Praise Flows for Fountain Pens

By Dale Roberts, | The Christian Science Monitor, April 19, 1989 | Go to article overview

Praise Flows for Fountain Pens


Dale Roberts,, The Christian Science Monitor


EVERYBODY knows you can buy a fairly good ballpoint pen for a quarter or a felt-tip pen for a buck. So why do some people spend $25, $100, or $250 to buy a fountain pen?

"A fine pen is made to help a person write better," says Marilyn Brown, manager of the International Pen Shop at Arthur Brown & Bro. in New York. "You can write all day and not tire. A well-balanced pen feels good in your hand. It lets you write with a gliding motion, with a freedom unlike any other writing tool."

What kinds of people are buying fountain pens these days?

"Almost everybody," says Ms. Brown, whose shop carries pens ranging in price from $18 to more than $8,000. "Our customers include everybody from firemen to doctors, from actors to lawyers, from diplomats to secretaries."

Bruce Kelly, a physician practicing family medicine in Asheville, N.C., says that finding ways to make everyday tasks like note- taking more enjoyable helps him cope with a hectic schedule.

"When I'm taking or transcribing information from my patients," Dr. Kelly said, "writing with my fountain pen somehow helps the day go a little more smoothly."

Some buyers want a thicker pen; others choose a slimmer one. Some want a feather-light writing tool; others favor a heavy, solid pen.

"Writing with a fountain pen is almost like automatic writing," says Molly Pace, who works at Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville when not at college studying for a teaching certificate. "It's as though your thoughts are connected to your hand and flowing through your pen."

"I have a pen fetish," admits Ms. Pace. She uses her Waterman Executive - charged with black or (occasionally) purple ink - for writing letters and poetry. She says that the prospect of writing with a fountain pen makes it easier to face school assignments she'd just as soon not write.

Some pen fanciers select a lustrous black pen with discreet gold trim; others look for a pen finished in colorful lacquer, wood grain, tortoise shell, or gold or silver plate.

A well-made pen with a fine finish is more than just a writing implement, says Lisa Morrow, product manager at Pelikan, Inc. She describes Pelikan's hand-crafted, gold and silver Toledo model ($579) as "a piece of jewelry you can write with. …

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