Fountain Pen Day

Fountain pens and pencils including Koh-i-Noor, Sheaffer Targe and Ohto pencils

It’s Fountain Pen Day. You might not have heard of it before, but it takes place on the first Friday of every November. Perhaps unfortunately, that means it coincides with the time when a lot of aspiring writers will be letting their fountain pens gather dust, since it’s also the end of the first week of NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month.

I spend every working day pouring words into a keyboard, but now and then I do need to write by hand, and usually have six different writing tools scattered about the desk. That’s them, above. Most of them are pencils as my spidery scrawl only seems to get worse when I’m using ink.

Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth 5.6mm clutch pencil

I have two of these. They’re the black ones at the top of the picture; one with a soft black lead, and one with multicoloured lead, which I originally thought I’d use for writing Christmas and birthday cards, but it turns out it’s great for striking off notes on a to-do list.

They’re both heavy, with metal bodies and a great industrial finish. When you unscrew them and look at the insides they look like something out of a cyberpunk illustration, and they make a decent thump as you put them down on the page.

Koh-i-Noor Hardtmuth is a Czech art and writing equipment manufacturer founded in the 1790s, and it patented the first pencil lead in 1802, so it has some history. I’ve probably got more of its pencils than I should, with three or four narrower clutch pencils for general writing. The yellow one at the bottom of the picture is a half-length clutch pencil that neatly slips into the spine of a Moleskine pocketbook using a leather Quiver, which is my combo of choice for making notes on the move.

Sheaffer Targa fountain pen

This pen, the third one down in the picture, was the whole point of the post. Although I’ve got several other fountain pens, most of them Parker, I find this Sheaffer Targa by far the most comfortable to write with, and if I concentrate really hard and go slowly enough I can almost make my writing legible when using it.

Years of working with the keyboard means my handwriting is woeful, which is probably why I find pencils easier to work with. Nonetheless, if I was going to celebrate Fountain Pen Day this is the pen I would do it with. It’s beautifully balanced, perfectly smooth, and as it was an inheritance, it has sentimental value, too, which far outweighs its financial worth.

Ohto Sharp Pencil 2.0

Ohto is apparently very popular in Japan, but I don’t see its products all that often in Europe. In fact, I’ve never seen them in a shop, but I do have two of its mechanical pencils in my pot. One is a regular fine point (0.3mm) and the other is this rather beautiful alternative, which uses a 2mm lead.

They’re made to look like regular pencils, with rubbers on the top, and nine times out of ten they attract a comment when used in public. There’s something very satisfying about writing with a chunky pencil like this, which is probably why I also like the 5.6mm Koh-i-Noors, but with the narrower lead this is is more flexible for daily use.

Pink ballpoint pen from Tiger

Because, after all, who doesn’t want to write in pink ink?

What’s your favourite writing instrument? Do you still use a fountain pen, or have you got a favourite pencil you could recommend? I’m always keen to try a new scribbling implement. Drop a line to [email protected] and let me know.

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