Yes! It’s true. I have mentioned in before here that with the wane of the 1960s fountain pen heydays and the introduction of the ballpoint, fountain pen sales went on a bit of a downward spiral which saw pen companies take their first, tentative steps into the ballpoint industry. There, they attempted to marry both the timeless luxury and design of fountain pens with the newest writing implements.
Well, I am heartened in writing this that it seems like fountain pens are here to stay and hope that will be the case for the foreseeable future.
Fountain pens for the future
As mentioned by The New York Times in an article (which always opens in a new tab here) last year, a Lamy event in SoHo saw a good sized turn out of fountain pen enthusiasts always eager to browse and talk about their collection. At the event, Lamy was giving out aluminum barrel Vibrant Pink Al Star in the picture above which has a similar design aesthetic from Lamy’s Safari series below.
These other pens from the Safari series are usually in plastic but the Al Star’s aluminum body makes it extremely durable yet light enough for EDC (everyday carry). One amazing thing about Lamy is that the German family who founded it still owns the company. Contrast this to other pen manufacturers such as Waterman owned by Sanford Brands and Parker owned by Newell Brands. Not that there is anything inherently negative about that but for a manufacturer to be owned by the family which founded it says something about its values in my opinion.
Lamy also made their mark on the fountain pen world by their Bauhaus-inspired Lamy 2000 released in 1966 which looks remarkably modern for when it was introduced.
The Bauhaus movement sought to bring together fine art with craft and materials which would be accessible and available to everyone. This move probably is one of the reasons why Lamy still exists today.
Who uses fountain pens?
Interestingly enough, the clientele which fountain pen shops see these days still span a very wide demographic. These range from stalwarts who have somewhat eschewed technology to a rather more surprising group of people – millennials. How they get into fountain pens and why varies a lot. The Washington Post mentions why they do this.
Some people discover fountain pens quite by accident, finding them lying around at home or happening upon calligraphy videos. Even though calligraphy writing and using fountain pens are not quite the same thing, they are closely related.
Why do people write today?
The reason why people begin to write are as varied as the fountain pens they use. Millennials who have taken up writing with the fountain pen mention they do it as a way to showcase their personality or as a statement of who they are. Since the design on a fountain pen is one of the primary things which attract and hold my attention most immediately, I can certainly identify with this.
Fountain pens also speak of a person’s individuality. In this day and age of mass media and information, a fountain pen is a powerful yet subtle statement. There is also the sense that an individual using a fountain pen immediately personalizes whatever it is they are writing on, giving it more purpose and care. That personal touch is also something which millennials have increasingly learned to value and something which a lot of us can learn from.
If you explore hashtag calligraphy (I won’t type it here so this post does not get mislabeled 🙂 ) on Instagram you’ll find a lot of videos with amazing displays of creativity and skill such as user seblester or beautifully crafted stationery; Both of which are slowly moving out of the realm of arts and craft and making a more prominent presence in our everyday lives. There is something calming and wondrous about watching how the written word can be transformed. Trust me, take a look below:
If ink be the medium of care, write on!
The more I explore fountain pens and their place in the world today, the more compelling the reasons I find for using them. Something else which has gained popularity recently is bullet journals. Some people may think that bullet journals are a somewhat uplifted version of a checklist but when used with the purpose they were created for, would seem to be able to offer a sense of purpose and motivation.
Some people write these bullet journals with a fountain pen and say that doing so helps reclaim a little space and time in our hectic lives. Why people use bullet journals seems closely linked to the benefits of using a fountain pen. In short, it brings together the purpose, our reason for doing something, and provides a measure of impetus.
Knowing that fount seem to have a place in our future and continue to stay in the hearts and minds of millennials and hopefully those that follow is something that brings me joy. I would be watching with great interest to see what innovations in materials or design fountain pen manufacturers come up with to breathe life into the industry. But for now though, I just wish I was at that Lamy event.