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Fashionably Scrawny

Posted by Dirck on 18 October, 2010

With the exception of Friday, last week was one of very thin pens.  I have contemplated previously on the interface of pen and hand, but this past week made the matter rather less academic.  You see, I had some correspondence which needed attention over the weekend, and here were there pens full of ink.  Most days I only do a few pages of writing, but after nearly twenty pages altogether I have one word to say on the subject of ultra-slim pens of a certain age.


I note that the offending pens are all of a certain grim era, the late 1980s and early 1990s.  This is not, referring back to the graph of pen sales, the nadir of the fountain pen, but it is after the point which saw the common appreciation of the fountain pen go from writing implement to fashion accessory.  Sure, it writes, but you’re not expecting to do much more than sign a credit card flimsy or jot down a telephone number at the disco.  Prolonged writing is for… something else, I guess.

Remember that these pens are not only quite thin, they’re also relatively heavy, as the bodies are made of metal.  I can write a lot longer with the Waterman 12 or some other hard rubber pen that I can with the fashion pens, although they’re all much of a sameness in terms of thickness.  The combination of holding fingers very close together while supporting a brass tube is the real generator of misery.

I don’t think that any of the pen makers of the time avoided this particular trap– certainly Sheaffer and Waterman had their own entries.  To judge by that graph, this little trend didn’t do any real harm to fountain pens in general, and perhaps it even helped them start getting back on their feet.  That said, I don’t think I’ll be writing anything above a page with one again in the foreseeable future.

Today’s non-slender pen:  Sheaffer Legacy I (which is on its maiden flight today, and I will likely have a few thoughts to share later in the week)
Today’s ink, low fat only by chance:  Pelikan 4001 blue-black

Afterword:  I am not particularly fond of my van.  It is heaping expense and inconvenience upon what was never a healthy relationship, and assuming it is available to me tomorrow I’ll be cramming a number of things into the lunch break that should have been done from 2pm yesterday until 8pm tonight.  If I appear here at all, it is likely to merely be a statement of the day’s companions.  If anyone has a Toyota Previa or early Honda Odyssey in good function that they’re willing to trade for a Ford, I’ll gladly oblige with both the van and references to some mental care professionals.


2 Responses to “Fashionably Scrawny”

  1. […] pen is almost a reaction to the slender pens of the 1980s which I was discussing on Monday, and in this it’s an interesting exercise in history repeating because it was also meant to […]

  2. […] I wrote some time ago about my dislike of pens which are extremely thin and extremely heavy.  I have not altogether retreated from this position, as I still think it’s a sign that the pen in question is being considered more in terms of looks than performance, but I have worked out a modus vivendi.  Between a recent FPN discussion about the weight of pens and my own reworking of my website, I had a tiny, flickering epiphany. […]

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