We recently began stocking the Faber-Castell School Pen
, and I think this may very well be my new favourite fountain pen. And for $9, it's okay that I left my first one at a nature hostel out by Algonquin Park a week after I got it, and then promptly had to crack open another.
The pen comes in a blister pack along with a pack of blue standard international cartridges (and will take a standard international converter), only with a medium nib, and in either blue or red. We're hoping to get a black one in soon, but no news on that yet. It's a snap cap that's a pretty good snap - no need to worry about it slipping off in your bag. The clip is also fairly snug. Overall it's a simple design, without much to it, but terrific for students and young folks, along with people who just need a good pen without anything too flashy, as it's worry-free with its cartridges (so far as a fountain pen gets to be worry-free). It's just a great pen that works, that writes well and holds up to a beating. If you need a few pens to kick around in your desk with different colour inks for marking, this would work well. I would love to have discovered this pen when I was a teacher, as I could lend it to students to help mark little quizzes or to edit each others' work.
It has a rubberized grippy section that's a bit soft, with a slightly triangulated grip to help ensure the nib is pointing the right way, and it also indicates it's for left or right handed writers on the package (that might mean the nib is a bit more rounded to allow for different angles more smoothly). It's only available in a medium nib, which is on the finer side of medium. It's super smooth, as I find Faber-Castell nibs tend to be, and is also slightly stiff. It's not a super wet nib, which is what I usually go We opened one up as a tester for the shop, and everyone kept raving about how it wrote, until I finally tried it for myself, and it's a great writer. It feels good in the hand with its section, it writes smoothly and reliably, and it's a light and sturdy pen.
The ink in the writing sample is Caran d'Ache Magnetic Blue
, the blue-black in their Chromatics line that's new to our shop. I love this ink for its shading, and that it's a grey-blue-black sort of colour. The paper is a pad of Life Stationery Stenographers' Notebook
in the grid ruling.
I think I have a soft spot for inexpensive pens, maybe because that's how I got started in pens, a whole slew of inexpensive and fun pens, some of which leaked and some of which wrote a bit crazily. Inks I have way, way too many of, the accumulation of which I keep justifying to myself as both necessary in my endless search for the perfect ink, and also as a consumable supply which I'll "eventually" use up. I think I just like the idea of pens that anyone can have, even students. These sorts of pens can hold a special spot in someone's heart for years to come, and sometimes these can be the most robust workhorses, kicked around and yet completely reliable. Of course it needs to be built sturdily, and not prone to leaking, but I love hearing stories from customers about that cheap fountain pen that they had in their pencil case for years and years when they were young, and how many tests and exams and papers and letters they wrote with it. And I suppose sometimes there's some charm in leaking. (Although I really don't think this one will!)
In other news, Caleb continues to enjoy his mini car day and night.
I feel like some of our customers have begun to think Caleb spends his entirety of his awake hours in his car, which might actually not be too far from the truth - he drives back and forth from the apartment to the warehouse into the shop, and some days it's with reluctance and grim resignation that he exits his car for lunch.
I love the shop when it's busy and bustling, and Caleb's weaving his way between people to peek out the front door or to water the plants, but I think I love it the most at night, empty, and lit up. It's a combination of that feeling of sneakiness, like I'm in wandering in some secret place where no one's going to see me in my pyjamas (untrue, as people walking by in the evening look through the windows and see me in my pyjamas all the time), and also because it's like it's my private kingdom, where I can move around bottles of ink or read all the things people write on the tester paper. And it's also, really, watching my little pack of animals take over, Caleb the biggest one of all, in his onesie, leading the charge. It was interesting for me to realize one day that Caleb also has a different mindset when the shop is open, and there are staff and customers around, compared to the evenings, when everyone is gone. And I think these are some of my favourite moments, Caleb after his bath and in his pyjamas, and the last few minutes of running around, or driving his car, or packing ink cartridges into his backpack and then finding them again up at the cottage.
Even in the way he drives his car - he's much more energetic and enthusiastic, bordering on aggressively maniacal, in the evening. He really enjoys the concept of driving quickly, and as well as backing up while turning the steering wheel quickly, and the combination of the two is sometimes just too much for him to bear calmly. Both of the animals have learned to stay out of the way, arguably better than Jon or I have learned.
Jon and I are in full agreement that this is the best toy we've ever gotten him. I suppose in general he doesn't have too many toys, in part because here at the shop there are enough things for him to play with (packing stickers, empty boxes, "helping" with stocking or counting inventory), and at the cottage he spends most of his free time outside, but as a result of that, he really loves the toys he has.
However, this one might be a close second.
(Even if it is really, really too small for him now.)