I am proudly a collector of fine fountain pens like the beautiful Italian made Visconti Opera Cherry Blossom shown at left. If you think collecting pens is odd or that I am the only one fascinated by great pens - think again. There are many thousands of us across the country and throughout the world who love and collect fountain pens. If you are interested to learn more, one of the great forums for this hobby is on the web at the Fountain Pen Network. You know, some people collect stamps and others coins but neither of these can really be used for any purpose other than to look at them. When you collect fountain pens, you not only get to look at their beauty but you also get to actually use them and write with them as well.
Fountain pens represent the pinnacle of the pen-makers art. They put down ink with no pressure from your hand, so you can write comfortably for long stretches. They do it with elegant, precious-metal nibs that glide effortlessly across the paper - its like painting instead of writing.
As long as I can remember I have been a daily user of fountain pens. I recall having a revelation of sorts as I struggled with a leaky ballpoint pen that the mass produced objects I was writing with were generally inelegant and often offensive (as was the ballpoint at that moment). So for almost 30 years I have used a succession of very pleasant Parker, Sheaffer, Pelikan, Visconti, Mont Blanc and many other fine pens. They are a comfort in my daily routine and lay down a line with far greater character than any ballpoint ever could.
Pictured at left is my beautiful Parker Duofold Check and at right a magnificent Sheaffer Valor handcrafted in Italy. (Photos By William Riepl).
Although I collect modern fountain pens made today, I also have a particular interest in vintage fountain pens made from 1920 until 1945 (often referred to by pen enthusiasts as the "Golden Age of Fountain Pens"). What a fine period this was in the development of writing instruments! The age begins with interesting pens that housed simple bladder filling systems in hard rubber bodies. Over the next twenty-five years materials developed from hard rubber to milled casein, Bakelite, and celluloid bodies and finally to injection molded plastic. Shapes changed around 1930 from blunt cylindrical forms to handsomely streamlined objects. The ink train evolved through a dozen methods for filling ink sacs and into a variety of interesting mechanisms for filling the barrel itself with ink.
Social influences rival the technical during this period. The fountain pen was hardly anachronistic in the early part of the century. In this pre-computer day it was a major medium for the written word. The period begins as the world was recovering from World War I and extends through World War II. It encompasses the Depression – a time when many could not afford fountain pens – and includes pens designed during a period of intense market rivalry by the major pen marquees. Finally, this was a period marked by care in craftsmanship and the creation of permanent rather than disposable objects.
A pen with great appeal -- the 1930s Parker Vacumatic in blue celluloid. This pen embodies that decade's rapid change in design, material, filling mechanism, and craft. This model developed rapidly so there are many variants to be found.
Click the link below (or the links to "My Pens" at the top of the page) to peruse my collection.
Fountain Pens; Pens; Krewalk, John; John Krewalk, John Krewalk, Krewalk, Krewalk, Krewalk