November 07, 2015

The Anti-Shark Pen

  , and the Anti-Splat pen.


[Posted on Zoss on Sept 2, 2003.]
        Does anyone still remember the Stipula Nettuno Shark?  You used to be able to take a look at the Shark as Nettuno had designed it in the review of the pen by Phillip Tucker in Stylophiles Online, August 2003, now available only on
Wayback, but minus the pictures.  He also called it an example of “aggressive styling or novel design”.
        I’m sorry, but the design of the pen is all wrong.  I have never been a fan of fountain pens with big, ugly, honking, uncomfortable steps between the barrel and the section, right where a writer would like to hold the pen while writing.  A pen with such a massive step looks like it would be very uncomfortable to hold while writing, even though it’s very pretty when capped.
        This is my solution to the problem of what this type of pen should look like.  It should be sleek and comfortable in the hand when writing, not lumpy and full of angles and edges.  What the pen looks like when it’s capped and put on display, or put away in the drawer, or in the pocket should not take precedence over function.  It should look good when the cap is posted and the pen is ready to write, but what matters most is the ease with which it fits into the hand.  I appreciate that style and design are very personal things, and it’s hard to please everyone with a particular look, but I think the general trend with modern pens is to consider “aggressive and novel” design as more important than ergonomics, that is, the futuristic look of a pen is more important than how it feels in the hand.  In the case of such pens as the Shark, and the Pelikan Level 5, and some of the Edison models, the pen has some sharp edges right where one would like to hold the pen when writing.  But the pen looks really sleek and beautiful when it’s capped and sitting on a desk top, or in its Limited Edition box.
        When I get angry, I redesign pens.  I do my best pen redesigning when I am angry.  So I digitized two images of the pen from an ad , and I cut and pasted the nib from one image onto the other image.  What used to be a picture of the pen capped is now a picture of the pen with the cap posted and the nib exposed and ready to write.  And what used to be a picture of the pen with the cap posted and the nib exposed and ready to write is now a picture of the pen with the cap posted.  In other words, I reversed the two images.  In my version, the pen looks sleek and feels smooth when it is ready to write, and lumpy and angular when it is capped and put away in its box, or in a shirt pocket where it can’t be seen.  Phillip described the Shark’s clean and simple look when capped by saying, “The cap is the same diameter as the barrel when the pen is closed.  It forms one smooth, unbroken line”.  In my version, the pen has a clean and simple feel when written with.  The cap is the same diameter as the barrel, and forms one smooth, unbroken line when the cap is posted.  Like the early Montblanc safety pens, it lets you truly hold it where you want to hold it when you’re writing, not where the designers decided you should hold it.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like when it’s in your pocket.  It matters what it feels like in your hand when writing.  That’s why I call it the
        Timothy E. Barker wrote, “Historian, researcher, and designer!”
        Doug Vicary wrote, “I find that some pens that have that dramatic step between barrel and section are actually more comfortable for me to hold because they give me something to hold.  The way I hold pens, my finger tips press up against the step, while my thumb pushes down from the barrel.  I find it secures the pen within my grip.  I find that sections that are too smooth are too slippery.”
        And I wrote, “Different pen strokes for different pen folks, I guess”.  Or, “Different pen grips for different pen gripes”.
        A more recent example of this type of pen is the Ranga Model 4C in RHR.  Here are a couple of pics from the review of another Ranga pen by Vaibhav Mehandiratta on
Pentrace.  This is what the capped pen looks like, as designed by Ranga.  It’s sleek and gorgeous.  But this is what it looks like when the cap is posted, and it’s ready for writing.  It seems a bit, shall we say, aggressive and angular.  But here’s what it would look like with the “aggressive and angular” and the “sleek and gorgeous” reversed.  And here are the Anti-Shark and the Anti-Ranga side by side.  There are some more good pics of the Ranga Model 4C in this review of the pen by Vaibhav.

  George Kovalenko.


[Addendum, Nov 29, 2015.
        And here’s another more recent transgressor, the
“Montblanc M”, on their MaBla blah-blah website.  This is what it looks like, the Splat!  And this is what it should look like, the Anti-Splat!]

Google actually disabled these images, and the one in the link, in their Google Image search option.  Either
they did it at Montblanc’s bidding, or they chickened out and did it on their own to kowtow to Montblanc.

[Addendum, Oct 4, 2019.
        Also see the
Platinum “Prime” Anti-Plat in the Blackboard!]