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tonybelding
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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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I'm with you. As I read your post, I almost immediately thought "Targa." It has both the revolutionary (and beautiful, to my eye) inlaid nib and the clean lines that evoke a rare moment of successful 1970s design. Targa has an enthusiastic following, here at least; my favorite is the most common one, the brushed stainless - it just seems to suit. I like some of the other hooded nib designs too (beside Parker's) particularly the 1950s Auroras.

 

I restored a mid-century house in Texas too. Mine was buff-pink brick and I miss it very much.

Edited by Manalto

James

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Does this mean we need more Melmac bodies in Fiestaware colors to go with our latest Princess cell phone?

 

You bet. Put on your bellbottoms and rayon shirt and get to it!

James

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Does this mean we need more Melmac bodies in Fiestaware colors to go with our latest Princess cell phone?

 

You may be joking, but have you looked at the colors Sheaffer Snorkels were made in?

 

Personally, I think Melmac is awesome. . . except, you know, it's not microwavable. Which is why we have Corelle.

 

If there's a vintage pen that deserves to be resurrected, it's the Targa. I recall several years back somebody from Sheaffer commented that it would be impossible to reintroduce the Targa, it being "far too expensive to produce today". Erm. . . Yes, I'm sure it's far too expensive -- if your business model is now based on making pens in China for $3-5 each and then selling them in boutiques (in huge gift boxes that probably cost more than the pen) for $30-50.

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I agree with the OP. I like those streamlined mod pens best. The old fashioned open nib pens much less. Get out your waistcoat and three cornered hat to use the old fogey open nib pens.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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I agree with the OP & having recently renovated my "mod" holiday house, I've become obsessed with mod design. One of my great pleasures is my Stainless Red Lamy 2000 sitting on my mid-century George Nelson desk. Both combine aesthetic perfection with practicality and understated design.

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You may be joking, but have you looked at the colors Sheaffer Snorkels were made in?

 

 

We (United States) have become a country that's afraid of color. Look at the cars in a parking lot; most of them are gray, black or white. Recently I Googled "bathroom renovation" and looked at the images, which might as well have been in black and white.

 

Who's this guy Erm who keeps popping up?

James

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Thanks but no thanks. Wasn't there but still prefer '30's to '50's celluloids and to me size still counts, even if it doesn't write as well as a '51' or modern steel nib.

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I was just last week writing with one of the Neue Pelikans from the 1960s and enjoying the lines of it.

 

Does the Sheaffer Taranis fit your notions of mod? While on the subject of Sheaffer-- if they're still making inlaid pens at all, the cry of economic impossibility rings somewhat hollow, and I see the Legacy still lurks in their line-up. The Waterman Carene might fit too, although it is slightly body-heavy and given to ink creep.

 

There's also a fair number of Chinese pens that have right sort of shape, and it's getting to a point now that Hero, Baoer, Jinhao and that mob don't have much worse quality control than Sheaffer, Parker, Waterman, Pelikan....

Ravensmarch Pens & Books
It's mainly pens, just now....

Oh, good heavens. He's got a blog now, too.

 

fpn_1465330536__hwabutton.jpg

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We (United States) have become a country that's afraid of color. Look at the cars in a parking lot; most of them are gray, black or white. Recently I Googled "bathroom renovation" and looked at the images, which might as well have been in black and white.

 

Who's this guy Erm who keeps popping up?

I think there's a more colorful society and world there than you are seeing.

 

Thanks but no thanks. Wasn't there but still prefer '30's to '50's celluloids and to me size still counts, even if it doesn't write as well as a '51' or modern steel nib.

Since you are indulging yourself in a rant against the mod, let me say that I find the celluloids depressingly old fashioned.

"Don't hurry, don't worry. It's better to be late at the Golden Gate than to arrive in Hell on time."
--Sign in a bar and grill, Ormond Beach, Florida, 1960.

 

 

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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?

 

They may have conventional nibs and all, but the new Pilot Metropolitan colors have a Mod look. The designs could have been lifted directly from some of my Mom's Coty lipstick cases of a certain era.

My other pen is a Montblanc and...

 

My other blog is a tumblr.

 

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It seems to me as replies have followed that I may have erred in choosing the word "mod" for this subject. People see it and think 1960s. . . I wanted to be inclusive of all modern style, as opposed to traditionalism. So whether it's mid-century or art deco or contemporary, I'm not picky. But, once again, I also didn't want to say "modern" in the way we usually use that word here on FPN, meaning "not vintage". Maybe "modernist" would be a finer word, as opposed to traditionalist?

 

Thanks to Ernst for pointing out the Sheaffer Taranis. (My usual retail sources don't carry it, so it slipped under my radar.) Sure, it's obviously some sort of modernist design. Exactly what sort could be debatable.

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I'm unsure what would constitute a "Mod" design and consider designs like the Targa to be homage or throwback to the Sheaffer Flat Top era. The Legacy family would be "Mod" since they definitely are based on a 50-s design. The Tanaris seems more like a Sheaffer "45" based design so since the Parker 45 is a 60s pen it might be a Mod.

 

But what constitutes "Mod" for the purposes of this thread?

 

My Website

 

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< cocoa brown melmac was our everyday dishes that matched our walls, and carpet = "mom? why can't we have poodle lamps like everyone else" = single art vase on the no shine walnut MacDougall credenza.

 

and why I guess the spare design of Carene and Studio (its clip), visually work for me, though both too weighty.

 

 

If you don't mind sharing, what mid-century features are you restoring? (grew up around the new home business of this era).

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But what constitutes "Mod" for the purposes of this thread?

 

I tried to address that in my post right above yours, but I guess I didn't do it well.

 

To me, anything that veers away from tradition, is relatively clean and un-ornamented, and puts function ahead of form falls into the general category of modern design. Closed nibs -- whether hooded, conical or inlaid -- are the easiest trait to pick out, since the ubiquitous open nib is the most entrenched tradition you could ever hope to veer away from! It's not the only thing we can look at, though.

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