These pens and others of similar quality are fully modern. An SF230 would be at least as useful and comfortable in the hand as any modern pen. We may feel a kinship with the first owner of this pen, using it daily in his business and leisure.
It was a very different world though. There was no smart phone, PC, laptop or tablet. For most there was neither electricity nor landline telephone. Communication was either face-to-face or written. If the local shops could not provide a required item there was no Amazon to send it. A handwritten letter to some distant supplier was the answer.
In business, though some correspondence would be typewritten, most was handwritten. Permanent records were done in ink. The Armed Forces depended upon the handwritten word. So did the law courts and government.
It appears that our SF230 was an essential instrument, without which the world of the 20s and 30s would have rapidly come to a halt. The power of the pen – any kind of pen – is much diminished today. Nearly all of its functions have been taken over by ever faster and more capable machines.
Has the pen any role in which it is essential today? Christmas cards and note-taking, writing lists and dashing off a quick note – these and similarly trivial tasks are of the last islands of pen use for most people, and a vanishingly small proportion of them will ever use a fountain pen. Is it, like the spinning wheel and the horse-drawn carriage, to be laid aside in the museums, marveled at for its primitiveness and used only by hobbyists and those who refuse to let modernity rule them?
I love my fountain pens and I use them every day. I use a mixture of old and new technology in my life and I enjoy the ongoing online conversation with like-minded friends. Wherever possible I encourage younger people to consider using a fountain pen. But I do wonder how many will use them in subsequent generations…