A random pharmacist, pen nerd, and dog lover. Not much else to say, really.
Intro to what now?
The year 2020 was like riding a burning locomotive over roller coaster tracks for everyone. An introvert like myself thrives in this lack of social activity, a bane for many an extrovert. As a random way of entertaining myself (also as a mental break), I had an idea sharing my fountain pen journey. With not much else to say, let's get going into my void of a mind.
Nearly a decade back, my Grandma decided to move houses. The old place was quite rundown to the point of collapsing like a Jenga tower. From the Mt. Pinatubo's ash fall to countless tropical storms, the quaint abode held onto the ground like a champ. Termite infestation was the absolute final nail in the coffin for my childhood home. Good thing we managed to find another house from a few cities away. I guess the only issue with the new place is the history of traffic accidents and abductions around the area, something my Grandma didn't care for.
Moving out means massive clean-ups, and oh boy is my Grandma a grade A pack rat. From fantastically expired instant soup to my mother's christening dress, this decades-old trove of clutter can make an amathophobe faint. Three decades passed by before they decided to sort everything out. Most clothes were either donated or disposed. The impressive porcelain collection was kept away from the prying eyes of our neighbors. What actually made my day was that old box with art supplies.
My aunt was a talented artist borderline polymath. Her mastery of the pen is by far her crown jewel, laying down letters mimicking Medieval manuscripts. Being a music fan, she also compiled various lyrics written by hand. Flourishes and other fancy ornamentation adorn the song titles. Graduating from an Interior Design School, she chose to pursue performing arts by gathering a band to do small gigs abroad. This resulted in a pile of art materials and instruments waiting for rediscovery. Tubes of acrylic and watercolor cakes were found during our "excavation". Maybe even the Pickers would be amazed with the time capsule that is our attic. It was from this impromptu spring cleaning where I kind of met my (expensive) hobby.
I am aware of my artsy acuity being inferior to my school-age peers even now. My idea of a scene would be the Filipino student's generic rice paddy field with a sunrise over the mountain for backdrop, and not even drawn well. I handle crayons with no sense of uniformity or any respectable aesthetic. Handwriting was also my Waterloo, mostly because the noggin doesn't connect well with my hands resulting to chicken-scratch for days.
I was definitely caught by surprise when Aunt Mary Jane (seriously, her real name) decided to pass down her old kit plus some of her drawings. Rotring technical pens, various stencils, French curves, scaling rulers, and a t-square were my inheritances. Funny how I turned out to be a pharmacist, coming from a relatively artistic and musical family. From the pile it was that old maroon box that really caught attention, a fountain pen set. Three nib sections with one barrel and a collection of half-dried cartridges invited curiosity.
Sheaffer and Speedball
From a short list of Electives during secondary school, I might have encountered a few names relevant to calligraphy. The art of writing letterforms seemed tempting due to my not-so-stellar handwriting. Imagining myself writing out papers in exquisite cursive was a dream, though nowadays I very much appreciate my hand's uniqueness. It was from that horrendous spring cleaning stint when the two brands clicked in my memory: "Sheaffer" and "Speedball". The first brand was known for fountain pens and mechanical pencils, while the other is recognized for various dip pens. It's a shame I wasn't able to use my new pens as the school imposed trigonometry as a "required" Elective. Talk about an oxymoron!
What came next...?
I think it's better to collect all my lessons learned on fountain pens and it's "unusual" requirements for use and maintenance. Let's just say a few casualties were left behind due to my ignorance.
I hope my story made some of you think about your first fountain pen encounters. Though my Aunt was the seed, it was mostly my curiosity that got me into the hobby. The picture above is actually my very first pen with a gold nib! It's a relatively hefty Cross Apogee with a Medium 18-carat nib, and it has a funny and sentimental story on how I got one. Hope all of you will stay tuned!
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Dustin Santillan