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Thread: No Taste

  1. #1
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    Default No Taste

    Not quite in the same vein as the 'Does bad taste sell pens' thread, as this is not about specific designs, and not just about pens.

    While I was taught to write using a fountain pen in a previous century, there was a long gap from about the age of 18 to a few years ago when I used only ballpoints or pencils. Thinking back, if memory serves I had a metal Parker pen (a 25 I think). It was my only fountain pen, some richer friends had Sheaffer pens. I don't recall viewing it as anything other than a tool for a couple of specific purposes - writing and drawing. I also recall seeing those checkered Waterman pens in the shops, though those were always out of financial reach. They were offered as a prize for completing the Times newspaper cryptic crossword competition (or it may have been the Telegraph), but try as I might I never won one.

    Fast forward to my re-introduction to fountain pens - and fractious signing on to a couple of hobbyist websites - the first pen I went after was a Sheaffer Sentinel, thinking this was the pen my father used when he was in the Royal Navy. As it turns out the original pen was an Admiral (somewhat ironically), which I found out a bit later when my Mother located it and sent it to me. So my re-introduction was less about using the pen than in the familial connection. Then we come the websites and the utter confusion that is presented with regard to choices of pens/brands, things you may or may not need to know, inks, nib types and on and on. At least I knew how to write with a fountain pen, so there is that.

    Why the preamble? Well, after a few years of rocky engagement with enthusiasts (that's you lot!), and the subsequent purchasing of a fairly wide array of different pens, both vintage and modern, and the acquisition of more inks and paper types than is really sensible, I have over the last year or so come to a somewhat startling conclusion: I don't appear to have a favourite or preferred style of pen. Not in size (within absurd limits of course), materials, nib metals, nib widths (and other parameters pertaining), ink brands or colours, or paper types or layouts (for loose leaf or pads/notebooks).

    Further to this I notice that I even don't have a regular preferred style of writing. Sometimes I will use a running hand, sometimes print, sometimes italic, sometimes flourished, sometimes ancient. Size of scripts varies too.

    Other people may experience some of this in one dimension or another, but I doubt anyone else here experiences it all to the same degree of indifference that I do. This is not to say that I don't enjoy writing with fountain pens. I do, and if any preference is shown it is in choosing fountain pens as a tool over other modes of written expression. Though I still enjoy a good pencil.

    The other thing I noticed is just how susceptible I am to the influence of enthusiasts, whether active or passive. Many a time I've bought a pen simply because of the enthusiasm of others, and not because they (the pens) spoke to me in any way.

    If I was the kind of person to put a false positive spin on things I would be inclined to consider myself something of an everyman of pens and writing. However, I don't think that is strictly true, and I tend now to view this phenomenon as me being kind of a blank slate, a palimpsest, or perhaps simply a grey person with regard to the hobby.

    Pretty weird, huh? Sometimes I get a pang of envy when I see someone super engaged with a specific pen/ink/writing practice, and wish I felt that too.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    You make this sound like a bad thing.
    Actually for me it isn’t.

    We have a lot in common, I also like different pens (with respect to any aspect), although I favor flexible nibs in particular.
    I‘m no calligrapher nor I never will be one (and have not the intention to become one).
    I‘m also no collector.
    I have no preferred hand regarding writing, I like to try always something new out.

    This is a phenomen of my whole life, not only regarding pens.
    Also in work I was never a narrowed specialized geek in the specific topic (I’m an IT guy).
    I enjoy working in different fields, learn something new, but be also bored quite easy always doing the same thing.
    I would describe myself as a generalist, knowing quite a bit of many things, but not being an absolutely expert in one area, and I like it that way.
    Some might say I’m not an expert in any field and they are right, but who cares, and it is similar for me in the pen topic.

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    Senior Member Robalone's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Taste

    EofC. Dude....you echo many of the sentiments I also have.
    Being relatively new to fora in general, I have spent a long long time ....out in the wilderness , thinking no one else is as crazy as me .
    I love writing. With anything , I can mimic styles ....I used to forge notes from my mum by copying her writing !!
    Like you I love different styles of script , and seek out fonts to learn .
    I spent years just doing a journal with ballpoints, and used to do different styles etc..

    I was surprised as hell to find there was people that had the same interest as me.

    I love pre war BHR very much, but also have a swath of Phileas pens, Parker 45s , Waterman 40s and several quite modern ones.

    I love this . Thanks for your post 👍🏻

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    Default Re: No Taste

    EoC, your experience doesn't sound weird at all. I've also reached a kind of disengagement, though I still have fairly clear aesthetic preferences, which means a higher likelihood of satisfaction if I follow them.

    Often the 'rocky engagement' you mention seems as much with yourself as with us lot. You are too hard on yourself. What little I've seen of your handwriting, your artwork, and the pens you've retained is admirable.

    I guess we've all been affected by online enthusiasm at one time or another. Hoping to experience such overt, performative enthusiasm oneself may be unrealistic, unnatural, out of character even.

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    Senior Member Empty_of_Clouds's Avatar
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    Default Re: No Taste

    My handwriting is legible and my drawing just passable to be honest, but that's really not what this thread is about. See, I don't have a clear aesthetic preference, for anything related to writing, other than choosing a fountain pen over another mode. I notice that I have three pens, that's 10% of the pile of pens here, that I have never inked. Which presumably means that I am not that fussed about how they write? Choosing ink to fill a pen is often a bit of a lucky dip - just plunge my hand into the ink box and grab whatever. Paper to use is whatever is on hand where I am. I suppose some choice is made for paper inasmuch as it has to be fountain pen friendly. And some further choices are governed primarily by cost, given my location.

    @Robalone, my Mother was a lefty and underwrote with a left-leaning slant. I could mimic her handwriting such that she could not tell if it was me or her! Never practiced either, it just seemed simple to do.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Other than on forums (FPN, this one) I've not been around other fountain pen fans. Except for a writer friend who sends me her junkshop finds. Her parents used Esterbrook pens, so I've restored several and returned them as gifts.

    My father and grandfather used Sheaffers, which are a family totem. The first pen I bought new was a Sheaffer/Levenger Connaisseur Mediterranean (it was bright blue).

    In San Francisco, I went to an upmarket shop that sold Montblanc pens, pricey watches, and other executive gear. The counter guy was so snotty, obviously reluctant to let me test even the lowest-priced Montblanc, that I exited in a huff and found another store, an art supply, with a nice selection and pleasant staff, where I bought a Parker Duofold International in grey pearl.

    That first impression gave me a lifelong dislike for Montblanc pens, and I've never thought of buying one. Not rational, p'raps, but there it is.

    My collection takes in iconic American brands (Sheaffer, Parker, Conklin, Wahl Eversharp) along with Conway Stewart, Aurora, and Pelikan. If a pen doesn't suit me as a writer, I sell or trade it. So at this point, nearly all the pens in my cases have passed that personal test.
    Last edited by Chip; January 9th, 2022 at 01:47 PM.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Chip View Post
    Other than on forums (FPN, this one) I've not been around other fountain pen fans. Except for a writer friend who sends me her junkshop finds. Her parents used Esterbrook pens, so I've restored several and returned them as gifts.

    My father and grandfather used Sheaffers, which are a family totem. The first pen I bought new was a Sheaffer/Levenger Connaisseur Mediterranean (it was bright blue).

    In San Francisco, I went to an upmarket shop that sold Montblanc pens, pricey watches, and other executive gear. The counter guy was so snotty, obviously reluctant to let me test even the lowest-priced Montblanc, that I exited in a huff and found another store, an art supply, with a nice selection and pleasant staff, where I bought a Parker Duofold International in grey pearl.

    That first impression gave me a lifelong dislike for Montblanc pens, and I've never thought of buying one. Not rational, p'raps, but there it is.

    My collection takes in iconic American brands (Sheaffer, Parker, Conklin, Wahl Eversharp) along with Conway Stewart, Aurora, and Pelikan. If a pen doesn't suit me as a writer, I sell or trade it. So at this point, nearly all the pens in my cases have passed that personal test.
    I had to smile when I read your story.
    A very similar thing happened to me when I was a young man and resulted in a long lasting dislike of a specific brand.
    I completely understand your feelings.

    For me it was not pens it was cars.
    My mother had a small taxi business (only 2 cars) and planned to buy a new car as replacement for one of her taxis (the one she drove).
    So I took over the task to make a preselection of possible cars which she might like.

    I went through quite a long list of car dealers (here most dealers are bound to one specific brand).
    As said, I was a really young man, surprisingly all the pricy premium car dealers, like Mercedes, BMW or Audi treated me respectful and took me serious, it was no problem to schedule test drives and all my questions were answered in detail, they showed me their cars and options.
    I felt welcomed as potential customer.

    Then I entered the showroom of a Skoda dealer and faced the same snotty reluctant behavior you described.
    I felt completely disregarded, they neither answered my questions properly nor showed me their cars (which are not the premium league) only questioned if I would be able to buy one of their cars.
    Soon I left their building with a bitter feeling and a big disliking of the brand (which lasted very very long) not only of that specific dealer.
    I wouldn’t have bought a car there even the alternative would have meant only riding a bike.
    My mother finally bought an Audi (also based on my recommendation).

    Salespersons which act like that on potential customers should imho immediately get fired, because they obviously are not qualified for their jobs.


    Not so long ago I had a experience not that crass, but also with a total incompetent salesperson (again with cars).
    I drive Mercedes since over 20 years, but a few years ago I looked for a new car and considered also different brands.
    I entered with my son a Volvo showroom, nobody but us in the room, the salesman sat at his desk in a corner.
    He saw us obviously interested in a Volvo V60, he had obviously nothing to do, but did not found it worth to come and ask if he can help us.
    After 5 minutes ignored by him we left the showroom again and I crossed Volvo from my list.
    Finally I bought a Mercedes again.
    Last edited by Pterodactylus; January 9th, 2022 at 03:31 PM.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    It's curious, since the aim of most adverts is to give the viewer a positive set of associations with the brand, that frontline salespeople don't recognise the emotional aspect and treat potential customers accordingly.

    Never seen a Škoda, apart from films about spies and such.
    Last edited by Chip; January 9th, 2022 at 05:19 PM.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    My handwriting is legible and my drawing just passable to be honest, but that's really not what this thread is about. See, I don't have a clear aesthetic preference, for anything related to writing, other than choosing a fountain pen over another mode. I notice that I have three pens, that's 10% of the pile of pens here, that I have never inked. Which presumably means that I am not that fussed about how they write? Choosing ink to fill a pen is often a bit of a lucky dip - just plunge my hand into the ink box and grab whatever. Paper to use is whatever is on hand where I am. I suppose some choice is made for paper inasmuch as it has to be fountain pen friendly. And some further choices are governed primarily by cost, given my location.

    @Robalone, my Mother was a lefty and underwrote with a left-leaning slant. I could mimic her handwriting such that she could not tell if it was me or her! Never practiced either, it just seemed simple to do.
    Don't knock legible. I'd settle for legible.

    A clear aesthetic preference helps sometimes, but probably closes me off to a lot of things. And even pens I own and enjoy don't elicit an amped-up influencer-style 'THIS PEN IS AMAAZING!!!' response (I would never do that). I want them to disappear in hand. As for paper and ink, I'm not that fussed either.

    I think what I'm trying to grasp is — why do you consider your experience weird or somehow 'wrong'? What would be normal or 'right'?

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Good point, although I don't consider my experience wrong rather than different from what appears to be the more common experience, if going by reports on websites and YTube and stuff.

    Also, it goes somewhat against the received wisdom of enthusiasts that there is some path that leads to a goal where one has a pen for all seasons, as it were. That doesn't seem to apply.


    Edited to add: You also raise another point. At the risk of sounding inevitably critical, I do sometimes feel that there are hobbyists who seem more interested in being seen as influencers rather than as hobbyists. There is a degree of wonderment at play when I watch reviews of people who spend huge sums of money on pens that will never provide the remedial training that their handwriting needs. A poor way of promoting fountain pens.
    Last edited by Empty_of_Clouds; January 9th, 2022 at 08:06 PM.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    One has to assume a certain level of engagement with FPs from folk , to be here on this site...therefore there will always be a spectrum of preference.
    In my limited experience there are members whose engagement ranges from a passing interest, with one or two pens and a pretty 'meh' attitude to inks and paper ...through to others at another level (? Semantic interpretation) who are besotted, and have , sometimes many MANY pens , and are immersed in the hobby as obsession.

    I love how there's all of us here ... I'm at the borderline dangerous end of the spectrum....and to quote Maxwell Smart ...
    "....And loving it."

    I'd hate to think anyone was intimidated because they 'only' had two pens , and their writing was maybe not 'as good' as someone else's !

    All one has to do to be here is love the FP you have , and enjoy writing with it/ them.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Good post.

    There's no rhyme nor reason to the pens I've kept. Some I thought I wouldn't enjoy are my favorites, and many I thought I would love have been passed on - sold or given away. Some lend themselves to printing and some script, although I've been writing in cursive much more recently.

    I agree on the enthusiasm contagion, although that hasn't happened for some time. Most vintage Parkers and Sheaffers are long gone, although a 51 Demi is finally starting to grow on me.

    Complaints and niggles aside, when it works, it's wonderful. A sort of synchronicity between utensil, hand and thought. The nib almost dancing and a nice ink entertaining as it pools, shades and transforms as it dries.
    Be your own tenth man.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    A major part of my engagement with fountain pens is repairing and restoring them. Having lived in remote spots for most of my adult life, I've had to learn how to diagnose and fix a range of items: saddles and harness, wood stoves, space heaters, sketchy plumbing, chain saws, well pumps, kero lamps, and all sorts of automotive bugger-ups.

    I enjoy working on fountain pens because they are small and delicate, often puzzling, with a small amount of physical effort yielding great improvements in function and appearance.

    To work on a derelict pen, repair it, clean it, polish it, fill it with ink, and write gives me immense pleasure.

    My sort of pen peace.
    Last edited by Chip; January 10th, 2022 at 12:05 AM.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Good point, although I don't consider my experience wrong rather than different from what appears to be the more common experience, if going by reports on websites and YTube and stuff.

    Also, it goes somewhat against the received wisdom of enthusiasts that there is some path that leads to a goal where one has a pen for all seasons, as it were. That doesn't seem to apply.


    Edited to add: You also raise another point. At the risk of sounding inevitably critical, I do sometimes feel that there are hobbyists who seem more interested in being seen as influencers rather than as hobbyists. There is a degree of wonderment at play when I watch reviews of people who spend huge sums of money on pens that will never provide the remedial training that their handwriting needs. A poor way of promoting fountain pens.
    Based on responses in this thread at least, you may not be as much of an outlier as you think. Which may or may not be a consolation...

    Yes, there are many paths through pendom. That was what I was trying to say. Your path may differ but it is yours.

    As for lousy handwriting in pen videos — (1) I'm in no position to condemn, can barely read my own scrawl, (2) these days I'm more bugged by the ubiquitous fox pangram variant and hit fast-forward through most writing samples.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Forums do lead to acquisitions for some folk.

    Pens are a tool for me. I do enjoy using old stuff like my straight razors, radios, and pens, but I am not easily swayed. I was probably going down that path already.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    I personally almost don't care what the pen looks like as long as it is not gaudy. All I care about is how the nib performs and if it's an interesting grind. Also, how comfortable the pen is to write with.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    Edited to add: You also raise another point. At the risk of sounding inevitably critical, I do sometimes feel that there are hobbyists who seem more interested in being seen as influencers rather than as hobbyists. There is a degree of wonderment at play when I watch reviews of people who spend huge sums of money on pens that will never provide the remedial training that their handwriting needs. A poor way of promoting fountain pens.
    I never have any issues with people spending a lot of money on pens without any desires or motivations to improve their handwriting.
    What if they just like how the pen looks?
    What if they are fine with their handwriting as is?
    Does that instantly make them somewhat "inferior" to those who do?

    Using me as an example, my handwriting is just as inconsistent as when I started this hobby years ago.
    But I have tons and tons of fun restoring, collecting, and of course, sketching with my fountain pens.

    There are so many ways in which one can enjoy this hobby.
    From your musings, it looks like either you haven't found yours, or that you have found it, but somehow, it is not enough.
    - Will
    Unique and restored vintage pens: Redeem Pens

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    Default Re: No Taste

    I don't have an issue with people spending lots of money on pens. I used the word 'wonderment'. In no way am i suggesting those people are inferior to those who wish to improve their handwriting. Writing with fountain pens is not a hobby for me. It is my main mode of writing.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    My first fountain pen, a gift (or cast-off) from a lit professor, was an Osmiroid 65 with a stiff, scratchy italic nib. Hard to write without catches and blots, but over several years I got the hang of it, learning some rules: check for leaks every time the pen is uncapped; don't rush a stroke; never push the nib; keep the pen full; don't expect a good result from cheap paper; use a line template under the page until you can write straight lines without it; practice (repeat 100x).

    After the black Osmiroid beast, my first new fountain pen, a blue Sheaffer/Levenger Connaisseur, was a dream come true.

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    Default Re: No Taste

    Quote Originally Posted by Empty_of_Clouds View Post
    ...but I doubt anyone else here experiences it all to the same degree of indifference that I do.
    LOL! I could copy your original post on my profile and there wouldn't be a single lie there.

    alex

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