There is something calming and beautiful about writing with fountain pens. I’ve loved writing with them since I was 12 or so, but I seemed to forget them for a while.
Writing a letter, or in a journal, or even a grocery list with a fountain pen, makes writing a little more fun. (And I’m talking about just your regular handwriting, not any kind of special lettering.
I do have several pens with calligraphy nibs at the bottom of the post, and I love to use flex fountain pens for modern calligraphy, but you don’t have to be interested in calligraphy to fall in love with fountain pens. Most fountain pens are simply to be used with your everyday handwriting.
As I got back into journaling, recently, I loved seeing how many people were using their fountain pens in their journals. I dug out my fountain pens a while back, (some from a couple of years ago, and some from a couple of decades ago), and sort of rediscovered a little bit of myself.
There are very inexpensive fountain pens out there, as well as some that can cost hundreds of dollars. Some of the less expensive ones are very nice, actually, and there’s no need to spend a fortune on a fountain pen, (unless you just want to. But I don’t.)
First of all, just a quick bit of info about the most basic parts of a fountain pen:
- Nib: The metal tip that touches the paper (extra fine, fine, medium, etc.) In general, the nibs write a bit more smoothly as they get bigger. I typically use a fine point or a medium point, but extra fine is nice for writing in smaller spaces.
- Feed: The part that fits under the nib and “feeds” the ink from the cartridge or converter
- Ink Reservoir: The part that holds the ink (can either be a cartridge or converter) Cartridges are generally easier to use, and converters are nice because they can be filled with bottled ink. There are less color choices in cartridges, but I recomend them for beginners, as they are simple to just pop in and go.
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Fountain Pens for Beginners
- If you would like to start with an inexpensive fountain pen that can be refilled with different colors of inks (via cartridge or a separately purchased converter), you might like the Platinum Preppy. They have these at JetPens also, for $4.00 or $5.00. (Jet Pens is one of my absolute favorite sources for all kinds of pens, not just fountain pens.) The Preppy is one of the very least expensive fountain pens out there (that isn’t disposable) and a risk free way to enjoy writing with a fountain pen. I have two of these – one with an extra fine point nib, and one with a fine point nib. Of course, the Preppy doesn’t have the elegant look of a finer fountain pen, but it’s still fun to write with one. I’ve found that it can tend to skip just a bit, depending on the ink, but for such a small cost, it’s a fun way to try out writing with a fountain pen.
The picture below shows the Preppy pens with a packet of ink cartridges I bought separately (Platinum Carbon Ink.) It’s a water resistant ink I like to use when I watercolor over the ink. I don’t really recommend water resistant inks for beginning fountain pen users, though, as they can be a bit tougher to clean from the pen sometimes. But, I love this ink!
- The Pilot Metropolitan is often recommended as a good first time fountain pen, because it’s smooth and reliable. Although it’s a few times more expensive than the Preppy, it is still a relatively inexpensive fountain pen. It includes an ink cartridge, as well as a converter. (The converter is used with bottled ink.) I’ve not tried this one, but it has great reviews, is recommended for fountain pen beginners (and for anyone who enjoys fountain pens.)
- The Lamy Safari is another popular starter fountain pen with great reviews.
Other Miscellaneous Fountain Pens that I Own
- Disposable fountain pens – For a really, really inexpensive introduction to fountain pens, without any set up, you can try out the Varsity disposable fountain pen. I picked up a few of these Varsity fountain pens a few years ago. The Varsity is about the least expensive way to try a fountain pen and is actually nice quality for a disposble pen. (Made by Pilot.) They aren’t refillable, they don’t come apart, and there’s no cartridge or converter. Just a simple pen with a fountain pen nib.(Kind of a basic pen, like inexpensive gel pens.) They’re disposable, so they aren’t very environmentally friendly, but they write smoothly and come in fun colors, and the nib is fun.
- Flex nib pen – I bought The Noodler’s Ahab, (below), because I liked the idea of a flex nib, to possibly get a little line variation in my letters, without using a calligraphy pen. The nib, although a little flexible, doesn’t give huge line variation (it’s pretty stiff), but it does allow for some. Its a finicky pen, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first fountain pen. It’s not so great straight out of the box, but once it’s flushed and the feed is heat set, it works much better. The ink that you use with this pen will make a big difference, too. The wetter Diamine inks have worked well for me with it. It is fun to write with, and it lays down quite a bit of ink. It’s a fun pen for someone who would like to get a slight flex from the nib and who doesn’t mind a little bit of pen tinkering to get the ink flow just right.
- Update: I’ve purchased a few other flex nib fountain pens since this post, and you can see those pens and how I use them for modern calligraphy at this post: Modern Flex Fountain Pens for Modern Calligraphy.
- Italic Calligraphy fountain pens – I recently dug these old Shaeffer beauties (below), that I had bought in the ’90s, out of storage. They were sold with calligraphy nibs (broad edge nibs for italic calligraphy, not modern pointed pen calligraphy.) I was just learning italic and had not yet learned to use a dip pen. I used these old faithful pens for addressing wedding invitations and for personalizing a few clients’ wedding albums.
I’ve since learned that Shaeffer no longer sells invdividual nibs for these anymore, which made me a little sad, because I would love to buy some nibs that aren’t calligraphy nibs to use these for everyday writing. I was happy to learn, though, that there are sources where these older nibs can be bought, so I will still be able to get a fine point or medium point nib or two and use the pens, not only for italic calligraphy, but for everyday writing.
Pen- an old Shaeffer Prelude with an italic calligraphy nib (broad edge nib)
I hope you’ve enjoyed my little tour of fountain pens. They are simply fun to write with, and they force you to slow down a bit and enjoy the experience. (I wish I still had my first fountain pen from my youth. I wrote so many pen pal letters with it. It would be vintage, now, and probably valuable.)
I’ve discovered a wonderful fountain pen network that I didn’t even know existed, especially on Instagram and lots of other social media. Did you know there is even a reddit fountain pens group?
Fountain pens are a lot of fun to collect, but most of all, to use. I especially recommend them to those who journal, those who love stationery, those who love to write real letters, and, of course, for anyone who just loves pens.
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