I was surprised to read that Twilight flick heartthrob Robert Pattison generously gave his waffling leading-lady love Kristen Stewart this 18k white gold Tibaldi Bentley Crewe fountain pen (personally inscribed, no less.) Dropping $46K on a single writing instrument as a birthday gift is probably the definition of extravagance, I guess. I keep thinking how hard she'll kick herself if anything happens to it. How many times have you lent someone a pen only to realize an hour later they never gave it back? I learned my lesson when a kid at a football game borrowed my favorite purse fountain, a Pilot Plumix, from me to jot down someone's phone number -- swearing he'd return it in a minute -- and never did.
I'm also not sure how you'd dare write with a pen that costs as much as a Cadillac. I'm guessing you don't; you lock it up in a cabinet with a glass front so everyone can look at it and envy you (although I'm not sure why; all that does is turn it into a pretty pricey knick-knack.) The minute you ding or scratch the clip or barrel the pen loses value, so you'd probably have to wear gloves and use it only to sign your next zillion dollar contract. Maybe that's all it's supposed to be use for?
As some of you know I'm also a fountain pen fanatic, but I admit, I don't own anything even remotely in the Tibaldi price ballpark. Nor do I think you have to invest thousands to own a lovely writing instrument that will serve you faithfully. Fountains are initially more expensive that the cheapie disposable variety of pen, but in the long term they work out to be a good investment because you can keep using them for years; all you need to buy are replacement ink cartridges or a converter to fill them with bottled ink. If you happen to lose one you won't feel like half your retirement fund just vanished, either.
Here are three of my current favorite fountains, beneath samples of how they write:
Starting at the top, The Ultra Violet True Writer by Levenger is my most recent acquisition, and I'm still kicking myself for waiting twenty years to buy one. This is a smooth, beautiful pen with nice, balanced weight (not too flimsy, not too heavy) and a nib that seems to fly across any kind of paper. The barrel colors are gorgeous, and when you hold it in the sunlight you'll notice they have a subtle sparkle, too. I got mine on sale from Levenger for $44.95, and the only complaint I'd make about it is that the cartridges are on the small side. It comes with a converter, though, so if you write a lot you can knock down the price of replacement ink by using bottled.
My favorite and most frequently used fountain is the red and white fountain in the middle; my Platinum Koi. This pen retails for about $450.00 but you can find it in the $300.00 range if you shop around; I got mine on sale at a Levenger store for $110.00. That still sounds like a lot to spend on a pen, and it is the most expensive fountain I own, but I've also been using it almost daily for ten years and it has yet to quit. Most Japanese fountains are exception, excellent pens and my Koi has proven to be practically indestructible; I've done everything to it except throw it against a brick wall and it still writes as beautifully as it did the day I brought it home. One thing to note about most Japanese fountains: their nibs tend to be one size finer than they're graded, so if you buy one with a medium nib it will write like a fine nib, fine writes like extra-fine, etc.
Platinum also makes the Preppy, which is the third pen there at the bottom of the pic, and an excellent all-use everyday fountain. Made from recycled materials and sporting a steel nib, the Preppy is very lightweight and has decent flow. I like the transparent barrel because I can see how much ink I have left in my cartridge, too. I think if you want to go cheap you can still be stylish, and the Preppy is a fun option. Extremely affordable at $3.00, too.
As for what Rob might get Kristen for her next birthday, it's anyone's guess. Maybe he'll bid on the circa-1640 Hymnal about to hit the auction block. Touted as the first book ever printed in the United States, the expected price tag: $30,000,000.00