While I have enjoyed my ramblings of the past weeks, I am returning to posts about “the way it was.” Today I am remembering using fountain pens. The kind I used throughout high school and college is seen above. The pen was filled by sticking the nib in a bottle of ink and pumping the lever on the side of the pen to fill the container inside. This was quite modern compared to the need to constantly dip the pen into ink. In fact, the desks we had in grade school still had ink wells, a place to keep a bottle of ink.
As you might imagine, this method of pen filling was quite messy. It required a “pen wipe,” a soft cloth specifically tailored to cleaning up the nib after the refill. It also helped to have a blotter on your desk for the inevitable spills. Sometimes black ink was required, sometimes blue. I had a bottle of each in my desk.
Towards the end of my college years, I encountered the new(to me anyway) invention of ink cartridges. These fit into the barrel of the pen, were punctured open by the bottom end of the nib, and allowed ink to flow into the nib. They were convenient since you could easily tell how much ink you had left, something not possible with the lever pen. However, of course, the cartridges cost more than a bottle of ink and didn’t last nearly as long.
Ball point pens were considered gauche and I never used them in school. Fountain pens, simply called pens, were all I knew. Ink stained fingers, ink marks on my nose from those ink stained fingers, blotches of ink on books I was consulting, drips of ink on my rug, all these marked my time with “submit in ink.”