Fountain pens have always served as the quintessential combination of beauty, tradition, and dexterity. But did you know they’re also tools of environmental consciousness? Join our tour of the fountain pen’s history, infinite varieties, and remarkable powers. With tips for shopping and maintenance.
When Bob Kramer decided it was time to make his own cutlery, he had no idea that his career turn would take him deep into the secret lives of knives. Now he’s established a reputation as one of the most revered bladesmiths in the world—playing David to the Goliath cutlery manufacturers of Germany and Japan.
Story by TODD OPPENHEIMER
Photography by MICHAEL MATISSE and MARTY NAKAYAMA
Japanese master craftsmen can command up to $100,000 for turning bamboo into a fishing pole. Yet, this time-honored craft is at the brink of extinction — and it’s not the only one. How could this happen in a country that, for centuries, has served as a model of handmade perfection?
While rural Japan may not be the first place one envisions as a production site for medieval and Renaissance-era instruments from Europe and Central Asia, this was precisely the craft of master instrument-builder Kōhaku Matsumoto, founder of the Catherina Early Musical Instruments Workshop. Matsumoto originally established his studio in Tokyo in 1972, then relocated in…
Gorgeous pens have always symbolized the art of writing at its finest—the quintessential combination of beauty, tradition, and skill. But did you ever think of the fountain pen as a tool of environmental consciousness? Our author certainly does. Considering the fountain pen’s myriad varieties, and the powers of vintage pens in particular, he also shops very selectively, cleans his pens regularly, and searches for (and sometimes even makes) the perfect ink.
By TIM REDMOND
While Japanese master craftsmen command up to $100,000 for turning bamboo into a fishing pole, aspiring younger makers can barely find anyone to take them on as apprentices. And this isn’t the only time-honored Japanese craft at the brink of extinction. How could this happen in a country that, for centuries, has served as a model of hand-made perfection?
Story and photography by YUKARI IWATANI KANE