Foggy Sunset

Foggy Sunset
Photo by Aisling Doonan

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Fountain Pens

I was thinking the other day what is about fountain pens that I seem to love the most.  I can't really pin it down, but given the choice of pen, pencil or fountain pen and I'll choose the nibbed crusader every time :)

Lamy Ruby Red Al-Star with Extra Fine nib

I have a small collection of pens, but they are all used regularly.  It's not a very diverse group either but I'm sure over time I will be able to change that.

Al-Star with my journal cover made by Brendan's Boat  (no longer in business) housing a Leuchtturm 1917 medium lined notebook (ink friendly & highly recommended)
I remember getting my first fountain pen for school in about 3rd or 4th class (so I was about 9 at the time).  I don't remember my pen, I'm sure my pen was a red plastic standard issue fountain pen that came with italic nibs for calligraphy, but I remember my friends pen.  She had a family pen, I'm not sure who it originally belonged too, but it was black and had a lever at the side so that you could fill it with ink from a bottle.  I was enamoured with it and as a result completely ignored my own pen (I have zilch memories relating to my own...)  I have promised myself that someday soon I will own a similar pen, but it does explain my own insistence of filling my own pens with ink and not relying on cartridges.

R to L - Parker 45 (M nib), Cross Century 2 royal blue (F nib),  Cross Townsend (M nib),  Lamy Safari neon yellow LE (F nib), Lamy Safari red (F nib), Lamy Al-Star ruby red LE (EF nib), Lamy Safari blue (M nib) and Lamy Studio blue (F nib)
I also remember the cool white marker pens that we all had in our pencil cases that erased the blue cartridge ink.  We wrote, we erased and generally marvelled at the wondrous nature of our disappearing words.  My pen was eventually discarded or lost as we all progressed onto biro's with the warning that we wouldn't use pencils in secondary school.  Lot's of stern finger shaking and reminders of ink's permanence ensued.  We felt awfully grown up.
Lamy addiction :)

I do remember my next fountain pen, which was a plastic multi coloured cartridge filled pen, whom I named Wendy.  Wendy and I had many adventures, mostly she wrote in my diary and eventually I wrote her beyond her natural lifespan and she disintegrated.  I was quite distraught at her loss.  She filled many a page of my sentimental drivel and kept me somewhat sane during my teenage years.  I still miss her.

Cross & Parker

After Wendy my next pen was a gift.  From my husband to be (who is quite fussy about things, about how they last, there can't be any thing to scratch or tarnish or dent) for Christmas.  I always knew he was a keeper.  He bought me a Cross Townsend in matt black with silver accents.  I was also thrilled to discover that I could fill it with ink from a bottle...swoon...

My Townsend and I have been together a long time (over 13 years I think) and she's still as beautiful as the day I opened the box.  She's heavy and substantial and a 'proper' fountain pen.  She must always write in black ink (because she's proper) and I still have the huge bottle I got in the gift box. 

Nibs out!

Recently, I decided to get some more and feed the habit.  I wanted a lighter pen as the Townsend is a little hefty for prolonged writing spells.  The Lamy's fit the bill perfectly.  Light, affordable and enjoyable to use, I love them all.  The Lamy Studio is the heaviest and most grown up one and it feels so perfectly weighted in your hand.  There's a delicious sound when you click the cap onto the pen and it feels smooth and centred when you use it.  The only gripe I have is the barrel is smooth chrome and it takes a little practice to hold and write with comfortably.

The Parker 45 is one of my favourites, it was cheaply bought (Possibly less than €6 I think) and it writes the smoothest of the whole lot.  Pity the cap is brushed steel rather than colour coordinated, to make it a bit prettier.  You need to try one of these to believe them.

What are your memories of fountain pens?



  1. I first met fountain pens just a decade or so ago, and learned my mom had a whole stash - including a Parker 75 which was my favorite. It got dropped once, and the cap doesn't go on now for some reason. Once I get it repaired, it will no doubt go back to being my favorite pen. I have a variety of pens, but wrestle with being able to use them. My favorite working pen (ie, one that works without being cleaned and reinked) is a Noodler Flex Nib. Even that one didn't work with my favorite ink, Noodler's Pasternak. Maybe it's because I'm a lefty? I use my Lamy Al-Star (blue) whenever possible, but it works best as a dip pen.

    So - what's your favorite ink?

    Some day, when I get all caught up on everything I want to do, I will study penmanship and have beautiful handwriting. :)

    1. I have never used a Noodlers Flex but I have heard lots of interesting things about them, what is the flex nib like to write with? I would also love beautiful handwriting, I think in order to achieve it, you would have to slow down the process of writing. We write to fast to be careful and consistent. I love looking at old letters from 100+ years ago, the script is so romantic and beautiful, I'd love to be able to write like that.

      I have cross, quink and diamine inks, but at the moment I'm loving the Lamy cartridges (never thought I would!) in turquoise, they dry quickly and have a beautiful colour and shading. No smudging and you can turn the page once you're finished!

  2. hi, just curious - how much was the journal cover made by Brendan's Boat? thx

    1. I don't think the business exists anymore unfortunately. I bought it over 15 years ago I think, it may have been under £50 but I honestly can't remember. Sorry! Etsy may have similar ones, if you look for celtic tooled leather notebook covers.