My love affair with fountain pens began years before I ever thought about being a writer. I’m of that generation that had to learn to write cursive with a fountain pen. In the 90’s, I began to frequent Bertram’s, a brick and mortar pen store that has now moved out of the area. That’s when I began to covet and purchase fountain pens.
If you fast-forward to about 2016, you’ll find me discovering Goulet Pens, an online purveyor of fine writing instruments and other paraphernalia related to the art. It’s a great place for the pen-lover. Goulet Pens is hard for me to describe. It’s a family owned business that now employs a large number of people. I buy almost all my pens from them, and with very good reason. They have the best customer service I’ve ever run into at any online business–regardless of what’s being sold. You need help? You’ll get it. You need information? It’s there. It’s very much like being part of a community, and in fact they have a Facebook group called Goulet Nation that hosts thousands of us eccentric pen lovers.
So what is a “Grail Pen?” Well, it’s the pen you really, really want. The pen you’ve read about or heard about or maybe tried out somewhere. Maybe you can’t afford it, maybe you’re saving up for it, or maybe you’re still doing the research. It doesn’t have to be a pen that costs thousands. It’s the pen you want. If you’re like me, once you’ve achieved your grail pen, you may decide there’s another one you want next. My last grail pen was the Pilot Vanishing Point, a Japanese pen I’d wanted for 20 years but had never gotten around to buying. I bought one on sale from Goulet and liked it so well I bought another.
I have long wanted–coveted, really–a pen manufactured by a Japanese company called Sailor. They’ve been in business since 1911, and they are noted for quality of their pens and for their attention to every detail. In addition to special editions, they have two styles–the 1911 and the Pro Gear. Each comes in three sizes: Slim, Regular, and King of Pens. All have solid gold nibs, and there’s a bewildering variety of sixteen nib choices. I’m going for the Pro Gear Slim, and I’m leaning towards one of the blue colors. The “autumn” blue is looking really good to me right now. The pen shown here is the Pro Gear Slim in Princess Kaguya, a glittering red.
How am I going to afford this? Well, my silver lining to the social-distancing thing is that my expenses are down at the moment. I’ll be able to save up for my pen! In a sad irony, Goulet Pens achieved their status as an authorized dealer for Sailor at almost the very moment they closed down to protect their employees. I’m looking at that as an opportunity. I’ll be able to acquire and celebrate my pen at the same time they’re able to get back to business. That will be a happy day.
So, Gentle Reader, my advice to you is simple. Go visit Goulet Pens. You might spontaneously combust when you see all the pens, and the inks, and the notebooks, and the paper, and . . . if you love pens as I do, you can spend hours just looking. Maybe you’ll find your own grail pen.
As I get my blog established, look for more Inky Doings around midweek, every week. As I’ve already said, you can’t write a book without a pen.