Tale of a Vandal Pen User: What Remains

Current storage box with 9 pen slots.

There is no magic number of writing instruments, no magic bullet to relieve the desire to have things you don’t have, no magic pen to make you a better writer. No magic except in the creation of new worlds—lost in writing, pen to paper, or even fingers to keyboard.

For many of us, the search for the perfect nib and pen combination is a rabbit hole easily fallen into, and difficult to climb out of. Some of us enjoy the hunt more than the pens themselves. A few years ago, my thought was simple enough—to have a writing instrument that endured; something un-disposable. The answer seemed simple enough too—an inexpensive Esterbrook SJ. Naturally, complications ensued with additional preferences evolving: something not a lever-filler, something that could last more than four or five pages, and something more comfortable in my hand. Changing pens and focus over time from Esterbrooks to Pelikans to Conklins to Visconti Ragtimes to Wahl-Eversharps, including various squatters among them. Forgive me if I repeat myself from post to post, eh? *sigh*

Pens now gone top to bottom: Pelikan 150, Original Visconti Ragtime, Aurora Mini Optima, large Danitrio Cumlaude, Pelikan 200, vintage Pelikan 400s

Since the pen culling began, 2 pens have survived the last 3 years: a Levenger True Writer and an Edison Huron. The former a gift from my love, and the latter a gift to myself. In 2 years time, 3 additional pens arrived and have survived the downsizings: all Danitrio fountain pens. Two are urushi pens from maki-e artists and one is a out of production Italian celluloid model. Should it be any surprise the last 2 pens making the collection are an Edison of the Hakumin variety, and yet another urushi Danitrio?

To obtain the 4th Danitrio some modest sacrifice has been required. Gifts cannot be sacrificed. Gifts are connections to lovable people. Gifts will always, I hope, survive any crazy plans regarding re-homing pens. When I considered my cigar box goal of 9 pens, I did wonder about declaring my gift pens (the Levenger and a Sheaffer Tuckaway) un-countable. Or possibly counting 2 as 1 pen. The Tucky is so very tiny, you know.

Although an Edison Mina was once sacrified for the Hakumin Mina, no Edison was considered give-upable. Nor any Danitrio, despite my concern about the similarity of the base urushi between the Fellowship pen and the Short Octagon. Apparently it was not this similarity that was the true “problem” (because don’t ever forget these are pens we are talking about, not real problems). The problem was the heki-tamenuri Piccolo with its tiny c/c nature.

Did I love the Nakaya Piccolo more than I wanted this Danitrio pen? No. Nor did I love the PiloTWSBI, and the Pilot Decimo enough to spare them. The Nakaya’s absence is shocking some of you, n’est ces pas? But remember it has a tiny c/c nature that some of you adore, and some of us, well, don’t. Truthfully, I prefer Danitrio’s urushi. Plus the Danitrio allows me to “ED” it and fulfills the desire for “core writing pen” status. Okay, I could have reached 9 pens without adding a 4th Danitrio, but then the Nakaya’s sacrifice would have been in vain, no? Uh, right?

A simple way to find out how easy or painful it is to let a pen go is to write a classified ad with it. Two pens chastised me terribly when I did this:  the Sailor Realo and (shudder) the Sheaffer Balance. The Balance ad never saw the light of day, as I quickly remembered the folly of losing it. The Realo took a good 48 hours before that mistake was rectified. I do not love the Realo so much as I love writing with its delicious, smooth EF nib. While the Decimo has a comely, slim profile as a notetaking pen, the Realo seems a perfect notetaking pen despite its fatter, business-like profile. The cap can be quietly unscrewed in a dark performance hall, and it’s light enough to clip to my shirt when running errands. The PiloTWSBI was fun while it was here. Yet it was never seriously here for the long haul. The Nakaya, well, as I stated, there are other pens I love more.

One of the things I enjoy about the Danitrio and the Edison section of the tiny pen hoard, is knowing that my purchase (however small) impacts individuals involved in the pen making. There’s an artist behind my modest urushi Danitrios: Tatsuya Todo (his signature is Kosetsu). Behind Edison is Brian Gray and his family. Ernest Shin behind Hakumin.

And so the tiny pen hoard shifts again to include (soon) 4 Danitrios, 2 Edisons, 1 Levenger, 1 Sailor, and 2 vintage Sheaffers. That adds up to 10 pens. As close to 9 as I believe I’m going to get. A pen is always inked, so only 9 others need to lay in the cigar box at any one time, right? In fact 2 pens are usually inked (as I write this post, the Cumlaude and the Realo). The new line re-drawn to 10 pens. Yes, 10 feels good. The perfect nib to pen combination? Well, that’s a future post.

Beauty, which is what is meant by art, using the word in its widest sense, is, I contend, no mere accident to human life, which people can take or leave as they choose, but a positive necessity of life. The Beauty of Life (1880)—William Morris

PW Retrospective:  Past Header Photos

From 2009 top to bottom: Bexley Sherazade, Pelikan M200, Visconti Ragtime LE, Aurora Mini Optima

From early 2010 top to bottom: Eversharp Skyline, Visconti Ragtime ver 2

From mid 2010 left to right:  Edison Huron, J. Herbin ink bottle, Wahl, Wahl ringtop, Visconti Ragtime LE, Visconti Caravel, Sailor ink bottle. All sitting on G. Lalo Verge de France stationery.

From 2011 top to bottom: Sailor ink bottle, Nakaya Piccolo, Edison Mina, Platinum Preppy all sitting on Rhodia No. 18 notepad.

From mid 2012 top to bottom: Hakumin Edison Mina, Sheaffer Streamlined Balance, Edison Huron