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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Writing Right: A Continuum

     Before there was Puffy Daddy and his Sean John; before Beyonce sold her first line of perfume; before someone thought it was a good idea to put the androgynous Justin Beiber on a line of nail polish (and the subsequent Twitter posts that mocked it) there was Mark Twain and the Mark Twain Crescent Filler fountain pen.
     History remembers good ole Samuel Clemens for his novels, and his bigger-than-life-itself adventures along the Mississippi, but what most people forget is how well Mark Twain was at creating his own brand.
     Just imagine, here is a guy living in the latter part of Reconstruction America, getting ready to see the turn of the century. The typewriter has not even been commercialised yet. 
     You know what, marktwainhouse.org says it best:

During his lifetime‚ Sam Clemens watched a young United States evolve from a nation torn apart by internal conflicts to one of international power. He experienced America’s vast growth and change – from westward expansion to industrialization‚ the end of slavery‚ advancements in technology...

When you really try to imagine it, Mark Twain was able to make himself into what we might see today as a Steam Punk Pop Star during the horse and buggy and telegraph and steam boat America. He did readings of his works across the country. Claimed to have turned in the very first typewritten novel, even though there is no evidence that Mark Twain ever used a typewriter. He just released, for the first time in 2010, a memoir. Want to talk about good publicity? He made his audience wait 100 years after his death to read about his life as a writer!
     During his time he had his own signature line of pens from the Conklin Pen Company, then located in Toledo Ohio. It was unique for its time as a self-filling pen, but most importantly for the crescent guard on its belly, making it leak proof.
     According to the Conklin web page, Twain loved it for,

"I prefer it to ten other fountain pens, because it carries its filler in its own stomach, and I can not mislay even by art or intention. Also, I prefer it because it is a profanity saver; it cannot roll off the desk."

     It is beautiful, and still available today. However, they do take some time to obtain. If you do not have a pen store nearby, you will need to rely on ebay.com or goldspot.com or any other sellers of fine pens, and they do run out of stock.
     They are also expensive. Not as expensive as say Bexley or Parker, but in the low $100 range, which for a quality pen like this is not a bad price to pay.
     It should also go without saying that the Conklin pen company is no longer an American company as it once was, but, according to Richard Binder and richardspens.com that doesn't really matter, as the original company was not very good at maintaining its brand over the long run.
     That's all from Elliott at the Kitchen Table.
     Next Time: Monteverde