Simply the best: Revival of the fine art of handwriting
Amazon has reported that sales of fountain pens have doubled since last year. What's going on?
The revival of the fountain pen is a case study in how progress is non-linear. Or, at least, predictably odd. Now that anybody can buy a laser printer cheaply, immaculate 16-point Helvetica is no more glamorous than a litre of milk. Now that any fool can reach several million people in a few clicks, the hand-written letter or postcard assumes explosive social and commercial impact.
There is something touchingly humane about this resurgence. Given the choice, we prefer warm, wet smudginess to glacial perfection. Cost is less a criterion than quality.
Fountain pens positively encourage the craft of handwriting. A choice of nibs and inks aid expression. A level of physical difficulty in the writing encourages style. With a fountain pen, handwriting becomes an accessible personal craft in a drearily deskilled world.
And then there is the matter of the fountain pen as an allowable form of jewellery, at least for those of us still squeamish about piercings. Just as a handwritten letter is an advertisement for yourself, so your pen betrays your aspirations. Personally, I exercise an extreme form of snobbery here. On occasions when a ballpoint is proffered on clipboards, I insist on my resin-and-platinum alternative.
Fountain pens take us on a journey to a simpler, more romantic world.