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Back to school: fountain pens

I know a bunch of my writing friends share my passion for lovely pens and notebooks, so I thought I’d share one of my collections with you…

When I was 11 I was admitted to the local girls’ grammar school, a somewhat old-fashioned establishment with pretensions of grandeur. It was the first school I’d been to that had a uniform, and to go with the blazer and tie (yes, we wore ties, like blokes!) my parents bought me a leather satchel and a fountain pen. On our first day we were sternly instructed that all homework must be written in fountain pen; the lowly biro was for rough work only. Sadly I don’t have that original fountain pen any more (though I do still have the satchel), but my love of this very traditional writing implement has only grown with the years.

I’ve recently taken to doing the bulk of my note-taking in fountain pen (in an assortment of Moleskines), so my collection has grown rapidly of late! It may be small compared to some people’s, but most of them are in regular use. So, without further ado—the pen porn!

These are the core of my collection, and span my entire life. From top to bottom they are:

  • Conway Stewart 28 (late 1950s/early 1960s)
  • Parker 45 Flighter (late 1980s, I think)
  • Parker Sonnet (2000s)
  • Parker IM (2013)

The Conway Stewart was bought online a few years ago, in memory of a similar pen that I had as a teenager (I wasn’t a teenager when the pen was made—I’m not that old!). Sadly the nib is a bit rough so it’s not good for actually writing with, but maybe one day I’ll splash out on a vintage pen with a mint condition nib :)

The 45 is my everyday workhorse of a pen; I think it’s the same model that I used at school, though my current one is a replacement. It’s a nice weight for my rather small hands, and the nib is fine enough to write neatly in a Moleskine without being scratchy. The other two Parkers are backups/alternatives—I like to have a choice of ink colours to hand for variety!

Lovely as all these pens are, though, they’re a bit big to slip into a handbag or pocket, not to mention expensive to replace, so I’ve also been trying out some mini fountain pens:

These are:

  • 2 x Pilot Petite 1 (one black, one blue-black)
  • Pilot Birdie
  • OHTO Tasche

The latter is particularly clever—you can see in the photo how the cap fits onto the last centimetre or so of the barrel, giving a full-sized pen when in use! I’ve started carrying it around at conventions for signing books, though I haven’t had a chance to use it yet. A pity, as I’ve equipped it with Diamine cartridges in a lovely blue-green colour. Hopefully I’ll have a few opportunities at Nine Worlds next weekend!

The Pilot Birdie looks nice but the nib isn’t as smooth as the Tasche, so I don’t use it much. The Pilot Petites, on the other hand, are great: surprisingly smooth for a cheap “disposable” fountain pen (you can get cartridges for them, so they’re not one-use). They also come in a whole bunch of different colours, which is again great for creativity.

If you’re interested in any of these miniature pens, I bought them from Tiger Pens (the Birdie is discontinued, but you should be able to get the others).

So there you have it: my pen fetish. Do you have a favourite pen you have to use for writing?