Extract SIGHTGEIST / Category: Business Venue Saxony

Fine Penmanship

Elegant writing implements from Upper Lusatia

A writing implement is an object held in the hand to write words on paper. This is an age-old truth, but is it also old-fashioned? Writing today requires neither a sheet of paper nor a ballpoint pen, let alone a fountain pen. Indeed, if things continue, handwriting will soon become superfluous. The spoken word shall prevail.

As usual, however, every trend has its countertrend. The quality of digital music from an MP3 player or a CD, for example, does not compare with the originality and depth of vinyl, which is why the LP is currently experiencing a minor revival. In the same way, fountain pens make their mark because of an idiosyncrasy: They give a person’s handwriting character. A keyboard can only produce standardised alphabets already contained in the digital type case with set fonts and layouts. It does not provide any clues for graphologists, revealing nothing about a writer’s personality.
Those who want to make a statement reach for a fountain pen. A fountain pen puts ink on paper in the form of handwriting, giving it its own intrinsic value. High-quality writing implements are durable, low-maintenance, take the pressure off a writer’s hand and are ornamental. This is precisely what fountain pen manufacturers work for. Cunewalde in Upper Lusatia is home to one of the last German manufacturers of fountain pens. In a factory building dating back to the Wilhelminian period, set between half-timbered houses and lush green hills, highly skilled men and women are busy at work, making components for writing implements, cutting brass or silver to length, beating barrels into shape, inserting nibs into holding pieces and pressing lenses into the end of caps. Good fountain pens have at least twenty individual parts – stylish works of art for individual penmanship.

The high-end model of the company’s fountains pens is called Excellence A plus. Similar to a luxury limousine, fountain pens come in different classes. The quality of a fountain pen is determined by its size and weight, its nib, the width of the nib, the feeding mechanism, ink flow and colour, and the clip. Weighing just 41 grams, the pen rests solidly in the hand with a full metal casing, multi-layered brilliant lacquer finish and guilloche pattern of interlaced curved lines. The luxury version has a finely engraved and polished, bicoloured 14-carat nib. After it has been inserted, colourless ink is used to test how smoothly it glides over the paper. If a scratch interrupts the line of writing, the nib is honed until it runs perfectly over the sheet. Nobody should be able to complain, as Friedrich Schiller once did, “I scratch with my quill on milled rag”. Those days are long gone. Writing by hand today is a luxury once more and companies like Diplomat are saving the art of handwriting. (excerpt)

Peter Ufer

Photo: Ronald Bonß


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