I live in Rio de Janeiro. Here there is not a very large and strong fountain pen culture, but what there is in the way of pens and papers is pretty wonderful for anybody that prizes fine handwriting. For instance, there is a stationery store chain with only a few (generally large and very well stocked) shops called Casa Cruz.
Last week as I went to visit their downtown store (at Largo de São Francisco) to buy some more of their excellent Silhueta notebooks (simple, economic, stapled graph paper notebooks of their own brand, but ones that have the most wonderful paper available for fountain pen inks — I’ll try to write more about them in a future blog post) and a pencil extender, I noticed they had a markdown on Faber-Castell fine writing instruments. They were selling pens and pencils for really very attractive prices.
For those of you not used to prices of imported items in Brazil, beware that street prices here are usually twice as much as most anywhere else on earth. Taxes here border on outrageous. So a markdown of old stock is a treasure trove for us who happen to live here.
Well, of course I could not resist looking at their showcase of marked-down wonders. I especially set my eyes on the Faber-Castell Emotion fountain pens on sale for 210 Reais (about US$ 55 at today’s exchange rate). And I am lucky that I made my decision on the spot and bought a beautiful pearwood brown Emotion fountain pen.
But I was even happier later that day when I started writing with that pen: I was in for a surprise. I have owned and used fountain pens daily for many, many years, and have some that I consider to be excellent — all of them bought new — in my daily rotation. Those include one Pilot Elite with EF nib, one gold-plated Sheaffer Imperial touchdown, one Inoxcrom Sirocco (the brand’s flagship form the 90’s), and a few other marvelous pens. In the collection, but not in daily use, are a Cross Townsend, an MB 149, and many other excellent writers that I hope to write about later. All had earned their places in my daily rotation, but none had done so as fast as the Faber-Castell Emotion, which so intuitively, so unquestioningly, so immediately went straight into the daily rotation.
There is something magical about that pen’s shape, balance and nib: it is a large and fairly heavy pen, the cap is very charmingly engraved with the brand’s name and logo, the feel of natural wood is great, and the nib, oh, the nib is unlike the hundreds of nibs I’ve handled.
The pen came with a medium nib, which in other German pens tends to be a little too broad, a little too wet for my taste — but not this one. This one is rather a fine nib by European standards. Instead of being ground to a ball, this pen’s nib has a unique grind that lets it show some line width variation unlike most nibs. It is by no means a stub nib, but still it shows some noticeable difference between the downstroke and the sidestroke. I inked it up with Montblanc Meistertück JFK ink, and the nib, although pretty fine, really put the shading properties of that excellent ink in full evidence. I haven’t stopped using that pen ever since I bought it.
Another cool feature is the spring-loaded clip, a sturdy clip that will keep the pen firmly in your pocket.
For those that happen to come by Rio, the markdown may still be on, and there may still be a few Emotions for sale (the resin models are some 25% more expensive), but even without the markdown, Faber-Castell’s top pencils and pens will not last long in the shop window, they are so pretty that they are likely to be grabbed quite fast…