How to Store Your Fountain Pen (2024)

As a child, I fondly remember opening the many novels on my grandmother’s bookcase to find flowers pressed inside. Pansies, zinnias, African violets, she had all kinds of petals magically frozen in time. Just like pressing flowers is a wonderful way to preserve the beauty of their blooms, storing fountain pens properly can help preserve their performance and longevity. For those who appreciate the art of fine writing, owning a fountain pen isn’t just a statement, it’s a commitment to the timelessness of elegant penmanship.

The key to preserving the beauty and functionality of your fountain pen lies in proper care and storage. In this article, we delve into the fundamentals of fountain pen storage, special considerations, fountain pen mistakes to avoid, and the best pen cases. Whether you’re a long-time collector or are brand new to the world of fountain pens, it’s worth taking the time to learn how to properly store your most prized writing companion.

The Basics of Fountain Pen Storage

Fountain pens aren’t like disposable pens that you can toss in a drawer and forget about. Before we dive into desk, travel, and long-term solutions, let’s touch on the basic tenets of fountain pen storage. Naturally, you should always cap the pen when not in use to prevent the ink from drying and to protect the nib. Temperature and the position of your pen also play a part in preserving its longevity, which we’ll discuss in detail below.

The Ideal Environment

Temperature and Humidity Considerations

Where possible, store fountain pens in a temperature-controlled room. Keep the pen away from extreme temperatures. Ink viscosity increases at lower temperatures and decreases with higher temperatures. Heat can cause the ink to expand, resulting in fountain pen leaking, while extreme cold can thicken the ink and clog the nib. Humidity, or the amount of moisture in the air, is another consideration. High humidity levels can damage the pen’s components and ink over time. If you live in an area with constantly fluctuating temperatures, consider investing in a humidity-controlled storage case for your pen.

Avoiding Direct Sunlight and Heat

It’s easy to underestimate the power of the sun. When storing a fountain pen, sunlight can cause the ink to fade or change in color. Heat exposure can also cause the pen parts to crack, degrade, and weaken over time. Certain types of plastics or resins are particularly sensitive to the sun’s UV rays, causing their colors and designs to fade. The best way to store fountain pens is to keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Positioning Your Pen

At some point, all pen enthusiasts have asked “Do you store fountain pens up or down?” The answer depends on the pen’s design, filling mechanism, and your personal preference. When considering the best way to store pens, here are some things to keep in mind.

Horizontal vs. Vertical Storage

Generally speaking, horizontal pen storage is recommended for fountain pens. This keeps the ink in contact with the feed while simultaneously keeping the nib wet enough to write when needed. If you don’t plan on using your pen for a long time, consider storing it vertically. Yes, the nib will dry out faster since the ink will flow back into the converter section, but you don’t have to worry about leaks. When storing gel pens, they do well in either position.

Nib Orientation (Up, Down, or Sideways)

Not surprisingly, nib orientation is important with fountain pen storage. Storing the pen up, nib to the sky, means your pen will dry out quicker but leaks are nearly nonexistent. Should you store pens upside down? We don’t recommend it, as the combined forces of gravity and capillary action will pull the ink into the nib, leaving you with clogs or leaks. If in doubt, it’s usually best to store the nib facing sideways: this keeps the nib wet enough to write when needed. Whether you store pens horizontally or vertically, prioritize keeping the nib wiped clean from any ink that could pool, dry, and clog the tip.

Fountain Pen Storage Methods

When considering how to store fountain pens, time, place, and level of usage are key factors. Do you intend to use your fountain pen all the time for everyday writing? Or do you only use it for special occasions, like letter-writing or a one-off business deal? Your answers will inform your ideal fountain pen storage method.

How To Carry Fountain Pens In Your Pocket For Everyday Use

The most straightforward way to carry your fountain pen while out and about is in the inner pocket of a suit jacket. Keep it hidden or clip it to the outside breast pocket with a handkerchief square for a fashionable touch. To keep any potential leaks from staining your clothing (it happens!), a thin leather fountain pen case provides a protective layer without much-added bulk.

How to Store a Fountain Pen with a Cartridge

If you use and clean your fountain pen regularly, it’s not a problem to store it with the cartridge inside. As a rule of thumb, it’s fine to leave the cartridge intact if you use your pen every few days. However, if you only use it on occasion (less than once a month), we recommend removing the cartridge and cleaning your pen before storing it. Leaving ink in a fountain pen for an extended period can create problems down the road.

How to Store Fountain Pens when Not in Use

Every writer will have a different preference for how they store a fountain pen. Whether you use yours frequently or only for specific purposes, remove the ink (cartridge or bottled) and clean the pen from nib to feed thoroughly before storing. Storage options include a fountain pen holder stand, leather pen case, pen pouch, or the original box your pen came in. Regardless of your chosen storage method, your fountain pen should be positioned with the nib facing upwards or sideways. A downward-facing nib means a potential mess on your hands (or in your jeans pocket).

Short-Term Fountain Pen Storage Solutions

Storing your pen properly depends on how often you intend to use it. If you practice your penmanship regularly, short-term storage options like a fountain pen pouch or pen sleeve, are sufficient. Let’s look into the nuances of this form of fountain pen storage.

Daily Use and Accessibility

Short-term fountain pen storage is all about protecting your pen while keeping it within convenient reach. If you use your pen daily, it shouldn’t be packed away so carefully that it’s a headache to retrieve every time you want to write. Here are some fountain storage options for everyday use.

How To Store Fountain Pens On Your Desk

Your desk isn’t just where you work, it’s where you showcase items that inspire you. When displayed properly, fountain pens can be a beautiful addition to your office decor. Choose a fountain pen storage case that matches your aesthetic, be it wood, acrylic, or leather. Experiment with stylish display cases, trays, or even vintage boxes. A homemade fountain pen organizer can be neatly stored in a drawer for a clutter-free desk surface. The general rule is to store your pen with ink vertically for no more than a month, and horizontally with ink for no more than 2 weeks.

Using Pen Holders or Stands

Fountain pen holders are a simple and elegant storage solution. Holders consist of a base and several slots to keep pens organized and accessible. Decorative cups or jars work as well (as long as you don’t store nib-down), but if you’ve already invested a chunk of money into your collection, it’s worth acquiring a proper fountain pen holder stand. It’s also an outward indicator that you are now “one of us”, i.e. a true pen geek!

Protecting the Nib and Ink

The nib is the heart of your fountain pen. If it becomes bent, warped, or clogged with ink, you can’t expect it to perform at its best. That’s why it’s important to protect the nib when in use and when storing. It’s the tiny but mighty section that brings your thoughts from mind to pen, to paper.

Capping and Uncapping Practices

Caps are designed to fit snugly. To cap your fountain pen properly, align the cap over the nib and close it gently. Some fountain pens are crafted to make an audible click when fully capped. Others close with screw threads. To uncap, hold the cap in one hand and the barrel in the other and gently move them apart. Avoid unsnapping the pen’s cap too quickly, as this can create a vacuum inside that leads to ink splatters. Also, if you’re not sure whether the pen you picked up is a twist or pull-off cap, try twisting first before attempting to pull off the cap.

Preventing Ink Drying and Leakage

When you’re ready to put your pen away for the day, be sure the nib is clean to prevent dried ink from compromising the flow. Be sure to cap your pen completely to prevent the fountain pen from drying out or leaking. There’s no greater buzzkill than sitting down to write, inspiration flowing, only to find that your pen ink has dried out from not being capped properly the last time you used it.

Long-Term Storage Strategies

If you only use your fountain pen for special occasions, a long-term storage solution is in order. Especially when it comes to vintage fountain pens or family heirlooms, store fountain pens properly to ensure they remain in good condition over time. As a general guideline, we wouldn’t recommend storing pens with ink in them for longer than a couple of weeks.

Preparing Your Pen for Extended Storage

To store fountain pens properly, be prepared for a little bit of prep work. It’s not as simple as tossing them in a fountain pen box and calling it a day. While tedious in the short term, your pen (and your future self) will thank you later!

Cleaning and Emptying the Ink Reservoir

For fountain pen and ink storage alike, empty the pen entirely. Drain bottled ink from the reservoir or remove the ink cartridge, otherwise it could damage the pen. Thoroughly clean away any remaining ink with lukewarm water and mild soap, as residue can dry, clog, and damage the nib and feed.

Drying and Disassembly Tips

Once all the components of your fountain pen are clean, dry them with a soft cloth. Any remaining moisture can cause metals to corrode. Keep track of small parts like screws, washers, and springs, and avoid using excessive force while disassembling. If you’re new to fountain pens, we recommend taking a photo of your disassembled pen so you have a visual reference of how to rebuild it. Lay out each piece on a paper towel to dry before putting them back together for storage.

Selecting the Right Storage Container

The storage container you choose for your fountain pen depends on your personal preference. Do you want your pens to be out of sight, out of mind, or proudly displayed? Budget is another aspect to consider, as display cases tend to be pricier (and prettier) than simple storage boxes. Let’s look into some different storage containers next.

Pen Cases: Leather, Fabric, and Hard Cases

Single or double? As in, how many pens would you like your case to carry? At Goldspot Pens, we carry a wide selection of fountain pen cases. Especially when gifting, you can’t go wrong with a classic leather fountain pen case. Fabric pen sleeves offer oodles of different designs and colors. Hard cases, while bulkier, offer the most protection as a fountain pen holder.

Display Cases and Storage Boxes

Visibility is key when it comes to display cases. Many are transparent so you can quickly identify the pens inside without having to open the container. Opaque cases are available for fountain pen materials that are sensitive to light. An ideal storage box will be large enough to accommodate your collection and soft enough to protect it. Interior linings like velvet or microfiber help prevent scratches on the pen’s surface. With both display cases and storage boxes, ensure they have a reliable closure mechanism to prevent exposure to dust. Airtight seals protect against humidity and water damage.

Special Considerations for Fountain Pen Storage

What’s the fun of fountain pens if you only use them at home? By sticking to some basic guidelines, you’ll keep your writing instruments in working condition for a long time in the office or on the road. Regular cleaning, avoiding extreme temperatures, and using pen cases will protect against incidental damage. Always keep your pens upright and capped when not in use. Next, we’ll address some special considerations for travel and collectibles.

Traveling with Fountain Pens

Planes, trains, and automobiles! No matter your method of travel, we recommend bringing fountain pen models that are readily available on the market. If you tout a rare vintage pen in your suitcase that isn’t easy to replace if you happen to lose it, that will be a sad vacation indeed. Count your pens, especially before any security checkpoints, to ensure you leave and arrive with the same amount. Now, for more traveling specifics.

Handling Pressure and Temperature Changes

In a plane, cabin air pressure changes the most dramatically during takeoff and landing. Store your inked fountain pens nib up to minimize leaking and burping. Uninked pens are safe to store in an overhead compartment, but we recommend keeping your inked pens in a carry-on under the seat in front of you. Ensure your pen is either nearly full or full before you leave the tarmac. With less air in the pen, it will be less likely to leak due to pressure changes.

Flying with a Fountain Pen

This goes without saying, but save your writing for when the plane is waiting at the gate, at cruising altitude, or after you’ve landed. If there’s any kind of turbulence on the flight, that’s an indicator to store away your pen, otherwise someone could end up with a nib to the neck (not a great look). Burping issues aside, it’s hard to write legibly on a bumpy plane ride, so use your judgment on when to uncap versus when to catch up on Netflix.

How to Travel with Fountain Pens - Avoiding Leaks

There are additional steps you can take to avoid leaks when traveling with fountain pens. Store your pens upright to prevent ink from pooling in the cap and nib. Your best bet is to use a fountain pen travel case that is designed with extra padding and protection. To protect your other carry-on items or luggage, seal your inked pens in a resealable zip-lock bag.

Storing Collectible and Antique Pens

For collectors of rare, valuable, or antique pens, all the tips we’ve already shared pertain. All fountain pens should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, with the nib facing up or sideways. However, there are some extra things to keep in mind when you store a particularly special fountain pen.

Extra Care for Valuable Pens

When it comes to your most precious pens, giving them extra care couldn’t hurt, right? Especially vintage pens, upwards of 40-100+ years old, which are rare and difficult to repair. To keep the finish on your fountain pen looking its best, we recommend using a jeweler’s polishing cloth and a small bit of metal tarnish remover. The cloth will keep a resin’s finish looking clean while the tarnish remover can help brighten the metal trims and pocket clips. As I mentioned earlier, you may want to think twice about taking your irreplaceable pens out on long trips. It’s wisest to keep them at home, safe in a pen case at your desk.

Maintaining Pen Condition Over Time

If you use your pens for hours every day, expect some wear and tear over time. Minimize the number of scuffs, dings, dents, discolorations, and dirty nibs by following these pen maintenance tips:

  • Store your pen in a pen sleeve or case when not in use for longer than an hour.

  • Close/cap your pen when you pause in writing for more than 30 seconds.

  • Keep your hands clean when handling your pen - no heavy lotions, hand sanitizer, peanut butter, or spicy habanero sauce should be on your fingers when handling your pen.

  • Don’t loan your pen to someone who has never written with a fountain pen before.

  • Store your pens in a place where a small child or pet can’t get to them.

  • Do not store pens in direct sunlight or in an area that drastically changes temperature and humidity.

Common Storage Mistakes to Avoid

For the continued performance of your fountain pen, there are some beginner mistakes to avoid. Ensuring you store your pen in the proper environment and position is crucial long-term.

Incorrect Positioning and Environment

When in doubt, store your fountain pen upright, with the nib toward the ceiling. If you write nearly every day, it's typically safe to store your pen horizontally. Any other position can result in an ink mess on your hands. Never store your pen in a car, shed, or environment that experiences extreme fluctuations in temperature.

Risks of Storing Nib Down

Ink leakage is the most significant risk of storing your nib down. If your fountain pen isn’t fully sealed, the ink can flow out of the nib and pool into the cap. This creates a mess and can damage other parts of the pen if left unchecked.

Avoiding Harmful Environmental Factors

The largest contributors to fountain pen degradation are natural elements. Direct sunlight, dust, moisture and humidity, and oils or dirt from your hands can weaken, discolor, and stain pen materials over time. Extreme hot and cold can cause the pen components to expand, contract, or deteriorate. Store your fountain pens in a temperature-controlled space away from acid-containing materials. Acid-free paper, foam, and velvet are good choices. And always handle your pen with clean hands!

Overlooking Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your fountain pen is akin to maintaining your car. You wouldn’t neglect oil changes and tire rotations and expect it to drive smoothly, right? The same goes for your fine writing instruments. Get into the habit of cleaning and monitoring your fountain pen routinely, and you’ll enjoy years of use.

Importance of Routine Cleaning

To prevent your fountain pen drying out, clean it after every few uses or every time you switch ink colors. If left unflushed, ink can accumulate in the feed, nib, and other areas of the pen, leading to inconsistent ink flow, clogging, and even damage. Routine cleaning also helps avoid “hard starts”, where ink residue dries and hardens in the nib.

Monitoring Ink Levels and Quality

If you’re running low on fountain pen ink, the flow may become inconsistent with skipping and scratching. Some fountain pens have transparent ink reservoirs that make it easy to see how much ink you have left. With converter pens, you’ll need to unscrew the barrel to visually inspect the levels. Always ensure you’re using quality ink that is compatible with your specific fountain pen. Consistently monitoring your ink levels will help prevent unexpected dryouts when writing.

Advanced Tips and Tricks

Taking good care of your fountain pens doesn’t have to be a difficult task that takes away joy from the writing experience. Thankfully, there are plenty of pen cases, cleaning supplies, and accessories for fountain pen on the market that help clean and maintain your pens over the long term. You also can’t stop pen people from being inventive in coming up with their homegrown solutions. Here, we present some next-level tips from our years of experience in the pen community.

DIY Storage Solutions

If you’re just starting your collection or are a fountain pen newbie (welcome), it makes sense to start with what you have. In time, you can graduate with a fancy fountain pen ink holder and case. There are plenty of ways to DIY fountain pen storage with items you have around the house.

Creating Custom Pen Storage at Home

The more valuable the pen, the more space you need between it and others to avoid scratches. How you customize your pen storage depends on how you prefer to group them together. Your “home base” for your pens might be in your bedroom, study, office, or even your kitchen drawer. Being organized means having all your pens, bottles of ink, refills, notebooks, and maintenance supplies in one spot.

Utilizing Household Items for Storage

This is where you can get creative! Mason jars or glass containers are a cheap, visible option. You can even add colored stones or beads at the bottom to help keep your pens upright. Repurpose old containers, like cookie or tea tins, for a vintage aesthetic. You can easily add felt-covered dividers to old wooden wine or cigar boxes. A standard pencil holder or even a decorative flower pot can also do the trick.

Professional Advice for Pen Enthusiasts

Insights from Fountain Pen Experts

If you’re a writer at heart or just enjoy geeking out with gadgets, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can go from newbie to fountain pen junkie. Keeping a regular rotation of your fountain pens will ensure that they are all being worn equally, maintained properly, and enjoyed to their fullest. Create a “home base” for your pens, inks, and papers in your office as well as an EDC, or everyday carry, that contains the pens that match your tasks on any given work day. Experiment with different containers and combinations to manage your fountain pen collection in a way that works for you. Just remember: there isn’t one right way to do this. Find a way that best fits your writing habits and the pens you regularly use.

Fountain Pen Cases

There are just as many fountain pen cases to choose from as there are pens! Available in materials like leather, mesh, synthetic, nylon, and more, the best fountain pen cases are designed to protect and transport your pens while also showcasing your style. From high-end, luxury cases to budget-friendly options, we carry cases for every type of Pen Pal at Goldspot.

Fountain Pen Storage Box

A storage box will provide the most protection for your fountain pens. Some come with multiple compartments and drawers for easy access. Made from high-quality materials like wood or metal, they often feature slots to hold individual pens securely. Whether on display or tucked away, a fountain pen storage box is a wise investment.

Fountain Pen Display Cases

These cases are specifically designed to both store and showcase valuable or collectible fountain pens. Made from wood, acrylic, or metal, they often have transparent or glass panels so you can see your beloved pens without opening the case. A fountain pen display case fits perfectly in a library or study.

Fountain Pen Travel Case

Newbie pen enthusiasts often learn the hard way not to carry a fountain pen in their back pocket. A good fountain pen travel case will stylishly safeguard and protect your pens (and your pants) when you’re on the go. With individual slots lined with soft materials, some travel cases have additional pockets for storing ink cartridges of converters. We carry some beautifully crafted EDC cases at Goldspot Pens.

Leather Fountain Pen Cases

There’s nothing more classic than a leather fountain pen case. Collectors often appreciate these cases not just for their practicality but for the aesthetic value they add. Convenient, durable, and sophisticated, leather is a go-to material for pen cases. If you like the look of leather but not the animal material, there are plenty of vegan leather options to explore on the market.

Stored with Loving Longevity

Looking back, it’s no wonder my grandmother’s pressed flowers kept for so long. They were prepared and preserved for beauty and longevity. Likewise, when you store fountain pens properly, you’re ensuring years of joyful writing. We hope this article on how to store fountain pens was illuminating. Before you go, check out more fountain pen accessories to pair with your chosen storage method. As always, leave your questions below!

About the Author

Madeleine is a copywriter and video script whiz for creative and inventive brands. As an empathy-based marketer, every website, landing page, blog, email, and video she writes showcases her clients at their best. Some say she's a mind-reader, but she's really just an expert listener with one goal in mind: to inspire readers (and viewers) to take action. A true logophile, she's the one who (unabashedly) keeps a hard copy thesaurus on her desk. When she's not on set or crafting copy, you can find her nose in a book sipping a matcha latte.

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