Thursday, May 26, 2011
Things on Thursday: Fountain Pens
The collectibles craze has never taken over my brain. Beanie Babies, Lladro or Precious Moments figurines, Tom Clark gnomes, Thomas Kinkade prints...I've watched friends and family enjoy the art of collecting for the simple pleasure of it, but never felt the urge myself.
My collections have been more practical in nature. I collected clothes when I worked outside the home. Clothes were more important to me then than they are now, as I sit typing in my jammies. These days, I practice the minimalist closet and actually dread shopping for clothes.
I still collect books, however, and have since my teens. My book collection, combined with George's, has taken over our house. But the vast majority of our books have been read. They are not for show. When Nick recently needed to do a report on Saturn, we had real print books for him to look at...not just Wikipedia.
I collect rubber stamps, too. These have all seen ink; I don't have them just to have them.
My mother gave me my first fountain pen: a broken, leaky Parker 51 that my grandfather used for decades. This pen gave me the itch to get my own, so in the early 1990s, I bought my first, a Waterman Laureat. I loved writing with it, how it felt in my hand, the character of the ink it laid down which was nothing like the ink you get from any throw-away pen. And so I started collecting fountain pens, like the Parker Sonnet pictured above.
I have Watermans, Parkers (including a reproduction of my grandfather's 51 that I carry in my purse and use to write checks), and Shaeffers. No Montblancs, though. The one I bought leaked so I sent it back. I also sent back a truly beautiful Argento that just didn't feel right in my hand. What matters to me isn't the impressive brand name or the indulgent cost...what matters is how a pen writes, how it feels in my hand, how it functions. It helps if it's pretty, too.
My friends at Micron gave me a gorgeously functional Parker Duofold before we moved to Rapid City in 2000, and it was my last acquisition. Once my storage case was full (it holds 12 pens), I stopped collecting. Now, at any given time, three spots in the storage case are empty. I found keeping ink in more than three pens simply wasn't practical and resulted in leaks and dried-out cartridges. I keep the reproduction Parker 51 in my purse, the Parker Sonnet by my computer, and the Waterman Executive on my craft desk. As one dries up, I'll clean it, put it back in the case, and choose another pen to fill with ink.
Using fountain pens is my one writerly affectation. I love them.
Do you have a favorite pen? Is there some other functional item that you collect with joy? Do you prefer collecting items that are simply beautiful or cute or funny? What about collecting as an investment? Please share your thoughts on collecting in the comments!