Pens, especially fountain pens, mean so much more than their function. Take the Shaeffer 300 for example. Or, more precisely, my Shaeffer 300. I could give you a product breakdown, my trying-to-be-objective thoughts but then that wouldn’t really be telling you about it.
This pen is my oldest one. My parents gave it to me when I finished school. It was the pen I used when I first discovered the joy of writing with fountain pens. I could tell you that compared to some of the others I have got in the meantime, the Lamys, the Pilots, the Kawecos, it is a solid but unspectacular writer. It has a smoothness to it which is only interrupted by a tiny scratchiness which actually works to give you some nice feedback. The stiff nib doesn’t give much – there is little variation in line width.
There are definitely some drawbacks to it though. The body is made out of smooth resin broken up by chrome finishings. It is a classic cigar shape, cut at both ends as if you were to smoke it. The grip tapers toward the nib but is smooth. It can be uncomfortable to grip it for a long time as you do have to pinch it. It is top heavy when posted, though the cap does some nice give to the clip. It feels like it was designed to actually sit in a pocket.
But it looks grown-up. I got it when I thought I was a grown-up, though I had a lot of growing up to do. Over the years I have had – now over a decade – I have changed and developed. I developed a love for stationery in general and fountain pens in particular. Coming into my own I found out it wasn’t the best pen you could buy. Even for the £38.50 (at the time of writing) you can get it on Amazon for right now it is beaten handily by a Pilot Metropolitan for looks and action. Even now I find myself reaching for a TWBSI Eco or Kaweco Sport.
But the love for fountain pens isn’t rational. I will write a piece about why fountain pens are great writing tools but I didn’t get into them because they were the best writers. A bic, at the end of the day, records the same thing on the same paper. The cristal doesn’t need to be cleaned, it can be easily carried on a plane. You don’t mess up your hands every time it runs out of it. But a bic is ugly, it is just a pen.
A fountain pen can be so much more. It lasts. From graduation to going to university, getting your first job and moving countries. I would not have carried the same bic with me as I did my Shaeffer.
Fountain pens are a connection to the past. In how they enhance beautiful handwritten notes in the age of typing and the word processor. In how they last and stay with you. In how they change and remain the same.
Having a passion for fountain pens isn’t rational. It is not cheap. It is not neat. But the joy you get from using beautiful tools can not be replicated. Rationality is overrated.
So, I give my Shaeffer 300 a 5/5 and would recommend you look at a different pen before you pick one up.
Price: £52.25 (Amazon)
Length: Capped: 140mm Uncapped: 120mm Posted: 154mm
Weight: Cap & Barrel: 46g Cap: 23g Barrel: 23g (full ink resevoir)
Materials: Black lacquered brass barrel with articulate pocket clip on cap
The box it came in was quite nice, I think, but I’ve lost it.
Tested with Diamine Blue/Black ink on Clairefontaine Triomphe A4 paper