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December 2004: Modern Vintage Style

Extra Fine Points Index  ]

BY DON FLUCKINGER • Years ago, when I first got into pen collecting, when the Fountain Pen Hospital catalog came, it was sort of a holiday in my house. I’d drop what I was doing for most of the rest of the day, flip through the pages, and start memorizing makes, models, page numbers, and of course, prices.

Then I’d start saving my pennies. And fantasizing about which ones I wanted but could never afford. At one point, I even ordered a Montblanc Proust on my credit card, fondled it for a couple months, and set it free on eBay after the novelty wore off.

After several years of vintage militancy, I’ve warmed a little to modern pens again. Here are the best that caught my eye in this year’s FPH catalog. Extra Fine Points

Now, when the annual catalog comes, it’s not like that. While it’s still an interesting read, it doesn’t quite inspire the awe and ritualistic behavior, at least any more so than a solid half hour of browsing the vintage pens on eBay.

Still, after several years of vintage militancy, I’ve warmed a little to modern pens again. For anyone who’s interested, here are the best that caught my eye in this year’s FPH catalog:

I’ll get email, complaining that I left out some current Sheaffer pens or Parker pens that may even bear the same model names as their vintage counterparts. That’s a columnist’s decision as to which are the best and which are not.

One pen that didn’t make the FPH catalog, but can be found at several retailers, including this site, Penspiration, and Wood ’N Dreams among others: Filcao’s Columbia, The Gem of the Ocean. Call me a homer or a shill because Richard designed this pen, but he thinks like me and tipped his cap to vintage Parker and Wahl styling when Filcao approached him with a blank slate and said “You design the pen, we’ll figure out how to make it.” It’s got dignity, grace, functional style, and isn’t a flashy piece of costume jewelry that happens to hold ink. Like, uh, the pens that were made back when everyone wrote with one. And it’s a button filler, to boot, so just put away those newfangled cartridge/converter thingies.

Fountain pen
Filcao Columbia.

Best of all, you can buy 15 Columbias for the price of many limited-edition pens — one for each of your grandchildren, or cousins, or aunts and uncles you want to suck into the pen hobby. Just a thought.

cover Further Reading: Pen & Ink Techniques, by Frank J. Lohan

Have an artist’s bent and tired of writing just your name and the grocery list with your great fountain pens? Try your hand at drawing — here’s the guide you need.

Freelance writer Don Fluckinger lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and is the son-in-law of Richard Binder. His articles have been published in Antiques Roadshow Insider, The Boston Globe, and on the collectibles Web site. Please note: Any opinions stated in this column are Don’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Richard Binder or this Web site. Don Fluckinger
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