I've often called myself a magpie pen accumulator--one who flits here and there and picks up whatever shiny pen catches her fancy at a given moment, as opposed to a genuine collector. The latter choose their maker, their preferred models, and systematically approach which pens to buy based on historical or collection-completeness significance.
They are the ones who wind up with pen cases full of nice, neat, tidy rows of similar pens of different sizes and colors, the kind that make you go "Wow!" when you see them, because they're so uniform and so connected and such a well, such a collection!
People like me, on the other hand, wind up with scraggly pen cases filled with all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, finishes, overlays, you name it. Very little matches (if anything does). Very little (if any) of it makes any sense to an onlooker, whose first thought on viewing our treasures is, "Wow!" quickly followed by, "What a mess!"
Despite my best intentions, which I declared as not buying
any pens at the Los Angeles pen show, I succumbed yet again to the magpie
impulse. Here's how it happened.
"This is lovely!" I said, opening it. Its owner was deep in conversation with someone else and paid me no mind. Its gold-plated surface showed a little wear--in a couple of places, fairly significant wear--but it winked and glinted most beautifully in the light. That characteristic Coronet cut-out design (which Nettuno, I believe, has adapted for at least one modern-pen design) emanated understated elegance. The end jewels were lovely. I took off the cap--gorgeous fine flex nib with the little adjustable tab on it that allows the writer to adjust it to stiffer or more flexible positions.
"Way cool!" I said, feeling serious envy because I'd wanted one like it for several years and never run across one. At least, not one in good condition.
We swapped pens back, finished our lunches, and returned to the ballroom where all the penfolks were set up, displaying their wares.
One of our companions was at her first pen show, so I was sort of showing her around, helping her manage the overwhelm-ment that often occurs when you walk into your first pen show and realize that this huge, gymnasium-sized room is packed wall to wall with pens. The vast majority of which are for sale. And calling your name.
We sat down at Susan Wirth's table so Michelle could play with a whole bunch of different kinds of nibs and get a feel for the ones she liked best and that best suited her. I like to take newbies to Susan's table for that very reason, and Susan always seems to enjoy initiating them into the Mysteries of Nibs.
After a considerable time, I got up and started wandering around looking at things, keeping an eye on Michelle, who was doing quite well on her own. Eventually, she joined me. We strolled past the Penopoly table. "Oooh!" said Michelle, looking at something.
"Oooh!" said I, looking at something else. Then, with a gasp, "OOOOHHH!!! Michelle, LOOK AT THAT!"
I picked up a gorgeous Coronet with red inserts, just like the one I'd been drooling over during lunch. I opened the cap. Lo and behold! It contained an adjustable nib. Fine and flexy. Good condition. A monogram, but that matters not to me; it only adds a personal element that allows me to speculate about its previous owner, where it came from, where it's gone, what words it's written, and such like.
drooled. I slobbered. I gasped and clutched this pen. It was calling my
name. It was crooning and cooing at me. How could I resist?
Yes, despite my resolution and the Stylophiles editor's attempts (efficiently body-blocked by Michelle) to prevent me from spending money I didn't have, I walked away with that Coronet. Filled it up and spent the next two hours writing notes with it during a lengthy interview. It never skipped, never stuttered, never blobbed, never faltered--it was a beautiful, gorgeous, spectacular little writer.
Its only fault was that the section was a bit crooked, and half a minute with Roger Cromwell and his famous heat gun and that was corrected.
I'll confess to wanting the adjustable nib purely for the gadgetry--the same reason that the Leonardo limited-edition pen, with its quirky clip and filling system, appeals to me. And I've seen several adjustable nibs that didn't work well for several reasons. I've heard people call them a gimmick, and of course, the adjustable tab is just that. I've heard people say they don't work, but on this I'll disagree.
The theory is that moving the tab up toward the section allows the tines to spread apart a little bit, creating some flex, whereas sliding it down to its lower reaches, nearer the tines, prevents spreading and makes them stiffer. Now, they don't get stiff enough to pass for a manifold nib, but there is, at least in this pen, a noticeable difference--and it's quite pleasant.
Altogether, I fell in love with this little pen. I'm still in love with it. I took it to work, where the younglings looked at it with eyebrows raised and said, "Well, another one of Anna's weird writing thingies," and paid it no more mind. But it wrote well and consistently all day. This is a super little pen and I might just start keeping an eye out for others like it oh, wait, I can't! That would destroy my magpie status. Have to be careful about letting stray organizing elements creep in.
Now, I know you're wondering how closely related this pen was to the one I drooled over at lunch, the one that belonged to my friend. It turned out that it was the same one. She wasn't particularly pleased with its writing characteristics, which evidently didn't suit her hand at all. Had I known she was going to sell it, or she that I was interested, we could have cut out the middleman and I'd still have a super little Coronet. But even so, I have it. It's mine, all mine. And it's shiny. And pretty. And gimmicky.
And it works really, really well. And that's the main