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  1. tonybelding

    Mod Style Pens

    As I'm sitting here on a damp Thanksgiving, with some coffee and chocolate-pecan pie (highly recommended!), I'm just taking it easy and pondering modern style as it pertains to pens. I've actually begun a project renovating my 1965 vintage ranch style house, so the styles and fashions of that era have been much on my mind. I have to be very clear on what I mean by modern in this context. In the pen world we usually divide pens into vintage and modern, which is all about age. Even though the exact transition point can be debated, we all pretty much define it in terms of years. So. . . That's NOT what this post is about, and from this point forward I'm going to try and avoid the word "modern" and simply say "mod" instead, so everybody knows I'm talking about the design language, not the age of a pen. From where I sit, mod designs hit the pen world around 1940-1941 with the introduction of the Sheaffer Triumph and the Parker 51. The streamlined shapes, new materials, and conical nibs (on the Triumph) and hooded nibs (on the 51) were a very deliberate break with tradition. Other companies got into the act, but to me Sheaffer and Parker were the leaders in this movement. Later we saw the coming of Sheaffer inlaid nibs (notably on the Imperial and Targa series), the Pilot Vanishing Point, various Japanese pocket pens, and of course the Lamy 2000 and the Safari. To my mind, all of these are icons of mod style among fountain pens. Today it seems that we've regressed, and most contemporary pens are more-or-less traditionalist. You know, I love those 1920s style oversized flat-tops as much as anyone, and I've got my share of modern retreads of those. From today's Parker Duofold, to the 1930s-ish ultra-stodgy designs of Pelikan and Mont Blanc, to all those retro Bexleys. . . Traditionalist pens are in. For those who favor a more purist mod design, the options are limited. Sheaffer and Parker are shadows of their former selves. It seems like the only mod stalwarts today are Pilot, with the VP and E95S, and Lamy with the 2000 and the Safari and Studio and several other models that accept Safari nibs. If I'm overlooking anything out there, please point them out! I feel like perhaps we've, collectively, become too fixated on the old-fashioned-ness of fountain pens. For example, how often has somebody here on FPN rejected the Parker 51 for not having a big, open, traditional nib to show off? Perhaps we forget how design-forward some of these famous pens were in their time. Maybe we should appreciate them more?

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