Fountain Pens

Love fountain pens? You'll like this blog devoted in full to collecting, repairing and enjoying these fabulous writing instruments. Waterman, Pelikan, Parker, Mont Blanc, Cross enthusiasts share their experience and knowledge about vintage and modern fountain pens.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
There’s something very sensual about writing with a pen that uses liquid ink. Indeed, when writing with a fountain pen, the nib seems to positively glide across the page with such effortless grace as to make the physical act of writing a joy. Nowadays, if you like, you can buy plastic cartridges for a fountain pen. These little fellows practically eliminate any chance of a mess.

So how did fountain pen start its history and made it into our high-tech era with wi-fi and keyboards?

Hassan El Basha Mamoud an Egyptian scholar translated a manuscript from Fatimid dynasty dating to 969 AD, which talks about using a pen without an inkpot.
This earliest historical record of a reservoir pen goes back to the 10th century. In 953, the Caliph of Egypt ordered a pen to ba made that would not stain his hands or clothes, and was provided with a pen which held ink in a reservoir. This time, there was no ink spill when the pen was tilted to all sides. The pen wrote fluidly on contact with paper, and ink disappeared as soon as the pen was lifted from the surface of paper to the amazement of the onlookers. Except for the writing on the manuscript, there was no other evidence that such a writing implement was ever used.

It is probable, however, that attempts to make a safe and easy to use fountain pen go back many years and centuries further.

The oldest surviving reservoir fountain pens date to the 1st century. It was only after three key inventions were made before the fountain pen became a widely used writing instrument. Those inventions were:

The iridium tipped gold nib
Free flowing ink
Hard rubber

There were many producers of fountain pens in the early 1800s. John Sheaffer, a Britishman, manufactured fountain pens that were half quill and half metal. The ink was stored in sheep’s gut.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," and it’s amazing how civilization breaking inventions are made. Lewis Waterman, the inventor of the fountain pen we know and still use occasionally, decided to do something after a valuable contract document was destroyed by spilling ink from the pen he used. That was how an insurance salesman became a fountain pen inventor. Waterman patented the fountain pen in 1884, and launched its mass-production. Many historical documents, treaties and agreements in 19th and 20th centuries were signed by fountain pens.

Why wood fountain pens?

Wood fountain pens have become very popular because of 3 main factors:
1) Unlike mass-production pens, wood FP's are hand-made and each item is absolutely unique by the nature of its manufacturing;
2) wood is the healthiest material out there, far more eco-friendly than those made of plastic or acrylic substance;
3) Wooden fountain pens can be customized exactly the way customer wants. Engraving, colouring, type of wood, filling mechanism, nib - everything is up to customer's wishes.
Wooden fountain pens are hand-turned using a lathe, and the essential tools necessary to create beautiful wooden products. The wood pens are made from exotic wood from countries such as Africa, South America, and Central America. They are finished with the highest quality craftsmanship.
And of course wood pens makers offer responsive service and friendly support - something that not every big manufacturer can provide its customers with.
All this makes wood fountain pens really awesome gifts. Hand-crafted pieces keep the traces of uniqueness and proximity to nature.
The production of wooden fountain pens require special attentions and care to ensure the quality of the finished writing instruments. Because wood is a naturally 'live' material, it needs proper treatment on the part of the craftsman.
Individual craftsmen carefully select special cuts of wood and resin-based materials to handcraft the finest writing instruments and unique gift sets. From elegant fountain pens to desk sets, from wine bottle stoppers to unique key chains, you WILL find that perfect gift.
Normally wooden fountain pens are made from a variety of top quality domestic and exotic wood. They are individually turned by hand, hand sanded seven separate times, buffed with polishing wax and creme for a smooth, glass like finish. However, these fine writing instruments are available in a multitude of other natural and exotic materials such as antler, ivory, Old World resins and metals.
Pens can be covered with lacquer by the request from the customer.
Usually wooden hand made pens are sold with a 1-3 year warranty.
Currently there's a demand for Mont style wooden pens. It is because of the highly popular Mont Blanc pens, which are known to be pricey. Wood fountain pens of the Mont style can give the feeling of belonging to Mont Blanc owners, while significantly cutting the cost of such writing instruments. Mont style exotic wood fountain pens make a great gift for anyone who appreciates the classic look, feel, and appeal of fountain pens. Mont style wooden fountain pens are hand turned with a special all natural oil & wax finish that brings out an incredible depth and luster in the grain of the wood.
Handcrafted wood fountain pens have earned the interest and satisfaction of the meticulous businessman. Parker style pens, meanwhile, are favorites of yuppies who want to excel in their first job after college.
Rare and exotic handcrafted pens will not disappoint the pickiest of a collector. What collectors are looking for are brand, rarity, craftsmanship, and of course, longevity. All of these characteristics can be found in many hand-turned wooden fountain pens. Each pen is made by the hands of experienced master craftsmen who work wonders to turn a simple item such as a pen into a work of art.
Pen lovers will greatly appreciate handcrafted unique wood fountain pens.
Whether you are looking for a gift for a special friend or associate or simply adding to your own collection, you may rest assured that receivers will be pleased with custom-engraved, carefully handcrafted wooden fountain pens.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
The Omas 360 Collection is the most revolutionary collection of writing instruments of our time. The Omas 360's triangular body is based on ergonomic principles, and combines a perfect grip and nib angle to permit fluid, uniform calligraphy with uninterrupted ink flow. The Omas 360 is streamlined and aerodynamic and equipped with a sprung and rigid nib. This Omas fountain pen is unique and guaranteed to attract interest and curiosity.

First conceived over 12 years ago, the OMAS 360 with its triangular shape has remained a revolutionary design offering technical perfection, refined aesthetics and pure writing pleasure. OMAS now upgrades the oversized 360 with a few modifications: a flattened and tapered crown and pen end, a triangular clip that lies flush on the cap, and a grip that subtly goes from a triangular to a circular shape for easier manageability. The fine black and bordeaux cotton resin barrels are trimmed with streamlined, platinum-plated fittings. The 360 is offered as a fountain pen with a flexible, 18K gold and platinum nib engraved with the 360 triangle logo, a capped rollerball and a ball pen. Fountain pen is bottle fill only.

The original triangular fountain pen was made in the 1930's by the Triad Pen Company which stayed in business only a few years. lasted a few years. Because of the delicate nature of the plastic, as well as the unique design, the Triad is very rare today. Omas improved on the Triad design by incorporating the Greek Key design around both the cap lip and the barrel section; these bands offer greater strength, especially to the cap lip.
We recommend the caps not be posted on any 360 pen. They are big enough so that they do not need it.

All of the 360 Collection pens on this page are the "large" size 5 7/8 inches long, capped.

Nibs are normally available in fine, medium, and broad sizes, with additional sizes available as exchange from OMAS in extra fine through double broad oblique sizes. The medium nib on this sample is very nice, if a bit on the ordinary side when it comes to line width. After all, with a pen that looks this bold, you sort of expect a nice, flashy extra bold line!

Or it might just be my taste for a broad line surfacing. As with all of the other OMAS pens I've tried, this one looks to have an ebonite feed, which might contribute to the reliability in terms of ink flow.

For one thing, it is very large (a full 7-1/2 inches/190 mm with cap posted, a full inch longer than the Montblanc 149 in similar configuration).

Other distinctive touches include the flat spring clip (which, on the ballpoint and roller ball models, have different raised symbols to allow you to tell them apart by feel). and the pin through the filler knob, which conveniently lines up with the top of the pen to keep you from over tightening.

The OMAS 360 has been around a while now, and since it's introduction has been one of the most distinctive fountain pen designs around. The bold triangular shape tends to leave people either loving or hating this pen, but one thing is for sure, OMAS definitely didn't play it safe design-wise.

The 18k (750 ppt) rosy gold point gets the obligatory expensive-pen two-tone treatment with a rhodium mask. This point is marked as an "EF" (extra-fine) but writes about like a medium Sheaffer or Parker Arrow pens from the mid century years, providing further support for the conjecture that modern fountain pen nibs run broader than their older counterparts. The point and its big hard-rubber feed are press-fitted into the big barrel, so removal can be a bit of a problem (nor can the section be screwed out, as it can with other OMAS pens like the Paragon or the Ogiva). As with other OMAS pen points, this one is claimed to be unusually flexible.

The newest color to join the celluloid 360 is called Burkina, and it's a clear departure from anything I've seen used before. It's a mixture of what I would call a bronze-green marble, with a pattern of black lines running along the length of the cap and barrel. It's difficult to describe, it might almost be called a "snakeskin" pattern. It's one of the most striking materials I've seen used in a modern pen, and while it does take some getting used to, I'm finding it quite attractive in person.

I would encourage you to give the 360 a good test-drive before buying; it's the sort of pen that one either loves to hold or else can't stand (I must fall into the forme category, since I now own four 360s). If you have a finicky hand, you might benefit from a small tweak of the set to the point in order to bring it to the proper angle for your writing; this is something best done by a dealer or a technician, since the point and feed are press-fitted into the pen and not easily removed.

The OMAS Vegetal resin is very soft and scratches quite easily, so don't toss this pen in the junk drawer or carry it in your back pocket.

Is a three-faceted pen more comfortable and easier to use than a traditional round pen? That's the theory behind the Omas 360 fountain pen collection. Ideal for writers with smaller hands, the pen is designed so that the nib touches the paper at an angle that consistently releases ink for smooth flow with minimum effort. Omas makes the fountain pen in a variety of models including a see-through demonstrator, one made of rare snake wood and the latest addition the Mezzo Melange, three bright pens in blue, orange and yellow made from cotton resin with silver trim.

The Omas 360 Diamonds, with precious diamonds set on the clip, represents the more exclusive version of the Omas 360 mezzo collection of fountain pens.

The Omas 360 Snake Wood Fountain pen combines the triangular form and full size of this pen with a snake wood overlay. Omas has solved a problem that plagued their wood pens in the past. Because wood is a natural material that shrinks and expands with the time because of changes in humidity, it was vulnerable to cracking, especially at the cap lip and at the edge of the barrel. This new wood fountain pen is banded at the cap lip and secured at the barrel edge, greatly minimizing this possibility. Even though snake wood is hard and dense, and the wood is sealed with varnish, please note that all wood pens need special care to avoid staining the wood with ink.

Notice how different the color of the barrel wood is from that of the cap and from the filling knob. Even though it is cut from the same block of wood, this pen illustrates the range of appearance within this organic and variable material.
The OMAS 360 isn't the most expensive wooden fountain pen in OMAS' regular series, but it is certainly the most distinctive and radical-looking. While most Italian pen makers these days (including OMAS, to a large extent) have settled into a comfortable routine of ornate "throwback" designs, here's one pen that you definitely don't see every day.
The distinctly triangular shape of the 360 makes it a pen you either love or hate because of the way it fits your hand (or doesn't fit) for writing.

Wax will help protect this natural wood grain from incidental stains and hand oils. The change to the surface is hardly noticeable.
The fit and finish on these caps and barrels is remarkable. The milled wood surfaces beautifully match the metal. If you want a perfect gift for a colleague or friend, then have a look at this marvelous Omas wooden fountain pen!
Saturday, February 09, 2008

El Grande Fountain Pens

El Grande Fountain Pen is known because of it's bold large barrel which has real therapeutic value for those who suffer from arthritis in the fingers. The larger barrel not only accommodates a more comfortable grasp with ease, but it also shows off brilliant colors and patterns more than other pens of smaller diameter.

As with all of wooden pens, craftsmen hand-craft (cut, drill, turn, sand and polish to a smooth finish) this fountain pen from pieces of Camphor Wood, Black Ebony Wood and Green Malachite trustone and assemble to make a pen a complete unit.

Wood fountain pens are individually handcrafted free-style, and not produced en mass.

Materials used include, but not limited to Camphor Wood, African Ebony, Green Malachite trustone, metal.
Enhancements includes large therapeutic pen barrel to ease the pain in fingers and lower tension in hand muscles.

As for ink refill for El Grande wooden fountain pens, it is standard European Ink cartridge for fountain pens with universal Schmidt Non-Dry Refill. Replacement refills are available from any good office supply store.

Titanium Gold plating is extra durable, and guarantees to last for many many years to come! This makes purchase of El Grande a pleasure to write, and guarantees your enjoyable experience with wood fountain pens.
Fountain pens have started regaining the popularity they once enjoyed.
In this era of mass production, a $100 writing instrument needing refill might well seem an extravagance. Yet a good fountain pen will last a lifetime. It lends character to the signature of its user, and makes writing a much more thoughtful experience.

A fountain pen contains a reservoir of water based liquid ink. The ink is provided to the nib through a feed via a combination of gravity and capillary action. Older fountain pens had an internal rubber sac that was squeezed and released to create the suction needed. The more modern fountain pens can utilize a converter, or screw or piston mechanism, or a disposable ink cartridge.

Despite the perceived heightened prices in the modern niche, good quality steel and gold pens are available inexpensively today and there are even some disposable fountain pens available. The main reasons people seek fountain pens in recent times are for: ease of writing and comfort (some sufferers of arthritis are unable to use ballpoint pens, but can use fountain pens), healthy experience for heart (yes, doctors say writing with a fountain pen puts a relief on heart), expressive penmanship and calligraphy, enjoyable pleasure (enthusiasts make writing with fountain pens a spiritual activity), longevity, professional sketching, wide range of ink colours available, hobby collecting, and social status. Many users also mention that fountain pens retain a sense of timeless elegance, personalization and sentimentality that computers and ballpoint pens seem to lack. Fountain pens have also always been thought of as works of art.

Fountain pens are sometimes made of precious metals and jewels with artful designs; others are inlaid with lacquer designs in a process known as maki-e (Maki-e is lacquering, a centuries-old technique in which multi-layered patterns are drawn on the barrel and cap with urushi - sap from Japanese lacquer trees). An avid community of pen enthusiasts collect and use vintage and modern pens and also soak and exchange information about old and modern inks, ink bottles, and inkwells. Rare fountain pens are persistently sought of by collectors.

The cheap Sheaffer fountain pens that Natalie Goldberg recommended in her early writing books were fun, but aren't on the market anymore. It was pity to know that Sheaffer's production facilities were closed and auctioned by French-based company BIC, that made the market for cheap, highly affordable products.

Fountain pens, whether used in offices as a disposable fountain pen or an executive's favorite, are timeless. Used for calligraphy or art style writing, they can make memories last forever.

Although fountain pens are still in common use, a few modern manufacturers (Mont Blanc seems to be the pioneers in the segment of posh pens as upscale status symbols) depict the fountain pen as a collectible item or a social prestige symbol, rather than an everyday writing tool. In spite of this, a majority of modern fountain pen users use fountain pens as their primary writing instruments over ballpoints and rollerball pens for reasons related to writing ease, friendly penmanship, comfort, longevity and investment funds. It is a well-known fact that a considerable increase in price over time is typical of fountain pens.
Thursday, February 07, 2008

Do not use MY fountain pen!

I am not unlike many others... I have a certain fountain pen I use that I consider Mine and only Mine. It isn't an expensive Namiki, or a Cross pen... it's a simple straight forward Parker Duofold fountain pen. But it is MY pen, and that's the whole story.

For years I've carried a stainless steel Parker Duofold pen. I will not lend it to you, or even to My mother, unless I am standing there watching, and make sure I get it back. I know... it's an object and can be replaced, but I am anal-retentive when it comes to My pen.

I don't know or remember when I became so anal about My pen. I did for years keep with Me a brown and silver fountain pen, but went through a "pen identity" crisis. I was searching for the perfect pen. I tried Cross pens, but found them too thin, and the black ones I liked wore off the finish too easily, leaving Me with a tiger striped ugly pen. The prohibitive cost of near 20 dollars for the pen was another deciding factor, and went to using cheap BIC Click pens. They were cheap, and wrote fairly well, but left me wanting something better. I wanted a pen I could see across the room, and identify the thief who stole it on me.

Then one day I stumbled upon the Parker. It was silver, brushed from what I could see, and it was as unique as a 2 legged fish. I knew right then and there. I had found MY pen. I bought my first one and quickly while in the car, unwrapped it. It felt fat at first, but it wrote like I had always wanted a pen to write. No more twisting the cap as I had to when using the Cross pen. nope, this one had a pushbutton, like all pens should. I firmly believe if you need to twist the pen to get it to work... you probably twist the cap off a Starbucks soy latte too... and we all know what that means if you have had a soy latte on your lips, if you don't know and want to... see the blog about "The Man Test". I didn't like having to use two hands to get a simple object like a pen to function. I want to push the little button, write, click, and put the damn pen away.

Unfortunately, I lost that first pen. I went on a hunt for a replacement. I was heartbroken when I couldn't find one right away. They were that unique. I searched WorldLux, Pendomium, Pen Hospital, Walmart... no pen. Just as I was about to give up and go back to another lesser quality writing instrument... I happened upon one of my pens... while walking the aisles at the local Office Depot. They had just stocked the shelves and there was MY pen! I grabbed the two that they had, and whisked them off to the check out counter. I was as happy as I could be. I not only found a replacement for My poor lost pen, I had found a replacement in case I lost the replacement.

I have handed My pen to people to write or sign something with, but I will not let it out of My sight. I have been known to accidentally leave it with someone and drive back there either the same day or the next day, regardless of the distance I had to travel... just to get back MY pen...

After all, it is MY pen. I'm not completely anal about everything that's Mine... mostly just My pen. I will watch the use of My fountain pen, and chase down anyone who tries to keep it on me.

I'm paranoid about many things, and have no clue why... I'm especially anal about MY pen... and being on time.

I've already decided when I die... I had better be on time for My funeral... and I damn well better have my fountain pen with me if either of those wishes aren't honored... I didn't think so.... just don't ask to use MY FOUNTAIN PEN!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008
It was only a matter of time before we added refill and ink products by Parker to the on-line pens and writing instruments shop. So, now available are Parker ballpen refills in black, blue and red, Parker rollerball refills and Parker Gel pen refills. We have also added Parker / Quink writing ink to the site.

It was of interest for us to note that the Parker ballpoint pen refills and the Parker Gel pen refills are both of an identical size and shape, which apparently fits over 90% of all ball point pens and are therefore interchangeable - you can convert your ballpen to a gel pen - or the other way around!

Moreover, we noted that, being the standard international size means that they can replace many seemingly identical - but much more expensive - pen refills supplied by other manufacturers such as Faber-Castell, Porsche Design and Pelikan. In some cases the Parker refills are less than half the price of the other makes even though Parker claim their ballpoint refills can write for 3500m and their gel pen refills 600m.

A Google search for Schneider topball refills will, incredibly, show up only something like only 8 suppliers in the whole of the USA. If you know your exact pen model and make your search even more specific (e.g. search for Schneider Topball 850 rollerball Refill), it only shows 2 different USA suppliers! Add in quotes around that search phrase (so as to force the search engine to search for sites containing exactly that phrase) and, at time of writing, only one site pops up in the results. Quite incredible. It seems to have a very nice pen refills niche!

Bear in mind that Schneider is one of Europe's most popular brands and you really have to ask yourself how come they're so sparsely represented on the web. The answer lies in the fact that, while big in the rest of Europe (and certainly growing nicely in the US), they have only been represented in the UK in very recent years and, it seems, writing instrument retailers are a little slow to catch on.

Let's try another make on Google, this time for a Pelikan fountain pen refill: type in "Level L5 refill" and, again, who are the ONLY result in the whole of the UK. And a search for (incl. quotes) "Porsche Design Ballpen refill" turns up the same result. Did I mention the phrase, "nice niche"?

So, what other difficult (and easy) to find pen refills do they sell? Just about any Caran d'Ache refills, Faber-Castell and Graf von Faber-Castell refills, Pelikan refills, Porsche Design, Schneider and Tombow writing instrument refills. So, if you're having trouble locating that illusive refill for your favourite writing instrument, you know where to look first.
Monday, February 04, 2008
Waterman has some entry level fountain pens, available at our local Staples for $50-70, so probably yours too, or other office supply store. I have a nice Platinum pen (brand name, not what it’s made of…) I got from Levenger for $60. This is my “everyday” pen. Sheaffer makes some cartridge-only fountain pens for under $30, if you just want to try one out and see how it goes for you.

Generally speaking, the more expensive pens have very artistic outsides, flexible and precisely-crafted nibs, and better-quality materials for the inner workings. As in all things, 1) you get what you pay for, and 2) each person has his/her preferences.

Fountain pens aside, just thinking about all the Bics in landfills everywhere makes me want to be able to use writing implements that are at least refillable. I’m moving toward this at my own desk.