This past year has been a struggle for many of us. Speaking for myself, fountain pens are one of my main outlets when I’m dealing with the stresses of life. The Covid-19 pandemic not only added myriad new stressors, but it also cancelled so many of my regular fountain pen activities, like pen shows, pen club meet-ups, Pelikan Hubs, and even just going to hang out for a couple hours at one of my local pen shops. Thankfully there have been new things popping up, like virtual pen shows and virtual pen meetings, but also some things are just too powerful for a pandemic to cancel, like the ninth annual Fountain Pen Day!
Fountain Pen Day is the brainchild of Cary Yeager, currently of Kenro and Esterbook, but before he worked in the pen world he was just a pen fan. Cary started Fountain Pen Day in 2012 with the goal “to help embrace, promote, and share the use of fountain pens in day-to-day life, as well to help revive handwriting as a whole.” Fountain Pen Day occurs on the first Friday in November each year, which this year is today, Friday November 6th. Over the past eight years more and more vendors, bloggers, and just general pen people have gotten on board with the stationery holiday, with many a celebratory post across the web and social media, and many a sale or even giveaway to be had at various stationery vendors (check out the list on the official Fountain Pen Day website linked above.)
So, to celebrate Fountain Pen Day this year, I’m going to tell you a couple of stories. Actually, I’m going to let my father, Julian, tell you the first one, as he wanted to take a second look at a pen that I featured in a recent Pocket Size Review, the Opus 88 Fantasia.
I have large hands and arthritis. I like large heavy pens. But sometimes I like small pens. I have a very eclectic collection of pens. I recently bought an Opus Fantasia in black. I bought it for 2 reasons. I like my larger Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator, and Evan got an Opus Fantasia from an estate sale and I was envious.This pen is on the small size. It’s eyedropper fill. Not my favorite fill because I’m always afraid of leaks when I ink it and any other time. (BTW, never had a leak on an eyedropper fill pen.) The colors on this pen are matte and very nice. I do not like shiny pens. It has a Broad nib. A nice size for the pen. It writes smoothly and I could see this as an edc if I ever leave my house again.
The next story I have for you is a story of exemplary customer service, and it features another pen that my father purchased based on how much I loved my own pen of the same model, the Franklin-Christoph Model 31. The Model 31 was my first pen from Franklin-Christoph, once I finally worked up the courage to “enter the fray” that congregates around their table at the 2019 BWI pen show. It was also the thirteenth pen to be featured as a pocket size review, back when those were exclusively posted on our Instagram account. My father decided to purchase a Model 31 of his own at the 2019 Triangle pen show, and wound up with this gorgeous model, made of F-C’s signature Solid Ice material and what I am pretty sure is one of Jonathon Brooks’ Primary Manipulation materials. The colors can be difficult to see in certain lighting, but when you catch them right they are gorgeous.
Earlier this year my father was pruning back his pen collection a bit and gave me a list of pens he was thinking of selling so that I could help him price them. When I saw this Model 31 on the list I told him he wasn’t allowed to sell it, and instead I’d be taking it as my “fee” for helping him price the other pens. He laughed and agreed. It rotated in and out of use on my desk for the past few months, until I picked it up one day a couple of weeks ago, but only part of the pen came with me. To my shock, I saw that the clip (which I had noted was a little loose, but I figured I’d show to the staff at an F-C table whenever pen shows eventually started back up) had fallen off completely.
I emailed Franklin-Christoph with the above pictures, and they were very quick to have me check a couple of things and determine that the screw hole that holds the clip to the cap had become stripped. They directed me to mail them back the pen, and they would take care of it for me. They were upfront about setting expectations that if they couldn’t repair this exact pen they would see what they could do about replacing it, as this pen used prototype materials which aren’t always kept in stock. I was also upfront with them about not being the original purchaser of this pen, and they did not care. That is one of the most impressive things about the Franklin-Christoph Writing Instrument Lifetime Warranty to my mind, that they stand behind their product so strongly that they don’t care whether you are the first owner or the fifteenth owner. You don’t have to provide any proof of purchase, just a pen in need of repair. I shipped my pen out to them via USPS the next day, and began my refreshing of the tracking number. A few days later I saw it arrive in North Carolina, and that same day, by the evening, I already had a Fed Ex tracking number and shipping notice showing my pen heading back home to me. Two days later, I had my Model 31 back in hand, good as new. That is the type of customer service that deserves to be celebrated.
In retelling these two stories, it occurs to me that what fountain pens, and Fountain Pen Day, are really about for me is “family”. Fountain pens are a tool I use to bond and connect with my father. Fountain pens are the medium through which I have found some of my best friends, my “chosen family”. Fountain pens are also something that I always associate with being a father myself, as I purchased my first fountain pen shortly before my wife became pregnant with our daughter, and I’ve often referred to fountain pens as my “weird dad hobby.”
In a year when so many of us have been cut off physically from our families, both natural and chosen, it has been so refreshing to have this outlet to reach out to all of you, my pen friends and family. Fountain Pen Day is a lovely excuse for us to connect yet again this year, and wish for good things in the year to come. I look forward to seeing you all at pen shows when they reopen, as well as to seeing you all online until then.
Happy Fountain Pen Day from your friends, Evan & Julian!