My oldest writing instrument

I have always like fountain pens. I just haven’t written with them for a while. How did I get back into the groove? One thing leading to another… The older I get, the more habits I seem to pick up from my father. One of those habits: “the one writing tool that always works… is a pencil.
HA! You didn’t expact that, did you? But bear with me. When I was in college I had to draw. A lot. It comes with mechanical engineering. And unlike some other studies at our college, *cough* construction *cough*, mechanical engineers tend to be really, really finicky about their drawing. I guess it has to do with the fact that in construction you’re happy when things are within 2″ if your specificationsm, where in mechanics you’re going to be upset if something is not within specified tolerances, which is usual .5 mm to .1 mm (an inch is 25.4 mm)
So, drawing with pencil we did. And again, not with what you’d think: “Well, if precision is desired, you are probably drawing with a .5 mm mechanical pencil.” And again, no. Not precise enough. We’d use a 2 mm mechanical pencil, and sharpen the tip on a piece of wood with some sandpaper stapled to it. Sharp as a nail, quite literally since we’d be using 2H (that’s #4 for you Yanks) leads as well. The pencil holder used was recommended by school—reliable, cheap and very, very uncharming.
Then, at an art store, I saw the Caran d’Ache Fixpencil. It looked simple, elegant, and with its roughened tip, very friendly to use. And it was enourmous out of budget for a college student. Luckily, when I encountered it, my birthday was coming up (I think) and one of my beloved sisters gave it to me.

The Caran d’Ache Fixpencil—a nearly 100 year old design classic

The Caran d’Ache Fixpencil—a nearly 100 year old design classic

Now that I wanted to write more with pencil I started looking for that old fixpencil again. I have a beautiful 0.5 mm mechanical pencil made by Staedler (one of my favorite brands for writing utensils) with a rubber grip, indicator of hardness of the fillings, etc. But, quite frankly, 0.5 mm mechanical pencils just don’t write very smoothly. So I dug up the good ole’ fixpencil and… bliss!
Later I learned a few things that I did not know about the fixpencil. For instance, that there’s a sharpener in the red cap on the back, or that it was one of the first mechanical pencils on the market and the design has, since 1929, basically not changed. My quest of finding decently priced 2mm leads got me back in using fountain pens… but that’s a different story.


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