More than a year ago, I set a goal to reduce my fountain pen collection to 9 pens. I reached that goal very briefly. Too briefly to be meaningful. Too brief to call “goal achieved.” Like it or not, my collection’s back up to 12 pens. Still that number is a good deal less from where I began this shrinking process—35 pens give or take a couple.
Writing with my pens has taken a temporary back seat in order to write by computer. It turns out that computer writing/editing leads me to think about fountain pens far more than when I’m in the midst of drafting by hand. (Why is that? The process not as fun, perhaps?) Not surprisingly during this time, curiosity got the best of me and led to at least three new pens.
When the goal for 9-pens was set, the final 9th pen for the collection was also planned. This fountain pen was slated to be an custom Edison Hakumin—urushi with a bit of maki-e. The pens pared down to 8, and then to 6 while I waited for the “final” pen to join in. And waited, and waited, and waited…eight months longer than the original six month time estimate.
Waiting is dangerous for pen people. My brother and sister pen people know this to be true.
The custom fountain pen arrives and instead of being the “approved” 9th pen, it becomes the 12th pen in my tiny hoard. “Oh dear,” says to moi to moi-self. Five pens in between the 6th and the 12th! What has happened? Let’s see…curiosity led me to the Solitary Sailor, the Pilot Decimo, and the PiloTWSBI. Along the way I (re-)acquired a Sheaffer Balance in ebony pearl. Last month, a dear friend gave me her old Sheaffer Tuckaway. Hmmmmm…
The Tuckaway turns out to be a working vacuum filler in my favorite color—brown. Manufactured by Sheaffer during the 1940’s, mine is circa 1942. I always like a pen that is older than moi. Plus, the nib is delightful in a way that only vintage nibs can be. The Tuckaway appears to suck up a little more than 1ml of ink. The Tucky is so tiny and torpedo shaped that it reminds me of a Fisher Bullet pen. You remember—those ballpoint pens that were commissioned by NASA and allow you to write when upside down. The Tuckaway also sports a Sheaffer Triumph nib which wraps around the back of the feed. It has a wide metal cap band, and most exciting of all, the pen is clipless!
This particular brown-striated Sheaffer Tuckaway is 3 5/8″ nib to barrel in length, 5 1/8″ posted, and 4 1/2″ closed. Inked up, the Tucky weighs 14g with the cap, and 9g without.
I love writing with the Tucky. The pen has sentiment in its favor, being a gift from a close friend. That means, the Tucky must stay in the collection along with the Sheaffer Streamlined Balance.
It’s not about Being Virtuous—It’s about a Way of Being
What’s a person dodging pen acquisitions to do? *sigh* There’s only room for 9 pens in my cigar pen box. Still, the box’s capacity is only wee dilemma (a real dilemma being more along the lines of finding solutions to what is the disaster of America’s partisan politics). A temporary solution for storage has been easily managed. Yet the question lingers: Do I stay put at 12 pens, downsize yet again, or give over to the hoarding whim and keep acquiring?
Were those five “extra” pens acquired thoughtfully? Let’s call the number for four pens, because one was a gift, okay? Well, the acquisitions weren’t thoughtless, and none were impulse buys. Yet I will confess to a period of frustration in the waiting, waiting, waiting for the custom fountain pen, as well as a frustration with the preponderance of fat, wet european nibs among my pens. Those combined frustrations contributed to pen acquisitions. I think that happens for a lot of us who cannot try out pens before buying them. As we get more sophisticated in our fountain pen usage, and our tastes evolve, more pens are acquired as we seek out the mythical perfect pen.
I don’t regret the extra pens. There were things to learn about nibs from each of them, as well as confirmations about personal pen preferences. While I was, in many ways, patient about the custom pen, I wish to have indulged the anticipation of it more. My desire for a thinner, leaner writing line could have been dealt with by sending existing pens out for nib work. For moi, it’s about learning to let things be what they are, and enjoying the here and now.
Recently, I was asked, “If you had to live in a single room, how many pens would you keep?” That was simple: two. There’s room for two in a tiny pen case, right? The first pen would be the custom Edison Hakumin. The second decision remained tougher. The Pilot Decimo has a great slim footprint. Sadly, it’s got that noisy click-thing which makes it inappropriate for writing notes in a quiet performance setting. The fatter—in comparison to the Decimo—Sailor Realo has a delicious note-taking nib, too. Er…keep the Decimo? No, the Realo! No, the Decimo! No, the Realo! And so it goes… Fun to contemplate. The Fall will bring some intensive writing projects which will give me a good picture of which pens continue to sing to me the most. More, as always, to be revealed as we write along.
My fountain pen expedition has taken me from Esterbrooks, deeper into American vintage, obsessing over piston-filling pens, falling for Italians, trying on the moderns, embracing Japanese pens, and reaching back for a little more vintage. The journey has been fascinating, exciting, and useful.
And, yes, I still want to reduce to a handful of pens. Maybe six! Maybe five! Seven seems actually doable. Uh, nine? Nine has not yet been attained. Nine is fewer pens, and less-is-still-more in my book. Nine remains the goal. I’m postulating that getting there means sitting still with 12 for awhile.
For those of you expecting more about the custom Edison Hakumin…well, it’s a Mina, it’s beautiful, simple, and kinda personal. Perhaps it deserves a dedicated post further down the road. First things first—gotta use it, spend time with it.
Pen-related purchases revolved around pen cases. A 6-pen well-made, thick cloth wrap replaced the handsome Levenger 3-pen leather sleeve. The 6-pen wrap has black denim on the outside, and a postage stamp theme material inside. The strap secures with velcro. The wrap is made by Pacific Coast Pens in California, and she can be contacted via FPN.
In honor of the custom Edison Hakumin pen is a Franklin-Christoph Penvelope Two. Based on their 6 and Lucky 13 Penvelopes, the Penvelope Two was released in June 2012. My case is a prototype version from a small production run. I snapped it up from F-C’s stockroom—always take a gander at this section of their website! From perusing website photos, the only apparent difference between the prototype and the current production version: the Penvelope Two’s back loop has snaps to open and close it. My case has a closed back loop. Scintillating stuff, isn’t it? It’s a handsome case, and holds two pens securely. I’m not so sure how the little closing leather strap will fare over time. We’ll see, ay? There’s room inside for assorted pieces of paper and teeny whatnots like, uh, extra Decimo nib units.
A friend gifted me a lovely Exbpens pen wrap. It’s made to hold a small notebook in addition to pens. The material used is fantastic, very soft feeling, and I enjoy picking it up to unwrap pens. From Indiana, Exbpens can also be contacted via FPN or her informative website.
Meanwhile, happy to report that my ink of choice remains Namiki Blue, along with the occasional Pilot Blue-Black. No acquisitions in that department since my last post about ink, although a friend did give me a huge bottle of Pilot Blue-Black. Such generous friends I have!
A Bit of Extra Reading Pleasure
- Related Post, Back to Vintage (Apr 12, 2012)
- Levit, Tom, Thich Nhat Hanh interview, “Happiness is possible without consuming all the time,” Mar 22, 2012
- Always Pen-formative:
- Edison Pen
- Hakumin Urushi Kobo