The fountain pen has long been the instrument of choice for the discerning writer, author and even the artist. Ever since the first fountain pen came into existence over a hundred years ago, the market has exponentially grown into what it is today.

Although the golden age of fountain pens has long since passed, there seems to be a resurgence of this lovely writing instrument, with more and more people wanting to use an instrument that some say is the only way to write. Indeed we are seeing a revival of penmanship and the lost art of writing letters, the personal touch, that no email or electronic form of communication can ever provide.

Due to the growing number of fountain pen users, I as a fountain pen enthusiast find it prudent to write this blog post for the care and maintenance of these instruments, so that they may serve us (and the next generation) for years to come.

Common Mistakes

  1. The most common mistake that new users make is using an inappropriate ink in their fountain pens, this is single handedly the most difficult problem to repair in case the pen stops writing. Be sure to use inks specifically formulated for fountain pens !. Inks such as India ink are a strict no-no for fountain pens, also calligraphy inks are best avoided since they contain gum arabic and are meant to be used only with dip nibs. Once these inks are used in fountain pens, they clog the feed and make it impossible to use.
    The most widely accepted ink brands in the world for fountain pens are Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker, Pelikan, Diamine. These are generally considered safe and can be used in all fountain pens without adverse effects.
  2. The second most common mistake that most newcomers make is using excessive pressure while writing; this is common with those who have exclusively used ball points as those require pressure for the ink to flow. However, fountain pens need zero and I mean zero pressure on the paper to write. A good fountain pen shall write under its own weight. NO PRESSURE REQUIRED !!!
    Unfortunately using undue pressure can lead to the nib being bent, tines being splayed in different directions which then lead to all sorts of problems.
  3. Another common mistake is lack of use of the fountain pen, which leads to the ink drying up inside the pen and sometimes requires extensive cleaning to get the pen to write once again. In case the pen needs to be stored, be sure to remove all the ink from the pen, clean it and then store it away in a safe place.

Fountain pens are definitely instruments that need some maintenance and you will find that with some tender, loving care, these will last a lifetime.