Friday, March 25, 2011

What pen for fraudulating?

By way of e-mail, I discover that my choice of fountain pen at work is apparently a subject of interest.


Oookay, anything for blog fodder, I guess.

It's a Lamy AL-Star, the aluminum version of their popular Safari line. I like the Safaris, but I'm used to a bit of weight in a fountain pen, and the plastic Safari just doesn't feel like a fountain pen to me.

I have a Z-24 piston converter installed, which is kind of new to me. When I discovered cartridge systems for pens, I whole-heartedly leaped onto the new (for me) technology, trumpeting the ease of use and vowing to never use a converter again.

Here recently, though, I've become dis-satisfied with fountain pen cartridges. Unless you want to go to some trouble, you're pretty much stuck with whatever ink and colour the manufacturer thinks you need, and they can be a pain-in-the-tuckuss to change out.

With a converter installed, I can use whatever ink or colour strikes my fancy, or even mix my own personal variety.

As far as ink goes, I'm a fan of Noodlers, but I've picked up a couple of bottles of Levenger's house brand ink that I've been quite pleased with; and I've developed a bit of a jones for the Iroshizuku ink.

I seriously doubt if any of my critters will ever see a note scribed in that last, though. They're simply not worth it.

Why a fountain pen?

Well, I'd be lying if I said that ego didn't have something to with my choice of writing instrument. People will stop what they are doing when you un-cap a fountain pen, and watch in fascination as you write with it.

And in today's world of mass-produced ball-point pens and gel inks, there is something satisfying to the soul to be found in writing with an instrument which dates to the 1850s and can trace it's direct lineage back to the 10th Century.

The big plus to a fountain pen is the simple fact that it is easier to write with one. Fountain pen ink is liquid and flows freely. The scribe need only guide the nib across the paper, and the ink will apply itself.

Ball-point pens, on the other paw, use paste ink, and require the writer to firmly apply enough pressure to rotate the ball, dragging the paste out of the reservoir and onto the surface of the paper.

Granted, it is not a lot of pressure, but it does add up over the course of a day. Since I initial or sign over a hundred documents in a shift; answer a score or more Inmate Request Forms, Grievances and the occasional Citizen Complaint, and annotate or add suggestions to a double handful of stuff written by other officers -- my writing hand gets a bit of a work-out.

It may just be imagination, but at the end of the day I can tell a palpable difference between a shift using a fountain pen and a shift using a ball-point.

And I just like them.



Pappy said...

"And I just like them."

That's the only reason you need.

Anonymous said...

I used to write with a fountain pen but the computer stopped that archaic notion.

Still take a pencil on interviews however. If the point breaks off I can put on a new one right quick with my pocket knife.

Auntie J said...

I dug out my fountain pen that I bought through Levenger (years ago now) and my bottle of ink and used that to address all my Christmas cards last year. Great fun.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I used a Rotring 600 for years. It had a solid brass body, so I didn't need to worry about breaking it (I'm clumsy), and people don't borrow fountain pens, which means they don't borrow them and fail to bring them back.

Sadly, Rotring seems to have stopped making them. Foo.

Captain Tightpants said...

Thanks to you and Marko's various comments over time I made the decision to try the switch earlier this year - a Lamy Charcoal Safari in Carbon w/ the extra-fine nib for those who may care.

Like you said - it is "easier" to write with I've noticed. Having gotten out of the handwritten things gig since the computer prevalence of today, I now find myself going out of my way to put pen to paper again. Gaming notes, work scribbles and whatever - it's all rather enjoyable now.

Plus, you do get some fun comments when people see you using them. Definitely a pause in the general populace.

Thanks for the idea sir.

HerrBGone said...

I’ve waffled back and forth over the years between fountain and ball-point. I, too, now do most of my writing with a keyboard. But I still do a fair amount of drawing. Occasionally with one of my pens. My preferred fountain pen is a vintage 1947 Parker “51” vac-filler found at the flea market for short money. It’s usually loaded with Waterman’s Sea Foam (pale blue) ink. While I have some more recent including a Rotring I just like using a pen that is older than I am. Of late, however, I have gotten away from carrying any of my “51”‘s and have been using an all stainless pre-1973 cap click Parker Jotter instead. And yes, it’s loaded with a modern gel refill. Now if I could find a nice deep forest green ink for the favorite “51” I could easily be drawn back to it.

HerrBGone said...

Meant to add: Thank you, sir, for bring the subject back to mind! I always look forward to new installments of ‘The Files.’

Old NFO said...

Just don't get on an airplane with em... they DO leak!

Shy Wolf said...

LOL- NFO, "They DO leak". And, yes, they do! Gotta love it, though, when you can write your signature and actually have FLAIR in it without even trying.
Fell in love with fountain pens when we had to load our own with the plunger on the old Parker from a bottle of India ink.
When the replaceable cartridges came out, it was even more fun refilling them using an old syringe filled from a bottle of India ink... and they wrote just like they were supposed to.
If you didn't let the tip dry.
Ever wonder why the old tymers used to lick the tip of their pens? Now ya know.

Shy Wolf said...

Forgot to add... my Honey thinks it very amusing that I still use 'that funny squiggly line kind of writing'... as I tell her: we call that 'script', and it really used to be taught in schools.

BGMiller said...

I wish I could use a fountain pen at work....

Riding around in a sleeve pocket, going from walk-in freezer to hovering over a thirty gallon steam kettle at a full boil, and then trying to scribble through a thin layer of grease on the repair order for the ice maker is just too much for a fine writing instrument to take.

I've been running a Fisher Space Pen for the last few years. So far it's been the only thing to survive a professional kitchen without dying or vomiting in my pocket.


Vaarok said...

Being left handed, you all suck and I hate you. Shoving a marking instrument forward while dragging the heel of my hand through whatever I just managed to scratch with it, I use Bic Z4 gel-pens when I have to and keyboard whenever I can.

Zdogk9 said...

You need a goose quill. When I was in elementary school it was required that we use a fountain pen.

Anonymous said...

I also love writing with a fountain pen. I do need to invest in a syringe for refilling the cartridges ... good idea. Sometimes, the ideas seem to ... flow better with this type of pen & ink. I also own a goose quill pen!

Ulises from CA

P said...

Anoter source. Fountain pen hospital. Google them. I have had good luck with them

I have several. Including an older chisele Parker and a mont blanc found in the pen cup at a public library check out desk.

Tim said...

Wholeheartedly agree with you LawDog. I College my major professor wrote with a Parker 45, I picked up the habit. My favorite is my Rotring, the nib has since become unglued but it's got the heft that makes it a dandy to write with.

Gopher said...

Looking for fountain pens is half the fun going to garage and estate sales. When you can find a nice Parker for .25 it's a good day.

Anonymous said...

Write on, Lawdog, Right On.
The pleasure of the writing,
and its distinctive look,
make fountain pens winners.nd
Some time try a broad point
shaped into a calligraphy nib.
Smooth writing, thicks and thins,
make even my handwriting look
better. Anon, Don

Pops said...

I have carried a fountain pen off and on for most of my life. I love them. I've taken to the disposable pens from Staples, as they are inexpensive, can be refilled (if you are careful) and losing one to a student is no big deal. ;)

I am going to spring for a good Parker or Waterman, one of these days.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the inspiration to get back to it! Guess I've been away way too long.

Jake (formerly Riposte3) said...

@ HerrBGone:
"Now if I could find a nice deep forest green ink for the favorite “51” I could easily be drawn back to it.

Noodler's Forest Green. See here for the colour chart (item #19016) and here is a good place to order from. Keep in mind that the colour chart may not be totally true to life on your monitor.

@ Tim: Check out Fountain Pen Hospital, like P mentioned - I've heard really good things about them. They should be able to get that Rotring back into fighting trim pretty easily.

Ladybug Crossing said...

My Mr. prefers his fountain pen, too. As for me -- I can't keep track of my coffee cup, so a good fountain pen is definitely not going to happen.

ibrow said...

At 40 years old I still have the fountain pen I used in school. Mont Blanc italic oblique nib - very easy to write with and the oblique nib makes the handwriting look way better than it deserves.

Lergnom said...

When we first met, my then-GF used a Rapidograph pen. After maybe 25 years, it stopped working. I got her a Scheaffer cartridge pen with 2 nibs, which she loves and carries with her everywhere.

phlegmfatale said...

My penmanship is much better when I'm using a fountain pen or one of my quill pens. Plus I like that we share that ink-bottle fetish. Lovely to see them sitting about, fecund with the possibility of future scribblings.

Derius Thoran said...

My grandfather left me an extremely old fountain pen. I have no idea what kind it is, as any markings or inscriptions have been I guess worn off through the years. The story is it was given to him by his father and dates from the very early 1900's.

I know nothing at all about them. I do know that this one appears to have some kind of rubber bag or something inside, and it has a lever that you can raise and lower that locks into the pen. I assume this is how you fill it.

I may drag it out and see if I can get it to work. I am interested to see the difference. Has anyone heard of a pen like this?

(I know the description is very minimal but that's all I got)

Jerry The Geek said...

Fountain Pens are the best way to add Elegance to Writing. AND they make you pay attention to your "penmanship".

I collect old fountain pens ... as an earlier writer mentioned, they make it worth the effort to attend Estate Sales.

But they are not at all useful when you have to write on forms which have multiple copies, depending (as they do) on transferred impressions from a ball point or pencil [Faugh!]

Woodswalker said...

For work I have a blue and a black Parker from Staples...cartridge pens...but they write fine.

Cannot FIND my good ones. Too much chaos in life right now.

Shy Wolf said...

Deriusw, yes, that is the original style of refillable fountain pen. If it's as old as you say, the rubber tube may be worn (mine is, anyway) out and trying to fill it will result in a terrible mess.
Your assumption on the lever is correct: it's raised to compress the tube, the nib inserted in a bottle of ink to voer the groove on the nib, and the lever lowered to its original/flat/closed position.
One thing you may want to do before trying to fill it is clean it- this may not be the proper or recommended method, but what I do is fill something like a medicine bottle with enough alcohol to cover the nib and let it soak over night. Then try filing the tube and let it sit overnight to loosen the ink inside. Drain, refill a couple times with alcohol, then try the ink. Again- be cautious as the rubber may be rotted and you'll have a mess.
Personally, if the pen is that old, I'd make a glass cabinet for it to spend the rest of its days above the fireplace so people can admire it.

Anonymous said...

hard to press through 32-more copies.

Anonymous said...

difficult to press hard enuff to impress more than one copy. believe the other guy meant 2 or 3 copies not 32

Derius Thoran said...

Shy Wolf, thanks for the info. I looked at it more today and the little rubber thing inside is all dry and brittle. No way it would ever hold ink. Maybe like you said I'll just put it up again.

I'm not exactly sure how old it really is, but my grandmother said as far as she knew my grandfather got it from his dad at some point.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I agree with you some things are better old. I still use a straight razor when I shave for "going out". Takes a little longer, but it is alwaysw worth it.

Anonymous said...

Derius, there are people who make a hobby of restoring old fountain pens to usability. and of course, people who collect the things, as well. i know there's an internet forum called "the fountain pen network" where such folk get together; they may be able to tell you more about your old pen.

it could be possible to get it writing again, incidentally --- new rubber sacs are available for the hobbyist-restorers --- but putting it up as a keepsake and getting a brand new one might be easier, all depending on your preferences.

Roberta X said...

It's always nice when a fellow user of real pens speaks, especially someone as eloquent as out host.

I carry about a half-dozen(!) pens in assorted colors; it's a little excessive but it helps keep track of projected and plans.

Xander said...

What nib size do you prefer?

Given that you use a fountain pen for everyday writing chores, do you find that a particular nib size is more practical?

Anonymous said...

I had to try that IROSHIZUKU ink you mentioned so I got a "disappearing nib" Namiki to feed the stuff to.

The assemblage reminds of the late J. Cooper.

Much like buying a piano does not make one a musician and buying a firearm does not make one armed...

Buying a fountain pen does not suddenly imbue me with the ability to write anything worth reading.

It is fun though and those inks are nice looking - don't smell too bade either.

Anonymous said...

I have 3. Two Shaeffers and a Parker. I use the Shaeffers almost exclusively because I was given practically a lifetime of cartridges. A company I worked for was having a supply closet cleanout and gladly handed them over.

I work in IT and my script has suffered for it but I love the classy look of a fountain pen.