What's up at Ravens March.

Vintage pens-Handmade books-Silly statements

The Long and the Short of it

Posted by Dirck on 3 March, 2011

 While extremities are still on my mind (no colder 1 March, it seems, since the start of local record-keeping in the late 19th Century), let us consider the phenomenon of very large pens.  I have some, and they can be both attractive and pretty good writers, but they are not what I seek out… mostly.

I have a suspicion that the target buyer of the Very Large Pen (which laziness prompts me to contract to VLP for the rest of this entry) is not the very large person, for whom such a pen would be reasonable, but rather someone who feels they have something to prove, and whose buying is somewhat in the line of a peacock’s feather growth– an ostentatious display.  I was recently reading a complaint by a VLP owner that they don’t own a shirt in which their pen can be comfortably settled.  It grounds out on the bottom of the pocket while the clip is still seeking purpose.  A very uncomfortable state of affairs.

This is not, by the way, a lashing out at the modern pen.  Oversize pens have been with us a long time, although the difference in price between a new Pelikan M1000 and M600 is a lot more than it was between the Sheaffer Premier and Statesman of the 1930s.  As an aside– I seem to pick on Pelikan a lot in this sort of consideration, and this is merely because they have a conveniently-compared range of pens in the M-series and because they have the common decency to allow their retailers to post the prices of the things (modern Waterman fails in the  former with its diversity of shapes, and Mont Blanc are rather secretive on price).

In pocket pens, I don’t hold with the VLP– if you’ve got giant hands, that’s one thing, but you shouldn’t have to pay a vast premium because the non-giant-handed want to use things of your scale as a trophy.  I do, however, get a lot of mileage out of desk pens, which are as a rule longer than their pocket-borne brethren.  This link will show the two sorts of Parker “51”, and the careful reader will notice an almost imperceptible difference in the length of the former and the posted length of the latter.  The word “posted” makes a lot of difference there– observe:

The difference is substantial when the cap doesn’t come into play.  I think the reason for the extra length, which once a nod to the previous pen-holder standard of the 1800s, is a subtle way of making you not wander off with the pen once you’ve got it out of the socket.  It does not, even if you’ve got a cap you can press into service, fit in a pocket.

I like them because this extra length allows me to easily keep the pen bridged in my hand while typing, something that The Regular Job sometimes calls for– enter some data, make a note, repeat a hundred times.  Far more convenient to keep the pen in the hand than reach for it at each required juncture, and also to not have to worry constantly about the cap coming loose and pitching to the floor.  I could, I suppose, adopt one of these colossal VLPs as useful in the same way, but then I’d have to try keeping it in a pocket between uses.  If I’m lazy enough to use “VLP” several times in such a short article, I’m certainly too lazy to face the constant juggling act use of one would require.

Today’s sensibly long pen: Parker Duofold
Today’s ink:  Noodler’s red-black


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