A good old-fashioned fountain pen can add grace and eligibility to the aesthetics of your handwriting.
All modern ink fountain pens are sold with a warranty but if you have inherited a vintage fountain pen that is damaged it can be re-paired. “The vintage market is very popular. We try and explain to customers that they need slightly better care, as they are less robust than modern pens,” says Cerdeirina. Penfriend will look at all vintages and provide a quote before work starts. “Some customers bring in a fountain pen for repair and we say its going to cost you so much money it is not really worth it for that model as it has no value as a vintage pen, but we are always prepared to do the repair.”
Choosing a fountain pen can be a hugely enjoyable as well as a revealing experience. Penfriend can confirm that men’s preoccupation with size is alive and kicking. “Young men often say, ‘I want an fountain pen, something big, something chunky.’ They want it just for show and perhaps for writing their signature. Whereas an older gentleman would prefer something thinner, more refined, such as a Cross,” says Cerdeirina.
An added charm of using a fountain pen today must be the variety of coloured ink available. Onoto asked the UK’s oldest ink manufacturer to produce a range suitable for these highly crafted instruments; along with traditional blue and black came a range of colours extending from “passion red” to “woodland green”, shades to suit all moods.
While many brands stipulate that you must use their eponymous ink only, most inks available on the market are of a similar quality. However Penfriend advises caution when using coloured ink in an old pen as the dyes can be corrosive. Never leave coloured ink in the pen and flush it regularly with cold water to prolong the life of the rubber sacs.
“We never say don’t use these bright colours, just take care of your vintage pen. Don’t use warm water, only cold, to flush and never be tempted to add a detergent of any variety,” advises Cerdeirina. “A nib, even an old one with dried ink that hasn’t been used for years, can be soaked in cold water overnight, repeated two or three times, to rejuvenate it.”
There is no limit to the artistry that can be devoted to a good fountain pen. This year’s Graf von Faber-Castell model is plat-inum plated with the barrel covered in woven horsehair, making each fountain pen individual by its own nuances. The horsehair is woven by one woman in the forests of Bavaria, which perhaps explain why it costs £2,200. If you pay extra you can stipulate that the hair be taken from your very own hunter.
But, whether it’s costly or inexpensive, a fountain pen expresses more than mere words. As Nat King Cole used to say, I memorise ev’ry line/I kiss the name that you sign/And, darling, then I read again right from the start,/Love letters straight from your heart. And you don’t get that sort of letter written in ballpoint.
Conway Stewart & Co
2 & 3 Haxter Close, Belliver Estate, Plymouth PL6 7DD
tel 01752 776776
The Onoto Pen Company
Colney Hall, Colney, Norwich NR4 7TY
tel 01603 811165;
34 Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, W1J 0QA,
tel 020 499 6337
13 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4SX
tel 020 7629 5883
10-14 Mount Street London W1K 2TY
tel 020 7493 8385