Reflections of a Fountain Pen Initiate

My wife Céline attended her first pen show last week. Not one to do things by half measures, the DC Supershow was her introduction to the hobby. Below is an account of her time spent amongst those of us who have already gone off the deep end when it comes to pens and ink.

Paul has been running the blog for well over 18 months. This year was his second year attending the DC Pen Super Show. He has a growing collection of pens and his ink shelf is well-stocked, so it may surprise you to learn that I have read maybe a handful of posts in that time and the only time I write with a fountain pen is when our daughter has moved all the ball-point pens to her craft desk and I need a writing implement – I know Paul is always carrying. We give each other time and encouragement for our personal projects, but fountain pens was not an interest we shared. I know next to nothing about fountain pens, other than they are expensive, look like work and generally make my handwriting look scratchy. There is apparently a large community that loves these writing implements. That's cool!

We decided to have a family vacation in DC, to include the Pen Show. Paul was going to spend the weekend at the show, catching up with pen-pals, and probably coming home with some new finds, while our daughter, my Mom and I checked out the sites. Paul found what he needed at the Pen Show by the end of Friday so he joined us for a couple of days of sight-seeing and we all had a great time. 

Having my Mom travel with us was fantastic because Paul and I got to spend the evenings socializing with the lovely community of fountain pen aficionados, including Paul's pen-pals and their partners. What a lovely community of folks coming together from different places, to share their passion about pens, inks and stationary. Everyone was generous in sharing their pen knowledge and supplies so that people could try things out and find out what sorts of pens worked best for them, or simply to try something new.

Being the introvert, I took in the conversations, tried out a few pens, and listened to people talk about their favourite finds of the day and about their favourite pens. I enjoyed watching people test pens and do calligraphy. I learned about different nibs and their purposes. I also learned that I like medium nib pens and I like to post them (posting is not just for social media!). 

By the last day, I was corrupted converted. I walked the show, just for fun. There were so many pens and inks in a range of colours and styles – it was quite something! I looked for something I might buy some day – a medium sized, earthy-coloured pen, with a history, that I could post, and that didn't make my handwriting look too scratchy. I came home with a lovely 1946 Sheaffer Triumph Statesman, in green stripe, restored by Gerry Berg. I don't plan on collecting, so one good pen should be good enough. Folks kindly shared with me how the pen works, how to tell if it's a good pen, and how to take good care of it. Luckily, I have many inks to choose from. Now, I'm looking forward to writing more letters and making good use of my notebooks. I may also have one more thing to look for on my thrifting adventures – a good pen for a bargain.