May. 11th, 2017

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The Lone Star Pen Club (our local Houston area club for fountain pen aficionados) met last night, and the evening's program was all about fountain pens with nibs (the part that applies ink to paper) that flex, offering the writer the opportunity to make thicker lines with the nib. Here's an example of the kind of writing possible with a Waterman Ideal No. 12 (done on graph paper where the lines were blue, which don't scan so well):

As I understand it, flexible nib pens were pretty what people used in the late 19th and early 20th century. The handwriting on all of the postal history (i.e., envelopes, or "covers" to use a term of philatelic art) that I've collected was done using pens with flexible nibs, and methods of penmanship were devised to actually take advantage of the nib's ability to flex.

But somewhere in the first half of the 20th century, nibs became stiffer (probably because they were being made of stainless steel and not 14-karat gold) and the lines made fountain pens became uniform. Today, there are some new pens being offered that claim to have flexible nibs, but their capabilities fall far short of what vintage pens (like the Waterman 12) are capable of.

I did a brief "show and tell" session before the program began, showing off a "Soyuz" fountain pen made in the USSR around 1990 (a gift from my sister-in-law). Speaking of flexible nibs, the pen—which appears to me to be loosely modeled on Parker designs—has a 14-karat gold nib with a fairly nice degree of flex. Here's an example, highlighting both the flex and my dismal penmanship:

Last night's meeting was well-attended, with probably 40 people there in all. (When I started going to these meetings, generally 20 to 25 people would show up.) The door prizes last night consisted of various bottles of ink, a restored fountain pen, and a piece of plastic that apparently is to be used as a backing sheet when writing (I'm freewheeling, here, as the product's label is pretty much entirely in Japanese). As things turned out, my "ticket" was the last selected, netting me a bottle of ink, which I traded for the backing sheet.

Ink, I have plenty of; backing sheets, not so much.

I think a good time was had by all.



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