Fountain Pens

From the bins of minimalists

Parker 51:b

Disclaimer: Somewhere, not a million miles from where I sit writing, there is a beautiful lady who now knows that her mother is not above delving into other people’s bins, and for that I am truly sorry.

This is a Parker 51 fountain pen. It is old; it has been on adventures; it has, frankly, seen better days, yet it is lovely.

Strictly speaking, it has never belonged to me although I have given it house room on and off over the years. When it has lodged with me it has always sat firmly in the “memorabilia” section of my life because I have never been bitten by the vintage bug in this area of my interests. That is unusual because many fountain pen users are very fond of vintage items, and also because I like vintage clothes and furniture a lot. Over the years I must have read hundreds of reviews of old pens yet remained firmly in the modern camp, and by ‘modern’ I mean pens that are current models when I buy them. Over the course of my life these might well turn into vintage items themselves, but they will always be modern to me.

Despite my lack of interest and my deeply held preferences, I find myself besotted with this Parker 51 and that is for one reason only – it writes like a dream.

Parker 51 Pen Test

The nib is incredibly smooth and it starts perfectly every time I pick it up, despite my worries that the cap may be rather loose and lead to the nib drying out. I did have to put in a fair bit of work to sort out the ink flow initially. I had dipped it in ink to check if the nib was damaged and it didn’t appear to be, but the first time I filled the pen it dried out after a few words. This led me to think the feed must be pretty clogged up and there ensued several bouts of rinsing through and soaking over the course of a couple of weeks, interspersed with filling and emptying of ink. Actually, after the final soak and rinse through, I just put it to one side without bothering to ink it up to test, because I had no intention of using it (on account of not being interested in vintage fountain pens!). Then at the end of last week I decided I would just pop in some ink and test it again which led to an interesting weekend during which I compulsively picked it up to write pages of nothing because it is so pleasant to hold and to write with. I want to fill it with an exciting coloured ink and…. do something.

Something. But what? I aready struggle to use all the fountain pens I have. I love each and every one, and I find it incredibly difficult to leave any of them resting ‘out of rotation’. I miss each one so much if it is not inked up and ready to use. I’m going to have to find a way to hand-write even more!

And yes, thank you, I know that one paragraph sums up why people become minimalists. It would be much simpler just to have one fountain pen. But who said life had to be simple?

One final thought occurred to me when I was playing with the Palm PDA earlier in the week and that is how much easier it is to dispose of pens and ink and paper.  When our electronic items get broken, stop working, or simply become obsolete, we must jump through hoops to dispose of them, taking them to special collection centres, or sending them away to be dismantled responsibly. Fountain pens have proven to be pretty durable, but if one breaks, you have no more than a slight pang about putting it in a bin. You can recycle your paper, and your ink bottles so long as they are glass. So, if having rather too many fountain pens is complicating my life, it is nothing compared to the complications my electronic devices bring.


6 thoughts on “From the bins of minimalists

  1. Ha ha! This beautiful minimalist lady has kept some photographs of this fountain pen from which I can enjoy the beauty of the pen without the weight of the responsibility of actually looking after it!

    In a spirit of reciprocation maybe I could find my ’90s Global Hypercolour t-shirt in your bin as that’s an item I wouldn’t hesitate to rescue right now!

    Enjoy your find x

    1. Oh, phew! I thought hard about whether to post this in case you asked for it back! I have included a reference to it in the bit of my novel I’ve been writing this evening, too, just for good measure. Well, I call it a novel – at the moment it seems to be morphing into a list of all the things I wish I could go back to the 1970s and buy!

  2. If Miranda wanted her ‘51 back you could have had mine. It is made in the USA and was bought by my (step) grandfather on a trip to the States late 60’s early 70’s.

    1. Hey, Glenbo, you know I will take any old rubbish off your hands, give it back to you when you need it, take it back when you’re bored, give it back… and so on until the end of eternity! Speaking of which, do you want your Brompton rack pack back?

  3. Er, no I haven’t got a rack on my Brompton any more. I foolishly dumped it when we moved to Salhouse. I have some bicycles I’m not using at the moment if you want them!

    1. Ah, I too have some bicycles I am not using. I would be using at least one of them if I sorted out brake pads. Must take advantage of the fair weather to do some maintenance.

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