I walked into Ed Hamilton’s boutique pen shop, Century Pens located in the Loop by the Board of trade, just over eight years ago, and have developed a wonderful friendship with Ed, a Prince among men, who has owned Century Pens for eleven years. Trained as an architect and hailing from the fair state of Indiana, Ed and I have spent many hours talking about pens, ink, penmanship, architecture, Chicago’s history, politics, and tales of our wild youth. I got the fountain pen bug just before I met Ed, who recognized a potential addict the minute I walked in the store with a sketchbook in my hand and an assortment of pens peering over my vest pocket. Ed was every bit the enabler and fanned the flames of desire for this draughtsman who’s fountain pen collection passed the $11,000 mark several months ago I’m sure. At first, my enthusiasm got the best of me and I made some purchases that I have made scant use of since, but, it needs be said that Ed was honest in his appraisal and experience with the pens in his store, looking at me with a wincing smile and giving me the short comming a of some of the pens that he didn’t think we’re up to snuff or whose reputation and price points were head of their performance. He was particularly wary of some of the Italian pens saying their emphasis was style over performance. He was correct on several as I have experienced since.

His collection was stellar when I first entered his candy shoppe of script. Some brands have since changed policies making it very difficult for him to carry those. Sailor has been one brand. Prices on pens have continued to climb, even through a downturn in the economy and the changes at the Chicago Board of Trade has meant fewer traders flush with cash would pat themselves on the back with an eye catching pen pulled out austentaciously in front of their peers. There is a good reason an expensive haberdashery was just a block away from the CBOT.

I recall talking to one of Ed’s regulars who’s collection was over 650 fountain pens. Century Pens has been the premier fine writing pen store in Chicago and one of my absolute favorites nation wide. Chicago lost Gilbertson Clybourne a couple years back and I fret Ed’sage and the prospect that he may hang up the spurs one day. Today, I spent most of the day sitting in Ed’s store, drawing, sharing take-out lunch, and shooting the bull with Eddie and Charlie. Online is in so many of it’s convenient ways a poor substitute for the face to face, hands on, of the brick and mortar experience. Cheers Eddie.

Ed Hamilton, Guru @ Century Pens

  • May 17th, 2017
  • Posted in Drawings
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