It is a truism, I think, that price has little bearing on the writing quality of fountain pens. I’ve had just as much trouble with expensive as with cheap ones and treasures turn up at all price points.
So many good pens have passed over my bench and I’ve amassed quite a few of my own. Sometimes the absolute gems are quite unexpected. Going back in time quite a long way, one of my last school pens was the first of many really good pens I have been blessed with – and it was completely unlikely.
I’d had a succession of very cheap pens because I always lost or broke them. I was in need of a pen once again and I’d had a small windfall. I envied the Conway Stewarts I saw, colourful on a hanging card in the newsagent’s but I didn’t have enough money. I had to settle for another Platignum, a brand I rather disliked and held in contempt but I had to cut my coat according to my cloth. This one was, at least, at the top of that company’s range with a fashionable metal cap and, surprisingly, a 14 carat gold nib. It was what Platignum called a Pressmatic filler, a less efficient version of Parker’s Aerometric.
It neither leaked or skipped and it fitted my hand like it had been made for me. Despite being rattled around with pencils, dividers and compasses in my pencil case, often squashed by a considerable weight of schoolbooks it continued to work and work well during my final years at school. I had no call for it in my first years in the world of work and it was laid aside and forgotten about.
A few years later when I began at university I hunted for my Platignum without success. I had another good fountain pen by then so its loss wasn’t important but it was regretted. It was only in later years when I had greater experience of fountain pens that I recognised what a good pen it had been. Good appearance, light weight and reliable ink flow – these are great fountain pen attributes at any price. Since then I’ve found them in several pens, mostly vintage but sometimes current too. Not many pens meet those criteria.
In more recent times I’ve bought examples of that gold nib Platignum but they haven’t lived up to the experience of my school pen. It’s the same with other brands and models; despite being mass produced they are not all the same. Every now and then a gem appears among the humdrum.