I’ve currently got four pens inked. I went down to only having one in use during mid-December. Ugh, that was a nightmare of a week! Not that I think it would have been better if I’d had more pens to choose from, for the pen situation simply reflected the echoing hollow in my mind.
Two of the pens have purple ink in them, purely to compare the two shades. One is Diamine’s Majestic Purple which I’ve owned for a while and am almost completely out of. The other is Waterman Tender Purple which I put on my Christmas list as I was very keen to try it out. I’d say it sits a touch more to the red end of purple than Majestic Purple, but is equally attractive. Luckily, I’m in a purple mood at the moment so I will easily write my way through both pens.
I was more than ready to bring a red back into the rotation so I popped a cartridge of Graf von Faber-Castell’s India Red into my trusty old blue Waterman Hemisphere. Despite a ponderous beginning, I find myself liking this shade of red a lot. It’s easy on the eye and rather Venetian; a rich velvet red rather than a bright silk red.
Rounding this selection out, I decided to ink up the Namisu Orion with Graf von Faber-Castell’s Gulf Blue for those moments when I want something a bit more like a mountain tarn reflecting a sky which itself seems to reflect the snowy peaks beneath it.
I thought it might be nice to take part in the traditional end-of-year game of naming a top three. It’s a good game to watch. In fountain pen terms, it might be the top three favourites of the pens we own, or that we have bought this year, or our top three grail pens (coveted but out of reach), or top three inks… there are numerous permutations. I am not going to do any of these things because I am incapable of choosing which I like best of anything. As soon as I think something is my favourite I remember what it is I love so much about everything else. My grandson has been flummoxing me for years by asking me which is my favourite Doctor Who. I can get it down to a top five – Patrick Troughton, Tom Baker, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith – but don’t ask me to narrow it down any further.
Instead, here are the top three fountain pens of this same 12-year-old grandson. I have to add his own codicil, which is that he doesn’t use fountain pens. He is perfectly capable of using them, and I trust him to pick up any of mine and write a little, but he prefers the humble ballpoint. One of his schoolmates uses a fountain pen, though, and my grandson certainly has enough opinions about writing instruments for me to believe that he could fall into the hobby if he didn’t have other things on his mind.
Pen 1 on his list is the Parker 51, an unexpected choice. It isn’t the design he likes, so much as the fact that its hooded nib makes it reassuringly similar to a ballpoint whilst writing. He chose to have this filled with Diamine Majestic Purple ink, a colour that gets a big thumbs-up from him. He’s not wrong, it is a fabulous ink.
Pen 2 turned out to be the Parker Sonnet, my newest pen. Here, the design definitely contributed to his choice, but it was the feel of it in his hand which really swung it. He liked the metal section and the good balance the pen has when you hold it. Whilst I can see that the slender pens I favour aren’t for everybody, they definitely suit the small hands of a lad.
Pen 3, by far his favourite, came as no surprise to me because it’s the pen he consistently raves about. The sleek spaceship lines of the Namisu Orion, the tiny screw-on cap, the feel of the pen as you hold it to write, all of these score top marks with my young apprentice. I should, he advises me, get more Namisu pens. He would, he asserts, enjoy a Titanium or brass model himself. Namisu ought to, he is convinced, make a pen where both the cap and the body are faceted (their Ixion model has a faceted cap with a cylindrical body; the Naos has a faceted body paired with a cylindrical cap). Any which way, he’s a huge fan of their aesthetic.
One final thought about my fountain pen collection from the 12-year-old viewpoint: it lacks representation from the resin sector. We watched a fascintating YouTube video about a man who hand-casts beautiful resin rods which he then turns to make the bodies of fountain pens. I can see his point – some of the resins are very appealling. Who knows, maybe I’ll look away from my favourite metal-bodied pens at some point this coming year.