Oh boy, this brought back memories. Turquoise Blue + Chelpark was nirvana level experience for me. Whoever (mostly teachers) noticed that shade of blue would get immediately confused. Is it blue? Is it Green? It would lead to a good discussion!
Of course, Bril was the workhorse.
Chelpark Turquoise and Bril Royal blue were my favorites too. They both looked brilliant on paper!
Buy'd a Namiki some time ago and i love it, especially the japanese ink's and pens.
When I was at school I learned to write with a nibbed pen and I always had ink on my fingers (and often on my clothes much to my mother's chagrin); in fact during the early years we weren't allowed to use ballpoint pens at all!
I can only guess the reason for this is that ballpoint pens don't provide the correct kind of tactile feedback that's necessary for good writing. Anyway, it seems it's so for me, I think the reason is that they offer little resistance, and what there is of it is uniform, and with too little variation, thus one needs to better control the pen's movement but fails. On the other hand, fountain pens have a solid tactile resistance that seems to change dynamically as one changes direction when forming characters. (The fact that ballpoint pens were banned at school seems to indicate that others must have the same problem as me. I'd be glad to hear from anyone who's had similar experiences.)
Perhaps this is why I also find that my writing is much more legible when I write with a pencil. For normal day-to-day use, note taking and such I usually use propelling clutch pencils with 0.5 or 0.7mm leads (I've many scattered everywhere).
I am sorry I never learned to write those cursive scripts to which you refer. Whenever I see old historical handwritten documents I never cease to be amazed at the excellent standard of the handwriting, and it's often in this cursive style. Furthermore, from my observation, the older the document then generally the higher the handwriting standard is. In fact, the quality of handwriting in old documents, especially official ones, seems to be almost universally of a high standard (it seems that then clarity was more highly esteemed than it is now.).
It is a shame that nowadays we no longer pay much attention to the standard of our handwriting and that so few recognize or appreciate the fact. I've always believed that humankind loses something significant when a skill that's still useful— or that can be appreciated just for its aesthetic reasons alone—is lost.
> ... The moment you graduated from a pencil or ballpoint, to a pen you knew you were no longer a child ...
When I was growing up, we started with pencil, moved to fountain pens (the one with the cartridges & tiny glass balls), then graduated to ballpoint.
A cultural difference.
My prep school (that's a UK private school for 13-16) encouraged pretty much anything that made a neat mark on the page. The Head who later retired to Bursar was a massive fan of fibre tips - less blotting I suppose - how progressive. I should point out that corporal punishment (ie cane/belt/backboard rubber) was still legal back then, not so progressive 8) Everyone had a fountain pen or two. Generally cartridge type but some used a bladder sucker type and a bottle of Quink because it was much cheaper. We used a lot of pink blotting paper.
At Rheindahlen infant school, I think we used chalk (it was pencil.) Paderborner First - probably a chisel on stone (pencil.) Those are BFES (UK military) schools and yes it was all a bit bewildering for a young child. Before 13, I went to those and Button Lane infant school in Manchester, not to mention "Jerboa" School in Soltau. I may have missed one or two out.
Perhaps you should—perhaps we all should—when learning. The best handwriting I've ever seen was written with them. ;-)
"<...>school for 13-16) encouraged pretty much anything that made a neat mark on the page."
As I mentioned earlier, when I was first taught to write there was no option other than a steel-nibbed pen that we dipped into inkwells (pencils were first but only in infants' class (6 or so) and we basically only drew pictures with them). Well-behaved boys (teachers never ask girls) were chosen to mix up packets of powered ink with water. Budding young chemists like me had a ball of a time, we were excused from class to a sink near the corridor. Sometimes ink went everywhere including all over us.
By 13-16 we too could use just any writing implement we wanted (presumably by then we were supposed to know what to do). Not that you'd know it, a teacher once likened my handwriting to Chinese hieroglyphics done by the wanderings of a demented spider (I'm sure that line was was wheeled out every year for especially 'problematic' kids like me.)
Incidentally, I recall that on a few occasions we were given quills during our art class period to try out and they worked very well but they didn't stay 'sharp' very long (BTW, we used the ink in our normal inkwells to write with). We were shown how to cut and prepare them, this we did with single-sided GEM razor blades. I reckon today if a teacher gave 7 - 8 year olds razor blades to play with it'd be deemed child abuse.
My-my, how things have changed.
Fountain pens on the other hand were expensive, messy (they can leak in your pocket, you have to refill them with ink, the nibs might need replacing) and just plain hard to use in general.
I think I got my first fountain pen in high school - one of those landmark dad / son moment along with things like learning how to shave etc.
I'm also pretty sure I can now only write a paragraph or two before my hand starts cramping up.
This was actually a nice thing about picking up a fountain pen to write with. The ink flows without you applying pressure (or significant pressure) to the page, and you learn to let the pen mostly rest in place in your hand. If you're gripping it tightly, you're probably holding it wrong. I've written dozens of pages at a time with a fountain pen and never felt much hand strain, in contrast to how I often felt with other pens and pencils. Though since learning to hold a pen properly with the fountain pen, I've become better with those as well
Except for cheap ballpoints, they suck.
Funny thing - I once was cleaning one of the pens in the sink at work and a colleague noticed, and happily told me of his happy memories with fountains pens growing up in India. There were a few others in the room who heard and started a conversation about childhood, school, and especially the anxiety of school exams with their fountain pens. It was a real treat.
I wouldn't let that worry you for an instant, that is unless you want one that's very pretty or just damn pretentious (i.e.: a wanky talking point) like my Montblanc (I got it super cheap and duty free). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meisterst%C3%BCck. Like watches, you pay heaps and heaps just for the styling (they don't necessarily write better).
That said, I prefer both my Parker and Waterman to the Montblanc as I prefer to write with them, especially the Waterman. Moreover the damn Montblanc leaks when taken on planes—having ink dripping down one's shirt in the middle of a flight is a real pain. Nevertheless, keep in mind that refillable tanks are the best as you can select and match inks to suit but they are more likely to leak than a pre-filled cartridge when on a flight.
I don't have a Lamy at the moment but I've had them in the past and they're really pretty good pens. Irrespective, of which pen you have, it's important that the nib you have suits your writing style (it's worth trying various types out if you haven't done so already).
I refill from Iroshizuku bottles, having found inks designed for Western pens to tend to flow poorly in Pilot F and EF nibs - a shame; I really like Herbin inks. For the actual filling, I use an adjustable automatic pipetter that I got for $30 off Amazon, before I quit doing business with them, and which can anyway be found more cheaply on eBay; the cartridges take about a milliliter, so get one whose range includes that volume. (I fill mine to 950ul, but it's not super critical.) If you haven't used a pipetter before, read the instructions carefully and practice with water first, since misuse can potentially damage the tool. But you'll get the hang of it pretty quick, and it's a lot faster and neater than syringes and dispensing needles. The tips are meant to be disposable, and it's good to have a few spares on hand in case of inadvertent bumps damaging the very fine dispensing orifice, but you can also just flush well with water after use and keep using the same tip for a long time.
Another problem is holding cartridges for refilling. I made a six-gang rack a couple years ago, but before that had reasonable results with a clothespin at the bottom of the cartridge and a bit of masking tape to keep the clothespin in place on my desk - slow, but workable.
I don't even know the last time I had to throw out a cartridge. They can crack if you have the bad habit of squeezing to push ink from a newly installed cartridge into a dry feed, so don't do that; otherwise, I've found them to hold up really well.
I'm curious about the Pilot cartridges - why do you need to replace the "little plastic biscuit"? Does it serve a purpose other than preventing spills or evaporation in unused cartridges?
That said, I'd still say it's worth keeping track of the seals, just so that you're not out of luck if you do find a use case that requires a sealed cartridge - carrying a couple of spares in a work bag, for example, as I do. The best way I know to keep track of them is by reinstalling them in freshly filled cartridges, but I guess I'd do that anyway since I refill in batches rather than by the each. It is a fiddly task, so I could see skipping it if it wouldn't be needed.
Side note: If you're always going to be filling and using cartridges by the each, a Pilot CON-40 or Lamy Z28 converter will likely be more convenient; these offer an inexpensive alternative to cartridges, and use a screw-piston mechanism to let you fill the pen directly from a bottle of ink - see  for examples and details of use. I've found converters inconvenient and messy to use, hence the preference for cartridge refilling, but they might well serve you better than refilling with even less potential waste.
(Reviewing your prior comment, I note you have a Metropolitan, which should have shipped with a press plate converter. That's definitely one to try! The page linked at  has info on how to use it, including how to get past the pitfalls I ran into when I tried the one that came with my first pen. Goulet says it has a higher capacity than the CON-40, too, at 0.9ml vs. 0.6ml for the CON-40.  )
My experience, and that of my kids (in USA) is that pencil is used through high school for daily work. When I was in school, final drafts of essays or other papers could be in ink or typed. Math and science was always done in pencil. Today, pretty much everything written is submitted by computer. Kids can barely print legibly, forget about cursive writing or any care for penmanship.
A big part of it is that a custom pen from a small US manufacturer might run ~$800-$1k; a comparable pen from a small Indian manufacturer will likely be <$200.
I bet the hard part is finding out who actually makes and sells high quality pens. Betting that slick marketers have already copied the artisanal pictures and stories but have very poor quality "clones" shipping
If you’re looking for instant gratification from one of the vendors from the article, there you go. Fair warning: Ranga pens generally range from large to obscenely huge, so do some research to figure out what model(s) you might want.
> "The last time I looked at his online list, it said my order would be ready in 95 weeks," the Indian-born author, most recently, of Gun Island, told me.
Seems like a pretty big failure on pricing here... Raising prices to reduce wait times will generally make for happier customers and more money. Low prices and scarcity lead to secondary markets and unhappy customers.
What does that supposed to even mean ? There is no virtue in needlessly waiting for something in a line. Assigning virtue to such inefficiency is dangerous.
I am pretty sure people who are buying his pens would find their time lot more valuable (2 years in this case) than more price.
btw, why is this dangerous?
> why is this dangerous?
Economic inefficiencies lead to wastage. In this case people might put themselves on waiting list only to buy them for $150 and then sell it to someone for $500. The democratic virtue here is thrown out of the window and you have needlessly now employed a middleman who adds no real value to the process but as a remedy to the virtue signaling of the manufacturer.
Reminds of all bad things that happened when US government tried to subsidize baby formula.
This is a bit like low cost government subsidized housing in bay area. Joe gets it but then rents to Kumar and continue to live as homeless. Now you have subsidized Kumar. It is dangerous in a sense, it assigns virtue to bad economic sense, creates incentives for needless middleman and prevents goods from going to people who really need it.
That's why you have waiting lists in many luxury industries (think about Tesla too). It's part of the trade.
My comment was not advocating for 'maximizing profit' - secondary markets do not make for happy customers, nor do excessively long wait times. Yes - a waiting list can be part of a luxury good, but there's probably an optimization of customer happiness somewhere shorter than a 2 year wait list.
A wait list that excessive can spur a secondary market, which makes the wit list even longer, which makes customers and potential customers that much less happy. And the secondary market only enriches the middle-man, while doing nothing for your loyal fans and customers.
Especially for luxury items, it makes sense to keep the price pretty high and supply limited (like Ferrari).
I am from India and $150 is pretty low for the market he is targetting. For example I routinely purchases Moleskin notebooks for around $30 in India and this was not even a rare item. A doctor, a judge can easily afford to pay $500 for these pens.
Do you use fountain pens? Moleskin notebooks are amongst the worst paper I have ever used for a fountain pen. Even the finest points I have bleed an absurd amount.
I have a couple of custom pens. One was about $500, used a rare celluloid material no longer in production, and had sterling silver hardware and an 18k nib. The other one was just as well crafted, but only cost about $225 because it was from someone relatively new to the market and it had steel hardware.
I'm sure someone would pay more if the prices went up significantly, but I would either just buy a vintage pen that writes better anyways or I would stop collecting.
Also, so far there doesn't seem to be a secondary market for scalping people with custom pens.
I dabble in woodworking/woodcarving too though, and there's a lot of people flipping custom carving knives for 3-6x what the makers charge. Its a pretty obnoxious practice.
This is why I feel modern economic machine has failed us. An artisan is making something and selling at a price they are happy to get as wage. And external people have to now think* how the artisan should be raising prices to make more money.
There is no pricing failure. Someone is happy creating their version of art and selling it to run their life and family. They have enough customers to keep working for the next many years. Full stop.
You're mistaking the market with other firms for a pricing failure of this firm.
There is satisfaction in receiving fair wages for your work. At some price point, it feels like overcharging, even if customers are willing to pay that, and not everybody wants to go down that route. There is satisfaction in working with somebody like that, or buying from them, even if it takes longer.
It's amazing how uncomfortable people get if there are examples of people not wringing every last ounce of profit out of something.
In terms of why the actual vendor is or is not raising prices, I have no idea, neither is it important. I was making a counter argument, not lobbying the vendor. They could charge a million dollars or one dollar for their handcrafted pens and there would be zero moral difference between these two prices.
I'm a bit flabbergasted how you'd think that a customer willing to wait 95 weeks for a product is proof of a pricing failure. It's proof that price is not a factor.
Capitalism is so wonky.
As far as being heavy, well, neither has anything on a brass Kaweco.
The pens they do show have a profile that reminds me a bit of the Montegrappa Elmo, which I have and love:
I have a dozen or so other pens, all of which are "thinner", but that's the one I use the most.
I think it would be a good choice for someone who wants to get into fountain pens but has a tight budget (especially when you get addicted and want to buy a bunch more).
The difference between the two is that the Kakuno has a plastic body while the Metropolitan has a brass body.
For those who are into woodworking you can make yourself some very spiffy looking fountain pens (in fact they can be as beautiful as anything you can buy). First, get some very pretty wood in the form of pen blanks (that's their correct name) and there's plenty to choose from. Many woodworking suppliers sell wooden pen blanks like these:
Then you use your woodworking skills as follows
This video is a bit over the top though, most woodworkers won't want to forge the metal bits as well. Usually all the 'metalwork'—the nib/ink/cartridge assemblies can be bought from the same place as the blanks.
Incidentally, here's an unrelated but useful tip: if you've some broken furniture a table or wardrobe, etc. and there are small bits or chips broken off it and you want to find some matching wood to patch it up then a cheap source of wood can often be found by selecting a pen blank that matches the missing piece. There is such an enormous range of pen blanks available that you're almost certain to find one that's a pretty close match.
I like writing for the pleasure of writing and have written copious amounts of notes. Most of it is circuits, notes, tech stuff, software architecture diagrams, etc.
Fountain pens are the best. For fine diagrams I use Platinum Preppy 01. I just love that pen.
For daily use, I use a normal Reynolds one that costs Rs. 20 (about 30 cents, US).
My preferred choice of ink is Parker Quink. I fill up using a syringe.
Can never ever write with a normal pen. However, I am forced to use ball pens on older paper as fountain pens blot a lot on yellowed out paper.
Some of the quick drying waterproof gel pens give similar feel of a fountain pen.
Donna Tartt, The Secret History, 1992
I used to go to meetings, take notes with my fountain pen, and then type in my notes back at my keyboard. But now I have a laptop ...
How can one do this in the Computer HW/SW business ?
To be a scarcity is to chase things with high specialization and a relatively small niche.
It's actually not hard to do in SW/HW per se, find a really old language/hardware and become useful in it. Mainframes come to mind.
However finding them is not easy, would love to have some leads i.e. websites/list of companies etc.
How would one go about finding these components (in hobbyist volumes)? The fountain pen components I have seen for sale (in the US) are quite expensive and limited in options/quality.
They are a pleasure to write with and if you write with the 01 nib size with the nib facing the opposite way than normal, you get an extra extra fine line (at the cost of huge friction) that leads to amazing fine drawings.
Have you tried a Right to Left language? Seems like it might help you get into fountain pens? (I'm happy enough writing illegibly with my right hand and a ballpoint though)
I don't have that problem anymore since using a fountain pen because I don't have to apply any pressure when writing with a fountain pen.
I sometimes use a refillable fountain pen instead but the nib isn't meant for it so changing it a pita.
I do. Like taking photos with film, the relative inconvenience of using a quill pen gives you time to focus on penmanship and what you're writing and engage more deeply with the act.