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Thread: How Did You Get Here?

  1. #1
    Senior Member eachan's Avatar
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    Default How Did You Get Here?

    I'm not entirely sure how I got here, how I became a restorer of vintage fountain pens. I always enjoyed writing with them of course and my interest tended towards old rather than current. I've almost always had and used fountain pens since the age of eight but that's not the full story. There are, perhaps, two things two things that determined that I would pursue vintage rather than new. One was memory of the pens that were around when I was young, not school pens but the rather better ones I saw at home. My grandfather had a Sheaffer, one of those with a Triumph nib. My mother used a green marbled Conway Stewart though I can't say now which of that company's many models.

    The other reason arose because I was, for a time, a Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. All records and certificates were written with a fountain pen and Parker Permanent Black ink. I was issued with a cheap Parker, a Vector, I think, which didn't suit me well at all. Ebay got under way around that time and I looked at the pens offered there. I settled on a 1920s Onoto and a later Swan, both of which improved the appearance of my writing no end! I was hooked, between a practical necessity and nostalgia for a time I never knew.

    Deb, too, was fascinated by old fountain pens. We both wanted to see and handle all the fountain pens there were. By that time I'd developed some skill and knowledge about pen repair and restoration. She saw a way to fulfil that wish: buy pens, restore them and sell them on. Thus was Goodwriters Pens born.

    And it worked, too! We've handled and written about pretty much every British vintage pen and quite a few from other countries too. The pen-selling business keeps itself afloat. If we depended upon it for our income we would be living on gruel in a tent but that was never its purpose. Nowadays around three-quarters of the pens we use every day are vintage: Swans, Conway Stewarts, Mentmores and Summits. The rest are mostly post-war Japanese fountain pens, predominantly Pilots.

    That goes some way towards explaining how I got here. There are many junctures in life when decisions are lightly made with no thought that they will influence one's future. In my twenties I was fond of fountain pens but was perfectly happy to to use BICs at work - at first, at least, though I found that they hurt the hand later when I had more to write. That slight preference has grown into the obsession it has become. I liked old mechanical things but I might have chosen watches, clocks, cigarette lighters or pocket knives but fountain pens proved right for me. We are very lucky. Not many people get to occupy themselves with what interests them most.

    So how did you get here?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Fermata's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Fountain pens were compulsory at my school, the brands are now forgotten although I remember a Parker 45, a Sheaffer Dolphin in grey and various Parker Duofold Juniors. These pens had a hard life being transported in a leather satchel on a bicycle cross bar within a wooden pencil box along with a compass and many pencils. One pen I recall in particular was after I saved up and bought a Parker Duofold Senior in deep red, I thought the world of this pen and it was my daily writer until I went to university. At some point I dropped the pen and it landed nib down. I didn’t really know what to do and took the pen to WH Smiths and asked if they had a repair service. They sent the pen to Arthur Twydle who did a remarkably bad job by today’s standards but the nib now worked and I didn’t know any better. He charged 17/6 for the repair but included a note with the repair offering to buy the pen for £25, quite why he made such a high offer I am not sure. I went to St Johns in Cambridge and used the pen throughout my time there, I gave the pen to a good friend who couldn’t afford to buy a pen for himself. This became a pattern in my life, if someone has a need greater than your own do what you can to help, but I can become very boring about the chasm between need and want.

    Moved to London, I had a Parker 61 as my daily writer and saw my first Montblanc 149, I couldn’t afford one at £125 and it also felt enormous in my hand compared to the 61, like holding a baseball bat, I had to pass.

    I went to live in China, pens in Chinese department stores were plentiful and very cheap at around 10p for a Parker 75 Ciselle copy, I bought one, the feed lasted around a week before it crumbled away. I kept to my Waterman and Sheaffers plus the Lamy which had just become available

    I have had so many pens over the years, in the thousands, they tended to be bought, used for a while and then soldor given away. When Ebay came along I started buying vintage pens in job lots, often 25-50 at a time, fixing them, do a light restoration, keeping perhaps one or two out of the 50 and selling the rest. I used pens all day and every day in my work, which helped to justify the hobby.

    About 5 years ago I decided I had far too many pens, I was becoming old without anyone who had an interest in taking ownership of the collection plus one sentence, from your wife Eachan, gave me the impetus to make a change, ‘you need to remember that sooner or later all your collection will return to the large pen pool’.

    The Duofold Senior in deep red will be over 55 years old now, I hope that someone is still using it.


    eta

    In your final word 'here' I have assumed that you mean here at this point in your pen life and history as opposed to arriving at FPG, apologies if I have misunderstood.
    Last edited by Fermata; September 2nd, 2021 at 07:45 AM.

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  5. #3
    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I don't have a clear memory of how I got here. No doubt it was a very humdrum journey, and I think it may have started when I found an old Sheaffer Prelude in a box of stuff. And then when I looked online for more info I stumbled onto various hobby sites - here, that other place and so on - and got caught in the gravitational whirlpool from which there is apparently no escape!

    It's been...er... interesting. Can't say that I've ever been a decent forumite, which I imagine most people will agree on. What I walk away with is that no description/review/video will ever adequately suffice over holding a pen and writing with it. At least that is my perception based on pens I've acquired purely on the merits of a description, review or video.

    In my earlier days - probably between 2014 and 2018 or thereabouts - I suffered terrible FOMO reading the forums, and ended up buying a lot of stuff that was really unsuitable for me. These days I am bit more resistant, but the feeling is still there under the surface. And it's a curious thing that this does not affect any other aspect of my life. Not sure what that says (if anything) about the influence of hobbyist forums.

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    Senior Member christof's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I have always written and drawn with fountain pens. In school with Pelikano, then Lamy Safari, later also better and more expensive fountain pens. I started collecting old fountain pens (probably) at the age of 14, when I found a Parker "51" at the flea market. The design fascinated me at first sight and even though I'm interested in Pelikan and LAMY today, Parker are still my favorite fountain pens. My Parker "51" is almost always with me.


    When it comes to pen boards, first I was member on Fountain Pen Network. But emmigration waves have occurred on and off over the years there.
    I came here in 2010, along with some other members of FPN. For many years I posted on both forums but decided lately to focus on Fountain Pen Geeks (since Fountain Pen Network is not what it used to be for me in past). I now prefer smaller and more personal forums. I am also member of the boards:

    www.penexchange.de

    and

    www.stylo-plume.org

    C.
    Last edited by christof; September 2nd, 2021 at 07:56 AM.

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  9. #5
    Senior Member penwash's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    What an interesting question that can be answered from several different perspectives.

    Technically, this FP hobby is my second one that lasted years, the first being photography (also from the vintage-tinted glasses perspective of course). Maybe a more interesting question for myself is why am I always fascinate with old items. A big part of it is that my wife also likes them, but not to the degree of becoming an obsession.

    The attraction to this hobby for me started purely as a visual one. I may have mentioned here that I perused a thread about fountain pens in the photography forum that I frequent at that time. That led me to trying to find info about these fountain pens. I had no interest in calligraphy, writing, and I wasn't paying any thoughts at all about what I write with (little that I did as a computer programmer). But this hobby, changes all that.

    So that's how I got to where I am now in the hobby, today, I just enjoy one vintage pen restoration after another, and of course, thanks to these pens, I rediscovered my long lost love: Sketching. Plus I get to know many cool pen friends.

    ADDED: This forum is one of three that I frequent, the other two being the r/fountainpens subreddit and Pentrace (I know, polar opposites in many regards). Here it feels like a quite village where you get to know the active participants. I never get that feeling on FPN, especially nowadays.
    Last edited by penwash; September 2nd, 2021 at 12:53 PM.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Senior Member Sailor Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    FPG? Found it on teh innerwebz.

    Fountain pens came about from my sketching. I wanted to sketch various things outdoors but didn't want to haul India Ink and a crow quill dip pen. I read in some book about fountain pens being good for sketching; the hand-drawn image was of a Pelikan 120. Which, pre-innerwebz, I could not buy anywhere. Thus began The Great Hunt.

    But I had used a fountain pen in sixth grade: a Sheaffer school pen with silvertone cap and translucent yellow body. It had some blue ink cartridges to go with it and even back then, the thought of blue ink emerging from a yellow pen irked my color sensibilities. I don't know what happened to that pen, but I do have a small collection of Sheaffer school pens. They are great writers.

    Many years ago, a pen pal, who has since passed away, gave me a Pelikan 120. I still treasure that pen.
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!

    My eBooks. Because why not.

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    Senior Member silverlifter's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I told my story in some detail on reddit a couple of years ago, but I glossed over the early years.

    I was taught to write with a fountain pen, once we graduated from pencils, and so for me they were always "proper pens". When I started secondary school, a boys boarding school, fountain pens were banned (they didn't want us having access to tubes that squirted ink), and I remember walking down to the auditorium for the first day of my final exams carrying half a dozen biros and thinking,"this is absurd. When I go to university, I'm going to buy a proper pen so I don't have to put up with this shit."

    And so I did.

    I bought this pen in 1984.

    At the time, I cared or knew little about gold nibs, or fountain pen care. I just wanted a pen that would be a real workhorse, that I could throw into my bag and be confident that when I pulled it out it would do the one thing that pens are supposed to do: write

    So, I bought what was at the time for a university student, an expensive pen. Not because of the brand, or the gold nib, or anything like that. Because it was the only one in the shop that had a metal body and I though to myself, "I'll bet this will be practically indestructible." And, all these years later, it turns out I was right.

    For the four years I was at university, I used it for every note I took and every exam I sat. All my exams were essays, so that meant between one and three questions in two hours, averaging about 30-40 pages per exam. Three times a year for four years.

    Not once then, or since, has this pen failed me. It has never skipped, never burped, leaked or otherwise done anything other than write like a champ. I threw it in my bag every day, with my books, sports gear and all sorts of other stuff. I had no idea you couldn't treat a pen like that. Turns out, if it is a good pen, and you are OK with some cosmetic damage, you are good to go.

    One final anecdote. Years after I graduated, I was out and ran into a former lecturer. We went for a beer and were catching up. He told me that one year, after marking, the staff were chatting about grading in the staff room, and one of them mentioned "fountain pen guy", who wrote every exam with a fountain pen. Some of the other stuff went, "oh, yeah, I've had him come through as well." The first lecturer then confessed that he always enjoyed reading papers written in fountain pen and, when he was on the fence about a grade, always bumped up, not down because of the pen. Apparently, some of the others laughed and confessed to the same!
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Senior Member BlkWhiteFilmPix's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Am an emmigrant from the other forum.

    My fountain pen journey began when I Cross' ad for their newly-introduced fountain pen in National Geographic. Shortly thereafter, I learned about Montblancs, and eventually I saw Neil deGrasse Tyson's interview on Larry King where he mentioned he preferred his Pelikans.

    A more eloquent version of my story appeared in Pen World.
    Bob

    Making the world a more peaceful place, one fine art print and one handwritten letter at a time.

    Paper cuts through the noise – Richard Moross, MOO CEO

    Indiana Jones used a notebook in the map room, not an app.

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    Senior Member guyy's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Here? As in fpgeeks? I think i lurked & bought a pen or two here before signing up, so i guess it was the For Sale forum. That and dissatisfaction with other internet pen places. I signed up to ask a question about my OMAS. I wasn't able to post it at pentrace, didn't trust reddit and didn't want to post at that other pen site.

    If "here" is fountain pens in general, well, it was so long ago that i forgot exactly when & how. They were just around when i was a kid and i liked them. So here i am.

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    Senior Member jar's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I reached the very last page of the Internet and then doubled my tracks back.

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  21. #11
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    My father only used a Sheaffer fountain pen or a pencil. I cannot remember ever seeing him use a biro except one on a chain in a bank, and then only when he didn't have his pen with him. My awareness of fountain pens and ink stretches from my toddler days. My pens were typical school pens. Even as a young family man, Platignum school pens were what I could afford and had. Acquiring a quality first or second tier pen came when the family was grown and disposable income became a reality and not a myth. I had some lust for the vintage pens I had seen and had to forego in the past. Then too, as a lover of history and things historical, the pens I sought and bought were 1920s, 30s, and 40s vintage Conway Stewarts, Mentmores, Burhams, Wyverns, etc. -- all of which still attract me. Later, I began wondering how the 'newcomers' and the makes, mostly German, I hadn't an interest in stacked up against the 'best of the best'. With that, it was time to try Lamy, Diplomat, Schneider, etc. Most recently, I began wondering how some if the modern Conway Stewarts and Onoto compared to the vintage pens (answer: quite well indeed).

    And so it goes for the abstract thinker and his tangential exploration of the world of fountain pen use.

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    Senior Member Frank's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Discovered FPG either thru FPN, or thru my own forum TFPC...

    I collected BP/RB Pens as a teen, and then got into FPs when I was teaching full-time. I used to get Fahrneys catalogs in the 80's/90's, and I ignored Fountain Pens (LOL!). When I was working at a school, a new principal got me into them! I started going to the Philly Pen Show in 2006. I was selling vintage by 2009, and working at the pen club table in Philly by 2010. The crazy idea came to me in 2014 that I could actually be a pen retailer. The rest, like my store name, is history!

    Frank
    "When, in the course of writing events, it becomes self-evident that not all pens are created equal" (Federalist Frank)

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    http://federalistpensonline.com (Online Pen Store)
    (5% Discount for FPG Members! Use Code "FPG" at checkout!)

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  25. #13
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    A Lit professor I admired called me in for a chat. He thought I might have a future as a writer, music to my ears. I commented on the fountain pen he was using and he gave it to me: an Osmiroid 65 with a medium italic nib, which seemed like a holy relic.



    He later apologized, saying it was a cranky, scratchy, blotting nightmare. And it was. But I had nothing to compare, and used it to write my first book of poems.

    Later, I found some of my grandfather's Sheaffer pens and got a book and the tools and bits to restore them to writing condition. Friends gave me their junkstore finds and I bought drawer lots of old pens on eBay, restoring and selling enough to support my bent for collecting. My collection has grown to the point where I'm no longer trying to enlarge it. I do try to ink and write with my favorite pens on a regular basis.

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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I always wanted to be different and saw myself as different (or just different enough, I suppose). No one in my family had any interest in fountain pens, nor were there any around the house. When I was at college, I became an English major in part because the university was known more as a business and engineering school, and I just don't like swimming in the water in the same direction as everyone else. In high school, I had some of the quirkiest friends, and today as a teacher--nearing retirement--I still gravitate toward the quirky. Freshman year in college, I wandered into the university bookstore and stumbled upon a Sheaffer school pen and some cartridges. I bought it and a small journal. And that was that. While other students were using electric typewriters and the earliest pc's (I began college in the late 70s), I was sitting under trees and writing with my Sheaffer or at my desk in my dorm room with my grandfather's Torpedo manual. I fancied myself a writer (never came true), and in my head fountain pens and manual typewriters were the iconic tools of the trade.

    After college, I got a job teaching English, got a graduate degree (wrote my papers on a pc clone), got married and had kids, and did not get out my fountain pen for 30 years.

    And then I did, but I don't know why. And then I needed some more ink cartridges, but of course no Staples or Office Max around me sold them any more. The internet now existed, and I entered some search terms.

    Goulet Pen Company came up first in the results, I soon had another pack of cartridges and a few more cheap pens.

    The rest is just addition. Now I write all my letters and grade all of my papers with a fountain pen. I have even submitted a self-evaluation to my employer in the form of a letter written in fountain pen. This irked them; I smiled in pleasure. Institutions are 50% evil. I am not a professional writer, but I have to write volumes every week. I don't know how I ever did that with those Bic pens. I remember my fingers being calloused. But no more.

    Here at FPG? I migrated in one of the shutdowns at FPN.

    I still have that Sheaffer (and the Torpedo manual).
    Last edited by TSherbs; September 4th, 2021 at 06:06 AM.

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  29. #15
    Senior Member Sailor Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    What color was your Sheaffer?
    My other pen is a Montblanc.

    And my other blog is a tumblr!

    My eBooks. Because why not.

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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Navy blue.

    Sorry for the blur.

    Sent from my moto g power using Tapatalk
    Last edited by TSherbs; September 4th, 2021 at 09:08 AM.

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  32. #17
    Senior Member ethernautrix's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    I was alone in buying "too many" fountain pens until a Google search (for a Visconti travelling ink pot) brought me to FPN. I couldn't believe it. People were even using my own jargon (e.g., "rotation") in the same way!

    FPG owner Eric and moderator Dan had a weekly Google hang-out that I never participated in, only catching it as an upload. I didn't particularly want to join another forum ("too many forums!"), but then somehow I was convinced to sign up over here.

    And then here became a haven when the situation at FPN went sideways now and again. I'm still posting over there a bit, not so much, probably cos I'm not collecting nor even buying pens much anymore and would rather pare down what I have (still not motivated enough to make the listings and mail pens from Poland, although I'm sure postage is cheaper from here).

    As for fountain pens, it was an organic progression from a probably extreme attention to pens since I was a kid, choosing between ostensibly identical Bic ballpoints which was my favorite one.

    In my late teens and early twenties, I'd stop by stationery and art supplies stores and pick up their pen catalogues and page through them the way people had paged through Sears catalogues generations before me (according to American social mythology), dog-earing pages with the extravagant ballpoint pens I dreamed about owning one day, if I were lucky.

    At the time, i didn't like rollerballs. Too... skippy and rough. Probably cos of my high-angled pen grip. But I looooved Pentel's Ceramicrons (precursor of today's needlepoint tips, which I love!) ("Love." You know.), which dovetailed with finally considering fountain pens, like the Pentel Varsity, the Parker Vector. I had a Pelikan (don't know the number, but the body was a solid, darker green), which I ruined with India ink. I hadn't known!

    I bought and enjoyed using a bunch of Varsities and Vectors before I yearned for The One Pen -- something luxurious and magical (thus only one), like something from the pen catalogues that were still available in San Francisco's abundant stores. That quest led to immediate failure at my first purchase at Michael's Art Supplies Store's (on Stutter Street) 40%-off everything sale. If you bought something at the sale, you were given a coupon to return the following month for 40%-off everything. So every other month on a Saturday, there was the 40%-off sale with the potential of spending more money on a Saturday during the following month. I was ruined from the starting gate. Too many pens!

    I still have too many pens, and I have to say, it's a good problem to have.
    Last edited by ethernautrix; September 7th, 2021 at 07:27 AM. Reason: One of these days, I'll proofread before I post. Maybe.
    _____________
    To Miasto

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    christof (September 7th, 2021), eachan (September 7th, 2021), Frank (September 10th, 2021), guyy (September 7th, 2021), junglejim (September 7th, 2021), penwash (September 7th, 2021), TSherbs (September 13th, 2021), Yazeh (September 8th, 2021)

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    Senior Member FredRydr's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Quote Originally Posted by ethernautrix View Post
    ...it's a good problem to have.

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  36. #19
    Senior Member christof's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ethernautrix View Post
    ...it's a good problem to have.
    one of the best I know!

    Ps: it's good to have you here again Lisa!

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    Senior Member CrayonAngelss's Avatar
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    Default Re: How Did You Get Here?

    Well, one day just last summer, I sent a certain pen pal a message asking what was so special about those fountain pens he always writes with. Now I have 14.

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