Most of the writers would have had a romantic brush with the pen in early years of the life. The writing endeavors in the school are hemmed with stories of joy and sadness brought by the fountain pen. For those born after 1980s using a fountain pen is akin to driving a vintage car .The usage of fountain pen had declined to such an extent that anyone who wrote with fountain pen was considered medieval. I remember the time in school when after having completed the tryst with writing with pencils, came a time when it was necessary to write with ‘fountain pen’. It signified having reached a maturity akin to ‘Bar Mitzvah’ of a Jewish boy at the age of 13. The smell of blue and black ink transports one back to an era of romancing on sheets of white paper. The delicate balance had to be maintained to avoid spilling of ink or smudging lest the entire exercise look like a creation of modern art! It was a challenge to fill the ink in the reservoir of the pen using the ‘eye dropper’. Some horror stories come to mind when the ink accidently spilled on the bed sheet leaving stains difficult to explain. Blotting papers did the trick in school but failed on such tragic mishaps! Despite, this the ball pen usage was barred when they appeared on the market in schools and even for signing cheques
Incidentally, the pens with long pointed G nibs inserted on the special holder were used by dipping them in ink and practicing ‘calligraphy’ on the special work sheets. Some students acquired such dexterity in handling these pens that they were sought after to write the ‘personal invitation ‘ cards or decorate the ‘honors roll’ in the school. One could seldom get away, without staining a hand or shirt at times leaving an embarrassing smudge which was so difficult to explain. On reaching home ,the scolding from parents followed. The stain removers of present day were rarely available to clean the stubborn marks. During the later years the same embarrassment would follow in flight, if the fountain pen was inadvertently left in the pocket and would leak the moment the air cabin was pressurized.
The interesting history of the ‘ fountain pen’ goes back to the 10th century when the Caliph of Magreb first used it. Petracha Poenaru a Romanian patented it on 25 May 1827. By 1850 half the fountain pens produced in the world were manufactured in Birmingham in UK. The nibs were madeof steel,iridum and even gold tipped with 14K.
I remember having first acquired a stylish hooked nib Parker 51 pen when the Hero pens also made an appearance on the market. Fountain pens remained a ‘gifting’ item for long. Montblanc, Faber Castell, Visconti pens costing a fortune are still a collectors item and used till now. One of my saddest memories of losing an expensive ‘Parker’ pen gifted by my wife, on board the ship where I was serving.
It is difficult to control the urge to write with a ‘ fountain pen’ even now . The joy of seeing the ink dry with the smell of the ink lingering in the air is unsurpassed. According to Joe Haldmen the famous science fiction writer who wrote by candlelight,
‘There's something special about writing by hand, writing with a fountain pen, and there's something special about writing into a book, to take a blank book and turn it into an actual book.’
PS: Image Kind courtesy Google