The fountain pen has been called the iPhone of its time - the portability freed people from their desks. And now, despite these digital times, their popularity is swelling.
The increase in handwriting has seen worldwide pen sales grow in the last decade, but uptake of the fountain pen both as a working tool and an accessory is in line with the uptake in analogue items generally - vinyl records, film cameras and wristwatches, for example.
Pen and ink enthusiasts Pat and Suzanne Clay own Inkt, one of the few specialist pen shops in the country, which is nestled between two cafes on Victoria Ave in Whanganui. Its glass cases hold literally hundreds of pens and the shop is full of accessories to go with them.
"We've got over 30 shades of just … orange," Pat says. "I've got two pens I use every day, one's got bamboo green and one's got bright orange because why would you use a pen with a boring colour in it?"
Interesting inks and other accessories are part of the appeal of owning a fountain pen. Dot journals and bullet journalling have taken off, Instagram is full of pictures of fancy yet efficient "to do" lists and diaries that use the bullet or dot journalling system. It is basically a notebook, either grid-dotted or lined, with the special paper that makes a pen glide.
"The process of going through and writing and planning what we're going to be doing next week allows [people] to prioritise in their mind 'this is what I need to work on'," he said.
While we've always had an inkling, countless research confirms people remember better when writing rather than typing.
"How many times do you write a shopping list, forget it when you go to the supermarket but you can still remember what was on it?" asked Clay. "People still think better on to a piece of paper."
And while a specialist pen shop may seem like more of a big city venture, it was moving to the provinces that allowed the Clays to open a physical version of their online store - Inkt.co.nz
"In Auckland, because you're dealing with major corporates that are the landlords, they want a 10-year lease. And when we set this up, we didn't know if it was always going to work."
So the move in 2017 to Whanganui to open the physical store has been good for business.
"To have the physical presence, in addition to the online, it's a great advantage to our online presence and our online has grown a lot since we have had the physical store."
Inkt also runs calligraphy classes. The art of calligraphy, once an extremely popular and desirable discipline, is also experiencing a resurgence.
Although digital printing has largely replaced handwriting, there is still plenty of demand for professional calligraphy on certificates and university degrees. Susan Clay says it provides a flourish and gives a document a bit of character.
"You can type things all day long but you'll never be able to duplicate something that personal," she said. Inquiries for Inkt's 2021 calligraphy programme can be made online or at the shop, which is open Monday to Saturday.
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