Style and Design: Items and Icons fountain pens

For most of us, the very mention of fountain pens conjures up images of ink-stained hands and smudged copy books from first attempts at joined-up writing. But signing your credit card bill with a flourish of a 14ct gold nib makes a much better impression than a bashed up Biro that has been sitting around for months. Fountain pens, as they are known today, were first introduced to the market by the New Yorker L E Waterman in 1884, though some less practical models were in existence in the 18th century, most notably that which belonged to the French mathematician Bion, covered in hard wax. The actual components of fountain pens have not changed dramatically over the decades, with most advancements being made in materials and the method of the supply of ink to the nib, such as vacuum pumps and cartridges.

In theory, and in practice, old pens can work just as efficiently as new pens, if they are looked after properly. Buying old pens is not just the preserve of collectors and connoisseurs, they are an investment and don't tend to lose their value as modern pens do. A Waterman snake pen from the 1890s was sold by Bonham's recently for pounds 16,400, which was an exceptional price: there are cheaper alternatives. By and large, it is cheaper to buy a Twenties Parker Duofold pen than a modern version, or to get a 1930s Sheaffer celluloid decorated pen for around pounds 240. The main thing to take into consideration when buying an old pen is condition; after that, it's really down to your preferences for size, nib widths and design. There is no hard and fast rule of what collectors look for: some have been known to collect only green pens, others sets of pens, or limited editions. One thing is for sure, the image of President Reagan and President Gorbachev signing the historic INF Treaty in Washington in 1987 wouldn't have seemed so momentous if they had been signing their names with Biros.

From bottom, 1-7: UHF pen transmitter, pounds 600, from Spymaster, 3 Portman Square, London W1 (0171-486 3885); Parker Duofold fountain pen in red jasper, pounds 220, available from department stores and all major stationery retailers; Watermans No.7 (1928), red rippled fountain pen, pounds 185, The Battersea Pen Home (as before); Parker 75 (1966) sterling silver, Cisle design fountain pen, pounds 135, from The Battersea Pen Home (as before); Conway Stewart No.58 (1954) lilac marbled pen/pencil set, pounds 155, from The Battersea Pen Home (as before); Lamy Aluminium fountain pen, pounds 18.95, Liberty (as before)

Smooth runners, old and new; from top, 1-7: Yard-O-Led sterling silver fountain pen, pounds 205, Liberty, Regent Street, London W1 (0171-734 1234); Alfred Dunhill AD2000 carbon fibre fountain pen, pounds 575 (for stockists, call 0171-290 8600); Montblanc Meisterstuck mini Mozart fountain pen, pounds 295, from the Montblanc Boutique, 60-61 Burlington Arcade, London W1 (0171-493 6369); Montblanc Meisterstuck silver pinstripe solitaire fountain pen, pounds 579 (as before); Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pen in Pernambuco wood, pounds 320, from The Pen Shop, 199 Regent Street, London W1 (0171-734 4088) and branches nationwide; Conklin Nozac (1935) grey/black striated fountain pen with nickel trim, pounds 185, from The Battersea Pen Home (0171- 652 4695); Sheaffer Balance (1930) brown striped Radite fountain pen, pounds 245, The Battersea Pen Home (as before)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

    Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

    Day In a Page

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks