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BY DON FLUCKINGER • So, we did it again. Richard has another grandkid. Name’s Susanna Rose, and she came into the world at 3:56 AM, December 30, 2005, earning her the nickname “Mommy and Daddy’s Little Tax Deduction” among the nurses at the hospital.
|As you can see, there’s no actual need for using fountain pens over more utilitarian sticks you can pick out of the cup-o-ballpoints in the kitchen. But once you start using them, you’ll understand.|
This column’s for her. Just in case Dad gets — as they say — hit by a bus or something, it’s important to explain why there are so many of these weird pens and matching pencils lying around my office in the flocked cases with trays and drawers. Get it down on paper (er, pixels) for her sake now, while I’m thinking about it.
See, Susanna, if you’ve been poking around your grandfather’s Web site you’ll see that we’ve both tried to explain why we are so enamored of fountain pens in 600 different ways through the articles we write. In short, it boils down to:
Back when everyone used fountain pens, people took pride in how they wrote, and put thought into not only how their penmanship appeared, but also the words they chose. Today, we bash out emails, fire off chats, and blast out message board posts as fast as we can type — which sometimes gets us in trouble when we type faster than we think. Fountain pens make us take time, and consider how the person to whom we’re writing will receive our words.
The pens you get today, ballpoints and rollerballs and gel pens and whatever technology comes in vogue between now and when you read this, make everyone’s writing look same-y. Fountain pens — especially after Pop gets done tinkering with them — help a person’s writing look more distinctive, and classy.
It’s also a connection to the past. You’ll wonder, when you find old papers that belong to the family, what it was like to live in the early to mid-20th century. You’ll see names in the family tree, and imagine the characters who are long since gone. While you’ll never be able to meet many of these ancestors, you’ll at least be able to comprehend their main means of communication, besides these things they called typewriters, and telephones, which you used to have to dial…but that is another story, for another time.
Pop and I, we like to break old things and fix them and break them and fix them some more. We tried clocks and pocket watches, but we couldn’t fix them very well. Fountain pens, well, about a decade ago we figured out that Pop has this knack for making them work, and now he does that for a lot of people. We are sad to say that yes, some pocket watches suffered irreparable harm en route to this discovery. And, very early in our experimentation, we managed to break every single part in one particular Sheaffer Statesman I plucked from a flea-market table, its feed several times over.
Since you’re cut from the same genetic cloth we are, you’ll understand our compulsively acquisitive natures. Where one of something might be good, two is always better. And when you’re talking about “51” Flighters, a baker’s dozen gets you a lot closer to enough.
As you can see in my explanations, there’s no actual need for using fountain pens over more utilitarian sticks you can pick out of the cup-o-ballpoints in the kitchen. But once you start using them, you’ll understand: The nibs making the variegated lines, the delicious ritual of filling the things with inks of whatever hue you fancy that day, the sparkle of silver, gold, platinum, and palladium in their caps, barrels, and nibs. It makes the time we spend writing time well spent.
Really, you won’t be able to get enough of fountain pens, once you understand. And, hanging around this house, that likely will occur sooner than later. I wish you a happy and healthy pen-collecting life. And no, neither you nor your brother Patrick can have my striped Duofolds, so don’t even think about asking.
|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 Biddersedge.com 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.|