A Tale of Two (More) Pens

Yesterday I went to see a man about a pen.

Turned out to be two pens: it could have been more, but I restrained myself.

thirteen fountain pens

My pen collection as of yesterday morning

If you know me, you know I’m a pen junkie. I have more fountain pens, and more bottles of ink, than any writer needs — even a writer who does most of her first-draft writing in longhand because her internal editor can’t read, and therefore can’t mess with, her barely legible handwriting.

However, being a cautious type, I don’t carry fountain pens around in my pocket, carry-all, or backpack. Not that any of my pens leak, but there’s always a chance . . . There’s also the possibility that a pen might run dry on the road, and no way am I going to tote a bottle of ink around with me.

ink bottles

Ink bottles pose for the camera. As you can tell, I’m a mail-order customer of Fahrney’s Pens in D.C.

Besides, which one(s) would I take with, and which would I leave at home?

So I pack a ballpoint or two. For a long time generic disposables were good enough, but then a Pelikan fountain pen I wanted — the one at far right in the photo above — came bundled with a matching ballpoint. I was hooked.

Then, earlier this year, I left it behind. Not for the first time, but this time I didn’t remember where and it hasn’t managed to find its way home. I went back to generic disposables, but it wasn’t the same. I browsed the Fahrney’s Pen catalogue, pen porn at its finest, but nothing caught my eye. (Visiting the Fahrney’s website just now, however, an “Inkvent Calendar” caught my eye immediately. OMG! An Advent calendar in which each day’s little door conceals a mini-bottle of high-class ink! The price tag, however, is $90. If you’re hankering to buy me a present for Christmas, New Year’s, Tam’s birthday [March], or my birthday [June], or just for the hell of it . . .)

Time passed. Earlier this fall, I think in a Facebook thread, I became aware of a Vineyard guy who makes pens. If you know the Vineyard, you can probably guess that Bill Giordano is in the restaurant business; he makes pens as a hobby, doesn’t sell through any Vineyard shop, maintains only a barebones presence on Etsy, but does sell at Edgartown’s Christmas craft fair in December. I made contact and learned (1) that he makes ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pens, all hand-turned and all able to use commercial refills; and (2) that he’s willing to travel.

I didn’t want to wait till December. We played email tag for a while, and finally . . .

Yesterday I went to see a man about a pen, at the Black Dog Café in Vineyard Haven.

Maybe I should have been anxious. What if I didn’t recognize the guy? What if none of his wares said I’m the one?

No problem on either count. Pens are not large, so Bill could bring considerable inventory to the table (literally). I was wowed. He showed me how the mechanisms worked. I picked two, one rollerball and one ballpoint. My only regret is that I didn’t go for one of his wood pens, which make gorgeous use of the wood grain and are unlike anything else in my collection. So I might make the Edgartown Christmas craft fair after all . . .

two pens

My new pens on a blank sheet of paper

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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6 Responses to A Tale of Two (More) Pens

  1. iamstan1 says:

    I love fountain pens.


  2. marjorie561 says:

    A delightful post–such fun. And yeah, those are gorgeous pens you scored. Write on 🙂


  3. Helen says:

    Very cool! I love pens and have a special one I use and can buy a box from Amazon. I use to buy them from Educomp which I would rather do but they stopped carrying them. Everyone that borrows my pen oooh and has but I tell them don’t get any ideas.
    I should buy a fountain pen and see what that feels like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fountain pens vary a lot, depending on the nib (point) and the size and shape. I’ve learned what works best for me mostly by trial and error (which is one reason I’ve got so many!) because on the Vineyard there was no place I could go and try out several different ones — I didn’t meet Bill G. till this fall. Some fountain pens can be used either with a cartridge or with bottled ink, using a removable converter. I’m partial to bottled ink, but it does mean I often have ink stains on my fingers. 🙂


  4. mvobsession says:

    My daughter is a pen-aholic, she loves fountain pens and has a slew of beautiful ones. There’s something about holding a good pen in your hand that somehow gets the creative juices flowing. But of course a beautiful pen deserves beautiful stationery and there’s another passion.
    Not to mention inks. Holy wow, she has the most interesting ink colors. It is interesting when she washes out the inks from several pens into the stainless steel sink and they all meld together.
    Would that be considered ‘pen and ink’ drawing ? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The paper towels I use to blot the ink after I’ve refilled a pen turn into wonderfully colorful abstracts. I then use them for coasters, whereupon the moisture from my glass or mug causes the colors to blur and blend in interesting ways. I’ve even been told I should turn some of the designs into note cards! Here’s a sample from my writing & editing blog (which has been moribund for almost a year now — gotta get back to it!!): https://writethroughitblog.com/2014/07/18/blottings/


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