October 06, 2011

Before All Things

A dear friend recently pointed out to me that I have not had one good, proper geek-out over my beloved fountain pens and writing paraphenalia on this blog, and he's quite right--it's high time I rectify THAT situation!  I don't have the money to spend on any $200 inkpens--and believe me, they can run much higher!--but as Anne Shirley once said, the modest inhabitants of my desk, most of them gifts, were given to me with as much love as ever went into any wealthier lady's diamonds.  So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to my favorite writing implements, a few of the little things that let me occasionally pretend to time-travel.

A pen knows that it has truly attained my ultimate favorite status when I give it a dedicated purpose.  My least expensive, but most beloved fountain pen was a gift from my father when I was in my early teens.  It couldn't possibly have cost more than $15, and is not of high quality, but I love it because he picked it out himself and bought it for me.  It was his expression of his faith in my ability to become a writer.  To this day, I use it and only it to write in my Book-Lover's Journal, which I still keep even though I post reviews on here, as well.  (That journal gets the unexpurgated originals of the reviews).

Image courtesy of Levenger

My yellow Levenger True Writer is the only pen allowed to write in my personal journal.  Though I haven't written in it for quite some time, I take fits and starts when I simply have to keep a journal, when it serves as my "pensieve," and any journal I use must contain paper that is well-suited to my Levenger.  One of the only things I don't like about Levenger is that they frequently retire colors, so this yellow pen is no longer available.

For inexpensive, hard-wearing pens that truly function well and will probably outlive their owners, you simply cannot beat Lamy.  My favorite Lamy roams about with me everywhere, in my purse, in my bookbag, wherever and whenever I want the delightful feel of a fountain pen in my hand, but know that one of my more delicate pens would be damaged.

Image courtesy of Lamy

If you like to write on the go, if you want something you can always carry in case a great idea strikes you in the middle of a restaurant or a bookstore, you can't do better than a Lamy and a Moleskine notebook.

Image courtesy of Pelikan

Have you ever written with a Pelikan pen?  When this German company talks about precision writing instruments, they mean it.  Though I've never tried one of their top-of-the-line models, my Pelikan Pura (a Christmas gift from my wonderful mother-in-law) has excellent balance and a smooth, steady flow of ink.  It makes me happy.  I use it mostly for the hand-written letters that have become sadly infrequent events in my life of late.  I really must do something about that.

My most recent acquisition and current love of my penning life is the long-awaited Namiki-Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen.  Oh, I drooled over these for years before my mother-in-law once again came to my aid at Christmas and bought me one. 

Photo courtesy of Fahrney's Pens
(I have the blue one.)

I admit it doesn't have a dedicated purpose, but that's partly because, unlike so many of my other pens, its nib and Pilot ink both work well with most grades, weights and textures of paper.  It gets used for a lot of the things the others couldn't do without wicking.  (For those unfamiliar with this term, "wicking" is what happens when you write nice, crisp letters, and then watch them turn into fuzzy blobs because the paper is too porous and the ink seeps out around where your pen originally touched down.)

Image courtesy of Private Reserve

For my money, the best fountain pen ink is made by Private Reserve.  Unfortunately, they don't sell directly to the public, but most fountain pen suppliers sell their inks in the dizzying variety of beautiful colors in which they can be had.

Image courtesy of Exaclair

One final note.  I like my paper really smooth, and I mean smooth as glass; if that sounds appealing to you, then the best paper in the world for you is made by a French company named Clairefontaine.  They're part of the wider family of brands called Exaclair, of which Rhodia, with its famous orange notebook covers, is also a member.  Much to my annoyance, they don't sell directly to the public, either, but many good on-line stores carry them.  Clairefontaine makes a wide assortment of notebook types, but the only store I've ever found here in the US that carries their stationery is The Writer's Bloc, which I dearly love and highly recommend, even if they don't sell Private Reserve inks.

Well, there's my inner nerd spilled out all over the pages of my blog.  Geeks and nerds of the world, unite in resurrecting the pocket protector!  And live long, and prosper, too.

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