The fountain pen – the first portable writing instrument

For the first time in many months, I decided last week to make a fountain pen — not a ballpoint, which is what I usually do — on my lathe. During much of my working life, I used a fountain pen because I liked the feel of it and because I felt the writing was more legible.

But what I liked most about a fountain pen is the look.

A well-designed fountain pen is a small piece of art that you can carry around in your pocket.

I found some spalted maple when I picked up a small limb that had fallen from a tree in our yard. You never know how wood like that is going to hold up on the lathe since turning a piece of wood on the lathe puts a lot of pressure on it.

Fortunately, the whole project turned out well, as the accompanying pictures will attest.

Then, a few days later, I found an article by John Kelly, a local columnist for the Washington Post, who visited a small shop on F Street in D.C. that deals almost exclusively in fountain pens.

I went to Fahrney’s Pens on F Street NW last week expecting to find cobwebs and tumbleweeds. I mean, come on. Fountain pens? They’d be better off selling buggy whips and whale oil, right? Wrong.

The place was packed. It was one of Fahrney’s biannual pen fairs, and sales reps from two dozen of the world’s leading writing implement companies were displaying their wares to crowds of eager pen lovers.

Spread out on the counters before them were pens in a rainbow of colors, each a tiny magic wand looking for its perfect owner. Source: Believe it or not the fountain pen is back. – The Washington Post

Kelly quotes one of the store’s employees, who was showing off one of the first modern fountain pens, a 1901 Crescent Filler, as saying the fountain was the first portable writing instrument. With a fountain pen, you no longer had to carry a bottle of ink around with you.

“It was the first pen that could go with you,” (Ross) Cameron said. “It was basically the iPhone of its day.”

Interesting point.

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About Jim Stovall

Jim Stovall, a retired journalism prof, is now a novelist, self publisher, watercolorist, gardener, woodworker and beekeeper -- among others things.
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