Why use a fountain pen?
FAQ 3.0 by Burt Janz
  Article # 221 Article Type: FAQ

3.0 Why use a fountain pen?

Personally, I find that I tend to press a ballpoint pen down on the paper to get ink on the page. That makes my hand get tired and cramped. Moreover, the line that comes out of the pen doesn’t vary from letter to letter, and thus doesn’t seem to have any “personality” to it. It’s kind of sterile and empty.

A fountain pen, on the other hand, uses a nib which flexes and changes shape as you move the pen. This causes the written line to take different shape based on the pen’s movement. Upstrokes may look different than downstrokes, and the width of the line varies constantly throughout the writing.

Whatever is written seems to look more alive and to have more expression. And you can intentionally vary the width of the line by increasing or decreasing the pressure you put on the nib, thus increasing or decreasing the space between the tines of the nib, and thus increasing or decreasing the amount of ink placed on the page. You control the pen, rather than the pen controlling you.

In short, a fountain pen adds “personality” to what you write. That personality can convey information about what the author was feeling when the words were written. The effect is more subconscious and subtle than it is obvious. But I’ve noticed it, and others notice it when I give them a handwritten note.

Speaking of which, a note written with a fountain pen gives the writer the ability to use some expressive lines and flair that simply cannot be duplicated with a ballpoint.

Lastly, think about this: a fountain pen reflects the way we humans have been writing for hundreds, nay, thousands of years. Mankind has, for as long as we can remember, been using a semi-flexible nib as a means to deposit an ink (whether a modern dye-based ink, an older iron gall ink, or even animal blood) onto a semipermeable material. This written record has existed as long as man can remember – heck, the Dead Sea Scrolls were written with some sort of pen and ink!

When you use a fountain pen, you are using a time-proven method for record-keeping. Let’s put it this way: do you think that Benjamin Franklin would have used a Bic to sign the Declaration of Independence... even if there was such a thing?

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