I filled our Ford Patent Pen yesterday. It’s a precious thing in monetary terms now but it wouldn’t be precious to us if we couldn’t use it. It holds enough ink to last weeks with both of us using it. It has a lovely semiflexible nib that can make a lot of line variation if wanted.
I bought it for Gordon when we were courting (doesn’t that word sound Jane Austen now, but I can’t say “dating” or “going out” because I was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and he was in The Highlands of Scotland). It cost quite a lot then but he had bought me a lovely watch and I wanted to get something he would love. And he does.
The mechanism of the Ford is a marvel, one of the great originals like the Onoto and the Pelikan. It was one of the very few pens that weren’t copied in the heyday of the fountain pen but those ingenious pen makers of the Far East make pens that work in the same way now.
There remains some mystery about the Ford. We know who designed it and who commissioned it (see earlier articles) but who ran the machines that made it? Our best guess is Wyvern, De La Rue or Valentine. Whoever it was, they made an outstanding job. The threads and knurling are admirable. These are among the things we can judge quality by.
One can only assume that the Ford was an expensive pen in its day but it sold well nonetheless. eBay sellers describe it as rare but that isn’t true. It isn’t rare at all but what is rare is a Ford in good, working condition. So many have taken damage over the years. The transparent inner barrel, or one version of it, is especially fragile.
All those millions who have moved on from the fountain pen probably think of it as just one thing if they think about it at all. They don’t know that there are fountain pens that compare with the Rolls Royce. But we do.