Fountain Pens and Fine Writing – and How to Keep Track of it.

A special post for all fellow inkophiles, or those that are curious…

I have repeatedly admitted that I am, in fact, a nerd. I’m a firm believer that the geek shall inherit the earth. That extends into my hobbies, one of which is (of all things…) fountain pens. Not just fountain pens, but primarily fountain pens.

Somewhat anachronistic for a person that is the tech nerd that people call on when they need buying advice, or to know how to pivot a table, or to fix stuff on their phone. I’m not necessarily the expert, but I’m the person that they go to.

I still love taking notes. I love using fountain pens, and love the care and feeding of them (for there is care and feeding required). I now am loathe to use a ballpoint, as they are generally like writing with a nail by comparison. Nothing can feel as good and as smooth as writing with a fountain pen, as it flows over some good quality paper.

(Paper is a complete rabbit hole, but I will give this advice to you. Stop using Moleskine notebooks. The paper is terrible and the binding quality is terrible. I would recommend either using Leuchttrum 1917s (my favourite choice for quality paper, quality construction, and fountain-pen friendly ink with little bleeding), or Rhodia* Webnotebooks. I have not tried the latter, but my preferred writing paper for letters (yup, still write those) and note-taking that might need scanning or long-term filing. Both are available in either basic black or Rhodia’s iconic orange. Your choice of lined, dot-grid or plain. But I digress.)

*at the time of writing, the Rhodia website appears to be overtaken.

The other great thing about fountain pens is the vast array of inks, from many different manufacturers, and in an unbelievable variety of colours. There are standard blues and blacks, blue-blacks, and reds, of course. My favourite daily use ones, however are greens, browns, oranges, and purples. Yes, purple. Because the great Enzo Ferrari always used purple ink – at least according to James May of Top Gear and the Grand Tour. So, purple ink isn’t just cool – it’s uber-cool!

I have a number of fountain pens. I have an even larger number of bottles and samples of ink. I wanted, in my nerdiness, to have a way to track all of this stuff, and at least have a record of the pens I have, the pens I’ve (sadly) lost and want to replace, and the inks that I have. That’s where The Fountain Pen Companion comes in. On this website you can list all of your pens, and all of your inks, and it is totally free, although there is a Patreon donation page. Cool, right? Well, there are two other things that you can do on the website that make it pretty amazing.

First, you can cross-reference the list. Meaning you can confirm when you filled which pen, and with what ink. If you’re like me, and you keep 5-10 pens inked with different colours, you start to wonder what shade of blue this really is. It’s a neat feature, and one that I’ve started to use.

The other is the real “secret sauce” for this website – the ability to share inks with other people around the world. If folks are interested in sharing their inks, they can set that flag, and you can contact them for a sample. They would likely want a sample in return, I’m sure. However, especially given the current nature of COVID-19, this is a boon for those pen club meetings (I still haven’t made the Vancouver Pen Club yet…) and pen shows, which of course have all been virtual this year anyway.

This website is very quick to update, and I put all 33 of my inks and most of my pens (I have a few to add yet that are in my desk drawer at the office) into the database in about 45 minutes or so. Most of the stuff I own has been entered already, so it was quite easy. With inks, the names will populate in each box after you start typing. With pens, you’re on your own after the brand, but that’s ok, it was easy. Ink pages are public by default, and pens are private with no way to share them right now – a smart decision by the site creator.

I’ve only been using this site for a couple of days, but am really enjoying it. I highly recommend it, and if any of you want to contact me to nerd out about pens, feel free to do so!

Insurance is my profession, and one of my passions. Motorcyclist, runner, skier, photography newbie. Nerdy tech geek, craft beer enthusiast. Thoughts are my own. Snark is omni-present.

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