Category Archives: Pens & Writing

How Do I Write a Christmas Card?

Glitter spells death for fountain pens!

Writing good Christmas cards is easy once you accept the “glitter-death principle.” Glitter truly looks great on a lot of cards, but it also gets in your nib and destroys the perfection of your tipping material, suddenly rendering your favorite pen scratchy and irregular.

Break out the green ink and keep away from the glitter for a great Christmas card writing experience.

Tip #1 for writing good Christmas cards is finding great glitter-free cards. This is a surprisingly difficult challenge, especially when you must also account for those waxy and artistically bumpy card stocks, which make it notoriously tough to use a fountain pen.

Now that we have that out of the way, I love writing Christmas cards! What is the point of having a pen collection if you never use it? Plus, the season gives you an excuse to bust out the red and green ink in your collection, which you might not normally use.

Christmas cards are great because whether you’re a more religious or secular person, it gives you an opportunity to reach out to your family and friends who you might not normally be in contact with to say hi and let them know you are thinking about them and care. There’s no wrong way to tell people those things.

Tip #2: Make it personal.

There’s nothing wrong with getting a box of cards, signing them and stuffing them in the mail, but it is always a little nicer if you can add in a little message or update. It makes a huge difference. Just two or three sentences will do. “It’s been a crazy year. Janice got a raise, so we took the kids to Africa. Jesse got the mauled by a lion and Maria got ebola, but we are all fine now. I heard your little Bobby got scurvy. That sucks, but I hope everyone is well now. Merry Christmas! Love, ______”

You tell a little about your life; you ask after a little of their life. Perfect. But hopefully nobody in your family got a dread disease.

Tip #3: Christmas letters.

If a lot happened in your year, you might want to sit down to write a one-page letter about all that your family did so that you can copy it and put it in all of your cards. It might save you from having to explain ebola in 50 different cards. These are great and can be especially fun with a little humor thrown in. The trick is to still include a few handwritten personal lines to the card. A lot of times those letters give a good overview, but there might be particular events certain people will want a few more details about. The card is a good place to add these.

Tip #4: Acknowledge and accept other faiths.

A lot of religions have special events in December and January. If you celebrate Christmas but your friend celebrates Hanukkah, there’s nothing wrong with sending your friend a Hanukkah card. Conversely, if you celebrate one religion but get a card from another religion, don’t be offended. Often the sender might not know, or they mean no harm. They just want to send you a happy greeting without buying a bunch of different boxes of cards. Most people are trying to spread messages of love, family and friendship this time of year. Just roll with it…unless there is a genuinely mean message or ham-handed attempt at conversion…which is really inappropriate. Stick with love, family and friendship, and you can’t go wrong. Stick with that philosophy for all 365 days of the year, and you really can’t go wrong.

Happy Holidays!

Controversy in Chicago Part III: Let’s Help the Rookies

Now that veteran vendors and rookie pen collectors are breaking the ice, let’s lend some veteran assistance to the rookies navigating their first pen shows.

1421 Waterman PhileasYour first pen show is bound to be an overwhelming affair. There will be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of vintage and modern pens. You will find rarities you never dreamed of seeing in the flesh, and you will probably want to spend 10 times the amount of money you intended to spend. Plus, there are all of the custom services, which might take months to get performed through the U.S. mail but you can have satisfactorily completed in a single morning or afternoon at a pen show. And then there are the spare parts, inkwells, papers and cases!

To help you safely navigate your first pen shows, here is some advice that ought to help you breakdown the experience and keep it positive.

PRE-GAME STRATEGY
Set a budget and a goal for the show. Need some repairs done? Want a nib ground to perfection? Looking for certain pens? Organize all that you hope to achieve.

1324 Waterman 100 Year PenYour best bet is to put together a list of all the things you’re looking for and hope to do. This way you can take some time to marvel at the splendor of the distractions before you check in on your list to focus on your goals.

Loyal reader Justin P. recommends contacting your favorite eBay and other online vendors to see if they will be at the show. If they are, let them know you can’t wait to see them there and give them a heads up to your list of pens or merchandise that you want. Many will gladly set it aside for you so that you can have first dibs. Plus, it always helps to put names to faces by meeting in person.

Many shows are offering more and more seminars about repairs and the histories of the brands. Check out the show schedule online or in your show pamphlet to see what special events you don’t want to miss. Set an alarm on your phone or watch to help you remember it is time to head over to the seminar. Time passes remarkably quickly, and it is easy to get sidetracked.

If the show offers a weekend pass, you might want to get it. To make the most of the show, it helps to attend all of the days it is open. Day one is your best opportunity to pick up a really rare pen before somebody else snatches it. If it is a 4-day show, days 2 and 4 are quieter days, which are better for meeting new people and asking more questions about the pens and the hobby. Day 3/Saturday will be the busiest day. During trading hours, few vendors will likely want to talk for long because this is their best opportunity to sell the most and pay for their expenses.

Glass Topped CaseYet, some of the best times are after the formal trading closes for the day. You’ll often find clusters of vendors and collectors hanging out, talking or getting a drink. Strike up a conversation with them and get to know who they are, what their pen passions are and let them get to know you. Pen People, regardless of their experience with the hobby, are usually very friendly and chatty. People can usually be found talking pens in the lobby of the venue well into the wee hours of the morning.

SERVICES:
As I don’t do any nib grinding or Mont Blanc piston repair work, I love coming to the shows to take advantage of these services. The trick to navigating these services is to be there the minute the doors to the show open in the morning. If you are one of the first on the repair-person’s list, you can guarantee your pens get done that day.

Be sure to clearly explain to the repair folks what you want done and ask for an estimate first, so you know their prices and aren’t hit with sticker shock. Most repairs are fairly affordable, but it is always best to know what to expect. Vendors won’t mind fixing 2 or 3 pens for you at the show, but don’t expect for them to fix an entire shoebox full of pens at the show. They might ask to take that many pens home with them to work on later.

L15S Lamy Calligraphy NibsAt most shows you can expect to find full-time repair specialists such as Mike and Linda Kennedy of Indy-Pen-Dance, Ron Zorn, Richard Binder and “Mike It Work.” All four of these vendors are nationally known for their excellence. You can’t go wrong with any of them. If you do have 15 to 20 pens you want restored at the show, it might be best to spread 3 or 4 amongst each of them to see who’s work you like best. Expect also a minimum repair bill to be $20 to $25 per pen. It could be up around $40 to $50 if you want your nib ground to a new size and shape.

If you are having nib work done, be patient and remember it is very precise and time-consuming work. Don’t rush your grinder. However, as you are asking for a very specific and personalized repair, don’t be afraid to say the nib still doesn’t feel right when they ask you to test it. They want you to be happy with their services, and they will work hard to get the precise feel you want in your nib. If they spend an inordinately long amount of time getting your pen just right, they might charge you an extra $5 or $10, which is okay. Time is money, and you will get to enjoy that pen and nib for the rest of your life.

DEALING WITH VENDORS
It came as a great shock to me that not all vendors are there to sell. Some table holders are just there to meet with old friends, show off an impressive collection or to do any number of other things. For most of us, it is a business.

To avoid getting overwhelmed or making rash purchases of the first things you see, spend some time walking around and keeping an eye out for the merchandise on the tables. I like to make a complete sweep of the show before making any purchases…unless I spot something rare that I must buy quickly or not see again.

Don’t be shy. Say hi to the vendors and don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re looking for. It is really easy to overlook the pens you’re looking for on tables that seem lightly populated with pens.

Keep a running tally of prices in your head or on a notepad. It is safe to assume you will find dozens of similar pens at the show. Prices and quality could range all over. Plus, it will help you keep from going over your budget…or show you there is room from an extra new treasure.

1262CWhen you are ready to get serious about buying a pen, there is a whole checklist of things to do:

  • ASK the vendor if you can pick up and examine his or her pen (You’d be surprised at how many people break pens or inadvertently mess up an organizational system.)
  • Look over the pen carefully for cracks, dents, imprint quality and brassing
  • ALWAYS try first to UNSCREW the cap. NEVER YANK on a cap.
  • Search for cracks on the lip of the cap with your thumbnail. If you spin the lip of a cap over your thumbnail, it will gently pick up any crack that might not be visible to the eye.
  • Use a loupe to examine the nib. Are there cracks? Is the tipping good? Are the tines aligned? Are one of the tine tips cracked just below the tipping and about to pop free?
  • If the nib looks okay, then test it for flex with your thumbnail. Put the underside of the nib’s tip on the top of your thumbnail and gently add pressure.
  • ASK if you can test the filling system. If you feel any pressure or resistance in the filling system, don’t force it. Ask the vendor if it needs restoration? (Lots of vendors complain about people breaking levers and other pen parts while checking out the filling system.)
  • Finally, ask if the vendor has ink and if you can dip the pen to try it out.

CLOSING THE DEAL
Cash is king. All pen dealers accept cash. However, many are now accepting credit cards due to the simplicity of smart phones and apps by Square and PayPal.

Before you start negotiating the final price, ask if they accept credit cards…if that is all you have with which to pay. This might save everybody some time and trouble. Don’t be upset if they say yes but also tack on an extra 2% or 3% to cover the fee charged by the credit card company. Some deals run the profit margin pretty thin, and it is fair to pay the processing fee.

1265 Pelikan 400NNTo negotiate a deal well, it helps to be well informed about the pen you are buying and its current prices. Be sure to highlight any flaws in the pen and make an offer that is fair and realistic. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal that is still too high for you. Yet, don’t be afraid to accept a counter offer that is reasonable, especially if you received good customer service.

Many vendors don’t put prices on their pens. Some of them like to game you a bit to see how much you are willing to pay. Let’s say you’re looking at an aerometric Parker 51 in black with a lustraloy cap. You ask how much, and the vendor replies $100. It’s okay to smile, say thanks and put it back down. Unless it has something rare like a stub nib or some other uncommon feature, he or she will likely counter, “Well how much were you hoping it would be?” You can honestly say–because you know there are 3 bajillion black 51s in the world–that you were hoping for around $50. The vendor will likely acquiesce with something like, “Well, I can do $55.”

Feel free to ask vendors lots of questions, BUT understand that they might expect you to buy something if you take up too much of their time. If you have tons of questions, but aren’t ready to buy, save them until you are with a vendor whose pens you will be buying or until the show slows down and the vendor has more free time to talk.

And, of course, if you do get a cranky vendor who doesn’t treat you as you feel you should be treated, just move on to the next. There are often well over 100 vendors at most shows, and somebody nice will likely have just what you’re looking for.

Have fun!

Improve Your Handwriting Today

See the difference a 1.5mm Lamy nib can make for your handwriting. Not only do the letters take on more distinctive shapes, the ink, itself, provides shadows and highlights on every letter. It is far more interesting than a boring old fine-point nib.

See the difference a 1.5mm Lamy nib can make for your handwriting? Not only do the letters take on more distinctive shapes, the ink, itself, provides shadows and highlights on every letter. It is far more interesting than a boring old fine-point nib.

It should be noted that my handwriting is terrible. Some of my friends who almost never write anything by hand think it is amazing simply because I can still do it. No writing expert on earth would praise it. However, with a with a nice broad stub nib, it looks much more exotic and fascinating.

You, too, can impress some of the people some of the time with a few simple handwriting tricks I have picked up over the years.

Unless you already have beautiful penmanship, I recommend staying away from those extra-fine nibs that are so in vogue today. Relax and let your handwriting out a bit to breathe.

Lamy calligraphy nibs range in size from 1.1mm to 1.9mm. Each provides a distinctive nuance to you handwriting. The Lamy Joy fountain pen set is a great way to try all three sizes for fewer than $70.

Lamy calligraphy nibs range in size from 1.1mm to 1.9mm. Each provides a distinctive nuance to you handwriting. The Lamy Joy fountain pen set is a great way to try all three sizes for fewer than $70.

Trick #1 to Handwriting Coolness: A stub nib. We now carry brand-new Lamy Joy calligraphy sets that feature three nibs: a 1.1mm nib, 1.5mm nib and a 1.9mm nib. These super-smooth broad flat steel nibs can create some wicked curves, lines and angles in your natural handwriting.

Trick #2 to Handwriting Coolness: Slow down.

Trick #3 to Handwriting Coolness: Think about what you are doing. When using a stub nib, the angle at which you write becomes crucial to developing richer characters. Experiment with ways to use the flat edge sideways for skinny lines and the flat edge of the nib vertically for thick lines. Watch as you practice O’s for how the circle should grow from skinny to fat and skinny again. See what happens when you try to grip your pen in one set position and write with your arm instead of your fingers and wrist. By setting the wrist, you can make more dynamic letters.

Trick #4 to Handwriting Coolness: Ink. If you think all inks are the same, think again. Most bottled inks are inconsistent, especially when using a stub nib. Very few blacks are true blacks, and many blues and blue-blacks are also inconsistent.

For example: Yard-O-Led Jet Black is really a charcoal grey. With a 1.5mm nib, the inconsistency is obvious, as the ink goes from black to grey in places. This gives your writing a fascinating texture and appeal. Pelikan and Cross (Okay, these two inks are exactly the same because they are made and bottled by Pelikan.) Royal Blue ink also has many inconsistent colorings when written with any medium nib or larger. Just keep in mind that Pelikan Royal Blue also fades heavily with time. It might not be ideal for your archiving projects.

I hope this helps set you on the write…oops…right path to improving your handwriting and developing a fascinating new look to your correspondence.

Yes, yes. It is a shameless plug, but I really do hope you consider buying one of our Lamy Joy sets because they really will introduce you (or a loved one) to several great stub nib variations that write well for a very affordable price under $70. The sets not only come with three nibs, but ink cartridges and an instruction manual with advice about making the most of the nibs. It is even packaged in a handy collector’s tin.

If you really want to get all fancy-shmancy, try our rare Mont Blanc Generations fountain pen with a 14k stub nib for only $99.99.

A Brief History of Cursive Writing

Since letters have been invented, people have looked for ways to write them more swiftly. Scribes writing on clay tablets developed a more fluid form of writing that served as an early cursive in Mesopotamia.

Spencerian script might well be the most ornate form of writing in the English language. Its popularity peaked in the 19th century but was used through well into the 20th century. Some people still practice it for artistic endeavors.

Spencerian script might well be the most ornate form of writing in the English language. Its popularity peaked in the 19th century but was used through well into the 20th century. Some people still practice it for artistic endeavors.

The cursive writing we recognize today started developing in Europe the 16th century. Connecting letters with loops and tails seemed to grow increasingly more uniform across languages as education became more available to the citizens of those nations. Instruction was made more simply by the invention of textbooks printed using a special copper plate. Students could trace the preprinted letters with their quill pens. The resulting form of writing was simply referred to as copperplate.

For a great example of copperplate writing, look no further than the U.S. Constitution.

Copperplate served as both a simple, functional script and as something that could be made to look fancy for special ceremonial papers. As literacy was far from universal, and the need for legible handwriting was great, copperplate writing was considered something of an art form to be seriously studied. Reading and writing was no small task in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Penmanship was critical.

Coca Cola is one of the most recognizable logos still using Spencerian script today. Ford uses a more simplified approach based on its earlier logos.

Coca Cola is one of the most recognizable logos still using Spencerian script today. Ford uses a more simplified approach based on its earlier logos.

The many forms of cursive writing in the centuries to follow evolved out of copperplate. Around 1840, a man named Platt Rogers Spencer believed it was important to make handwriting a true art form unlike those attempts that preceded him. A master craftsman in the art of handwriting Mr. Spencer developed his own variation of cursive that required dedicated training and skill to master its swirls and embellishments. The Spencerian method became the official writing style of government and corporate documents from around 1850 to 1925. Whole schools and textbooks were developed to teach this writing style around the country. The need for the super-flexible nibs most vintage pen collectors refer to today as “wet noodles” were essential for the modulating lines of Spencerian script that grew from extra fine to double and triple broad to accentuate a circle and add weight to the elements of each letter’s formation.

Ford LogoToday you can still see great examples of Spencerian script in classic century-old American brands such as Ford’s and Coca-Cola’s logos.

As elegant and beautiful as Spencerian script was, it was also time consuming and difficult to master. American business in the 19th century moved at a surprisingly fast clip by even today’s standards, and the Spencer method of writing was too slow for the needs of offices around the country. To keep up with the newly invented typewriter, secretaries, stenographers and many other white-collar workers needed a faster way to write.

In 1888, Austin Norman Palmer came to the rescue with his own method of writing. What became known as the Palmer Method caught on quickly for its legibility and ease of use. Most of the cursive writing we learned in school is, or was, based on the Palmer method.

Although Palmer method textbooks ceased publication in 1980, the very similar Zaner-Bloser method of cursive writing remains popular to this day. Developed in 1891, the Zaner-Bloser school realized the value in becoming a powerhouse in textbook publication for their handwriting and remain one of the top sources of handwriting instruction in schools across the country to this day.

In 1978, the D’Nealian handwriting method tried to breakdown the Palmer method into simpler steps to teach little kids how to write in cursive. It too remains popular, although my quick imperfect research into this piece seems to have found that the Zaner-Bloser method seems to dominate what is left of the industry to teach our youngsters how to write in cursive.

For much more detailed information about the history of handwriting and to learn how to master copperplate, Spencerian script, the Palmer Method and other forms of handwriting, visit The International Association of Master Penmen, Engravers and Teachers of Handwriting. The IAMPETH is an incredible resource for all of your handwriting needs.

Click here to be linked to their website: http://www.iampeth.com/.

Coming soon: Quick Tips for Taking Your Handwriting to the Next Level

Is Cursive Writing Going Extinct?

As we ponder the start of a new school year, did you know most schools are no longer teaching children how to write in cursive? This fact first came to my attention by friends, who are parents, telling me their kids aren’t learning cursive. Recent documentaries that address the phenomenon have also been brought to my attention.

I remember tracing worksheets similar to this one. Learning cursive was a special treat for me as a kid because it was one of my first adventures into the adult world. Only grown-ups wrote cursive, and I couldn't wait to be a grown up. I never had great handwriting, but I sure embraced my cursive lessons to decode the cryptic world of adults.

I remember tracing worksheets similar to this one. Learning cursive was a special treat for me as a kid because it was one of my first adventures into the adult world. Only grown-ups wrote cursive, and I couldn’t wait to be a grown up. I never had great handwriting, but I sure embraced my cursive lessons to decode the cryptic world of adults.

Without wanting to launch rants from across the political spectrum, it turns out many states had been opting to forego cursive instruction for third graders and up for several years. The Common Core standards picked up that trend. Now children are only expected to learn how to print in kindergarten and the first grade.

After first grade, it is expected that kids are going to be using keyboards for the remainder of their natural lives. I suppose this is not an unrealistic assumption given how most kids and teenagers (and adults) seem glued to their tablets, smart phones and computers.

Nevertheless, this is something I find highly disturbing…and not just because I am a purveyor of fine antique writing instruments.

How will children develop their fine motor skills? How will kids learn how to think, without constant distraction and temptation from their electronic devices? How will future generations do something as simple as signing their name on a contract? (Will they only be able to print their names with the motor skills of an overgrown 6-year-old on a mortgage or a multimillion dollar business deal?) What about future historians? Most of human history was recorded on paper, often in handwriting. Or what about simply generations of families trying to get in touch with their ancestors. How will they read the letters, Bibles and other records of past generations?

“Oh, wow. Look at all these letters Great Granddad sent Great Grandma during World War II! I wonder what they say? Who can read that crazy scribbling? Why didn’t Great Granddad just e-mail from the Ardennes?”

While I strongly believe in teaching kids how to master computers at a young age, I don’t know why a computer should be their only means of note taking. Let’s be honest, if you give a bored kid an internet-connected computer device and expect them to pay strict attention and take notes during a lecture, you’re living in a fool’s paradise.

If you are like me and think it is important that we teach our kids cursive writing, we are not alone. There is even a website dedicated to the pursuit of cursive called “The Campaign for Cursive.” You can check them out at www.cursiveiscool.com.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a more in-depth look at the history of cursive writing and what you can do to either teach it or improve your own handwriting in the next two blog posts.

Stay tuned!

How Do I Keep a Journal?

Journals come in all shapes and sizes. The trick is to find one you like and just keep plugging away at it. Before you know it, you will have preserved many incredible memories and events.

Journals come in all shapes and sizes. The trick is to find one you like and just keep plugging away at it. Before you know it, you will have preserved many incredible memories and events.

Looking for a great new use for your vintage pens or luxury writers? Have you ever tried keeping a journal or diary?

Keeping a diary or journal is a fun way to create a time capsule for yourself or future generations. It also can be a great way to focus yourself and concentrate on any issue in life you want to hash out or better understand.

There are myriad ways to keep a journal, and none of them is wrong. The biggest trick is making sure to consistently set aside time to work on it. Whether you work on it every day or every week, it gets easier as it becomes second nature with repeated efforts.

For some people, keeping a journal is as simple as keeping a daily event planner listing the day’s happenings with a few scribbled notes in the margins. I knew one guy who simply listed every single expenditure he made on a given day. It might sound mundane at first, but imagine looking back on it in fifty years: “Oh my! Gas only cost $4.85 a gallon. And look at this! A candybar cost 99 cents.”

Some people keep their diary under lock and key for good reason. It is their one place to vent their emotions or express true feelings they might not otherwise mention in public. It is a place to cope with the harsh realities of their lives or to just blow off steam. I recommend giving it a try. It can be very cathartic to shed all of that built up emotional weight.

Similiarly, a journal can be a great tool for sorting out any issue from romance to politics to questions of faith to work issues to whatever you want. By taking some time with pen and paper, you can lay out all of your thoughts and analyze them. When you slow things down and work it all out by hand, you will be surprised by the clarity and resolutions you find.

Of course, not every entry needs to be that deep and thought provoking. Keeping a chronicle of your life helps you to remember all of the events, good times and struggles. Plus it more accurately delivers a represenation of the times in which you live. Years from now it can be great to rekindle those memories. If you choose to share it with future generations, imagine how they’ll better understand your life and times when reading about the time you fell in love or first used the internet or dealt with a divorce or how you experienced 9/11. Maybe it will even help them deal with similar issues and changes in their own lives.

“Well, if Great Grandma could get through it, I can.”

Who knows, maybe it’ll even help future historians better grasp human nature and the events that led to their future reality.

Or maybe it will simply, but more importantly, bring you pleasure to put pen to page as you preserve your favorite memories.

How Do I Write a Love Letter?

The key to every good love letter is making it as personal as you can. Don't be indimidated by writing. Savor the joy it will bring.

The key to every good love letter is making it as personal as you can. Don’t be intimidated by writing. Savor the joy it will bring.

Okay, so now that you have a spiffy pen for writing love letters, how do you go about using it?

Writing a good love letter is an art form, but it is not one you need to be intimidated by. There is no one correct way to write one, as every relationship is different and in different stages.

As with any writing project, you must keep only two simple things in mind: 1.) Who is your audience & 2.) What is your objective.

The letter better not sound that cold, but it helps to take the edge off when you sit down to compose.

You are never too old or too young to write a good love letter. My first one was to a teacher’s aid in first grade. I was madly in love with Miss Mix. Perhaps, that’s where my flame for older women first got lit. I was 6. She was 21. She was pretty and kind and totally understood my inner soul way better than those immature girls my own age. It was ill fated, but I totally got a love letter back from her. She declined my proposal to marry, but she did encourage me to look her up after I grew up. Sadly, she moved away when her student teaching ended that semester and we lost track of one another. C’est la vie. That’s just the way love goes sometimes.

I digress.

First ask yourself what stage of the relationship you are in. What do you hope to achieve by writing this letter. Writing to someone you barely know will be much different than writing to someone you’ve been married to for 50 years.

Let’s say you are just getting to know someone or want to get to know someone. Be your quirky self, humorous and sincere. Don’t overdo it. A light touch is best. Include something about the connection you share.

“Every day it seems I spy you through the sneeze guard of our office cafeteria salad bar. Who is this amazingly hot woman with three and a half noses and 7 dancing arctic blue eyes peering back at me through the plexiglass refraction? I don’t know, but it seems we agree that croutons are the best part of any salad. Is this kismet or just a mutual fondness for crunchy salted carbs? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. How about stepping out from behind the sneeze guard and joining me for a real lunch some time? Potentially yours, _____”

Nothing elaborate. It’s light hearted, flirty and fun without sounding stalkerish or dripping in innuendo. Yet, it leaves open many possibilities.

If you are already in a relationship, understand the difference between intimacy and lust. Both make for fantastic love letters, but it also is the point at which you really need to focus on shared experiences and end goals. Intimacy can lead to lust, but it is that special souls-laid-bare closeness that comes from shareing your lives. Use those close personal experiences to tell your lover why they are so important to you. Put your feelings and your self out there and make sure they know how incredible it is to have them in your life.

If a night of unbridled passion is what you are after, then tap into lust, and use your love letter as foreplay. Get it delivered midday at their home or office with flowers or a gift. Use your words to stir their desire.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKES GUYS MAKE: Unless you met your partner at a renaissance fair, lay off the knightly talk and overtly ardent courting of the 14th century. Methinks it goeth too far, and most fair maidens have second thoughts about a man who pretends he’s living in the realm of “Dungeons & Dragons.”

ALSO: Lay off the lust angle, unless your relationship has already crossed that line or is on the verge of crossing that line. Otherwise, most women will resent being objectified. Mostly, they’ll think you are creepy and/or scary. If it is meant to be, it’ll happen. Be patient.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKES GALS MAKE: Don’t put the proverbial cart before the horse. Guys love love letters, too, but you want to be careful about going too far ahead of where the relationship is really at. If your relationship is still pretty new, you might spook him if you start talking about marriage or seeing your yet unconcieved children in his eyes. It might be obvious that the two of you will be headed down the aisle one day, but don’t spring it on him out of the blue.

ALSO: If you want a more physical relationship, don’t be afraid to ask for it. We live in messed up times. If you’ve got a nice, caring guy who is a little reluctant to go too far at first, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t want you. He was likely raised to respect women and not treat them like sexual play toys who can be easily discarded. Mix that with a lifetime of news reports about rape and sex abuse against women, and he likely doesn’t want to be seen as a predator. A gentleman doesn’t take a lady; she gives herself to him. He likely desperately wants your permission to do all of the things you desperately want him to do. Don’t be afraid to write it out in black and white for him.

Fountain Pens Write Better Love Letters

Sheaffer's early nibs of the 1920s featured heart-shaped breather holes. Who says fountain pens aren't romantic.

Sheaffer’s early nibs of the 1920s featured heart-shaped breather holes. Who says fountain pens aren’t romantic.

It’s true. Fountain pens write better love letters.

As St. Valentine’s Day approaches, it is important to let those you love know how you feel. You don’t need to buy a diamond mine or hire pilots with a knack for skywriting. You need a pen that can help you express how much you care.

“C’mon,” says the cynic, rolling his or her eyes. “Imagine the owner of a pen company insisting fountain pens write better love letters.”

Gauntlet thrown, but hear me out.

When was the last time your received any hand-written letter, note or missive?

A hand-written letter means more today than ever before. Not only does it show more effort than a text (gag me), tweet (double gag me) or e-mail, it shows your distinct personality. Each letter drips your subconscious essence in every loop, curve and angle.

"Roseglow" is the name of this pink and purple-looking Sheaffer Junior. It is an ideal Valentine's Day accessory.

“Roseglow” is the name of this pink and purple-looking Sheaffer Junior. It is an ideal Valentine’s Day accessory.

A fountain pen only accentuates your personality and emotions. Even on a standard nib, you can add weight to certain words and phrases. A stub or flexible nib greatly increases the dynamics of your writing. The line and flow of your writing expresses far more than an emoticon.

Lastly, fountain pen ink is very easy to manipulate to better detail your emotions. Ink colors are easy to change. Some inks are (or can be) perfumed. If you are a truly passionate person, there is one other trick used by famous romantics of past eras.

Noted playboy and the 20th century’s greatest Olympic and professional fencer was an Italian man named Aldo Nadi. He won Olympic gold, countless prize fights back when fencing was almost as popular as boxing in the 1920s, fought real duels, stood up to Mussolini and eventually sought refuge in the United States and a career in Hollywood as an extra and fencing coach of the stars. Along the way he seduced countless women. His trick: Love letters spattered in his tears.

Perhaps the average American male will have difficulty shedding tears of love on to a letter, but the water-based ink ought to run and splatter nicely. Of course, I’m not sure the average American female wouldn’t have second thoughts after receiving such a letter.

But that doesn’t mean fountain pens don’t write the best love letters.