For the past year, I’ve been using a fountain pen I’d received as gift. It’s a modern pen with a fine to medium-ish nib that takes short international ink cartridges. It’s super easy to load and writes beautifully, never spilling ink anywhere but my own hands. At first I used prepackaged cartridges (all you have you do is pop them in and pop them out), but I’m now moving into a refillable cartridge, thanks to a lovely gift from my brother-in-law, who inspired my interest in fountain pens.
The only other really nice pen I have is a ballpoint pen made of wood, purchased a few years back at a Renaissance Faire. For the most part, I was satisfied with just these two.
But then I received another fountain pen from my husband’s family. I didn’t know much about it, but it was so neat that I wanted to find out more. Instead of taking a cartridge or simply dipping – really the only two ways I could imagine filling a pen – this pen produced a little tube when you twisted it, and then squeaked when you twisted it back.
I started doing some research to figure out how it worked before I tried it out, and I got a little distracted by fascinating history of fountain pens. Yesterday, at the excellent suggestion of my brother-in-law, I went to my very first pen show. Let me tell you, I learned a lot. For one, I learned that this particular ink-filling mechanism was common in the 50s and 60s for the brand Shaeffer, and that there was an extra step required to fill it with ink. After screwing out the tube, you have to pull the tail back, and then as you push it back in, it pulls the ink in. Then you screw it back and your ready to go. I tried it as soon as I got home, and I discovered that I’ve got a very cool working vintage pen. And a family heirloom, to boot!
Here’s a few other things I saw at the Pen Show:
My favorite find was a set of pens made of found moose antlers and covered in scrimshaw ships and pirates. I was able to chat with the maker, Ryan Krusac, and discovered that he sketched out his designs by hand on paper, scanned them into a CAD program, after which they could be transferred onto the material. I particularly love the “Ship in Tempest” and “Kraken” designs. They’d be just perfect for working on my Pirate Epic. They’re pretty much everything I’ve ever dreamt of in a pen.
I definitely recommend checking out a pen show near you, even if you have only the slightest interest in writing implements. I knew very little going into my first show, and I didn’t feel ready yet to buy anything, but I still learned a lot and got a lot of ideas about how to proceed next both with my tiny collection of pens, and my budding interest in the rich history of writing tools.
Before you go, though, be sure to read this (yet another excellent suggestion from my brother-in-law). It’s helpful and highly amusing, and a wonderful prep for your pen show experience.