These days, we tend to place less emphasis on handwritten things and one of the aspects that gets lost is the value of the writing tool itself. Before we began to rely heavily on electronic communications, a good pen was indispensable. Often, a pen said a great deal about its owner, much like a watch. Unlike the watch, the pen still has a great deal of daily use (how often do you check your phone for the time, rather than your watch?). We still sign bills and cheques, make notes, and sketch out rough ideas, particularly at work. This habit doesn't seem like one we can easily kick. Even with tools like the iPhone and "tablet" laptops, there's something incredibly easy about putting pen to paper, and as a result it still occupies a place of regular use in our daily lives.
I carry a pen with me and I take a certain pleasure in having something that looks nice and performs well. I'd rather spend my money on a tool that will last and can be refilled than a few hundred plastic BIC pens that I'll throw away once exhausted. The waste is upsetting and the pens don't look nice nor feel particularly comfortable (though they do write well). My brand of choice has been Cross, because I like the ease of use and lack of mess that their ballpoint pens provide. They're reliable and relatively inexpensive (the decent ones run from $40 to $150 depending upon where you shop). However, ballpoint pens are still a bit divorced from feeling the ink run onto the paper.
That sensation rightly belongs to the fountain pen. Most are very easy to use and do not actually allow ink to run all over the paper (something you may remember from your elementary school days). Moreover, many are stunning and beautifully crafted. Amongst these, my personal favorite is Pelikan. They're reasonably priced (though considerably more than a ballpoint pen) and write very well. The ink reserves last for a long time and are easy to change. And they are beautiful. Take a look at this:
It's a strong, attractive pen that writes well and is sure to make an impression, both when taking it out in company to use it and in sending or saving something written with it. Unfortunately, I don't own this one (yet!) but if anyone is looking for an early birthday present for me...
You might be surprised how much of an impact a decent pen makes, both in your enjoyment of writing and in its impression on others. I'm still surprised at how often my current Cross pen gets comments, and it's not particularly unique (though it is metallic orange). Truly beautiful pens garner even more attention, even if it is unspoken. Try it for yourself - next time you're shopping for pens, don't buy the big box of seven thousand plastic pens; that's bad for the environment and bad for your wallet. Pick up a decent, attractive ballpoint or fountain pen, and put it to use. I think you'll be pleased with the results.