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The Horror: "i Let Someone Use My Fountain Pen And..."

fountain pen lent my fountain pen let someone use your fountai never let someone use your ruined my fountain pen ruined the nib didnt know what they were do ignorant

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#21 hikari_g



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Posted 29 August 2013 - 03:06

Well, I wouldn't even be on this forum had my friend not graciously handed me her Lamy Safari when I showed some curiosity.

I marvel at her generosity now. I know the Safari isn't what you'd call an expensive pen, but I'd still be pretty upset if anything happened to mine. Then again, if it weren't for all the nice people that lend their pens to others, there would be a lot less FP users now, I'd think.



Personally, I've let some of my friends try writing with my preppys (I did hear about how my friend had one of her glass dip pens damaged (I've no idea how that happened as she never gave me any details), so to be on the safe side, I always keep a couple of cheaper pens on me for the purpose of converting others ;))

They were always careful with them, but every once in a while one gets damaged. But then, they are preppys anyway so not much to lose here. 

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#22 TwelveDrawings


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 03:08

Well, let me see.  With my cheap steel-nibbed pen, the people i lent it to either held it by the nib (despite my warnings to hold it higher up) and were aghast at getting ink all over their fingers, or pressed down so hard (despite my warnings to press very lightly) that ink splattered about when they wrote.
With my gold-nibbed pen, the first person i lent it to pressed down hard enough to bend the tines out of alignment.  I was able to bend them back, but it wasn't such a good writer afterwards.  Luckily (?) not long after that, another person borrowed it and dropped it nib-first on the ground, necessitating a full nib repair, which got my nib got back to happy.  
I did lend my gold-nibbed pen to one person who was able to write with it without making an inky mess and without damaging the nib.
Maybe i just have a lot of clumsy friends; I'd say I have about a 5% success rate with lending out a fountain pen.  Nowadays, I don't let anyone but me write with them.  If someone reaches for my fountain pen, I snatch it away and hand them a rollerball.  Rude perhaps, but I don't want to deal with the consequences of other people's clumsiness.
If someone says that they would like to try a fountain pen, I'd be more than happy to buy them a cheap one and give it as a gift.
If I ever met another everyday fountain pen user in real life, I would have no problems with lending them any pen I own.

I'm guessing it takes more force to bend a steel nib than a gold one. Sounds like you had some persistent nib-jammers. Yours is the series of horror stories that start infamous legends. Sorry to hear it. TD


#23 Runnin_Ute


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 03:22

Sometimes I will lend one of my fp's but not very often - and if I have a RB or BP handy usually not. Depends on circumstance and timing. I had the opportunity today, but handed over my Waterman Hemisphere RB with Pilot G2 refill instead.....

Edited by Runnin_Ute, 29 August 2013 - 03:25.

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#24 proton007


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 03:28


My pen is MINE!  :angry:



Just kidding. I always use my cheaper pens in public, so its alright if someone wants to use them. As long as they don't drop them.

For writing a line or two is ok.


Now if someone wants to borrow a pen for a longer time (weeks/months), I'll have to think about it....maybe I'll just let them keep it as a gift. :D

In a world where there are no eyes the sun would not be light, and in a world where there were no soft skins rocks would not be hard, nor in a world where there were no muscles would they be heavy. Existence is relationship and you're smack in the middle of it.

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#25 SeeksAdvice


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:07

I've loaned some FP's to folks.  The most common reaction is a sort of back away in mildly object horror at what I handed them.  I gave my Sailor Pro Gear Realo (EF) to an officemate who attempted to write with the *side* of the nib.  Did have one person who actually used my Lamy Al-Star (EF) properly.


Getting ready to loan out a TWSBI 580 Diamond (EF) to demonstrate that our lefties can use something other than the horrid dispoable ballpoints.  Even going to order a sample of Noodler's Q'ternity specifically for this test.  Don't like Noodler's, but no denying that Q'ternity dries *fast*.


Maybe we can get away from those terrible ballpoints for non-carbonless copies.   Besides, they smear the ballpoints.  So, maybe something that actually dries would be better ;)

Imagination and memory are but one thing which for diverse reasons hath diverse names. -- T. Hobbes - Leviathan

#26 TwelveDrawings


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:17

I hear some themes already.


There are those, including me, whose trust in others has met with generally positive experiences.


There are those who choose not to chance it, and proactively carry a backup pen to lend in a pinch (thereby protecting the treasured fountain pen).


There are those whose trust vanished when they saw their pen diminished, damaged, or ruined and—as a result—have unapologeticallly adopted a step-away-from-the-pen-sucker attitude.


It is still early and I know there must be more stories out there. I continue to follow this thread with interest.



Edited by TwelveDrawings, 29 August 2013 - 04:19.


#27 Keyless Works

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 04:40

I always lend my pen if someone asks to try it.  I admit that with flex or semi-flex pens I always tell people to press lightly but I am sure it wouldn't matter if I just let them have at it.

#28 krz


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 05:19

I'll hand my cheaper pens to anyone that confirms they know how to use a fountain pen. That also serves as my disclaimer if they get ink on them.


My vintage flex pens will only get handed to someone I already know for certain can use them.


Love your artwork TwelveDrawings!

How can you tell when you're out of invisible ink?

#29 TwelveDrawings


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 05:35

I'll hand my cheaper pens to anyone that confirms they know how to use a fountain pen. That also serves as my disclaimer if they get ink on them.


My vintage flex pens will only get handed to someone I already know for certain can use them.


Love your artwork TwelveDrawings!

Asking sounds like a sensible solution. Seems from other's experiences that some people would prefer not to be handed a fountain pen. That would be a good moment to whip out that backup ballpoint. Thanks for your kind words about my artwork, krz. -- T.D.

Edited by TwelveDrawings, 29 August 2013 - 05:35.


#30 ArtsNibs


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 05:57

I carry a Spacepen in my pocket to avoid this scenario. Once I was sitting with a colleague during a deposition and she needed a pen to take notes, I only had my 1940's Sheaffer Sovereign, needless to say she took her notes in highlighter. 


A fountain pen is a specialized tool that requires experience to use correctly. If the situation allows time for instruction and the person is not a buffoon, then maybe I'll let someone use my fountain pen. 


#31 View from the Loft

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 06:30

I will cheerfully lend a Safari to anyone.  My nicer pens will only be lent to those that I know are fountain pen users.  So far no problems.


As for the myth about pens adapting to people and never being the same again if you lend them out - pah!  I've never had a problem with any of the vintage pens that I have bought second hand, I was allowed to use my Mum's pen on special occasions and didn't cause her any problems.


My children are all welcome to use my pens, but some of them only at home.  However, my daughter has the sense to only take a Safari to school, the Slimfold stays at home.


My children have converted several others to FPs, and we do a nice line in starter kits (pen, cartridges and a nice notebook)as birthday presents from them to those who show real interest.

#32 warblerick



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Posted 29 August 2013 - 13:05

What amazes me, is how many people ask to borrow a pen in the first place. A pen is like a basic tool, something that most people should carry (if not on their person, than at least in their bag). Why do so many people not carry one? And a colleague who "needed to take notes" who didn't have her own pen, should (IMHO) not be lent one simply because they should have their own! How do you go to a deposition and not bring a pen?? Serves her right for having to use a highlighter!

#33 Christi0469


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 13:34

My daughters are allowed to use my steel-nibbed pens in addition to their own fountain pens. On one memorable occasion I held an quick unscheduled fountain pen tutorial to a gaggle of ten year-old girls between ballet class with no ill effects. I also have allowed people to borrow my fountain pens when they need to sign something or quickly write something down, but more often than not they prefer to use the Jotter ballpoint I also carry daily. The only pen casualty I've incurred was one of my daughter screwing the cap of my Noodlers Konrad too hard and bending the nib. This was due more to a design flaw than careless handling. I lend out Varsities and Preppies to all comers.

My more fragile vintage pens are completely another story.

#34 Wolverine1


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 14:19

I have let friends use my Parker Duofold and  they ruined the nib by pressing down so hard, that the nib was deformed. Had to send the pen to John Mottishaw (www.nibs.com) to have him repair the nib.

Since then, I generally dont carry my nicer pen when I am out and about, if I do carry them, it is in a pen-case, and I carry a Lamy Al-Star fp, a Pilot Dr Grip gel pen, and a Cross ballpoint, and if asked, these are the pens that I offer .

However, when I see that a person is genuinely interested in fountain pens, I always offer them  my pens and let them use it under supervision. I have made a few new friends at the coffee shop, a few have also gotten into using fountain pens, and have invested in Lamy Safaris.

#35 dunhamsa


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 14:57

I have been frightened by times when people suddenly reach for my pen (I posted such an experience in the last couple of months). Sometimes I will decline to offer someone a pen because the situation is dicey. Other times I offer my pen with very clear instructions about how to write. Most times, that offer is declined because people fear the pen (and the fact there are instructions involved in its use). They prefer a pencil.


I wouldn't be part of FPN if a friend had not offered me his pen, and very clear instructions on how to write properly. So I try to keep an open mind.

#36 Mr. JW

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 15:01

I've had no horror stories either, fortunately. My 8-year-old daughter saw me using an FP one day and asked if she could try it. I let her use my Metropolitan and watched over her while giving her some instructions on how to hold and use it. Now she wants one of her own, so I will get her a Pelikano Jr. as a going back to school gift. 


I see it like this: I want to encourage others to take an interest in FPs and writing in general. If I am too guarded with my pens, I will just discourage a potential user. 


#37 joshsrn


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 15:07

I let people use any of my pens. I just make sure to show them and explain how to use it if they are inexperienced with fountain pens.

That being said, most of my pens are fairly inexpensive.

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#38 Ernst Bitterman

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 15:17

I will happily lend out burlier pens, and indeed keep a Hero 616 around as bait-- anyone who needs to borrow a pen by my desk is going to be handed an FP.  On the other hand, the more sensitive objects don't get offered to anyone I don't know has the understanding of FPs, and to them I'll say something like, "This one calls for a light touch".


In the horror story line; a Parker "51" desk model I use at work got nabbed by a guy from IT to scribble something down.  A young guy... but he got it the right way up, at a sensible angle, and didn't drive it into the paper, and only realized it was something out of his usual line after he'd started using it.  He was very pleased with it.  The next day, the head of HR, old enough to have grown up using FPs, was in much the same position; got the pen rotated 90 degrees, held it at too steep an angle, and when nothing happened tried pressing harder which only made a furrow in the paper.  All that was missing was a cry of disgust and a flinging of the pen at a wall.  This incident proved that I had to re-arrange my desk's layout, but also that the "51" is a bit of a tank-- no harm done.

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#39 inkstainedruth


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 15:46

I've lent out pens a couple of times to folks, but generally watched them like a hawk the entire time.  One friend needed to write a quick note at dinner a while back, so she got handed my Parker 45.  I figured that she was relatively clueful in general (plus, a very good mutual friend of ours does a lot of calligraphy and illumination, so Pam would probably at least know which way to hold the thing. 

And just last week I actually trusted my husband (who routinely makes joking motions about jamming the nib into tables -- just because he knows it will annoy me) with a pen, so he could sign a car registration renewal form (I had filled out all the rest of the form but then realized that only his name was on it so I couldn't sign it).  Granted, it was a Noodler's Flex Piston Creaper (filled the time with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts, so I thought it would be better to have the same ink on the signature).  And he managed not to bork up the nib.  Which is good, because if he borks up the EF nib on the red Estie which is his belated birthday present -- or leaves the cap off/loses the cap and the pen dries out -- I'm reclaiming (er, *liberating*, yeah, that's the word) it (it's a red J, after all... :lol:).

And like some other people have said: I have a number of vintage pens and I've never had a problem with the nib being molded to the previous owners' style of writing (they might not write for *other* reasons... but not that).

But I am always pretty watchful.  And there *have* been times where I just pretend I didn't hear the request for a pen -- if I don't completely trust how the person will hold it.....

OTOH -- I've borked nibs all on my lonesome (which is why I have an extra nib and feed for a Noodler's Konrad -- got the blind cap stuck inside the cap and then couldn't figure out why the cap wouldn't screw back on)!  The same thing almost happened over the weekend with a different Konrad, but I remembered what had happened that other time, so I didn't force the issue -- just waited till I got back home and unscrewed the part of the cap holding on the clip, then pushed a wooden knitting needle through the hold to dislodge the blind cap....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth


edited for typos

Edited by inkstainedruth, 29 August 2013 - 15:47.

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

#40 ziptrickhead


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Posted 29 August 2013 - 16:28

I don't believe a nib will write differently after just short use. The only time I can see that happening is if the tines are misaligned and are touching each other, In that case if you normally write with a very light hand and then someone else writes with more pressure, the tines will misalign and with side pressure from the tines being too close will stay misaligned.


I have had one bad pen experience with someone else ruining a nib. Back in college in the dorms a plumber came and did some repairs. He needed a pen to write on the work order and at the time my Lamy Safari with just sitting on my desk. He had the nib upside down and it didn't write well so he proceeded to press down even harder. That resulted in tines getting misaligned and the pen writing super scratchy. Granted a Lamy Safari isn't an expensive pen, and a new nib is only $10-15 but it's not about the money for me. That nib wrote pretty perfect for me and no matter how I tried to repair it, the pen never wrote the same again.


Fast forwards a few years to the present day, I no longer keep fountain pens of any cost just laying around. The only exception is at my apartment on my desk where no one else is around to misuse and abuse the pens. If someone asks to borrow a pen and I have my bag with me then I let them borrow the gel pen I keep in there. If they see the pen in my hand I politely decline because if my pen is out that means I'm using it at the moment. 


At the same time, I try not to be overly rude about fountain pen use. If someone seems my pen and asks what it is I have no problems explaining to them how a fountain pen writes and guiding them through it's use. I find that when you explain the use of fountain pens and especially the value of them people tend to be more gentle. Still, there's only a handful of people (maybe 4) that I completely trust enough with my pens to let them borrow without hovering over them. That's because they're either close friends or family and I know that they know how to use a fountain pen correctly since they use them on a regular basis.

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