Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Fountain Pen




Lewis Watterman patented the first workable fountain pen in 1884. However writing instruments designed to carry their own supply of ink had existed for over one hundred years before Waterman's patent. John Scheffer received a British patent in 1819 for his half quill, half metal pen that he tried to put into mass manufacture. And John Jacob Parker patented the first self-filling fountain pen in 1831. However, early fountain pen models were plagued by ink spills and other failures that left them impractical.

Writing instrument-Styli used in the 13 th century

On June 1 st 1969, my mother presented me with my first fountain pen – a beautiful Parker! Her father gave her the beautiful piece while she was into high school. She took care of it and passed it on to me .I was indeed thrilled going to school and begin writing with ink filled pen. I ostensibly displayed it on my shirt breast pocket. But when I reached home after school on that fateful day, the pen was gone and only the cap remained stuck in my pocket. How and what came about, I could not explain. And the sheer carelessness was severely reprimanded by my mother. She was distraught and furious. I then wondered why she must fume and curse me for the loss of a pen, though I did feel remorse and guilt inside. It took growing up and many years of life to fathom the depth and value of a seemingly trivial instrument as the fountain pen, and her pain in my losing it.


Fountain pens where akin to signature. It told about the person. The longer a fountain pen stayed with a person, closer the bond. People of the past seldom offered their fountain pen to another to use or even to pen signature. It was possessed and cared like ones spouse. And I recall that it was impolite to ask or borrow it from its owner.

When my grandfather used to leave home he had just a few things to carry or take with him. His glasses, his watch his money purse and his fountain pen beside his grandfather umbrella,
 Lap tops, calculators, Blackberry, mobile phones, designer sun glasses, wallet stacked with credit cards and( may be) a ball point pen have now replaced the Spartan things people of the past had on their person.

Fountain pens have had their death knell chimed many years ago. The advent of ball pens and writing gadgets that are disposed after a single use have completely eclipsed or vanquished the stately fountain pen of lore.

The Parkers. Schefers ,Swans, the Wattermans, Mont Blancs and everyone have found to their economic advantage that disposable pens are what would thrive in place of the ink filled fountain pens.
And in so deciding to change the taste of men for commercial gains,it is man who has lost his signature hold on the instrument that could at one time in the past identify its owner because the fountain pen carried his soul along with the ink.






9 comments:

Insignia said...

Excellent. I liked this post a lot. I do end up thinking about fountain pens. How we took care of it, the effort that went in filling it with ink regularly.

The ink bottle, the capillary, the golden nib..The pleasure I miss now.

My teachers would gift a Hero pen for the student who stood first in class during final exams while in school. It was a dream to own a Hero pen and was treasured. I managed to get a Hero pen every year and how much I was proud of them...

thanks for this post, wonderful reminisces.

A New Beginning said...

yes youre right Anil, fountain pen has a class of its own....its just amazing and gives up a sense of great self esteem when we hold it to sign.
My father has a very old and unique one..its a beauty...but he refuses to share it...now I know why!!!:)
Great post thanks for sharing!!

The Holy Lama said...

An age relived in the post. The fountain pen is the best writing instrument. None of the new age gel pens, ball points or microtips can match its class.

deeps said...

classic piece.. but i have never been a fan of ink n nib n all....though they have a grace...

and i agree with what you said back there, a lot of our action is determined by those around us

RGB said...

I had almost forgotten the existence of fountain pens (though, how could I?)! Ball-point pens have conveniently replaced them, though nothing compares to the beauty of fountain pens and the royalty in just owning or holding it! Writing on a piece of paper has itself become sort of 'obsolete' because of all the gadgets we have handy, except perhaps for filling up forms, teaching kids, signing papers etc. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

sujata said...

I am still a regular with the fountain pen. The whole exercise of filling it regularly with camel ink is almost therpeutic for me. My daughter uses it too. Its the best instrument for handwriting practise as well.

scarlet pimpernel said...

Nice post,I remember my first hero pen only too well.

Balachandran V said...

Dey, How come I missed this post? I cringed when I read that you lost that pen! Idiot! Stupid fellow! I could give you one sharp smack right on your head for that!

anilkurup said...

Dey , certain omissions and commissions of us will haunt us into later life. This is one such.