Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Paw of Approval

I'm a big fan of fountain pens. I learned to write with one, and while 90% of my writing these days is either done on the computer -- or with a Pilot G2 gel -- some writing simply requires a good fountain pen.

Yes, ball point pens are convenient, as are roller balls, and each one is fully capable of forming readable letters on paper -- but there's something kind of nice about writing with a fountain pen. An elegance in the midst of a fast-paced world that spurns elegance in favour of expedience.

My writing -- barely readable at the best of times these days -- becomes marginally better when I pick up a fountain pen.

In the past if I reached out for a pen on my desk, odds are it was going to be some variety of fountain pen. Since my law enforcement career began (trust me, "Press hard, you're making four copies" simply doesn't work with a fountain pen) I have gradually lost, or given away, my beloved pens, leaving me with an ancient Shaeffer and a Parker of uncertain provenance which I never can seem to find when it's time a jot a note.

During a visit to the Metroplex, La Fatale introduced me to Pilot Varsity pens.

I don't know who came up with the idea of disposable fountain pens -- in this day and age -- but God bless him, and I hope he's making a ton of money.

I've got four of the little jewels rolling around my desk as I type this, and there are two more in my briefcase.

Granted, they're not as smooth, nor as precise, as a good quality refillable fountain pen ... but for two bucks each, they're pretty darn good.

And if you lose or break one, it's not liable to induce the aneurysm that would result from dinking your brand-new $50 dollar Waterman -- or three-digit Pelikan.

Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens get the LawDog Paw of Approval.

LawDog

30 comments:

Jill Pole said...

After finding a Pilot V-Pen (pretty much the same thing) on the ground earlier this year, I too am hooked. There is nothing like a hearing the scratch of a fountain pen on the page. Lovely.

phlegmfatale said...

I love the opportunity to get out my glass quills and write formal correspondence, but I've been using the Pilot Varsity pens as a more portable alternative for more than a dozen years. I wondered what you'd thought of that pen, and I'm so pleased to know you enjoyed it.

Bria said...

I know how you feel Law Dog, I never realized that I had pretty writing until I picked up a quill and some ink. I've not tried a fountain pen, but I find myself making time to use my dip pen and ink simply because it makes my chicken scratch look pretty.

HerrBGone said...

Good sir, you have touched upon one of my obsessions!

It’s OK, LawMom. I’ll try not to rattle on too long. ;-)

I do most of my “writing” these days with ye olde qwerty either on my computer at work or here at home. Jotting notes or sketching is either done with one of my Parker Jotters or if at work with one of the cheap writing sticks supplied by my employer.

But for important things I use my Parker “51” .T7 fountain pen. That would hail from the third quarter of 1947 and in some way would be ‘transitional’ if I’m reading the mark correctly. It’s a dark brown vac filler with a justerloy cap that features the earlier blue diamond clip. I generally keep it filled with Waterman’s sea foam blue ink. Parker Quink is not the easiest to find around these parts of late. It only leaves my shirt pocket when it’s in my hand or if I’m doing something that might put it in peril.

My handwriting is abysmal at best, even with my favorite fountain pen. But I do take a little more care when writing with it. Even if it doesn’t really show! :-}

Those disposables sound interesting. I may have to pick one up for a test drive.

Thanks for the pointer, LD!

Sir Guido Cabrone, LC said...

My pet kink. Fountain pens...

I am still convinced that about half of the grade I got in High School english came from using fountain pens to write my papers...

Kate said...

Bless your heart for writing about these. I didn't know there was such a thing - grew up using fountain pens and it's nice to know there's an inexpensive alternative to be had.

Ross said...

Ah, yes... I, too, love fountain pens. I tried to find these a year or two ago when I first heard about them with no luck.

There's a Waterman Hemisphere in my shirt pocket every day (tucked in next to my Palm Pilot), a Waterman Phineas in my computer bag, and a Parker Sonnet (which I don't really like very much - it's just not as free-flowing as the Watermans) on my desk at work. Right next to the 6" K&E slide rule. (which sits under my LCD monitor...)

Needless to say, I confuse my cow-orkers with the mix of low- and high-tech I use. *evil laugh*

HerrBGone said...

Slide rule. :-)

I have an abacus on my desk that I sometimes use. It sits right in front of the ViewSonic 21” flat panel monitor for my SolidWorks CAD machine.

Anonymous said...

Slide rule! OK, so it's an E6B aviation Wizwheel, but yes, it is heavy, metal and needs no batteries. And my Lamey extra-fine fountain pen (black) for every day, and a Pilot retract with extra-fine Japanese nib for Sunday best (blue Waterman ink).
LittleRed1

Anonymous said...

Parker Quink turquoise ink got me through five years at the university.
And, for Christmas last year, I gave Boo her father's old drafting set that probably cost $100 when it was bought. He never used it; some of the instruments were still wrapped in their tissue protective skins.
And then there's my goose quill pen...
LawMom

Anonymous said...

I love fountain pens. I write so small that a fountain pen make me write large enough to be read by someone other than me. My usual instrument these days is a Pilot G2 or a Uniball Gel Impact RT. Pilot also makes a refillable stick fountain pen if you can find one.

Jerry The Geek said...

What a crazy world. I thought I was the only Geek in the world who was queer for fountain pens.

I'm the kind of guy who haunts junk stores (antique stores, if the price is higher) for oil lamps and old fountain pens. Mostly they don't work any more (the pens ... the lamps can always be made to work), but I still have a bottle of India Ink (bad idea) and Scrips ink for refills.

I can't use them on my desk logbook for my computer notes, but fortunately I, too, have discovered that the Pilot G2 pens provide nearly as satisfying a flow of rich, luscious ink. And it doesn't leak through to the other side.

I keep Black, Blue and Red at hand and have formulated a way of 'color coding' my technical notes to justify maintaining a variety of inks.

Happily, my employer is dedicated to providing office supplies, even to 3 colors of ink in pens that nobody else in the department uses.

Peter said...

Lamy Safari. @ $25 and it takes Lamy refills, or loose ink. You can also cram a Parker refill in there. Different nib widths and it also has a left-handed one. Can't see the difference between them, but the lefty one sure works well.

Anonymous said...

herrbgone-by all means, rattle on; no one is standing behind me with a gun making me read it.
LawMom

HerrBGone said...

I was just thinking back to the Aspie thread and my starting off that comment with fountain pens being one of my obsessions.

Aspie + discussing an obsession = Oh dear…

aarone said...

Parkers, 3 of them with different widths, Pentel P203-P209 mechanical pencils, at MOST HB leads - unless i'm doing some ACTUAL drafting - make up the writing stable around home. Work is a grab bag of the above plus Sharpies, papermate felt tips and Uniball gels.

Writing pages at home are varied, from 100% cotton rag, linen, hide and of course whatever is cheap for printer paper at the local office supply.

But for sitting down and communicating via the written word with friends far away....its a Parker and some fine paper...and a wonderful unlabeled medium deep turquoise ink of unknown linage. and who knows what i'll do when out.

Anonymous said...

Lawdog, you make me glad to know
there others who love the feel of a
fountain pen on paper. Have lost
three 51s, and am now using a Lamy
with Italic point. It's amazing how
a fountain pen and broad point
smarten up the chicken scratches and
make people say, "What nice
handwriting." Little do they know
it's the tool.
Anon, Don

armedandsafe said...

My father used a fountain pen most of his life. I cannot, as I write lefthanded and tend to smudge my already illegible script. I wish, however.

Aspie thread? I missed that one. Could someone lead me on to it, please? As an Aspie, I am interested to the point of obsession. :D

Pops

Tim said...

Friends pine over the latest electronic doo-dads, and while I understand the appeal, this is what I am saving my pennies for


http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3045/2598527372_593b90b517.jpg?v=0

Anonymous said...

There are disposable fountain pens? One of my prayers has been answered! I love writing with fountain pens but being as a lowly grad student, I am usually bereft of funds and normally use a Pilot G2 pen. However, in the past I have used a Lamy Safari, a Cross pen and a Levenger True Writer Pen. I loved them all.

So glad to know that I'm not the only one who loves to write with a fountain pen.(And I didn't learn to write with one either)

Amy

Kim du Toit said...

Just do not EVER fly with the Pilot disposable fountain pens in your pocket.

Think: ink puddle.

I love them too, by the way, but I use

Kim du Toit said...

...some disposable German ones now (I think they're Pelikan, but I'm too lazy to go to the other room to check).

Dixie Amazon said...

I left mine when I left my ex over 16 years ago. Now I must buy some again and some of the disposables too. I think the peacock blue ink I favored has been replaced by turquoise.

HerrBGone said...

“Just do not EVER fly with the Pilot disposable fountain pens in your pocket.”

Or any other conventional fountain pen, for that matter!

Kim, Parker invented a special version of the “51” for just that reason. They called it the Flighter. Still, I think I’d put mine in a double zip-loc bag – just in case…

Of course with Homeland Security’s ongoing special exemption from the Fourth Amendment I don’t think I’ll be flying any time soon.

shrewreader said...

You found yours for less than $4? I am green with envy.

Well, also with the quality of the thesis so far, but with envy, too.

Anonymous said...

I'm a southpaw and I have trouble writing with most pens. I'm so glad there are gel pens with quick drying ink now, it's so much less messy.

Jim said...

I do indeed admire fountain pens, but on the basis of results alone, I cannot beat a Sakura Micron .005 marker. Wow. Given the choice, my writing is very small indeed, and it is nice to be legible regardless. They're also wonderful, archival ink and all, for underlining important ideas in expensive textbooks without having to worry about the pages underneath. Do I make a whistling noise when I go off on a tangent? Just curious.

Jim said...

Also (sorry) the fact that Randall Monroe uses them is a coincidence, but one I accept entirely. :)

Anonymous said...

LawDog,
I gotta say that your writings fascinate me no end! Now, about a fountain pen...I found one some years back that amazed me and I thought I'd give it to a friend who likes fountain pens, but somehow didn't manage to do that--instead I kept it.
Reason I kept it, and still have it, is because it's a retractable, refillable, fountain pen. Yeah, retractable (push button on the end)! and I love it! It's beautiful!
It's made by a Japanese outfit called Namiki. It's way too expensive to be disposable, besides being way, way, too cool to just throw away if I could afford to do that. So, I gotta have a look at a two dollar disposable Pilot Varsity fountain pen, just in case I want to throw away a fountain pen....
p.s.: thanks for the pink gorilla suit story. I very much enjoy your topics, but I just hope I don't have weird dreams about that one, tho...

Anton Ninno said...

Please join our little Varsity group on Facebook!

Pilot Varsity Fountain Pens
https://www.facebook.com/groups/197623255226/