2017/01/05

Fountain Pen People know why

Akkerman Den Haag

When returning to work this week, after a great week off relaxing, cleaning up my art room and being creative, I found this interesting article  on my desk placed by one of my colleagues. It's a profile piece about P.W. Akkerman in the the Hague and I thought I would share it with you here. The title of this piece struck me because yes, only fountain pen people know why this is not only great to read in modern media but also important. The Millennial certainly set off this age to be almost completely digital and with the news of the cursive writing method not being thought anymore in schools, it's esp. important to find an instrument to help you keep writing daily, analog style. For me that instrument is definitely a fountain pen. Seeing this article is written in Dutch I have translated it to English for my fellow fountain pen enthusiasts worldwide. Enjoy!

Translation of the ARTICLE in English

They supplied the fountain pen and ink with which Princess Beatrix abdicated the throne, but fountain pen specialist P.W. Akkerman has 15-year-old students as customers. "A fountain pen is closer to you than any other writing instrument whatsoever."

As “Spaans Benauwd”*  as Arthur Akkerman and Paul Rutte no one will have ever been, when Queen Beatrix on April 30, 2013, just after ten o'clock in the morning, live on television on the Act of Abdication arc. Fountain pen and ink with which Beatrix was putting her signature, were supplied by P. W. Akkerman.

The interview with the Volkskrant starts with a false note. Akkerman and Rutte jabbed the reporter as if he has just showed up in clown suit at a funeral. They find it incomprehensible that a journalist makes his notes on a smartphone, and not with a fountain pen in an elegant notebook. And please note, it’s an article about a fountain pen store of all places. Although it can always get worse, sighs Akkerman: "Even the representative of Montblanc came here today take orders with a laptop instead of a fountain pen from his employer. '

Why the fountain pen grades to other writing instruments as a Michelin restaurant to McDonald's? "Look, you leave only ones and zeros behind with your smartphone," said Rutte. "But your handwriting and your fountain pen are extensions of yourself that you leave something behind what is really yours. Nowadays many people are congratulating each other with their birthday on Facebook, but isn’t that's just flat and impersonal compared with a nice handwritten card? "

The history of P. W. Akkerman goes back to 1910, when Pieter Willem Akkerman (1886-1955) in the Hague Passage began an business for letterheads, business cards, rubber stamps and enamel nameplates. In the late 1910’s the fountain pen was introduced in the window. In no time, the shop grew into a concept, partly due to Akkerman’s  fine sense of marketing. "Parents, your child has a good report card? Give them a nice gift. The most useful is a fountain pen, " was it called in advertisements.

Grandson Arthur Akkerman is now half a century in the store. The golden age was the sixties, seventies and eighties, when P.W. Akkerman had two cases, at number 13 and 15 in the Passage, with not only fountain pens also calendars and diaries. "A rows that were! Princess Juliana arrived two hours to figure out long calendars. While enjoying a cappuccino, chocolate and a cigarette. She bought twenty or thirty calendar, all Christmas gifts. It was unique, U-NIQUE! "

P. W. Akkerman doesn’t manufacture their own pens, but they do ink. The colors carry Hague Tinted names like 'Laan van Nieuw-Oost Indigo' en 'Rood Haags Pluche'. The fountain pen specialist has also launched a new line to the Dutch masters modeled ink, such as 'Rembrandt's Karmozijn', 'Israel's Kobaltblauw' en 'Scharlaken van Jan Steen'.

About the annual revenue  Akkerman and Rutte are not really forthcoming. " But still P.W. Akkerman doesn’t do too badly, Rutte assures. The fountain pen is for some a status symbol to distinguish them from ordinary ballpoint people, Rutte noted. "Some parents come here, amazed, inside with their son. "He insisted to look for a pen here," they say. I know teenagers on their fifteenth receive a fountain pen gift from their parents because mom and dad were writing with a fountain pen themselves. It’s a beautiful tradition, which they pass on to the next generation. "

"A fountain pen is much closer to you than any other writing instrument whatsoever," says Akkerman. "You must take care of it, filling, cleaning. Someone who has lost his fountain pen, comes franticly ill into the shop. Someone who has lost his ballpoint thinks bad luck, ballpoint gone, no big deal.

"(Writing with) a fountain pen is something you need to get used to you," said Rutte. "The tip  you write with, is slowly but surely being polished by the paper, which then molds precisely to your writing angle after a while and writes best (for you)." Therefore Akkerman will never lend his Montblanc to Rutte, nor will Akkerman ever make use fifty year old Sheaffer from Rutte. "If someone else puts your pen in a slightly different angle on the paper, it can ruin your pen," said Rutte. "So if the person is going to press harder, causing the nib to change it’s angle, the whole writing comfort breaks."

* Dutch Idiom Spaans Benauwd (Become Spanish breathless)
The idiom refers to a state of fear or anxiety. Associating this with Spain takes us back to the times when Spain was the oppressor, during and prior to the Eighty Years War. (source) 


Hope you enjoyed reading the article and it has inspired you to pick up a fountain pen and write :)

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!


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