How Do You Use Your Pens?

Almost invariably my pens remain in my work area, either in a decorative Japanese bowl or in a lovely wooden pen rest on my desk (thank you, James). I also have a wooden pencil box which contains the Lamy broad stub I use for addressing envelopes and my dip pens. At the moment I have seven pens inked, far more than sense would dictate. A pen new to me will arrive and I want to see how it writes, or I take a notion for one ink or another, so the inked pens multiply.

As I don’t go anywhere very much these days I never have a pen clipped to my pocket. I have a handsome pen wrap which lies unused in a drawer. My husband happens to be away from home quite a lot. He has a pen wrap decorated with Japanese dragons which holds six pens comfortably. As he writes a lot they are changed quite often. We share our pens. There’s no ‘mine and thine’ in our fountain pens.

You’ll doubtless be aware of the debate as to whether pens should be stored nib up or nib down. I’m of the nib down school and it has never caused a problem for me. I would guess – though I’ve never tried it – that pens stored with the nib up might be hard starters, with the ink flowing back away from the nib and feed.

With so many pens inked there may be one that is neglected and will have developed a dry nib when called upon. I know which these are and try to ensure they are not neglected. Most, I am pleased to say, remain ready to write despite being left unused for a long time. Japanese pens are very good in this regard, I find. In distant former days I might sport a chatelaine chain with my trusty fountain pen ready to write. I have never worn a watch chain with a ringtop attached but the idea does appeal. Both these uses of pens were attractive to busy people, probably of a more wealthy station of life than I would have been likely to find myself. In the early days of the twentieth century I would have been likely to be scratching away with my eyedropper filler in some clerical or secretarial capacity rather than bossing underlings or domestic servants around.

Pens and inks together are another aspect of how I use them. Transparent pens (which are emphatically not demonstrators) don’t like certain inks, especially red. To avoid stained barrels and sections I’m careful about which inks I use. Then we are advised that mixing any other ink with even the least fraction of Noodler’s Baystate Blue will lead to an unimaginably dreadful outcome so I keep that ink in one pen alone. Beyond those few careful restrictions all inks go in all pens. I’ve found that very few pens misbehave and if one should shorten the life of a sac I can always fit another. The final thing I will say about how I use my pens is with unfailing delight.

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