Waterman Fountain Pen

Posted by jerry on June 18th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Writing

My hand-turned wooden-bodied fountain pen is in the throes of giving up the ghost – the lid is now markedly cracked, and although still quite useable, I thought it was time to consider its replacement. A week or so ago, when I was in the specialist paper shop where I buy my moleskine notebooks, I noticed they were showcasing a particular fountain pen with an aluminium body – I gave it a try and thought it seemed like a good robust pen with a suitably fine nib. But not to be rushed, I demurred, thinking that i would try a few others and possibly come back to this one. Today I went into town and tried out a range of pens, including some good solid Parkers and a quite inexpensive Spanish one. But they were somehow too light or too boring in style. I glanced at the Waterman pens – knowing they would be more than I was prepared to pay, and the helpful assistant suggested I might try one. Okay, I thought, no harm in trying one.

What a lovely balance and weight. No it’s probably not rugged enough for my rough treatment, and the nib is too broad… “do you have a fine nib?” I asked. “No they all come with medium nibs, but we can send it off to have a fine nib fitted – it should take about two weeks.” That’s it then I thought. At AU$115 it was more than I would want to pay anyhow. “oh, by the way…” says the assistant sensing my hesitation… “all our pens are 25 percent off due to the Winter sale…” Well the pen did have a nice balance, and the nib did have a nice glide… but then again the enamel will probably peel off … “I think I should think about it” I said to the assistant – AU$86 was still more than the aluminium one I had looked at previously. Yup, I thought, it is more expensive – by at least the price of a magazine. And I would have to defer my pleasure for at least a fortnight.

I thanked the assistant and walked out of the store. I ate a sausage roll (I like health foods). I went into a book shop – that’s normally enough to inflict a serious wound on my wallet – saw nothing I wanted to buy. I went to several stationers and checked out pens. They sold magazines. I wouldn’t normally think twice about buying a magazine. It was a lovely red colour. The pen, not the magazines. I could get a cheap pen plus a magazine, or I could get a nicely balanced pen – a Waterman – not that brands mean much to me, and forego a magazine. My wooden pen will probably last until the next Working with Wood show – when I could get another similar one. That would probably last for a year or two – like my current one. The assistant had said something relevant here – “… and they come with a lifetime warranty…”

I walked back to the car, and dumped my other purchases – some Darrell Lea chocolates and a pair of RM Williams moleskine pants. I phoned my daughter – perhaps she had finished her shopping – oh just another half hour… okay I thought, maybe I’ll dawdle back to the store and just have another look at the pen. But if she phones me before I get there, I’ll turn around and leave it – and that will be it. That leaves it up to Fate.

I headed back slowly, had a bit of a wander into another bookshop, and finally went into … oh no this is the Other store… I decided not to buy some ink cartridges there. Retrace some steps and find the right one. “so… you can send it straight off to get a fine nib fitted?” “Yes sir, it will probably be about a fortnight – you can change it up to 28 days after purchase” she said, judging that I was generally not one to defer gratification. But i thought, for a pen that feels so right, a fortnight is not long to wait. “I’ll take it” I said, adding: “And I’ll get you to send it off for a fine nib please”. I paid the assistant and started heading back through the store. My phone rang…

Glenn Marcus writes about a visit to the Waterman pen factory


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