BBC News – Why are fountain pen sales rising?

4 09 2012

So I am of an age such that I was required to use a fountain pen at school. Not one I had to constantly dip into an ink well – though the desks were actually of that vintage and still had the hole where the ink well would have sat. (Some of the etched graffiti was actually in Latin, though that was more to do with it being a grammar school than being THAT old).

Anyway, I was bought a lovely Parker fountain pen by my proud parents. I was mortified when it became a little warped after meeting a Bunsen burner flame one particular Chemistry lesson, and I have no idea of its whereabouts as I type. I do recall it had a lovely gold nib though.

Most of my school peers were kitted out with the workhorse “Parker 25” fountain pen, but it wasn’t until many years later that I myself acquired one of these stainless steel stalwarts. While still living in the UK my neighbour presented me with one, having found it lying in a gutter. He thought I might like it, as I plainly knew how to use such a mystical tool, and he himself (being a pigeon fancier and lurcher owner) was a little sketchy on the whole literacy thing.

As documented elsewhere – I’m a bit of a “fiddler”. Unfortunately, my incessant screwing/unscrewing of the steel body from the plastic barrel in moments of stress and boredom resulted in a fatal injury to the plastic threads, and they gave way with a pitiful crack.

Being sure of Parker’s stability as a company, I enquired about spare parts for this ancient implement. Surely a replacement for this piece of plastic would be no more than a couple of dollars. That’s when I discovered they had been out of service for decades, and to merely “assess” the repair would be $40. And it’d be sent to France for that honour. Also that in Canada, Parker’s service department is represented by Rubbermaid. I shit you not!

“But I know exactly what’s wrong! I just need a replacement part!” Nope. No good. I was not trained to make such assessments. I would need to send the entire pen for analysis. Bugger that! I’m not letting some Frenchie mess with my pen! Then the solution struck me… eBay! Surely people would be divesting themselves of Parker 25s for mere pennies. After all, nobody uses fountain pens any more. Boy, was I wrong! The average price for a Parker 25 in North America was well north of $100! For an out of manufacture “run of the mill” fountain pen. Cheaper in Sweden though, for some reason… until you add postage.

And then I read this in the BBC… seems there’s a resurgence in “proper pens”.

BBC News – Why are fountain pen sales rising?.

Of course – there’s still no solution for the left-hander’s curse of smeared writing and a blue little finger. (Unless you learn Arabic, I suppose…)

O me miserum.




8 responses

5 09 2012
misfits' miscellany

I’ve had a few Parker fountain pens, but I always, even with the good ones, find their nibs don’t let the ink flow without interruption. I think they moved to a cheaper nib about ten years ago. I pulled out the good nib from and old pen and placed it in the new casing. The old casing was cracked from forcing the cartridge. I’ve learnt to break the seal on the cartridge before screwing the casing closed. No more cracked pens.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but the best fountain pen I’ve ever used, and am still using years later, is a cheap Berol Handrwriting pen. It cost me a quid, and the cartridges come in a bulk pack, 50 for a quid. It stores and extra cartridge in the chamber, and has never given me one problem. It scratch good.

For me, the thing about the fountain pen is the directness of the ink, it’s as close as you can get to moving from brain to paper. In the Biro, there’s the ball, and you feel it’s taking an extra deviation, which you know because you don’t feel the scratch.

5 09 2012
Quieter Elephant

Hm – I tend to go for M nibs – big and crayon-like. Simple, like my thoughts…

6 09 2012
misfits' miscellany

M-nibs didn’t work for me either.

8 12 2012
8 12 2012
Quieter Elephant

I love you and I want to have your babies! (Too soon? OK – flowers first…)

8 12 2012
The power of the written word « Quieter Elephant

[…] these environs will perhaps recall me bemoaning my rough handling of my Parker 25, resulting in fatal injury to its aged body. Others may recall me mentioning my visit to a […]

3 05 2013

I miss the fibre-tip pen. Nobody makes them anymore. With the right kind of ink, they were nearly as impressive as the ever so expensive tech-pen. Great for comic book drawing.

4 05 2013
Quieter Elephant

I think I know the kind you mean. I moved on to Uniball, pilot, etc. or more recently gel pens.

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