Myths and the fountain pen: three things you should know


There is no denying that fountain pens are great, and like all things great, there are rumours, truths, legends and of course, myths.

Unfortunately, some people can be put off by myths, so we thought that it would be a fantastic idea to debunk a few ourselves, so you need not worry when you are buying your next £650 Bentley Continental Fountain Pen!

So, here are our favourites that we thought really needed debunking:

Fountain pens leak on planes

This one is particularly interesting because, unlike the others below, it is actually both true and false, so isn’t really a myth – but it is important to know.

This particular one originates from the fear of the pen leaking due to the contrast of air pressure from the ground to 33,000 feet.

The truth however, is that fountain pens will really only ever leak on a plane if it is not very well looked after, so the key is showing some TLC.

If you are concerned about your pen leaking during take-off and landing, simply hold it ‘nib up’, so that gravity does the work for you.

And of course, it is perfectly fine for you to use your pen when the plane is cruising – just remember to keep it capped and upright during the other parts of the flight.

Fountain pens act like supersoakers when you press a magic button


Perhaps unfortunately, this does not occur when you use the squeeze filler or level filler – well, not in the way of Indiana Jones or 1930s slapstick comedy.

Some fountain pens do however yield the ability to squirt ink, though you would be quite lucky if you managed to get it to fly more than perhaps 30cm, never mind in the face of old Scottish actors!

Gold nibs are superior than steel nibs

In terms of functionality at least, you may be glad to know that gold nibs are not superior to steel nibs and perform their function to the exact standard of steel ones.

Interestingly however, gold nibs were produced almost solely during the Second World War as steel was seen as a valuable material that needed to be used for the war effort. Another interesting point is that at the time, gold would have been superior to steel as stainless steel was not as developed as it is today.

So, if you think of it like that, and you happen to have a 70 year old steel nib on the end of a fountain pen, it may actually be inferior to a new gold nib. Though we’re not sure that it is worth you taking the time out to compare!

Anna has been a lover of stationery since the age of three, when she got her first red spotted pencil case. Lucky enough to work part time for The Pen Company, she is surrounded by stationery; the dream of many a collector!

  • Matthias

    The bit about them leaking on planes was a factoid a while ago on Radio 2. I couldn’t resist and emailed them (no reply of course), telling them it’s not true. When I fly I always have my fountain pen in my shirt pocket and nothing bad ever happened. When a pen did ruin my shirt it was a BIC rollerball at work – no fountain pens and planes involved.

    • Ray

      The meaning of “factoid” is a piece of information generally considered to be true which is not.