We all know it’s mightier than the sword, and yet too many men use a pen that looks like it was left behind at Kinko’s. Yes, like an umbrella or a pair of gloves it’s an easy item to lose, and it takes a certain amount of upkeep, but that just makes it all the more impressive when you pull a fountain pen from your jacket to sign your bill at the 21 Club. It’s a signal that you’re not averse to civilized pursuits, that you take the long view, that you wouldn’t dream of holstering a Blackberry to your belt.
Like a good bottle opener or a briefcase, a well-designed pen anticipates your needs: It’s weighted beautifully, feels like it belongs in your hand, and leaves a lovely line. And once you get used to it—just like the beloved clutch in your car—there’s no going back to a Bic. A Montblanc, of course, is instantly recognizable in all of its luxurious variations. But the Lamy Safari is just as smart: $35 for pitch-perfect German design. They even stock a rollerball version for insistent skeptics.
It was not always thus: The expectation that a gentlemen carry a proper pen was so widely held that English mainstay Smythson used a form of paper in its diaries designed to absorb a fountain pen’s ink without bleeding.
The more our correspondence travels over the internet, the more satisfying it is to put pen to paper. A man who carries a pen appreciates the analog pace, and the time it takes to make a personal connection. That’s a connection no number of pixels can approximate.