Kathy Kiefer and the Fountain Pens
The Art of the Fountain Pen
In the age of computers, to most people, fountain pens belong to history as obsolete writing utensils. Ballpoint pens have replaced fountain pens as the more widely used instrument, but the disposable, easily broken ballpoint cannot imitate the high quality of a fountain pen. Though it requires more maintenance to keep a fountain pen in working condition, the fountain pen more than deserves the extra work. However, most find the true beauty of the fountain pen in the way it transforms everyday handwriting into something elegant and beautiful. Long lasting and hardy, the extra effort put into the upkeep of a fountain pen delivers an elegance and style to handwriting that other writing utensils cannot match.
Fountain pen’s superior quality provides years of use. “Many years ago before ballpoint pens people would purchase and use the same fountain pen their entire life or at least for many years” (Fountain Pens). While today we might go through more than ten ballpoint pens a year, depending on the quality of the ballpoint we use, fountain pens do not outlive their usefulness until the pen itself breaks. Not made with the thought of disposability in mind, they continue to last today, as shown by the number of vintage fountain pens still bought and sold the world over.
Of all of the detractors to the fountain pen, only the higher upkeep merits mention. Predictably, as with anything used over the space of at least several years, fountain pens necessitate more time and effort to maintain. Nibs.com recommends a thorough cleaning which includes flushing the pen out with water and leaving the nib feed to soak overnight every time you change ink colors or once a month. Adding inconvenience to the maintenance of the pen, fountain pens require refilling the pen with ink every few pages. Fountain pens demand more effort to keep them in working order, but the time and effort necessary provides a high quality instrument.
More than simple instruments, fountain pens express personality. Graham Green once said, “My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ballpoint pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.” Ink from a fountain pen flows effortlessly onto the page, making the distinction between two different individual’s handwriting all the more evident. Because of the simplicity of changing the ink, the color can reflect mood and whim instead of the plain black of most ballpoint pens. Fountain pens transform handwriting to practically an art form –an expression of each individual’s personality.
Enthusiasts can debate the pros and cons of fountain pens until they turn blue in the face, but truthfully no one can measure the worth of a fountain pen in substantial terms. Used for a lifetime and then some, the allure of a vintage fountain pen lies in its ability to endure. After feeling the pen glide across the page. The ease of writing makes it hard to go back to using comparatively simple ballpoint pens. They lend weight and personality to the simple, everyday act of putting words onto a page.