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Totally Random Pen Stuff

• The iconic Fountain Pen Hospital in New York is celebrating its 65th year in business, and a Manhattan news site marked the occasion with an awesome lengthy article on the store and owner Terry Wiederlight.

His father and grandfather started the shop in 1946, and it’s grown to a highly respected and still-thriving destination for buying and restoring fountain pens.

From the DNAinfo.com article:

With 4,000 different pen varieties — from sleek black Montblancs tipped in sterling silver to red-and-white-striped Dr. Seuss tributes — Wiederlight's 2,500-square-foot showroom offers the largest selection in New York, he said. True to the "hospital" in its name, the shop also repairs about 1,000 worn or broken pens each year, though that accounts for just a small slice of the business.

The Fountain Pen Hospital article has some great details in it, including how Wiederlight became friends with Bill Cosby and how the shop was affected by 9/11 and the recession.

And there’s this brilliant quote from Wiederlight:

"If I had to choose between a bottle of booze and a pen, I'd pick the pen every time. When you drink the booze, it's gone. But whenever you use the pen, you think of the person."

We hope he sees many more years of spreading the love for great pens.

Someone apparently forgot to tell Rich Littlestone and Rik Knablein that the fountain pen business is in decline. And then forgot to tell their customers, too.

The two are running a booming business selling custom-engraved sterling silver fountain pens. They get the pens blank from British luxury pen maker Conway Stewart, then engrave them in a workshop in Colorado for sale in batches of 18.

They were recently profiled in a California newspaper (which has since archived the article, but you can still read it at the link above). The article details how the two got started, and how they engrave their pens, from the first cut to the final capping with Damascus steel.

They launched MetalWrite in 2009, and now Littlestone custom-engraves pens in his basement while Knablein flies around the country marketing them at prices up to $2,250 apiece.

Funny how there always seem to be a market for pens, no matter how many times the doomsayers predict the end of writing.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a really touching story about an eccentric man who used to play trumpet on Fisherman’s Wharf and how his fountain pen made it back to a loved one after his death.

Grimes Poznikov was a well-known San Francisco figure until mental illness sent him off the rails and led to his early death in 2005. When he was alive, he always carried an Esterbrook fountain pen, engraved with his name, that his parents had given him as a high school graduation gift.

According to the Chronicle:

He used it all his life: Through teaching elementary school in Chicago, through leading anti-war rallies at the 1972 Republican National Convention, through performing street music in Europe, through migrating to San Francisco to join the hippie life in the mid-1970s and become the Human Jukebox, and then through life in abandoned buildings and indigent camps.

All of his belongings ended up with his long-time girlfriend after his death. She didn’t realize the Esterbrook was in a box and accidentally took it down to a local flea market with some other stuff that she sold.

Someone else found the pen, bought it for $3 and then saw the name on it. She tracked down Grimes’ family, and eventually returned the pen to his girlfriend.

Now that is just cool, isn’t it?

Are any of you addicted to fountain pens and the Beatles?

Then here’s some news for you: Acme Studio is coming out with a limited edition Beatles pen set of “one each for George, Ringo, Paul and John – interchangeable as rollerball, felt tip, ballpoint and fountain.”

They’re only making 600 sets, which will cost US$450.

The pens will start shipping in May, and UnicaHome.com is taking pre-orders now.

Go ahead, it’s OK. We all have our manias.

One thought on “Totally Random Pen Stuff”

  • Julie

    Thanks for the inclusion of Grimes and his Esterbrook. I remember the "human jukebox" quite well. Another story that illustrates how much we don't know about the people we pass by each day.

    Reply
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