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Step Off

Posted by Dirck on 16 December, 2013

I have a Christmas wish to say aloud; I understand Santa, like some national governments, has loads of staff devoted to watching the internet.  First, though, let me show you some contextual pictures:

I have a very small problem with a design element which these pens have in common with a lot of other moderns.  Let me steal some pictures from elsewhere so you can see more of it.  First, from a news item on FPGeeks


— and then from Montegrappa’s own site.


I invoke “fair comment” for the above and some material to follow.  The thing that is giving me a problem, which is actually muting my enjoyment of fountain pens, and which I’m going to ask Santa to leave notes in the stockings of the world’s pen designers, is the substantial step where the section meets the barrel.  In many cases, it doesn’t affect the function of the pen except of a minority of the tender-skinned, but it’s a threat, a constant menace to the mind if not the hand.  The reason for it is clear enough, as it makes for a smooth transition from cap to barrel when the pen is closed…

…but it isn’t necessary to make it a large step.  Today’s pen, for example, has a smooth cap/barrel interface, but the step is very small.   It’s not necessary to do silly crap like this


…unless you’re only interested in a pen that people stare at.  The smooth transition isn’t too hard to accomplish with modern materials, and I notice that some of the grander pens like the Mont Blanc Meisterstück and the Pelikan Souverän aren’t troubled by the cap overhanging the barrel.  Perhaps umlauts help.

In any event, I hope it will stop.  That thing I lifted from the Geeks has a Zeppelin tie-in, so it combines two things I find really neat– fountain pens and rigid bodied lighter-than-air flight– yet it leaves me doing little more than shrugging.  I’m asking Santa, in essence, for a renewal of my joie de vivre supplies.

Same as everyone else, really.

Today’s nigh-stepless pen: Sheaffer Targa
Today’s quietly festive ink: Herbin Bleu Myosotis

5 Responses to “Step Off”

  1. AndrewMB said

    Thanks for that.

    It’s been one of my peeves about fountain pens, yet it doesn’t seem to bother too many folks. I remember starting a thread on FPN concerning silly designs, but it didn’t excite much comment. In particular I was grouching about an otherwise excellent pen – the Caran d’Ache Dumas – which possesses a step that makes it painful for me to write a lot with that pen. I don’t think it is an actual large step, but more incorrectly placed, so that it mucks with my pen grip. It makes me either hold the pen like a paint brush, or squeeze my grip into the section in front of the barrel. Don’t these designers ever use what they design?

  2. I’ve noticed the steps, but it’s never really bothered me. I guess it’s because I hold my pens pretty far down on the section that it never affects me very much. Still, I support your annoyance, because I’m old school about my pens.

    • Most the the pens I’ve got with this piece of terrain don’t actually bother me, either, in a physical sense. This is, though, a happy surprise that begins to wear a bit, and I’ve seen even more radical examples in the super-expensive ranks than that red Dupont doohickey. My fear is that trickle-down styling works far more effective than trickle-down economics, and the unusable silhouettes will cripple the Chinese knock-off pen industry.

      …by which I mean… er… render so many affordable pens uncomfortable to use that the fountain pen will fall (more) out of favour.

  3. Maja said

    It’s been a pet peeve of mine for years, but as Andrew says, it doesn’t seem to bother too many people (which I find odd). As a matter of fact, it’s the only thing that’s kept me from purchasing a TWSBI Vac 700, which looks like an otherwise-wonderful pen….

  4. […] disadvantage– the smooth capped look calls for that step at the joint of which I have previously ranted about.  Some people object to this sort of thing even more strongly than I (for me, it’s not a […]

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