You all know (or should know) that I have a weakness for and love of fountain pens. I am primarily a “user” rather than a “collector” – but still appreciate an aged and well-done writing instrument, as long as it has a nib.
I was looking at Amazon.com for some stuff and, off in the corner, I saw an ad that caught my eye. Usually I ignore web ads, but this one seemed aimed right at me.
It looked like The Parker Pen company, the venerable company that over the years has produced such legendary and wonderful fountain pens such as the Vacumatic and the Parker “51” has come up with a new pen – maybe some sort of advanced nib, or a revolutionary filling system. I was stoked.
So I clicked through the ad to the Parker Ingenuity, one of their “5th ink technology” pens. Something didn’t quite look right. So I did some digging and research and it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.
This wasn’t a fountain pen at all. It’s like a felt pen, with a metal hood stamped around it to make it look like a fountain pen.The actual writing surface is replaced with a new refill. It even has non-functional ribs to look like the ridges on a fountain pen feed. A typical model costs a little bit under two hundred dollars. It is obviously aimed at people that want to look like they carry a fountain pen – they want the cachet – but that don’t want inky fingers.
I know that you are going to get ink on your hands or worse when you carry a fountain pen. A pen with a nib is considered a “controlled leak” and I’ve learned to wipe off the pen and clean the inside of the cap when a pen has been lugged around where it can get a shock and shake ink out into the cap. Flying is a real problem – the reduced air pressure can cause a pen to spew ink (I carry an empty pen, an airtight case, and extra cartridges).
So I fully understand someone that wants to carry, for example, a rollerball – sometimes I think of it myself – though I say no… it seems unclean somehow. What bugs me is that they make it look like a fountain pen. A triangle with a slit in it is not a nib – a good nib is a wonderful piece of design, engineering, and manufacture. It is a delicate mechanism of steel, gold, and iridium designed to deliver a carefully controlled stream of ink in a smooth flow to a piece of paper.
A felt pen is useful and deserving of its existence – but don’t try to hide it behind a stamped piece of sheetmetal.
Oh, one other point – I am not a fan of pens that have metal sections – the part right in back of the nib, the place where your fingers grip. I don’t like the feel of cold chrome. Warm plastic, rubber, or ebonite is a better writing grip.
Now that I’ve ranted a bit… if anyone actually wanted to buy me one of those… well, that would be different.
It would be a gift.