Monthly Archives: February 2011

In Praise of Pelikans

No, not pelicans, Pelikans.  I’m writing about fountain pens.

First a confession.  I love paper and pens.  I’ve loved fountain pens, the way they glide across the page leaving an inky ribbon of writing, since I found my grandmother’s when I was 8.  She promptly gave it to me.  I was a favorite grandchild and she, having grown up with inky fingers, loved the easy neatness of a ballpoint pen.  I used it until the nib broke.  It wasn’t worth repairing, but by then people knew I liked fountain pens and gave me old ones.  I soon learned that most were broken (the bladders old, dried and cracked) but I generally always had at least one working one.  I like to fill them from ink bottles, not use cartridges.  This is because it suits my feelings of old-fashioned pen usage and because I’m cheap.

All that said, I am not a neat person.  I’m the sort who, walking with a full cup of coffee, will splash some on myself.  My nails seem dirty again minutes after I scrub them.  I am a messy sort of girl — the sort who should think twice before using or carrying about a pen full of ink. I am the sort who will find it leaking on me, on my purse on my books.  All of these things have happened, especially with a rather beautiful Parker that leaks no matter how many times I pay to have it fixed.

All this changed a few years ago when I bought at green Pelikan 200 gold plated nib pen. On the one hand, it could hold enough ink to carry me through a week or two of use, while on the other, it didn’t leak.  Not on my fingers, not when I filled it and not in my bag.  Even though the designs of Pelikan pens were less sexy than my retro Parker’s.  Last year I celebrated my dissertation defense with the purchase of a white and green/brown Pelikan 400 with a gold nib.  It writes smoother than the 200, holds ink equally well and has a feminine look.  When I bought it, I told myself that was it — I had two Pelikans and plenty of other fountain pens.  I had no need for any more.  Until Christmas time when my dad bought me a Pelikan 120 with a calligraphic nib.  And then last week when I impulsively bought an amber Pelikan Demonstrator 400 (those are the clear kind where you can see the ink draw into the pen) off of eBay.  I now admit it, I want one for every color ink I use.  Even if they aren’t the most attractive designs, they’re the most practical pens I’ve ever owned.

And I can sell the other fountain pens (repeats to self quietly).  No matter how pretty they are, I’m not the sort of girl who can handle a leaking pen.  Besides, a bunch of them need new bladders.