Properly storing a fountain pen when you are not using it is important to keep the pen in good working condition. There are a few key things to keep in mind when putting away your fountain pen.
Why Proper Storage Matters
Fountain pens contain liquid ink that can dry out or leak if the pen is not stored properly. Dried out ink can clog the nib and feed leading to poor ink flow. Leaking ink can make a mess and stain surfaces. Proper storage helps prevent these problems.
The nib and feed are precision engineered parts that interact closely with the ink. Letting ink completely dry out in these areas can cause permanent damage reducing ink flow. Proper storage keeps these parts inked and lubricated.
Some fountain pen materials such as rubber sack fillers can degrade over time. Keeping the pen properly stored limits light and oxygen exposure increasing the life of pen components.
The optimal storage orientation is horizontal. Storing the pen nib up increases the risk of ink leaking through the nib. Storing it nib down can lead to hard starts after long periods. Leaving the pen on its side keeps the feed saturated but limits leaking issues.
For pens that do not have a cap, find a horizontal storage solution. Make sure the section is fully inserted into the barrel. You can purchase pen cases or trays specifically designed for horizontal storage.
Capping the Pen
Keep the pen capped when storing it. The cap forms an airtight seal to limit air flow. This keeps the nib from drying out and maintains proper ink flow.
Make sure the cap is fully seated to get an airtight seal. Push the cap straight on avoiding twisting. The cap lining can become warped or damaged if the cap is twisted onto the pen.
Avoid capping pens with the nib touching the cap lining. Ink can transfer leaving dots on the inside of the cap. Ink blobs on the lining can transfer back to the nib.
Pen Case Use
Store your fountain pens in a dedicated pen case or pouch when not in use. These cases are designed to protect pens and keep them isolated to prevent damage.
Look for cases that have pen slots, restraints or padding to keep pens separated. This prevents them knocking into each other during transport. Individual slots help pens remain horizontally oriented.
Make sure all pens are capped tightly before placing in the case. Cases designed for fountain pens typically have fabric linings to avoid ink stains. Leather exteriors are durable.
Avoid Direct Light
Do not store fountain pens in direct sunlight or intense light for long periods. Light can degrade rubber and plastic components over time.
Bright light may also promote algae or fungus growth in pens that contain water-based ink. This can clog the nib.
Store pen cases and pen storage drawers away from sunny windows. Keep cases closed when not accessing pens.
Store pens at moderate room temperature. Avoid temperature extremes that can impact ink properties or damage components.
Very cold temperatures can cause inks to become too viscous. The ink may not flow well until the pen warms again. Storing below freezing may cause ink to freeze and burst pen parts.
High temperatures can make some inks runny causing leaks or flowing issues. Direct sunlight can heat up a pen case or pouch.
Do not leave pens in vehicles long term. The temperature fluctuations can be intense. Bring pens inside if leaving a vehicle for more than a short time.
Maintenance for Long-Term Storage
If a fountain pen will go unused for many months, extra steps should be taken to keep the pen in good shape.
Flush the pen thoroughly with water to get out any remaining ink. Let it dry completely.
For rubber sac fillers, make sure the sac is fully deflated. Take extra care if the pen has a cork or shellac seal.
Seal any ink openings such as the converter with plastic wrap. This limits air exchange.
Store the pen horizontally in an area free from dust and away from light. Maintain stable room temperature.
Usage and Maintenance
To keep a fountain pen performing at its best, use and maintain it properly between storage times.
Write regularly with the pen to keep ink flowing well through the nib. Letting ink sit for months at a time can lead to flow issues.
Clean the nib and feed periodically following the proper cleaning procedures. This removes dried ink and debris buildup.
Lubricate parts such as pistons and converters occasionally with silicone grease. This prevents drying out and sticking.
Check for cracked, warped or loose parts. Make repairs promptly to prevent further damage during storage.
Clear ink sac filler pens before long term storage. Even slight amounts of left over ink can eventually leak out and stain the pen.
Avoid Harmful Storage Conditions
Some storage conditions can damage pens. Take steps to avoid these issues.
Do not store pens somewhere they can easily fall or be knocked over. Being dropped can damage the nib or internal parts.
Avoid areas with large swings in temperature and humidity. Basements and attics are susceptible to this. Climate controlled spaces are best.
Do not leave pens on or near heat sources. Radiators, furnace vents and direct sunlight can overheat pens.
Areas with very low humidity can dry out rubber ink sacs and seals. Left capped, most pens are protected.
Avoid storing pens in areas prone to high moisture that may promote corrosion of metal parts. Sealing caps in a case provides protection.
Short Term Storage Solutions
For short periods of non-use, the optimal storage guidelines still apply. But there are some convenient storage options for quick access.
A pen cup, holder or stand on your desk can store a handful of pens horizontally. Make sure capped pens do not bump or lean on each other.
Pen trays or sleeves that slip into a desk drawer keep pens organized and scratch free in the drawer. Try to avoid letting pens slide around loose.
A pen pouch that fits into a briefcase, purse or backpack protects and isolates pens during transport. Padded, pen-sized slots help.
Hard pen cases that fit into luggage keep fountain pens safe during travel. Secure any loose parts before travel.
A small zippered pen case can be kept in a jacket pocket for carrying a pen safely on your person throughout the day.
Cup style pen holders are a nice desktop option for visible storage and quick access. Capped pens sit securely in the holes.
Ideal Long Term Storage
For infrequently used pens, optimal storage means protecting against light, extreme temps, moisture, and physical impacts.
A pen display case or cabinet with drawers allows organized horizontal storage protected from light.
Dedicated pen storage boxes and cases often have padded slots, trays or restraints to keep multiple pens immobilized and separated.
Pelican style hard cases with foam inserts provide extreme protection. Cutouts hold pens securely in place.
Sealed containers with desiccant packs help maintain low humidity levels. Some have humidity gauges visible from outside.
Storing pens inside an interior room helps insulate from temperature swings. An air conditioned space is ideal.
Placing pens in a low traffic, safe location prevents accidental bumps and knocks. Up and out of reach of pets and kids.
What Not to Do
Some common fountain pen storage mistakes can lead to pen damage or ink leaks and stains.
Do not leave pens lying open uncapped. This allows the nib to dry out and air to enter the reservoir.
Avoid storing pens nib down. This can lead to ink leaking through the nib due to gravity and pressure.
Do not store pens in extremely hot or freezing temps. This can damage components and cause leaks.
Leaving pens loose in a drawer risks damage if they bump around. Use pen trays or cases.
Do not leave pens in direct sunlight for prolonged periods. This can fade colors and degrade materials.
Storing fountain pens together uncapped risks nib damage as they knock against each other.
Do not cap a pen too tightly. Over-tightening the cap can crack the barrel or cap.
Avoid getting water or other liquids on a pen. This can cause corrosion, stains or cap lining issues.
Do not store pens near chemicals that may spill on them and cause stains or surface damage.
Not cleaning out pens between uses lets ink dry in the nib causing clogs and flow issues.
Properly storing ink bottles is also important for keeping ink in optimal condition.
Keep ink away from extreme light to prevent fading, especially vibrant colors like red.
Avoid temperature fluctuations. Let ink come to room temp before filling pens.
Always keep bottles tightly sealed when not in use to limit air exchange.
Store bottles vertically to keep the cork or cap wetted with ink.
Cleaning and drying the bottle rim and cap keeps excess ink from accumulating.
Do not let ink bottles become too low before refilling. This exposes more ink to air.
If sediment accumulates from long storage, filter ink through a coffee filter before use.
Properly caring for fountain pens includes proper storage practices during times of disuse. Keeping pens isolated in a protective case or stand, maintaining proper orientation and capping, and storing in stable conditions ensures optimal performance and condition. Avoiding light, temperature extremes, dryness, moisture, and physical impacts prevents damage. Storing pens properly between uses will keep them writing smoothly for many years.