In the fourth grade, I had a handwriting class where we learned to use fountain pens. There was a kind of ceremony to it that I loved, dipping the nib into ink, watching the bubbles twirl upwards as the pen filled, then carefully blotting the top of the nib on a tissue so it didn’t smear everywhere. Sometimes I even wiped a little extra ink on my hands, just for dramatic effect.
These days, however, my hands more often touch keyboards of computers or iPhones. Even ballpoint pens feel foreign in my hands. My old handwriting teacher, Miss Silbers, would be ashamed.
So it was with utter delight that I happened across a big silver jar of old ink pens for $9 apiece at the wonderful store Noun: A Person’s Place for Things at 3300 SE Belmont Street the other day. Unlike today’s calligraphy pens, made of slick, boring plastic, these vintage pens are made of wood and painted in different jaunty colors, from black to red to blue. Many have cork ringing the top of the pens under the nibs—a nice soft place to put your fingers while writing. Some have squared-off metal nibs for writing fancy flourishes; others are simple, pointed nibs, for dashing off quick thank you notes or invitations to a cocktail party.
Why not indulge in a little old-fashioned penmanship? Noun even has extra nibs for $1, if you fancy new ones, and small pots of ink. With a long, tapered pen in hand, fresh ink in the nib, and a lush expanse of cream paper in front of you, suddenly writing a masterpiece seems so much more possible—or makes even writing a grocery list slightly decadent rather than a chore.