The Personal Touch: The Finest Fountain Pens, Ballpoints & Pencils

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The marriage of beauty and utility is something we admire wherever we find it. That seamless integration of craftsmanship and aesthetics, whether in the form of furniture or firearm, camera or classic car, is a rare and very wonderful thing. Like the ideas they communicate, the finest pens and pencils stand the test of time, and few know more about these pocketable marvels that the people at Penfriend. (If you’ve ever wandered up Burlington Arcade, you may well have pressed your nose to the window of their shop.) Of course, the particular tools we choose should be matched to the task at hand. The smooth, liquid flow of a fountain pen seems most appropriate for the well-considered thoughts we commit to paper at our desks. The sleek barrel and hooded nib of a Parker 51, ‘the most beautiful pen ever made’ according to the woman behind the counter, blend refinement and simplicity like few others. Then again, for everyday use when out and about, for the odd signature, crossword clue of for those times when someone asks to borrow a pen for a moment, a rugged, dependable, precision-crafted rollerball is just the thing. Can there be anything more satisfying to draw from one’s breast pocket at such a time than a Mont Blanc Meisterstuck? For unmatched reliability, for jotting notes in the margins of books and other times when reversibility might be as important as legibility, what could be more efficient and effective that a pencil? There are pencils and there are pencils, however: a Yard-o-Lead Viceroy Standard is the most definitely one of the latter.