Pens in the Wild

29 09 2010

Pens in the Wild

I’m 44 years old, and an admitted pen addict. Unless I’m in a “pen-likely” location – that is a pen shop, a pen show, or perhaps some place that just happens to carry things that pen lovers tend to like (i.e. Journals, inks, office supplies, etc…), I almost never see them in the wild.

When you do spot another fountain pen user (in the wild, mind you), something interesting often happens. You actually carry on a conversation.

What?? Talk to a stranger? In this day and age?

You bet. I was recently at an insurance enrollment for a large local university. My company does their enrollment for all of the employees’ benefit program once a year. Typically, these employees just want to get in and get out as quick as they can. Enrollment is a pain that they have little time for. Worse, many of them are antagonistic towards us as enrollers (…read insurance agents), as we might sell them something they need.

Anyway, there was a gentleman sitting with another agent adjacent to me yesterday. During a lull in their conversation, I noticed that he had a Sheaffer Triumph Deluxe in his hand. I complemented him on the pen and mentioned that I collected antique fountain pens. That was all it took. I made a friend. Super nice guy. (I should note that he wasn’t being antagonistic or impatient with his agent.). His pen exemplified all the qualities I love in a vintage pen. It had obviously seen a lot of use; the cap had a few dings, but the gold filled top still had all it’s luster. The body was black with some very minor wear, but overall, was still shiny. The nib on his pen was nothing short of awesome. A two-tone gold triumph conical nib with a very broad (perhaps a stub) nib. Super smooth. And this is a pen that is 65+ years old. That is just very cool to me. I can assure you my Mont Blanc 149 won’t make it near that long. In fact, considering I’ve already had that pen fixed once where the plastic body split in half, I guess it hasn’t lasted.

It’s interesting how similar pen aficionados often are. We both talked about the cool factor of using a writing instrument that had been around for decades, often, for far longer than we’ve been alive. And how that same pen may have penned countless letters to loved ones, songs, notes, poetry, college papers, so on and so on and so on. In his case, he had some pens of great sentimental value as well.

I fear that fountain pens are coming to an end. That may seem obvious, yet fountain pen collecting is huge! But (at least in my part of the country) you just so rarely see them “in the wild” anymore. If you do, invariably it’s someone in my generation or older. These young pups just don’t carry them. Even local office supply stores such as Staples, used to carry a few models, such as Cross and Waterman. No more.

There’s really no moral to the story here. It’s just so rare for me to run across someone else who actually know what a nib is or looks like, that I get excited about it and want to update this blog (…that I haven’t touched in months…..)! I’ll do better for all 4 of you subscribers out there. You know who you are.