I have recently begun grading papers with a fountain pen, and have found that it adds a little bit of grace to an otherwise odious chore. There is nothing quite like the ease and precision with which a fine fountain pen lays down ink. It really makes a difference after marking up a hundred or so essays. A ball point—even one of those new-fangled gels—requires a degree of pressure that leaves my hand cramped after an hour or so. A fountain pen, on the other hand, requires a light touch that keeps me going paper after paper.
Right now, I’m using a relatively inexpensive Pilot Cavalier Fountain Pen. As soon as I save up some money, however, I’m going to invest in a top of the line tool such as the Namiki Falcon in the image below.
Note that these aren’t the dipping kind. They dispense their ink from a pre-filled cartridge, or from a refillable reservoir. I’ve been using the cartridges, but recently got a bottle of ink and a cartridge reservoir converter. The converter sucks the ink from a bottle up into a storage reservoir using either a bladder or piston mechanism. The advantage of this is a wider variety of ink colors and textures.
I also don’t carry them around in my pocket. They’re safely in a small box in my briefcase, or reside on my desk. I haven’t had any issues with leaking, but it seems better to be safe than sorry.
Actually, in the time I’ve been using the fountain pens, I’ve seen three cheap ball point pens “bleed out” in students’ hands, leaving a gooey mess on the desk, student and floor. No such problems with my fountain pens, though.
Do you own a fountain pen? What kind? As a fountain pen rookie, I’d love to get some opinions.