A topic near and dear to my heart. Mostly I think it is because I use vintage pens and some are in need of heat setting their feeds. My problems started last summer when my vintage Esterbrook and Duofold pens both decided to leak excessively into their caps – within days of each other. I assumed it was weather-related as I live at 7,000 ft (2,100 m) and life is a little different up here, like breathing. As such, I am always playing with how best to lay my pens overnight.
Let’s start with non-fountain pens.
- Felt tip pens like whiteboard markers, Sharpies, and highlighters are best stored with the tip down so the felt does not dry out.
- Rollerballs and ballpoints should be stored upright so they don’t leak or get gummy at the point. BIC Cristal pens are the exception, they are indestructible. As a young person mine never had a cap and was always stored point down in my pants pocket. I never had a problem.
- Gel pens seem to be okay stored either up or down.
As a general rule, never leave a pen tip exposed. Always put the cap on, it doesn’t matter if it is a felt tip, rollerball/ballpoint, or a fountain. Oh yeah if it is a click pen, click it. This helps keep air away from the ink, slowing how fast it dries out. Also, if in doubt, lay the pen horizontal is best. The ink will be evenly distributed in the pen, which should help it return to action more quickly.
I normally, leave my vintage pens overnight at a 45-degree upward angle, while the contemporary fountain pens lay horizontally. If an inked vintage pen is going to sit for any length of time I store it straight up. Yes, a nib pointing up will dry out faster because the ink flows back into the cartridge/converter/section, but this works best for me.
Based on what I’ve read, inked fountain pens should be stored horizontal overnight to keep the ink in contact with the feed. This prevents the ink from leaking into the cap while simultaneously keeping the nib wet enough to write when needed. There is a valid argument to be made, that an inked pen should be stored upright to prevent clogging and leakage. I believe if the pen contains quality ink and is used regularly there is no need to worry about clogging and leakage.
If you store a fountain pen with the nib facing down, gravity and capillary action may pull the ink to the nib and feed resulting in a clog or leak.
If your pen will remain inactive for a long period of time, make sure to remove the ink from the pen. It will prevent clogs and dried ink in a fountain pen from creating many problems. Of course, cleaning the nib of ink is vital before storing the fountain pens. And, if the pen is emptied, you can store it with the nib facing any direction.