Why I write this post:
Three of my pens have stories with Susan Wirth, but only the Quill pen I am going to write about represents the start of the whole story as well as the last meet-up between us. It has been some time since her passing away, but the impressive works and personality of her remain there, just like the thick gold coating from this rare found vintage Quill 18k fountain pen.
The time was this year’s Philly Pen Show, and I was wandering through the ballroom, contemplating slowly over how to make the most out from my stay there while not break my tight budget. Then suddenly a calligraphy work won my attention. It says:”Angry with your mouse? Upset with your ISP? Relax and enjoy life with a proper writing instrument.”
After living in the states for some time, I found it is never an easy topic when talking about your ISPs, whether wired ones or wireless, therefore I was rather happy to see a humorous artwork like this picking up the phenomenon. Coincidently, its author, Mr. Bedford, happened to stand around that booth, doing some supportive works.
I presented Mr. Bedford some of my Chinese pen collection, and we talked a little bit, then he introduced me an array of ball-points, more specifically, the Quill’s ball-points. They were built in the same design language: an oblique cut cap top, coupled with a quill/feather like clip shape. They have a low price tag and considering their quality body and differentiating style, it was nature for the seller to market them as thoughtful and affordable gifts for anyone (you can’t assume anyone will like to own a fountain pen).
Mr. Bedford showed me in detail how the pens from Quill present their clients’ logo on the top of the pen when they are made as corporate gifts or souvenirs. Then he revealed that the Bedford family from Providence Rhode Island owned the business of Quill in the old days. They produced both fountain pens and ballpoints for the American market. Now the business is under the Rubbermaid/Newell Group and those vintage Quills I see actually belong to the collection of Susan Wirth, the owner of the booth we were at.
“You must check out the article about Susan in this issue of Pen World Magazine.” Mr. Bedford showed a Pen World Magazine to me behind the booth. From that there I heard the name Susan Wirth for the first time.
Returning from the Philly Pen Show, I was staggered to find that there was hardly any useful information Quill’s fountain pen across the web. All I could find about their fountain pen product were that they were willing to make pens for college bookstores even if the order number was limited, and some of their fountain pens were carrying standard iridium nib and feed that are made in German.
By the time I was desperately digging through different forums and social platforms, I spotted a great Quill fountain pen on sale at myuberpens.com. It clearly was a premium version since it got a hefty price tag in addition to its 18k gold-filled bodywork and nib. After sharing this discovery with Mr. Bedford and get his confirmation that this was actually a premium version decades ago, I bought that pen without further hesitation, and it arrived at my doorway in a parcel shipped from German.
It was my second purchase from MyUberPens.com, and the condition of the pen was mind-blowing good. It came in a plastic box, sealed in a plastic bag, with a zero fingerprint and grease barrel and a shining nib. Excellent restoration and presenting. As the pen itself, the quality is so high that I wouldn’t relate its brand to gift ballpoints if I knew this pen in the first place. Its 18k gold-filled barrel, duo cartridge capacity and a precise 18k nib convey the most of its presence. Its quality really justifies the price, and I have to say thanks to Mr. Bedford for his introduction.
The idea of a gold-filled pen has always been seducing me: rather than a flimsy layer of gold plating, the weight of solid gold material applied to a pen has to be at least 5% of the item’s total weight to make a gold-filled pen. While the most typical gold-filled jewelry is using 5% 12kt or 14kt gold to bond its base material, in this Quill pen, however, the maker opted to a rather extravagant formula: 10% of this pen weighted by 18kt gold, according to its gold stamp around the neck of the cap. The result is a super durable and the gorgeous look of its gold surface. I can see no wear out or oxidation after years passing by and my carrying it around if I wear my thin jacket.
Another point-earing feature of this pen its classic design of cartridge filling system. Usually, there is nothing to pinpoint about a filling system like this, but it is just amazing to find its filling mechanism was capable of holding 2 cartridges while maintaining a slim profile. I love the way it weighs when it carries another backup ink cartridges, not to mention the additional confidence of mileage give by that spare cartridge.
The factory has ground the tipping material of this gold nib into a ball shape and made the slit of the nib extremely restricted, making it suitable to write in all position, with a wide choice of paper. I have tried to write on my Moleskines with this pen, and it performs insanely good with no visible feathering and seeping through. But the downside of such a characteristic is that it lacks somehow the handling and wetness of a fountain pen.
I picked up this pen with me when I was packing for the Long Island Pen show, in the hope to present it to Mr. Bedford and Susan. I showed this gold pen to Susan the moment I got a chance to talk to her (she is always busy and talking with clients during a pen show), and she was impressed. Walking out from the back of her booth, she grabbed this pen and wrote with it with full attention. “The only thing it lacks is the nib.”She made a swift tuning job after getting my approval, and magically It turned out to be the most balanced note-taking pen I have: not too round, but far from picking your writing position like a stub nib; not too dry, but far from seeping into the back of the office copy paper. Sadly, Mr. Bedford wasn’t there. Susan recommended me to make an arrangement before the DC Pen Show with Mr. Bedford since he usually goes to that show, and it would be great for him to see such a brilliant artwork from his family business.
It has never come to my mind that that was my last interaction with Susan. The news of her pass away shocked the whole pen community, and I was really regretting not being able to go to the Chicago show to meet her roughly one week before. Anyway, I really appreciate the works she has done to my pens and the valuable knowledge I got from here. As for this Quill 18k pen, its meaning has become more significant to me since it represents our last meetup.