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Thread: Grail - a perspective

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    Default Grail - a perspective

    Was mulling over the threads discussing grail pens - personal choices, what constitutes a grail pen, and so on - when I had a minor epiphany. I had kind of fallen for the concept of a grail being either expensive and/or rare and spent far too much time looking for something that would fit this concept and still appeal to me. Anyway, my thoughts on this have changed somewhat, and now I am waiting for that moment when I realise that I already have my grail pen in my hand.

    Sounds a bit cryptic I guess, but let me explain. This grail pen does not have to be rare or expensive or even take an age to discover. It should be a pen that I want to write with, whenever I write anything, and that finds itself as a constant companion... that is, the innate feeling that this is 'my pen'. Not just because I own it, but because it fits, in all the ways that matter - size, balance, feel in the hand, how it facilitates the expression of my handwriting and my thoughts on paper, a general feeling of 'comfortableness' such as you would get (say) from a favourite pair of shoes or a nicely broken-in armchair. A sense, almost, of rightness.

    Of course, I cannot go out and buy that pen specifically: dimensions, reviews and such do not get even remotely close to the actual feel of a pen in hand. So my search for a grail is not directed, other than having the assumption that there is a pen out there that will satisfy the criteria noted above. And I guess one could use this approach as a kind of justification to acquiring more pens!

    The closest I've come to finding that pen, and it really is very close indeed, is with the Pilot Custom 912. Unfortunately, mine has the FA nib, which is not the most user-friendly daily driver. Perhaps I should explore this by getting another one with (say) a soft fine or FM nib?

    I guess the problem with this though is the siren call of all the other shiny pens I haven't yet sampled! And perhaps that is the first obstacle to tackle.

    Anyway, just a different perspective on what the term 'grail pen' means to me1.


    TL : DR Not searching for a grail pen, but hope to recognise one when it's in my hand.



    1. I shouldn't get attached to things, but as 20th century product of a Western 1st world country... well, habits are hard to break.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Was mulling over the threads discussing grail pens - personal choices, what constitutes a grail pen, and so on - when I had a minor epiphany. I had kind of fallen for the concept of a grail being either expensive and/or rare and spent far too much time looking for something that would fit this concept and still appeal to me. Anyway, my thoughts on this have changed somewhat, and now I am waiting for that moment when I realise that I already have my grail pen in my hand.

    Sounds a bit cryptic I guess, but let me explain. This grail pen does not have to be rare or expensive or even take an age to discover. It should be a pen that I want to write with, whenever I write anything, and that finds itself as a constant companion... that is, the innate feeling that this is 'my pen'. Not just because I own it, but because it fits, in all the ways that matter - size, balance, feel in the hand, how it facilitates the expression of my handwriting and my thoughts on paper, a general feeling of 'comfortableness' such as you would get (say) from a favourite pair of shoes or a nicely broken-in armchair. A sense, almost, of rightness.

    Of course, I cannot go out and buy that pen specifically: dimensions, reviews and such do not get even remotely close to the actual feel of a pen in hand. So my search for a grail is not directed, other than having the assumption that there is a pen out there that will satisfy the criteria noted above. And I guess one could use this approach as a kind of justification to acquiring more pens!

    The closest I've come to finding that pen, and it really is very close indeed, is with the Pilot Custom 912. Unfortunately, mine has the FA nib, which is not the most user-friendly daily driver. Perhaps I should explore this by getting another one with (say) a soft fine or FM nib?

    I guess the problem with this though is the siren call of all the other shiny pens I haven't yet sampled! And perhaps that is the first obstacle to tackle.

    Anyway, just a different perspective on what the term 'grail pen' means to me1.


    TL : DR Not searching for a grail pen, but hope to recognise one when it's in my hand.



    1. I shouldn't get attached to things, but as 20th century product of a Western 1st world country... well, habits are hard to break.
    Exactly!!! You have said what I've believed all along. The grail pen is that one pen that I want to use every time I want or need to write. It is the one pen that is -- for me -- 'perfect'. It is -- for me -- the best pen ever made.

    Finding that one perfect (for me) pen has meant collecting dozens of vintage and modern pens in a trial and error process. I now have narrowed down a short list of about five 'modern' and an equal number of vintage contenders for the the title, Two of the 'modern' pens are remakes of vintage models. Stored away are the numerous 'also rans'. Those that 'stumbled and fell' have been re-homed or will be.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    I donít think there will ever be just one for me. I want different things at different times.

    Also, if i write for any length of time, i like to switch pens. Switching keeps my hand fresher.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    I'm with guyy--rightness is not a constant for me. Different pens feel appropriate for different moods or purposes (in my case this is more subtle than "I need a big italic nib to do a letterhead"). A Parker "51" aerometric feels like the most "right" thing, the most "me," to carry around everywhere, for any small or large writing purpose. My OMAS pens feel appropriate for journaling and letters. But I think, EoC, your idea rings true. While I have more than 1 "grail," it is not some vast sea. The large majority of pens I've owned and used do not fit in that "rightness" category. I don't know, if we're going by this experiential definition, how many yet-untried pens are out there that might also fit.
    Of course, there is overlap. I find the Soennecken 111 to feel "right," (even if it is not the most comfortable for the longest of writing sessions) and it also happens to be rare and expensive. A similar thing could be said for my OMAS Extra Lucens.
    Will
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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Good points, and should be added to my original thoughts on this. I agree that it doesn't have to be a single grail but would also argue that there is presumably an optimal number of tools that a person would consistently use and that this varies from person to person. It's the same for me. There may be that one pen that I use for most tasks, and there may be some others that better fit different tasks. So having a more complete toolset is better, and on an individual basis, each tool will fit the experiential criterion of 'rightness' at the time of use.

    As to '... how many yet-untried pens are out there that might also fit'... well, that's why we keep acquiring pens! Although I do question the need to do so if one already has fit pens on the desk. That's something I'm working on right now - if I have a tool that is really fit for a specific purpose, do I need another tool for the same purpose?

    This probably doesn't apply to someone who is building a collection, where the items in the collection may not have to be functional as intended.

    Of course, all this overlooks the simple fact that a lot of us are magpies!



    Edit: to reply to the post by An Old Bloke, it also had occurred to me that many 'collections' could consist of pens that look nice but didn't make the grade as consistent tools to reach for.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; July 6th, 2021 at 09:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Some days it is the Lamy 2000, some days it is the Charlie Pen. I have a Custom Urushi on the way, and perhaps that will change my mind. But I suspect that will just make it such that some days, it's the Custom Urushi.
    "The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here..." -- Abraham Lincoln, 1863

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Ah, this topic again - an evergreen! Years ago I thought it was all fairly clear, but as time rolled on, I realized the term/concept had taken on so many manifestations as to become malleable. In my mind, it lost a lot of value, but perhaps the value is gained when each individual crystallizes what it means to them. In that light, I offer my perspective, and this is only how it manifests to me; I do not expect anyone else to agree to these elements or change their viewpoint, but am merely explaining my relationship to the term.

    For this guy, the concept of a Grail pen contains these factors:

    • It is rare(-ish), causing one to work hard to even find one. In addition to cost (see next), the sheer difficulty of obtaining the item, even seeing one, lends weight to the search.
    • It comes at a cost; this, I can't quantify, but it is not merely "I don't have the coins in my pocket at the moment" but a significant outlay far above the rest of your objects. Combined with the first point, this locks in the unobtainium aspect
    • Finally, the most important point: it has the ability to change your life for the better.

    I can only think of two or three pens I have that come close to meeting those criteria. An example was a pen that I saw in a photo right here on FPG about 8 years ago, and spent the next 7 years looking for one. Somewhat causally, but I never gave up. Most people would just go "but that's just a pen!". Fine. More to the point, there is one pen that I have never seen in real life in any form other than photos, and have looked for a decade. I likely won't find one, but if I do, this will be the crowning achievement of committed interest. I am not poorer for not having it, my life is not pallid for it's absence, but it meets all the criteria I have for a writing instrument that engenders love, and were I to find one, the local organ bank might reap an unexpected benefit.

    So, in the end, I have never looked out at the world and wondered "could my ideal object be hiding here? could it be this coffee cup? This bowtie?", etc. No, those objects, those Grail-y things have come to me as my research and activity in pens has grown and, here and there, I've come across something that met my deep interests and also matched the three elements listed above. Essentially, they found me.

    At that point, the game was afoot. Mildly, casually, it still is.
    Last edited by Jon Szanto; July 6th, 2021 at 10:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    There is truth in the sentiment expressed above, and expressed for different reasons, that THE grail pen, may actually be more than one pen. In fact -- as confusing as it may sound -- It may be, as it seems for me, a number of pens for a number of reasons.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    There is truth in the sentiment expressed above, and expressed for different reasons, that THE grail pen, may actually be more than one pen. In fact -- as confusing as it may sound -- It may be, as it seems for me, a number of pens for a number of reasons.
    In the original... uh, story line, there was only one Holy Grail. It seems that in most uses that have co-opted the term, most or all of the aspects of the Grail have been adopted except for the uniqueness quotient. Where there was once one, there are now more, or many. Inflation.
    "When Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick;
    and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter."

    ~ Benjamin Franklin

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    My Grail* is one that I will never own and, truth be told, if I was to find myself in the position to acquire it, would probably baulk at the price.

    I have enough lovely pens to satisfy my writing needs, and I see no harm in having one hover on the horizon, like a fata morgana, that acts for me as the epitome of pens.


    * The green one.
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    I've never subscribed to the idea of a grail pen. I have a dozen pens that write extremely well and give me all the satisfaction I could want from pens. I understand that there are expensive and attractive pens out there, even within my own vintage field, but I have no craving for them. As I've said elsewhere, one grail pen is soon replaced by another within weeks of acquisition. Or less.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Szanto View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    There is truth in the sentiment expressed above, and expressed for different reasons, that THE grail pen, may actually be more than one pen. In fact -- as confusing as it may sound -- It may be, as it seems for me, a number of pens for a number of reasons.
    In the original... uh, story line, there was only one Holy Grail. It seems that in most uses that have co-opted the term, most or all of the aspects of the Grail have been adopted except for the uniqueness quotient. Where there was once one, there are now more, or many. Inflation.

    Indeed! All seekers of the Holy Grail (apparently) were after the same object - JC's last drinking cup. In the mysterious Land of Pen (as the Japanese might label it), we, the New Seekers (cue songs of your choice), have mostly little to no idea what the Grail Pen is, and generally don't agree with each other in any case. At least there is considerably less conflict that way I guess.

    I would like to believe that one day I will be sitting at my desk writing something, perhaps nothing of any weight, when my attention will be arrested by the pen in my hand, and I will be struck by the wonder of it. At which point I will stop listening to the siren song of the new, bright and shiny pens out there - beyond simple exploratory curiosity of course - and settle into pleasant autumn and winter days of truly satisfying writing.

    Bit fanciful, but I imagine you get the idea.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    A while back, in one of those 'how many pens do you have?' threads, I said all my pens are aspects of the same pen, so the answer is 'one'.

    Viewing the concept of a grail through the filter of rightness for you does something similar. But the 'one' is a moving and multifaceted target and can only be approximated, never found.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    That was kind of what I was getting at, though you stated it more neatly.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    "And if you can't be with the one you love, honey,
    Love the one you're with" -- Stephen Stills

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    I don't have a "Grail Pen", the way it's defined (correctly, in my view) as a pen so special and hard to find as to take years or decades to obtain (by luck or divine intervention).

    Nor do I think that there is one "unicorn" pen that can magically satisfy all my wants and needs.
    I do have many pens that are in my collection, that I feel so happy to have them, and they are used in different ways.

    Lastly, to me, if a pen is very desirable, but the pen is there for me to purchase *anytime*, and all I need to do is to save money for it, then it's not a "Grail Pen", I would call it "a Dream Pen".

    I have *many* Dream Pens.
    - Will
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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    I'm going to go with Jon Szantos description:


    • It is rare(-ish), causing one to work hard to even find one. In addition to cost (see next), the sheer difficulty of obtaining the item, even seeing one, lends weight to the search.
    • It comes at a cost; this, I can't quantify, but it is not merely "I don't have the coins in my pocket at the moment" but a significant outlay far above the rest of your objects. Combined with the first point, this locks in the unobtainium aspect
    • Finally, the most important point: it has the ability to change your life for the better.


    And for me, that pen is the Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 - Calligraphy
    I am in no rush or press to obtain it...for now, I'm happy thinking about it and smiling while I save up the money for it's cost as of last year.
    By the time I have THAT saved up...it will cost a fair amount more and the process will continue until I have multiple thousands saved up.
    Then I'll wind up spending it on a vacation for the family or building something onto the house...you know how it goes...lol.
    "I can only improve my self, not the world."

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    A fountain pen I always wanted is the Pelikan 140 in light tortoise celluloid.


    picture by Dominic Rothemel, pelikan-collectibles.com


    It would perfectly match this humble mini collection:



    But it is that rare that I am almost sure I will never find one. So the designation Grail might apply to this.

    But since I look at my collection as a whole thing, it's not the individual pens that are "grail-ish", but the composition of the whole. In this sense, there is no single Grail pen for me, because each pen alone loses the status of special if not viewed in a context.

    So I would rather have to speak of a Grail-selection. This could be, for example, a complete collection of Pelikan 100/101, including all colors and shapes. That would be a Grail for me!

    see here: https://www.pelikan-collectibles.de/...100/index.html

    (Needless to say that I see things as a collector. This has nothing to do with writing and the real use of pens...)
    Last edited by christof; July 8th, 2021 at 12:44 AM.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Ahhh - this discussion again.

    I must say that I have agreed with all of the comments above at some point in time in my fountain pen-life.

    At one time, my grail pen was the Montblanc Princesse Grace of Monaco Limited Edition (yeah the one with the diamonds), although I would not have turned down the Special Edition either. Such a gorgeous pen, even if it isn't a piston filler. And both are completely out of my price range (although my husband searched for one for several months as a surprise) and now pretty much unobtainium.

    Why is it no longer my grail pen? Actually, I have changed a great deal over the last few years and am finding that I am not drawn to the flame of these ethereal icons any longer. I realize that my ideal grail pen (or pens) is (are) what I already have. This perspective has made me even more appreciative of the quality of the pens that I have and their ability to bring me joy.

    Recently, I had a meeting with several attorneys. I discovered one of them was a fountain pen lover when I took out my pen case to select a fountain pen. He eyed the case and said, "Wow! You have a ---------------! I have never seen one. Can I have a closer look? " As he carefully handed the pen back to me, he then proceeded to tell me that this was his grail pen. The pen had been given to me years ago when I finished graduate school. Now, because it was a limited edition, it is highly sought after. I've never looked at the pen as a collectible, but as another tool that I use and appreciate.

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    Default Re: Grail - a perspective

    Dr Penfection said, 'I realize that my ideal grail pen (or pens) is (are) what I already have.'

    This is why I said that I have a number of pens that are contenders as my grail pen. I believe that I already have the pen that is for me that one 'perfect' pen. The unknown is which one is it?

    Does it really matter? I don't think it does.

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