My Birthday Pen – Montblanc Jonathan Swift

My Birthday Pen

I fell in love with Mont Blanc pens, the first time I ever laid my eyes on it. I was 10 years old then and it was my uncle’s Mont Blanc 149 75th Anniversary Special Edition. He had picked one in England, during one of his many travels. And the way he cared for the particular pen was enough for me to know that it was precious. The black beauty with the gold embellishment was captivating. The more I saw it, the more I wanted to have it.

Twelve years fast-forward, on my 22nd birthday, I opened the biggest gift box of that lot. It was from my older brother. Neatly covered in a tangerine lokta wrap, it weighed light compared to its appearance. Inside was a royal blue lokta gift box and immediately I anticipated to see a scrapbook. I had been talking so much about it then. Already thanking my brother for the unseen gift, I unhooked the box to find the biggest surprise of my life waiting inside. The box held a leather bound lokta journal, which wasn’t as grand as the scrapbook I had it mind, but still good and another smaller box, which was a lighter shade of olive green. At first I couldn’t understand what it was. It took me a full half a minute to realize what lay before me – a Montblanc pen. Words won’t be enough to explain the joy I experienced when I held that box. And the irony is that, what I had received was a Montblanc Jonathan Swift Writer’s Edition.

Widely known for his masterpiece “Gulliver’s Travel”, Jonathan Swift was the master of satire. The 2012 Montblanc Writer’s Edition was dedicated to him and the pen is designed around the Liliput episode from Gulliver’s adventures. The black and platinum pen has a barrel made of black lacquer, which features multi-layered inlays that represents Gulliver being tied in ropes by the Lilliputians. The cap, shaped like Gulliver’s tricorn hat is made of precious black resin and flaunts an engraved signature of Jonathan Swift. The platinum clip depicts the staircase the Mayor of Liliput had to climb to be able to talk to Gulliver. Other fantastic details include an elaborate engraving of Gulliver and the Lilliputian army on the surface of the rhodium-plated 18k gold nib. The traditional white star shines on top of the cap as always.

Montblanc Jonathan Swift

The Montblanc Jonathan Swift Writer’s Edition Rollerball Pen was not only special because it was a thoughtful birthday gift, but because it also marked the beginning of my career in writing. Earlier that year, I had joined a publication house as a writer and had my work published in print for the first time. My can-never-be-thoughtful brother had written on the first page of the lokta journal, referring to the pen, “So that it may inspire you to write your own masterpiece someday.” The pages that follow hold seeds of my imagination, still finding ways to grow, all written with the same inspirational pen – Montblanc Jonathan Swift Writer’s Edition Rollerball Pen.

Inks – A Brief History

Brief Ink History

Ink, A drug! Vladimir Nabokov said it right. And we have been consuming it endlessly. Three letters, Ink – Minute but captivating! The daily use of ink has caused its impact on our lives to go unnoticed. Nonetheless, the fact that it has left a mark on world history and present can barely be denied. Its ironical, the ink that has been used from recording ancient manuscripts to printing latest of writings, has no definitive history of its evolution. It starts from the age when people commenced using the ink to paint on the stones and walls of the cave.

A liquid or a paste consisting of pigments or dyes that colors any surface by the help of a writing instrument to create images and texts – that’s how Ink is defined. From simple to complex solutions, Ink serves many purposes.

Apart from color and use, the ink that we get today in the market has a very little in common with the ink that was once used by our ancestors. However the universal and ever prevailing love for inks and writing makes buying ink a conscientious part of our stationary shopping. There are countless retailers that provide you a wide assortment of inks. The one that we have browsed the most is the ink section of Pen Boutique, a Maryland based Pens, Ink and stationary store that offer everything from popular to vintage for both starters and collectors.

With time, various ancient cultures scattered all over independently used their very own recipes to formulate ink. Chinese developed water based ink and solid ink around 23rd century using plant dyes and animal glue. The Egyptians used soot, graphite and other carbon particles to create ink around 2500BC. The Chinese ink was also similar to India ink often referred to as masi which played a vital role in the compilation of not only Indian manuscripts but also Buddhist scripts during the 4th century BC. Masi was made from tar, burnt bones and pitch. Around the first century, Egyptians came ahead with papyrus plant scrolls that highlighted the art of writing and the use of inks.

Another popular ink which made it to the viable triumph was the recipe created out of mixing tannin, gallnuts with a thickener. The writings that made use of this recipe are brown in color now, but it was bluish black when it was actually put on paper. The duration from 5th century to 15th century witnessed the maximum use of carbon inks and iron gall inks that were invented in Medieval Europe. The writing platforms changed and so did the writing devices. The quill pens and the first fountain pens were created out of necessitate to make the proper and optimum use of the writing mediums that was evolving each day.

The breakthrough was when Johannes Gutenburg invented an oil based ink in the 15th century. Compared to the water based inks that were used from the earliest of times in China, the oil based ink was more suitable for printing. It quickly overshadowed the Greek and Roman Inks prevalent at that time. Some inks and dyes were invented accidentally but for good. Like in 1856, William Perkin, an English chemist discovered synthetic dyes while struggling to hit upon a cure for malaria.

Ink by ink, many new recipes were formulated, many were modified and many vanished. Secret inks, invisible inks that became perceptible under heat or chemicals held fascination whilst it added a new dimension to the ink world. In the 19th century, various artists collectively agreed upon the use of four colors CMYK used for printing. Ink, simple yet so complicated process; it’s now in every fountain pen, every ballpoint pen, and every packet in the market, in the books and even on human skin. Ink is everywhere.

Cursive Handwriting Practice and Challenges

A few years back, I took up a teaching job in a neighborhood school. One of the subjects I taught grade three students there was English, which also included Cursive handwriting. I used to be guilt ridden to grade the small kids for their joined up writing, when in fact, my own handwriting was nowhere near as good as theirs. I had always struggled with creating pretty letters on paper, and although I need not write anything on paper, or in pretty alphabets, I decided to improve just for the sake of learning. Here is what I have learned so far:

  • The handwriting type: Everyone has a handwriting type. Some draw longer and stiffer letters, while others like me lean towards shorter and rounded alphabets. But this is not where the problem occurs. The handwriting begins to face problems when you cannot decide on what type you belong to. So, firstly be sure in yourself about what type you are or are comfortable with. Stop hopping between the two and be decisive. I know, the other one always looks better but that isn’t it.
  • Do you slant or not: Either you slant to the left or the right, or you don’t slant at all. A slight slant won’t do harm, but too much of leaning towards the lines under it will make reading difficult and give your handwriting a “bad” rating.
  • Consistency: It is important to keep the shape and size of the letters consistent. If you write the letter “A” in one way, don’t change it too often or at all. Each letter should be distinguishable and thus, readable. Consistency, also applies to the way you hold your pen or the position of your paper. Keep the same angle and position throughout your writing, so that there are not different types of handwriting in the same paper.
  • Spacing: Spacing plays a huge role in determining the goodness of your handwriting, whether it is written in cursive or not. A rule I learned in school was to leave enough space between two words to fit your index finger. Although it is just an idea, it does help to follow the rule to the “T” during the first few practice periods. The bottom line is to not cramp too many words in one line.
  • Pressure: The pressure you apply to write shows in the imprints it leaves on the back of the paper. So, keep it light. On the other hand, don’t draw lines so faint that it is difficult to read your work. Keep an even pressure all along.
  • Go first grade: Find cursive writing worksheets and start copying some artsy letters on your paper. Try both, capital and small letters, beginning from A, all the way to Z. Don’t jump on to sentences or even words on the first go. Keep it slow and go steady.
  • Don’t rush it: Cursive writing takes patience. Not just to master it but to keep it from becoming ugly too. So, write slow and allow your hands the needed time to coordinate between elegant strokes and consistent shapes and size.
  • Practice: When all is said and done, it comes down to practice. Whoever said, “Practice makes perfect,” was a genius. Spend a few hours a day to practice cursive writing. But don’t overdo it. As soon as you feel some sort of pain in your wrist and arms, it is time to take a break.
  • Use quality stationery: What kind of pen and paper you use plays a huge role in the quality of your handwriting. It’s similar to match-making. A fountain pen won’t give its best result on lokta paper. The result will be ink bleed and blotchy handwriting. Use a rollerball instead. Fountain pens work brilliantly on smoother, thicker papers such as a Photocopy paper. The idea is to not let the utensils come in the way of creating good handwriting. Be assertive of the stationery you use.

Over a period of time, I have realized that my decision to improve joined up handwriting wasn’t a waste after all. It is satisfying to see beautiful strokes of self-written words in birthday cards, invitations, letters and slam books. I don’t shy away from writing good words on paper for someone who is leaving for abroad. In fact, I find myself looking for excuses to flaunt my cursive work more often. Hopefully, you will be doing the same in near future. Till then, keep practicing and don’t let cursives defeat you.

Welcome to the Fine Writing World – Montblanc Pens

Welcome to fine montblanc
This becoming a world where the fine writing is becoming age old.  The modern day computers are taking away all the fun of writing.  Now with the advent of smartphones and ipads and tablets it is becoming even harder.  One should not forget the fine writing and so is this blog dedicated to such fine writers.  We have a commitment for today and tomorrows children to keep this art of writing going on.

There are lots of fine writing papers.  Rhodia pads and lokta papers are some of them.

But this blog is mainly dedicated to the finest of the pens.  The Montblanc writing pens  and cartier pens.   We can also talk about waterman and parker pens but these are the pioneers of writing instruments to be uplifted to a epitome level.

Some of the pens in the past I had were the Meisterstuck gold fountain pen and a number of Waterman like Phileas,  Expert and then finally the new Perspective.  Cartier diabolo pen has been a different thing also.  It is a beautiful pen with a beautiful cap on the top.  Parker Pens have been also a part of this Pen Journey.