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19 February 2007

Yesterday it was where I write; today what I write with; tomorrow no more procrastionation!

Pens. A necessity, even in the age of computers. A utilitarian object, but for one as persnickety about pens as I am, a fine one can make all the difference when you need to write.

I used to work in a building with an office supply store downstairs. Whenever I needed a break from the stresses of my daily work, I'd wander downstairs to the shop to peruse pens. Spending a few dollars on a new pen added a little cheer to my day.

I've never been one to like unusual ink colors. Black for checks, bills, and documents. Blue for making notations on documents. Red on occasion, although even when I was a teacher, I avoided it when marking errors. I had colleagues at that time who thought you should use green ink. This seemed silly to me; a paper full of notes from teacher was still marked with failures regardless of the ink color.

There was a segment on the Today Show this morning discussing a special limited edition Mont Blanc pen that is being auctioned on EBay to raise funds for The National Archives. The first pen in the collection, honoring George Washington (a fitting promotion to launch on Presidents' Day), has an opening bid price of $27,000. The Mont Blanc spokesperson wore gloves when he held it. The pen was, as you might expect, beautiful. It is made of black lacquer, white gold inlays and a few (38!) diamonds and sapphires. I'd rush right over to the site and place a bid, since I like nice pens, and preserving historical records makes The Nat'l Archives a good choice, but I'm not in the market for a $27,000 diamond pen right now. At least not one that you need to wear gloves to hold. None of my pens are that special, but some of my favorite pens these days are below:

















The black pen on the far left is a Waterman. The Waterman company perfected, and then patented, the first self-filling fountain pen, but lost it's market dominance when the era of ballpoint pens began. I like fountain pens, like the smooth flowing ink, like the light scratching sound made when nib touches paper, but I cannot write with one often for two reasons: 1) I hold the pen too tightly and always damage the nib; and 2) I must be an ink magnet because regardless of how careful I am, I always end up with ink on my fingers, hands, and arms. I typically like a fine point, but I use a medium point in the Waterman; it just seems to write better for my writing style (probably related to that heavy-handedness).

The pen next to the Waterman is a special pen. The blue thing that looks like it belongs in a cocktail glass: yes! that is a pen. It was made by The Glass Gem, the Wisconsin art studio of Martha Kauppi. This beautiful piece of art came in a blue velvet box with an accompanying note addressed to "Thoughtful writer". Difficult to resist something addressed to a thoughtful writer. This was a birthday present a few years ago. I don't use it much though, only occasionally when signing cards because I'm afraid I'll break the delicate nib. (see above re: fountain pens). But I love the design and the feel of it when I write. I love that it is blown glass, an art form that I someday hope to learn. And, of course, it's my favorite color. Kauppi has interesting pictures of her work on her website. Along with pens, she also makes glass knitting needles!

The other blue pen, the second from the right, was a Christmas present. It's from Levenger's. I like this pen a lot, although it seems a little too heavy when you place the cap on the end. I'm getting used to that, because I'm afraid I'll misplace the cap if I don't keep it with the pen while writing.

The other two pens (the one in the middle and the one on far right) are my favorite utilitarian pens. I love the clean, flowing lines of the Uni-ball Vision Elite. In my opinion, this is the perfect don't-care-if-I-lose-it pen. An inexpensive pen that writes similarly to an expensive one. The kind of pen that you won't get too bent out of shape if someone "borrows", then pockets it. The other pen was a promotional pen. It was sent to me by an unknown company wanting me to order pens as promotional give-aways. It has my name and a company engraved on it. They must have used an old mailing list: I hadn't worked for the company for two years when I received this in the mail. It's a click pen. It has an nice weight and a soft surface grip. Mostly, what I like about this pen is that the middle is slightly indented from the rest of the body, allowing you to move it with ease from a writing position, to balanced under your index finger, out of the way. This makes it ideal for holding while doing other things, like typing or reading, while keeping the pen handy for when you need to make a notation. None of my other pens work quite the same way.

9 comments:

Kate1976 said...

I too am very particular about pens. I even have a special post-it pen which with I write all my file notes. It is good to see that a penchant for decent stationary and calming trips to the stationary cupboard are not unique to me.

Brad said...

Wow. I am thoroughly impressed with your taste in pens. Shopping for pens is one of the few shopping experiences that are enjoyable. I suffered the same ink problems with fountain pens, so have given them up as well. My daily pen in also the Vision Elite, although I buy the multipacks for a little color variety (I'm down to my last one right now and have been subjected to a little flak because it is pink). I don't care for writing with the really thin pens like your glass blown one- but I have to admit it is a nice looking pen.

twitches said...

Something to think about - never paid that much attention to pens, perhaps I should.

Dorothy W. said...

$27,000!!!

zia said...

Oh, I love, love, love fountain pens. If you ever decide to go back to them, despite being an ink magnet and firm pen holder, may I recommend an antique pen with a flex nib? I feel like Edith Wharton every time I hold one ...

Emily Barton said...

Yes, pens are absolutely important (so are pencils. I have this big, fat Faber Castell pencil that was given to me as an Xmas gift a few years ago, and I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost it). I love fountain pens, too, but have the same ink problem. Even when it doesn't dribble all over the place, when I use one, I always at least have a stain on my middle finger where it rests. Your glass pen is beautiful! If anyone wants to send me one of those, let me know, and I'll gladly provide my address.

chiefbiscuit said...

What a co-incidence, I was just thinking about fountain pens yesterday and remembering the ones I used at school and wondering if it was still possible to buy them. I love the smell of the ink. I'm also fussy about my pens. I really enjoyed reading about your preferences etc. (I'm not alone!)

Stefanie said...

I love shopping for pens. I have about 7 fountain pens. I love writing with a fountain pen. None of them cost $27,000 though! Mont Blanc has a pen called Mozart that I covet but it costs about $1,000 so unless I win the lottery, I will only ever covet it. I have a glass dipping pen but it isn't as pretty as yours.

Sandi said...

Oh, Cam, you have such a wonderful blog, and it's so great to think about pens. For years now I've been rewarding myself with a trip to the stationery store whenever I deserve a reward (which is always! I give myself lots of breaks!)I have fallen in love with those Varsity fountain pens...and although it's true that sometimes they throw ink all over me, I forgive them. Your pens are quite lovely and beautiful. I love the glass one.