Howard Cunix is a well-known name in the fountain pen collector forums in the social media. As a matter of fact, such is his popularity that he has maxed out the number of friends he is allowed to have and one has to wait, hoping against hope that the extremely unlikely event of somebody unfriending him occurs so that one may make it into the inner portals. And there is reason for the celebrity status that the man enjoys – more than his position as a distinguished collector of fine writing instruments, more than his position as an exemplary collector of fountain pens of Indian origin, in fact more than everything else, is the fact that he is an extremely nice and caring human being – one who moves his magic wand literally and otherwise, to touch and transform young lives!
It was a pleasure catching up with Prestodini, (Howard’s stage name, a combination of prestidigitation, meaning sleight of hand entertainment, plus the name of Houdini, the famous illusionist) – the Wizard who carries a Fountain Pen for his magic wand. Excerpts:
Q1 How is your hobby of fountain pen collecting helping you cope in these trying, even insane times?
Howard Cunix: Fountain pen collecting provides a welcome diversion from the world-wide health crisis. By focusing on and using fountain pens our attention is directed to a source of joy and we get a break from the stressful news we see and hear on a daily basis.
Q2 When did you start collecting fountain pens? Why? Do you have a particular niche – any special class / genre of pens that you collect?
Howard Cunix: I began collecting and writing with fountain pens in 1988. A relative gifted a Montblanc pen and when I later learned the price I became curious as to how and why a writing instrument could be so expensive. Soon thereafter I was visiting out of state and by chance saw an ad for a Pen Show. My wife and I drove an hour to the Show, where I met both national and international fountain pen collectors. And the rest is history, as they say!
My collection–both pens in daily use and those stored–is non-specific. Each pen purchased has a different rationale, such as an appealing finish/colour, filling system, personal value, history, rarity, et al.
For daily writers / pens in rotation, I choose those with the following characteristics: smoothest nibs, feeders with consistent, generous ink flow, flawless threading, ie, when replacing cap to barrel, the threads do not bind / catch / hang-up. Additionally, I routinely use fountain pens with caps that require no more than 2 ½ turns for removal.
Q3 Do you see fountain pens, which were virtually written off in the turn of the century, making a comeback?
Howard Cunix: Fountain pens have already made a comeback, and will remain popular in the future. Thanks to the efforts of so many people in the fountain pen community, the hobby continues to experience growth.
Q4 As a veteran collector, what advice would you give to the youngsters, people who are embracing the hobby now?
Howard Cunix: A suggestion for those new to the hobby, aka, the Newbies, is to enjoy both fountain pen writing as well as the interaction with fellow fountain pen aficionados. Learn and teach others. Expand the hobby by sharing information with family, friends, and colleagues. Some will “catch the bug” and become interested, some will not. Be a positive influence on people who do show interest in our hobby. Attend larger Pen Shows and smaller Pen Gatherings. Become active on Blogs and in Fountain Pen Groups–in-person and internet-based. Enjoy the excitement of fountain pen collecting!
Q5 Anything that you would like to communicate to our readers?
Howard Cunix: My other hobby is magic. I have been performing for audiences since age 13. People ask me how many pens are in the collection. My standard answer–a lot. My wife’s answer–too many.
Stay safe, keep collecting!