For a while, it seemed as if fountain pens would be relegated to the historical pages of 18th century, European finesse, and luxury. It is fitting that fountain pens became the primary writing instrument in the Age of Enlightenment. These are unique and often beautifully designed pens, so the way you store them is important.
There are many great methods for storing your fountain pens but all of them should have cool temperatures in common, including pen cases, display cases, travel cases, and storage boxes. The one thing that you should always remember is to never keep ink inside them for extended periods.
They said that everything is cyclical and the fountain pen is certainly not an exception to the rule as they are growing in popularity once again. They never truly lost their foothold in European countries but in America, they never really gained one, even throughout the Age of Enlightenment.
Patented in 1888, the ballpoint pen took over and grabbed a hold of the public imagination in America and the fountain pen just faded into the background of obscurity and quaintness, a defining characteristic that it never really escaped stateside.
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Why Do Fountain Pens Need to be Stored?
When fountain pens aren’t being used, they need to be adequately stored away, rather than tossed into the accessory cup on your desk. They are far more than just an aesthetic marvel of penmanship.
Fountain pens aren’t like the standard, ballpoint BIC pens that you can pick up at any local convenient store or Dollar General. For instance, if they are stored upside down, they will leak like crazy and if they are in a position where they are going to get jostled around a bunch, you could end up with sporadic ink stains.
There are a few reasons that you will want to store your fountain pen:
- Temperature, humidity, and travel
- Protection for the individual parts
- Protection for the ink
Temperature, humidity, and the conditions of long-term travel all play a part in how your fountain pen should be stored. You certainly don’t want to store it in a place that is going to endure extreme temperatures—one way or the other—or extreme and sudden temperature swings.
Proper storage will also protect the individual parts of your fountain pen. Some of those parts, especially the nib, are the easiest to damage and once they’re damaged, they can’t really be repaired, at least not for what would essentially be the same cost as purchasing another.
The ink is important as well. The pen can leak if it is stored at particular angles and you either want to completely empty the fountain pen of all of the ink inside of it or fill it up all the way to the top.
How to Properly Store Your Fountain Pen
Believe it or not, this is a little more complex than you think. There are three main concerns when it comes to storing your pen and they are all based on where it’s going to be and what you are doing with it.
- Storing it in the office
- Storing it at home
- Storing it for travel
It’s not just about the place either, but time. If you’re going to be out of the office for less than 24 hours, then you store it one way. If you are going to be out of the office on vacation, for more than a few days, you store it another way.
Storing Your Fountain Pen in the Office
If you are just coming in and out of the office on a typical, 9-5 grind, then you don’t have to do anything crazy or spectacular. All you need to do is ensure that it is set aside in a safe spot, laid out horizontally.
This is all assuming that no one is going to have access to your office when you are out. Someone that would say, take an interest in your fountain pen and want to pick it up and look at it before setting it back down the wrong way.
If you are going to be out of your office for an extended time, it’s best to store it vertically, with the nib pointing up. You might want to consider removing all of the ink from it as well, especially if you are going to be out of the office for a long time, like more than a week.
Keeping the ink inside the pen runs the risk of it drying out in there, which is a big no-no.
Storing Your Fountain Pen at Home
Storing it at home is a little simpler unless you have curious kids running around or an especially curious cat. Keep it stored horizontally, inside of a drawer where it can’t roll around. This is assuming that you’re going to be using it at least once every day or so.
Like the office, if you are leaving home for well over a week or so, you should strongly consider removing all of the ink so that it doesn’t dry inside the pen. In cooler temperatures, such as an air-conditioned home, this will take time but it will eventually dry no matter what.
Storing Your Fountain Pen for Travel
This is where it gets interesting and largely depends on how you are going to carry it. It is strongly recommended that you not travel with it in your pocket without a protective carrying case; something that is not so big that it will be absurdly bulky inside your pocket.
You can travel with a fountain pen in more ways than one, however, prepping it for the trip is something you should do as well.
- Remove all of the ink from the inside of it prior to leaving
- Alternatively, fill it all the way to the top with ink
- Store it vertically (if filled)
- Keep it separate from other all of the other items in your luggage
- Consider purchasing a travel case for your fountain pen
Fountain pens are not only capable of leaking when they are stored incorrectly, but they’re also ridiculously delicate. A storage case is a viable and highly recommended option, especially if you travel a lot or are exposed to things that could potentially damage the pen.
For someone new to fountain pens, all of this may seem laughably absurd, however, keep in mind that real fountain pens (not that fake Amazon stuff) normally have—at the very least—a nib that is entirely made of gold, from 14k to 24k.
A true fountain pen is precisely designed with exquisite care and uses rare materials. In other words, you don’t treat a fountain pen like a ballpoint pen. You just don’t.
Why Are Fountain Pens So Delicate?
Look at it this way, here are the typical parts of a ballpoint pen:
- Ballpoint tip
- Ink chamber
Here are the parts on a fountain pen:
- Center band
- Trim Ring
It doesn’t stop there and gets even more complex as you consider a diagram of the nib, all by itself:
- Tipping material
- Breather hole
In other words, a fountain pen is considerably more complex than a ballpoint pen and as these things go, the more complex something is, the easier it is to break. As aforementioned, the entire tine section is usually manufactured using gold, which is a soft metal and easily bends.
Also, unlike a ballpoint pen, the fountain pen is susceptible to leaking, as there is nothing to hold the ink within. When it does leak, it leaks through the breather hole, out over the tine, and from there, anywhere else that you don’t want it to go.
We broke down the tine and the overall body of the fountain pen, however, there is a whole lot more to breaking down and diagramming the pen, like the multiple parts that go into the Feed, Converter, and Section.
We have a feeling that, at this point, you get it. A fountain pen is just a delicate instrument, which is why there is such an aura of affluent authenticity surrounding fountain pens and another reason that they are growing in popularity, even in the U.S.
Types of Fountain Pen Cases and Storage
To properly store your fountain pen, you want more than just a cup that holds all of your pens and pencils, or the flat surface of your desk. You want something that is going to act as a protective shell, while not allowing physical impacts to do any damage.
Leather Cases for Fountain Pens
If you own a fountain pen, then you are already going for some level of affluent aesthetics, so you might as well get yourself a leather case. Leather cases are fairly protective, however, they’re the least protective of the other types of cases that are available for fountain pens.
When it comes to leather cases, the variety of available options is immense. You have leather molded cases, zip cases, flap cases, leather pen roll cases, notebook holder cases, and Magnum Opus Pen Cases.
The best thing that these cases have going for them is their portability. A leather case doesn’t protect your fountain pens from leaking so you will still need to ensure that you empty the ink out before traveling, as you definitely don’t want to leak pen ink on your new leather.
Fountain Pen Storage Boxes
As you might imagine, a fountain pen storage box is one of the most protective forms of storage for your fountain pens. It’s also the way to go for long-term storage when you’re going to be placing your fountain pens in your luggage.
This Wooden Pen Case is a prime example. It’s labeled as a display case but is the perfect transportation equipment for your fountain pens. For those traveling with a single pen, the Parker 51 Fountain Pen Box is the perfect solution.
- The Parker 51 Midnight Blue CT features a streamlined silhouette and iconic hooded stainless-steel nib. Hand assembled...
Boxes protect from any bending and flexing associated with travel in a luggage bag and they also protect from impact damage that can bend or break your fountain pen.
Fountain Pen Display Cases
Check out Pens Guide’s article about Display Cases here.
Some people love fountain pens but not for writing with them. Admittedly, fountain pens have a profoundly attractive aesthetic design and because of this, there has been an explosion in collector activity with boxes and boxes of fountain pens going up on display cases in studies, dens, she-sheds, and man caves everywhere.
The Fountain Pen Display Case Company has some phenomenally designed and handcrafted display cases that are perfect for the dream collection. There is something for everybody here, from display cases with several tiers to more subtle, wood-carved designs.
Here is another great pen display case – Decorebay Avid Pen Collector’s Wooden Fountain Pen Box
While display cases are great for showing off your collection, they are also great for storing your fountain pen when it’s not in use, especially since most display case surfaces are angled so that your fountain pen is never pointed downward but always up at a slight angle.
Leather Fountain Display Cases
This is essentially a mold that encapsulated your fountain pen, making it one of the best accessories for traveling with your fountain pen in your pocket. Surprisingly enough, they’re a lot more costly than you would think, being as small and portable as they are.
Take the Montblanc Florence Black Crocodile case for example. It retails for $299.99 and you can find crocodile leather boots for less. THey’re undeniably luxurious, however, and it goes in further in displaying the rich and affluent aesthetic of the venerable fountain pen.
Of course, you can always go with something that’s a little softer on your bank account, like the Pineider Pen Case, which retails for around $50. So there are a ton of options available and even the little cases are far more protective than nothing at all.
Storage for your fountain pen is just as important as the pen itself. They are also nearly as collectible, in terms of what to store and display your pens in. Ultimately, when it comes to storage options for your fountain pen, the options are nearly limitless and the protection itself will bring you peace of mind.