We were born in an era when fountain pens are no longer the primary tool for writing. For the past years, it has become a symbol of social status and wealth. But with surging fondness of the world towards the arts, fountain pens seem to intrigue more and more people.
To help all the aspiring users and beginners, we will discuss the basics of fountain pens in this article.
What is a fountain pen?
A fountain pen is an example of a nib pen that has an ink reservoir inside its body. Unlike its earlier predecessor – quills, the pen draws ink from an internal reservoir. The ink flows from the ink pool through the nib then onto the paper with the help of gravitational force and capillary action.
Where did Fountain Pens originate?
The earliest mention of a fountain pen is in the year 973. A caliph named Ma’ad al-Mu’izz of Arab-Egypt required his men to offer him a pen that won’t dirty his hands and clothes. This led to the birth of a pen with a built-in ink reservoir.
It was only in the 17th century when fountain pens gained popularity in the European region. Several historical accounts detail the evolution of the fountain pens from its two-quill form up until its metal-made body. Then comes the 18th century, under the reign of King Charles II when the famous writing tool is officially called a “fountain pen”.
Since then, humankind has worked vigorously to re-invent and innovate the parts and designs of fountain pens.
When can I use a fountain pen?
Don’t fret because there are many opportunities where you can use your fountain pens. The most common are listed below.
1. Personal Signature
I am pretty sure that you are most familiar with this use of a fountain pen. Who doesn’t love the idea of having personal signatures unique and elegant? The fountain pen can add sophistication and authority to your documents, calling cards, or even to your emails.
This form of artwork has been gaining a lot of attention and buzz in the past few years. Every age group, millennials, teens, and even adults invest their time and resources in calligraphy. I have seen many calligraphic artworks that have the natural elegance of fountain pens as seen in the handwriting.
A fountain pen is also a valuable tool in an artist’s pockets. Today, the nibs and ink of fountain pen come in different sizes, styles, and colors from which the artist can freely choose from. This eventually allows the artists to experiment and create various types of shadings, line movement, and texture. People are in love with how fountain pens can make their sketches look more alive and detailed.
4. Journal Entry
Alongside calligraphy, journaling has also become a popular hobby among many people. Unlike traditional ones, journals today are much more aesthetic and artistic. People use stickers, photos, watercolors, and fountain pens to create a unique spreadsheet for their journals. Surely, the rustic and vintage looking fonts match perfectly with the fountain pen’s elegant strokes.
5. Note-taking, Handwritten Letters, Memos
Writing using a fountain pen may sound an absurd idea, but it should always be an option.
What are the parts of a fountain pen?
To familiarize yourself with your precious fountain pens, here are some of the basic and vital parts of a fountain pen:
- Clip - You’ll probably use this to fasten your pen on your shirt/coat pockets and even onto your papers. But the real purpose of this part is to prevent your pen from rolling over the edge of the table which may result in bothersome dents and inkblots.
- Cap - It should be a healthy practice to cap your pens whenever not in use. Aside from the fact that the ink may dry out by not doing so, the tip of the pen is very pointy that may injure a person thru an accident.
- Barrel - This part holds the ink reservoir of your pen. Depending on the type, barrels can contain cartridges or bottled inks. Barrels can be made from aluminum, metal, or wood.
- Grip Section - This is adjustable depending on your grip preference. Its primary role is to make your hand feel more comfortable while writing.
- Feed - It is usually seen as black plastic located at the back of your nib. It serves as the pathway to where the ink flows from the reservoir to the tip of the nib.
- Nib - The nib is the most important part of any fountain pen. It has the greatest influence over the final appearance of your handwriting. Usually, nibs are made from metals like silver, gold, and stainless steel. Pen brands have been creating several types of nibs of various sizes and styles. Like a camera’s lens, nowadays, you can opt to de-attach one type of nib and attach another one to the same fountain pen. This gives you the control and freedom to experiment on your style.
- Ink Reservoirs
- Cartridges - New pens usually contain ink cartridges. These are disposable ink containers that you can easily remove from the pen for disposal.
- Converter - This also stores the ink in your pen. Unlike the disposable cartridges, converters are used together with bottled inks to draw ink into the pen directly that immediately flows through the tip of the nib.
- Piston - This type of fountain pen is kind of similar to a converter. The only difference is that it comes with a built-in refilling system which eliminates the need to remove the empty cartridges inside the pen. To refill the pen, you can inject the ink directly into the piston.
What are the benefits of using fountain pens?
You might be wondering if there’s any merit in using fountain pens. Lucky you, there are lots!
- Comfort - Writing by hand is tedious enough. This is why a fountain pen is a smart choice because it is easier and more comfortable to use. You do not have to grip too hard to maintain your style and control. Adjustable grip sections also help in reducing the tension between your fingers and pens which often result in calluses.
- Length of Service - Comparatively, fountain pens last longer than your regular ballpoint and gel pens. The refillable ink reservoir and sturdy pen housing allow pens to survive years even decades.
- Environmental-friendly - There are millions of disposable pens ending up in landfills every year. Due to its non-biodegradable materials, regular pens take almost forever to decompose which contributes to pollution of water and soil ecosystems. By using fountain pens, you save at least a hundred pens from ending up in the dumpster.
- Repairable - Typical pens do not have the luxury to be repaired. But in fountain pens, any broken part can be possibly fixed or replaced depending on the severity of the damage. These options extend further the shelf life of your treasured fountain pens.
- Versatility The market now offers a variety of ink colors that you can freely choose from. It can help you create artworks with varying hues and shades. The final look of your ink on paper is influenced by your fountain pen and by how you use it. Nibs also vary in shapes and sizes. Fine nibs are good for jotting down notes while flexible nibs can be used in writing your letters, invitations, and signatures because it makes every stroke more personalized and elegant.
- Stylish - Modern fountain pens sure bring some fancy to your boring table and bags. There are many models with creative designs and patterns that just add to its aesthetic value. Some brands even allow you to customize your own pens.
How to properly use a fountain pen?
While unboxing your first fountain pen, you are probably worried about breaking it without even using it. To ease your anxiety, see this step-by-step guide on how to assemble and to use your pens correctly:
- Carefully check the parts of the fountain pen indicated on the label. If any part seems to be missing, contact the seller immediately.
- Install the Ink - The ink cartridge is usually placed separately from the pen’s barrel to prevent the ink from leaking and drying out. To safely install the ink inside the pen, unscrew the grip section from the barrel to put the cartridge inside. Remember to place the sealed part of the cartridge towards the grip section and gently push until the seal is broken.
- Reassemble the pen by screwing back the grip to the barrel. Make sure its tight to prevent ink from leaking out of the pen. Do not panic if the ink does not flow immediately. The ink may take a couple of minutes to fill the entire pen.
- Uncap your pen and hold it approximately 45 degrees from the surface of your paper. This is crucial because proper grip can relieve stress on your hand while writing. It also allows the ink to flow uninterrupted from the cartridge down to the paper.
- Make strokes using your hands. Keep your wrists and hands as rigid and stiff as possible. It is really confusing because we are used to using just our wrists or fingers in controlling a regular ballpoint pen. But in fountain pens, we use our hands and arms to make that beautiful strokes.
- Apply gentle pressure when the nib touches the paper. Forceful writing may damage the nib in the long run.
- After using, always put the cap back on.
How to keep my fountain pen in the best condition?
To get your money’s worth, you definitely want to use your fountain pen for the longest possible time. So you should know some of these great tips on how to take care of your pen.
- You have to check your ink reservoirs from time to time especially when ink levels are low. If emptied out, take the time to re-fill ink or to change cartridges of your pen.
- The nib can be prone to clogging. To avoid this nuisance, always cap your pen and keep it in a nib-up position when not in use.
- Clean your pens regularly. Carefully disassemble the pen and rinse thoroughly with water the grip section and the nib. Soak the pen parts in clean water to remove the ink. Repeat the step using clean water until no trace of ink is seen. Always remember to dry them properly to prevent rusting. You can opt to use a blower, paper towel, or cloth to absorb moisture.
- Only use your fountain pen in pen friendly surfaces and paper. To appreciate more the beauty of using a fountain pen, choose the best type of paper to prevent encountering bleed-through, feathering, and skipping. I recommend papers that are moderately thick whenever using a fountain pen.
What should I look out for in a fountain pen?
There are many competing brands of fountain pens. You certainly want to pick your money’s worth. Here is a short guide to help you select your next writing friend.
- Nib Material - Stainless steels are more common nib material today. It is sturdy and less costly. It is perfect for your usual note-taking activities. Other brands improve steel by equipping the pens with iridium pens. This sure enhances the durability and fineness of the pens. You may probably see a couple of pens with a golden nib. You can also choose to buy this. However, it may break your savings as it is now a total luxury item. It comes in hefty amounts.
- Nib Width - The nib can come extra-fine, fine, medium, and broad. Extra-fine and fine nibs are popular among drawing artists since these nibs can produce thin lines perfect for detailed and intricate drawings. The medium nib on the other hand is perfect for common note-taking activities and standard purposes of pens. Broad is preferred by people with large handwriting, but this type of nib remains to be the least common. Since it consumes more ink, the cost is not too practical.
- Grip - This feature highly depends on your preference. Always choose a grip made of a material that feels comfortable with your hand. Some popular materials being used for grip are rubber, plastic, and metal. If your hand gets sweaty, you may want to go for rubber made grips that won’t cause slipping.
- Ink Replacements - You definitely want to use your pen in the longest possible time. This is why an ink refill is also a vital factor you want to look into before buying a pen. Ink cartridges are very user-friendly. You can replace your pen’s cartridges quickly, cleanly, and conveniently.
On the other hand, converters make use of bottled inks that come in wider color selections than cartridges. The only disadvantage is that this ink bottle is not something you cannot carry around due to weight and size.
- Barrel Material - Modern fountain pens can be made from almost all types of materials. Usually, fountain pens are made from base metal, sterling silver, plastic, and resin. Base metals like brass and stainless steel are frequent nowadays. These types of pens are perfect for engraving that personalizes your pen even more.
Sterling silver is also fine for engraving, but its inherent weight can be too heavy for a pen. Plastic made pens are one of the consumers’ favorite because it lightweight, durable, and less costly. If you are looking for a pen with unique designs and patterns, resin made pens can be for you. Resin made pens have a diverse range of colors and patterns available in the market.
Webson Gill: The Writer's Friend
Looking for a trustworthy brand of fountain pen can really be daunting, especially when you’re just a newbie. But need not worry because Webson Gill can help you with your worries.
Webson Gill Fine Writing is one of the few direct-to-consumer brands that manufacture high-quality writing instruments like fountain pens. The company pours several generations worth of craftsmanship, expertise, passion for creating innovative, stylish, and durable fountain pens. The best part is that their products are offered at affordable and reasonable prices. By eliminating the middlemen in the transaction, the company allowed many customers to enjoy fountain pens while saving some cost.
The pride of the company lies in its “Webson Gill Captain Edition” fountain pens. The pens were designed to have a solid feel which lessens some strain on the writer. It enables the writer to make strokes smoothly. The nib was also smartly designed that supports an uninterrupted and smooth flow of ink from the cartridge down to the paper.
The exterior of the pen is a combination of Japanese and German styles that creates an elegant and sophisticated appearance. These pens come in black and oak motifs.
Since it’s launching in the market, Webson Gill never failed to deliver noteworthy pens to customers. Satisfied customers and positive feedbacks are testaments to this. People commend comfort in writing while using the pen. Its built has effectively reduced the strain and pressure on our hands when writing a bunch of notes. The exterior of the pen has intricate and elegant designs that sure add sophistication and authority to your style.
Most importantly, the nib of the pen was made from fine stainless steel which can survive through time. Webson Gill also ensures that your fountain pen is durable enough to withstand variable measures of pressure during writing. The medium-sized nib is perfect for your daily writing activities.
You can never go wrong with a Webson Gill pen on your hand.