Pens – Hand-held Elegance

Last weekend was the Scriptus Toronto Pen & Writing Show, something I didn’t even know about until a week before it was scheduled to happen. I’ve enjoyed nice pens for years and continue to appreciate them. Andrea does too so it was easy for us to make a plan to go. And it was great to see folks like Jim Pontikas there (another nib nerd 🙂 ). I go to lots of bike trade shows, this was my first pen show and it was just as much fun. And just as geeky! Loved it.

My first fine writing instrument happened thanks to a fellow IBMer (nicknamed “Crash”). Robert and I both bought an Aurora Thesi in black and gold. Little did I know how rare a pen it would become at the time. This was in the early ’80s and we used Bic and similar pens which were becoming popular. It felt really nice to pull out and use this fabulous bit of simple technology. I haven’t seen the model we have for sale, I suspect the gold (yes, real gold) details make it more valuable than the silver models I’ve come across on the net.

My other delightful roller ball pen is a Lamy, one I call my New York pen. Andrea bought it as a gift when she was in NYC and I think it’s the only pen in my little collection that is a gift. While the Thesi is black and gold, this Lamy (the “dialog 1”) has a titanium body crafted in a very comfortable triangular shape. Again, the design is elegant in its simplicity. Very few parts, easy to use and maintain. Pure pleasure.

The third pen in the “roller ball” photo is a Mont Blanc. It was a gift to Andrea and as far as I know it’s never been used. She’s a fountain pen person so it’s never captivated her. And it’s her pen so I’ve never used it.

All three of these pens are here in their original cases. Lamy gets full marks for the sleek wooden case, Aurora gets the highest vintage score. Both of those pens have gotten lots of use so they’re not show pieces, instead they’re well loved and well used. The Mont Blanc is pristine. And perhaps it will find a new home? It’s too nice a pen to be neglected.

Roller Ball Pens
Roller Ball Pens

Now… on to the quill and feather! Yes, I exaggerate. A little at least. The oldest pen I have is the simple quill my father used when he was in school… that would make it sometime in the ’20s or perhaps even earlier. I’ve never used it, just admired it. And set it aside. Guess I should give it a try though. There are enough ink pots and jars around home!


It took me a long time to seriously consider using a fountain pen. Being left handed makes it a little challenging. If you’re not sinister, you really should try writing as a lefty sometime. Let me know how you make out…

I did dare to try though. Andrea and I were on a cycling trip, winding down a fun adventure with a few days in Lyon and we went into a pen shop. Talking about being a lefty led to talking about nib shapes and styles and led to a lovely first fountain pen; a hefty black and gold Shaeffer. I don’t actually recall what model it is, I _think_ I still have the case but would have to look to find where it’s hiding. I enjoy using it though. And it was one of two pens brought back to life at Scriptus. It dried up and ink wouldn’t flow to the nib as a result of not being used for a few years. It only took a few minutes for a skilled repair to happen… right place, right time.

Sean Gosse at work
Sean Gosse at work

The other pen that got repaired was a Shaeffer that belonged to Andrea’s grandfather. The nib needed a little love but the internal bladder was the real problem. I didn’t expect Sean to be able to repair it onsite so I asked him for his contact info. I got that and while we talked he replaced the ancient and disintegrated bladder. Another few minutes and a pen that’s about 100 years old was brought back to life. Wow.


From that beginning I added a Paris pen, one from Barcelona and this past weekend a Toronto pen. All from different makers.

The newest addition is a Parker Vacumatic. This is an American model with a stiff nib, seems to suit my southpaw scrawl. It’s as delightful to look at as it is to use… you can decide though, here it is with its companions. And I’ve filled it with green ink. Seemed appropriate.

A Green Theme
Fountain Pens
Fountain Pens, clockwise from top L: Barcelona, Paris, Toronto, Lyon

I expect to put some of these pens to work in the near future, I’ll have more reason to make notes and write by hand. As much as I like writing this blog, I’m sure I’d enjoy it even more if I could create it using one of these wonderful instruments and still be able to share it this way. And yet… a hand written something is personal while blogging is very public. Hmmm.

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