Jan 15, 2019708 views

Let the Fountain Pens Flow!

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The NYT recently has been showing fountain pens some love: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/26/style/fountain-pens.html
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/04/smarter-living/paper-planner-guide.html most of their recommendations come courtesy of thewirecutter.com https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/11/smarter-living/wirecutter/new-year-gear-gym-pens-notebooks-sleep.html It's old news to most of us, but hey, it's the New York Times.
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AlexPk, ltopper, and 7 others
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Sigh....They tout the Lamy Safari and the Pilot Metro. Two pens that really should be removed from the line ups of two great pen companies. After so many comments about how great these pens are, I bought one of each. They lasted about two pages before I pitched them. I have never had such a rough writing, poor flowing, crappy pens, especially since I already owned several Lamy's and other Pilots. If we want to convince people to use fountain pens, could we make better suggestions? Please? For those that are interested, any of the Knox pens (at $19). The Jinhao ($30). Retro ($50). Even the Levenger True Writers (which can be had for $40 on sale) are better options, write cleaner, and are not frustrating to use. If you are getting someone a fountain pen, get them a fountain pen that will encourage them to use them, not frustrate them.
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One of my first fountain pens was a Metro with a medium nib. I had been using a large, squishy-gripped pilot gel pen (Dr. Grip, I think) but started blowing through ink cartridges while studying. I thought I’d give fountain pens a go to mix things up. Others said they could write with less effort & money (refillable from a bottle) than I was using. I was intrigued. When I started using the Metro, I felt most of my expectations were met - except the grip was too small and it bothered my tendinitis. I also didn’t know how a smooth flowing pen could become scratchy overnight. After learning more about writing posture, writing pads, pen balance and nib alignment and flossing, these conundrums were made clear. My daily writer (at home) is my L2K (my 1st Massdrop purchase) using Take-sumi ink. My “red pen” is a Pilot Kakuno. When I’m out, I bring all the pens I mentioned with me (my Lamy Vista also from Massdrop). One of the things I love to do is give away pens to interested folks. But I’m incredibly poor. How do I do this? I buy Pilot Varsities when I can get ‘em for a buck, each. If I use them up, I remove the branding and refill them as eye-droppers. When someone asks to borrow a pen, I hand them one without the cap (that way they return it when done). About half the time, they’ll ask about it. ”Is that a real fountain pen?” ”Yep.” ”Wow, that’s really cool. Do you know where I can pick one up?” ”Sure. Here’s the cap. Enjoy. Check out fpn.com if you’d like to know more.” So what’s my point? Well, I enjoy tangents. Also, if you don’t like the Safaries or Metropolitans then decide if you WANT to like them. If you do, figure out what will work for you. If you’re not that into them, pay it forward. These entry level pens are great workhorses when paired with the right ink and paper (Seven Seas Writer, for me). When I save up enough, I hope to get a Karas pen. They have some less expensive aluminum offerings that have the right balance, weight and grip for me. They’re made in the USA, are nearly indestructible (when capped) and are occasionally offered as a drop. Speaking of preferences, I have a Jin-Hao (?sp) I would be happy to trade for a Safari. The other interesting tidbit: most of these pens were created as a result of the renaissance the New York Times article discusses. Many newly initiated in their use go to fpn (myself included). It would be great to have Massdrop be a bookmarked site for those already involved and those about to be indoctrinated. ;-) Thanks for humoring my rambling post. Cheers to all. G.
GonzoTGreat
Your "rambling" is always welcome G.
(Edited)
While it’s fun to be part of this special (short school bus) group of enthusiasts, the New York Times has an extremely broad nib … er … reach. Hopefully this provides an additional boost. More people means more options. Unless you’re particularly fond of products that sell like rock-star concert tickets in which case we’re all screwed. Cheers. ps. I haven’t been around for a while. I used to have a fairly high endorsement count compared to many around me (Theroc and a few other non-employees excepted). Has Massdrop really created the enthusiast community they envisioned (with products to sell along with that) or is this conversation just a bit “inside baseball”? Or both?
(Edited)
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Odd, in a way. One might think the writing community to be especially prolific.. But you seem to be dead on re:writing vs other communities. As I looked through the writing community, I saw only a slight increase in the mean average of endorsements per member (taking outliers into account). Seems to be still a right skew. (Mmmm, gotta love stats.)
GonzoTGreat
The main reason being Massdrop exclusives in the other communities vs next-to-none in writing. nothing gets enthusiasts more excited than community-generated products. If Massdrop were to pull-off a Rotring 800 fountain pen or a modern gold superflex at a reasonable price, they would become the top player in enthusiast fountain pen circles, practically overnight.
It’s not THAT old (yet). Funnily enough, I was casually fiddling with my Black Matte Safari when I happened across the brightly colored Metropolitans at the top of the article. A little bit into the article I see:
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Huh. That’s interesting. The article endorses many of the things we all know:
  1. Writing with fountain pens is a smoother experience.
  2. Foutain pens force a kind of ritual to your writing, due to their higher maintenance needs.
  3. Fountain pens are great if you like to be expressive with color.
  4. The fountain pen habit can be mighty expensive (except for me - I figured out how to do this hobby on the cheap). Of course, Massdrop helps and hurts in this area. I’ve grabbed some great deals from Massdrop but I’ve also had to “swipe away” some really tantalizing offers that were out of my budget.
Overall, the article discusses the modern renaissance of the fountain pen culture and how it can help someone who wants to write a bit more but feels feels frustrated and cramped (pun intended) with the usual options. It’s not just for calligraphy. Oh, and I think it mentions that most people would consider $20 to be a high price to pay for a simple pen. Really? I try to take exceptionally good care of my relatively meager collection. As such, I don’t leave my home with anything I’d be afraid of losing (except to go to fountain pen enthusiast gatherings), but I have no problem throwing a couple Safaris, Metropolitans, refilled Varsities, and other “low-end” pens in my “go everywhere” bag. Oh crap, I just realized I don’t even think twice about walking around with $100-$200 worth of pens (all together). Okay, maybe I’ve been sucked in just a little to this world. ;-) Cheers to all.
Wonder what @RayF thinks of the cover photo...
MrSharkbait
Ken, is there anything as satisfying as turning a bundle Metropolitans into a puddle of bubbling-smoldering goo? No, Bob, there really isn't--hit that purple one a couple more times, just to be sure...
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Maybe I need a fountain pen now
erickong
Of course you do, no maybes.
Thanks for posting.... still engrossed in one of the articles cheers
StainlessOnly
Glad you enjoy them. It is interesting to read about the fountain pen (and paper) community from the uninitiated's perspective.