Together with crafting and colouring-in, handwriting with fountain pens is currently undergoing a resurgence. Ironically, this traditional craft has been boosted by social media, thanks to its artistic style and class.
“Fountain pens are well and truly back in fashion, a trend that we have new technology to thank for. Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are full of beautiful images and videos of fountain pens, and there are hundreds of online forums, podcasts and YouTube tutorials on how to find the perfect fountain pen and how to care for it,” said John Johnston, marketing manager, Pilot Pen Australia.
“In 2017, this classic writing instrument and valuable collector’s item has reached new heights of popularity for its elegance and prestige.”
History of the Fountain Pen
Attempts to develop a self-feeding pen that did not require sharpening or to be dipped in ink (like the quill pen) were made as far back as the beginning of the tenth century. It wasn’t until 1884 that Lewis Edson Waterman, a New York insurance agent, made the first practical fountain pen, which was the first pen to hold its own ink within a self-contained reservoir.
Although there’s a variety of different styles of fountain pens available on the market today, most have the same basic components as the original invention: a nib, a barrel (which holds the ink reservoir), and a cap to protect the nib – although there are capless styles with retractable nibs available these days.
The fountain pen is often referred to as the ‘king of all writing instruments’ due to its complex design and structure. Ink flows from the reservoir to the nib at a balanced rate of flow by means of a force called capillary attraction.
The best fountain pens are considered to be those with gold nibs, as the soft metal can slowly adjust and adapt to your writing style over time. In 1918, Pilot Pen became the first company in Japan to manufacture a fountain pen with a gold nib.
In 1964, Pilot Pen’s engineers created the world’s first capless fountain pen, featuring a high-quality mechanism which allows the nib to retract inside the pen, protecting it from harm while still looking sleek and stylish. Over fifty years later, Pilot Pen’s capless range is a sought-after premium fountain pen.
Fountain Pen Discussions Online
If you want to connect with other fountain pen fans, they are just a click away. Social media and online forums are soaring with images and group discussions about fountain pens. The hashtag #fountainpen has over 570,000 posts on Instagram, and there are several closed Facebook forums, such as Fountain Pens Australia or Fountainpennetwork, where fountain pen fans connect with other like-minded people. The most popular subreddit on Reddit is PenmanshipPorn with over 230,000 subscribers, followed by Fountainpens, a subreddit with over 65,000 followers.
Candace Milner from pensivecandy@instagram says “Fountain pens exude a sense of elegance and style that I think is impossible to achieve through using a plastic, disposable alternative.”
“Writing with a fountain pen forces me to slow down, to concentrate on what I’m putting on the page and ultimately to be certain about what I’m writing – because unlike using a computer, I can’t rely on the ‘backspace’ or ‘delete’ option! A well-designed fountain pen turns the simple task of writing into a pleasure. The fountain pen fits just so well into your hand, it’s tactile too – I mean, it ‘feels’ good to hold.”
Nicholas Gold from quillidyllic@instagram says “I love fountain pens because they are accessible, precision tools that empower their holders to do remarkable things while always reflecting the individual personality of their holders.”
“I have been a Quillophyle (a word I’ve invented because I couldn’t find another word that properly expressed what I was trying to say) since the early 1990s. I now have an accumulation (not a collection; because I use all my pens) of around 200 fountain pens that I dare not count for fear of familial banishment.”
Sales of Fountain Pens are Booming
Fountain pen sales are increasing in Australia and globally, particularly in the prestige category. Pilot Pen Australia has seen a significant increase in sales of its prestige range of fountain pens in the last twelve months. The recently published report ‘Office Products in Australia, 2016-2018’ (Penfold Research) reveals that unit imports of fountain pens and stylograph pens increased by 134 per cent from 2014 -15.
The most expensive fountain pen in the world was a unique one-off edition that retailed at $1.7million. Many fountain pens are hand-crafted and are collector’s items. Pilot Pen’s prestigious Namiki Maki-e Fountain Pens fall within this exclusive category. The Namiki Emperor Collection has fountains pens that retail in excess of $10,000.
A fountain pen nib, even those made with stainless steel, will over time adapt to the handwriting style of the user, which means a fountain pen should only be used by its owner for the best, smoothest result.
You can purchase Pilot Fountain Pens online at Winc (formerly Staples) Australia