Sunday, January 09, 2022

On writing with a fountain pen: a review of the Kaweco Sport

The pen that I'm holding in my hand is the Kaweco Sport. I found it a few years ago while walking in Chicago one afternoon and happened to pass the Palmer House, where Andersons Pens had dozens of fountain pens on display in its windows.

Until then I'd been experimenting with less expensive pens (in the $10 range), mostly a variety of Pilot pens (Kakuna) made in Japan, and, though I liked writing with them, I felt it was time to take a step up (but not too big a step) and see if using a slightly more expensive pen might make a difference in the way it felt to write. 

So, I entered Andersons, a bit overwhelmed by the many pens displayed in the showcases. The colors, the shapes, the glitter of gold and silver nibs--it felt like I'd entered one of the exhibition rooms at the Art Institute down the street. 

As I looked into each display case, I felt as if I was admiring the work of skilled sculptors, master craftsmen whose work reflected a belief in the marriage of function and beauty. 

A salesman came over to show me a few pens. He took the Lamy Safari out of the case, then moved on to the Pilot Metropolitan, and offered a few others, most way beyond my price range, but it was this Kaweco that caught my eye. 

Almost immediately I liked the pen's sleek black lines, its octagonal shaped cap, and its gold nib. It looked like the pens that I'd imagined writers using in the 1920s and 1930s, years before ballpoint pens became popular. I admired its size, too, small and compact, so it could fit in my pants pocket and I'd be able to take it on travels without fear of losing it.

What I found especially pleasing was the screw-on cap. It turned so smoothly and precisely, and it gave the pen the feel of a having been made by a skilled craftsman. In addition, the cap, when posted on the barrel, fit snugly in my hand and provided a little extra width of comfort on the upper half of the barrel, unlike the lower half where my fingers gripped the pen below the cap.

So, I bought it -- the first fountain pen that I bought for more than $20 -- and since then I've found it to be a reliable pen, the ink flowing smoothly each time I use it, the same snug comfort each time I hold it after posting the cap on the barrel. 

One of the pleasures that I've found writing with this fountain pen--with most fountain pens, actually-- is the way my hand relaxes while writing. 

I don't need to grip the barrel tightly. I don't need to press down firmly the way writing with a ballpoint pen requires a writer to exert pressure on the page. 

It's a relief to simply hold the pen between my thumb and index finger, place the nib on the paper, and lightly move the pen across the page.

If you've never written with a fountain pen before, you'll be surprised by the way the pen feels like its gliding across the page.

It's like you're iceskating or cross-country skiing.

There are moments when my hand doesn't feel like it's touching the page.

It feels like my hand is flying!

Of course, you don't need to spend a lot of money on a fountain pen if you want to try one. There are models available for under $20, some as inexpensive as $5 and less. 

You can find them online here and here, or visit Andersons the next time you're in Chicago (or shop at their online store here).

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