ink choices.

    Unfortunately, you will have to give up access to a broad range of colors if you decide to write with something other than a fountain pen. While many gels offer some exciting and, in a few cases, even aromatic color options, none can match fountain pen ink for diversity and richness of color saturation.

    However, just because you aren't ready to get fully into the fountain pen experience yet, or don't want to at all doesn't mean you have to sacrifice an extremely smooth writing experience or even line variability.

    There are alternatives to fountain pens that will give you very similar results without the added complexity that comes with fountain pen use.

    Here are some suggestions. Continue reading

  • The Fountain Pen Rest Stop

    If you ever get an urge to take a road trip across the US, or just find yourself somewhere in Iowa with time on your hands, then there is a place every writer, penthusiast and fan of the written word should visit.

    Believe it or not, it's a highway rest area.

    But this one is probably a little different from any rest stop you've ever seen before. It's dedicated to the legacy of great writers and to the history of writing instruments.

    The reason?

    It's located in Johnson County, Iowa, which is also where you will find the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. The school houses one of the best creative writing programs in the world – the first in the US – and has produced more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize winners. Continue reading

  • Pilot Prera On The Shelves At Tiger Pens

    In the UK? Fountain pen lover? Budget conscious?

    Good, because you're gonna like this little bit of news.

    Tiger Pens is now carrying the Pilot Prera range of fountain pens in nine awesome colors!

    Normally, when someone asks about a good starter fountain pen, we recommend the Lamy Safari for its ease of use, reliability and low cost (about £14). However, some fountain pen newcomers – as well as long-time users – prefer one with a more classical look.

    That's the Pilot Prera. Continue reading

  • First Time Buyer's Guide To Fountain Pens - Part III

    (Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part guest series written by Tyler Dahl, a fountain pen restorer with an extensive knowledge of these classic writing instruments.

    Part I covered the reasons for wanting a fountain pen, and the pros and cons of choosing vintage or modern pens. Part II continued with more detailed criteria for selecting a pen. In Part III, he offers specific suggestions for first-time pen buyers.)

    What pens would you recommend for beginners?

    There are thousands of different pens out there, and in such a dazzling array of styles and colors too. It’s mind boggling to try to browse through them, and find the right one. Lucky for you, I have some recommendations to help you find a suitable first pen! These are my top picks, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best, or everyone’s favorites. They are however, all very popular, and they’re all great pens. Let’s jump right in! Continue reading

  • First Time Buyer's Guide To Fountain Pens - Part II

    (Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part guest series written by Tyler Dahl, a fountain pen restorer with an extensive knowledge of these classic writing instruments.

    Part I covered the reasons for wanting a fountain pen, and the pros and cons of choosing vintage or modern pens. Part II continues with more detailed criteria for selecting a pen.)

    Wow! There are so many choices! Can you explain them to me?

    Design:

    For me, a fountain pen must look aesthetically pleasing if it’s going to get anywhere near my “to-buy” list. I have a feeling that this is important to most of us. Form over function – yes, but I still want a pen that I enjoy looking at and handling. To best show you some different styles, I’ll go over the basics, and include lots of pictures! :)

    Classic pens

    A classic pen, to me anyway, is a pen that shows a design that is not flashy, but not plain. It’s classy! Much like a fine suit, a classic pen is just the right thing for those who love formal, but not stiff.

    Here is a personal favorite of mine. This pen is far beyond the price range we’re looking at in this article, but it’s the perfect example of a classically designed fountain pen. Shown below is a Pelikan M805 - Produced by a company founded in the early 1840’s, known as the Pelikan Pen Company. This pen however, is a modern pen, being produced in the last few years. Everything about this pen – the lovely pinstripes, the subtle trim, the beautiful nib – it’s a true perfectionist’s outcome of the word “classy.” Continue reading

  • First Time Buyer's Guide To Fountain Pens - Part I

    (Editor's note: This is the first of a three-part guest series written by Tyler Dahl, a fountain pen restorer with an extensive knowledge of these classic writing instruments.)

    Hello to all of you who are reading this article! My goal here today is to help you in picking out your first fountain pen! It’s a difficult decision, and selecting the right one can be difficult. There are so many options, and with all the great articles and reviews out there, it can be mind boggling to a beginner.

    By the end of this series, you should be able to make a wise choice on selecting your first pen. If you’re having a hard time, you can always send me an email, and get a personal response to your questions. Though I am a bit busy with business sometimes, I always make time to talk pens with people, especially beginners.

    As with all my reviews and articles, I’m going to provide you with a little list of what we’ll be covering here. By breaking this down into categories, you should have an easier time not getting lost during the read, and scanning through if you bookmark it for reference.

    My personal writing style is very “conversational”. I hope you’ll enjoy it, cause I sure love writing it! The way I’m going to break up this into categories is by using questions, and answers. Here goes:

    • Part 1: Why would I want a fountain pen, and which is better for me, vintage or modern?
    • Part II: Wow! There are so many choices! Can you explain them to me?
    • Part III: What pens would you recommend for beginners? Continue reading

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