Do you remember the cards you occasionally received from you grandparents with elegant handwriting on them?
The good old fountain pen and what it can do has left an impression with many among us.
High-quality fountain pens are often associated with elegance, sophistication, and success. Buying a fountain pen yourself may be the first step towards achieving those goals. At least it can help you make your handwriting neater.
Recently, Amazon has become one the best place to buy fountain pens online. In this article, we will go over some frequently asked questions and we’ll share our favorite fountain pens for affordable prices.
Why Should I Get A Fountain Pen?
There are many different reasons why people choose to use a fountain pen. Are you a writer that likes the mystique around of a fountain pen? Or maybe you want to buy a fountain pen hoping that it will help improve your handwriting.
One of the main reasons that people acquire a fountain pen is to make a statement. Now that ball pens have become the standard, fountain pens have become a luxury accessory. Owning a fountain pen sends a clear sign to your colleagues and coworkers that you are the real deal. It also shows that you are not afraid to take your time and write a letter in a time of direct messaging.
Secondly, using a fountain pen often corrects most of the big mistakes in your handwriting. Writing with a ball pen sure is easy, but it often leads to bad habits as well. On the hand, a fountain pen only works if you hold it the right way and use your arm properly. This forces you to use better posture and hold the pen with a good grip.
One can also choose to buy a fountain pen for artistic reasons. If you have a high-quality nib you can use your fountain pen for calligraphy. Depending on the type of nib, the angle and how you hold the pen, you can control the thickness of the lines. Some people even use fountain pens for drawing as well.
Finally, you could make the argument that fountain pens are better for the environment. The problem with ballpoint pens is that they are made out of plastic and you can’t refill them. This creates a lot of plastic waste over time. Most fountain pens also contain plastic components. But since fountain pens are generally refillable and of higher-quality, they can last for decades if used with proper care.
Are Fountain Pens Expensive?
The idea that all fountain pens are expensive is a common misconception amongst beginners. A good fountain pen definitely used to be very expensive back in the old days, but nowadays they are very affordable.
That being said, there are a few fountain pens out that are way above the budget of a regular person. For example, the Aurora Diamante is a fountain pen covered with diamonds and was sold for around $1.3 million.
Fortunately, there are still perfectly fine fountain pens for $50, $100 or $200 that you can buy without breaking the bank. However, finding a fountain pen at a similar price to a gel or ball pen is pretty much impossible.
The first reason for this is that all of the best fountain pens contain a nib that is made out of a precious metal such as gold, platinum or iridium. Additionally, the process of making a fountain pen requires a lot of steps which increases the production cost. Some of the more expensive fountain pens are handmade or can be engraved and personalized with your name. All of this adds up to a higher price.
In this guide, we’ll try to help you find the best cheap fountain pen that fits within your budget.
— Goulet Pens (@GouletPens) 1 December 2017
What To Look For In A Good Fountain Pen?
Nibs are the metal tip of the fountain pen. Although they were originally made out of gold, nowadays a large range of different metals and alloys are used to make different nibs. The material used will determine how flexible the pen is.
The tip size will determine the width of your lines. Normally tip size is categorized into five different grades: extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M), broad (B), and double broad (BB). Fine tips are ideal for people with a small handwriting, while people with a large handwriting do best with a broader nib.
Besides differences in width, the tips can also differ in shape. Most fountain pens have a rounded tip which gives the same lines regardless of direction, just like a ball pen. Shaped tips will give extra dynamic to your writing. The most well-known shaped nib is italic, which allows for wide vertical strokes and thin horizontal strokes at the same time.
Lastly, it is important to carefully consider which filling system you want. Cartridges are the most common due to its simplicity and convenience. They allow you to quickly change the ink when necessary but only come in a limited amount of colors. If you want to be able to use a larger variety of different fountain pen inks, you might want to consider a fountain pen containing a converter or built-in filling system.
Which Is The Best Fountain Pen Brand?
Before you get a new fountain pen it’s important to know what you are looking for. Are you purely looking for a functional tool or do want a luxury item?
Most fountain pen brands target a very specific portion of the market, so your budget might determine which brands you can afford.
Overall, some of the best brands include Parker, Montblanc, Waterman, Tibaldi, Pelikan, Aurora, Dupont, Visconti and Regal. They offer high-quality fountain pens that will last you a long time. But they also can be a little pricey.
If you are looking for a fountain pen for beginners, you might want to look at some cheaper brands instead such as Pilot, Sailor, Platinum, Kaweco, TWSBI or Lamy. These brands offer much more affordable fountain pens that can be a good introduction to writing with one.
What is the Best Fountain Pen Ink?
Most fountain pens come with ink when you buy them. But if you love your fountain pen as much as I do, you will probably run out of ink in no time.
Depending on your model, you will either need to refill the ink using either ink cartridges or bottled ink. Normally cheaper fountain pens operate with cartridges while higher end models use bottled ink or both.
It is always a safe option to buy ink form the same brand as your fountain pen. But most pens work perfectly fine with any ink regardless of the brand.
Most people choose their favorite fountain pen ink based on the color rather than the brand.
If you want to know more, read our article about the best fountain pen inks available.
How to Write With a Fountain Pen?
Transitioning from a ballpoint to a fountain pen is not easy, so don’t be discouraged if it seems a little difficult in the beginning. Those smooth and elegant lines are just around the corner! You might want to take calligraphy classes online that will teach you how to use a fountain pen.
But if you don’t have the time, here are a few basic tips to get you started.
- Writing angle. Depending on which nib and pen you use, the optimal angle between the paper and pen can be different. Most pens give the best ink flow under a 40 to 60-degree angle. The exception to this rule are round nibs, in which case you want the hold the pen almost straight up.
- Using the right amount of pressure. Writing with a good fountain pen requires next to no pressure. Assuming you clean your fountain pen on a regular basis, the ink should come out as soon as the tip makes contact with the paper. Excessive pressure might actually prevent ink flow and damage the nib as well.
- Use your entire body. Ok, maybe not your entire body but at least your entire arm and shoulder. Most people only use their fingers while writing, but using the whole arm will let you write more smoothly and also reduces the force you put on the pen.
- Keep your cap posted. This means putting the cap on the back of the pen while writing. Posting the cap allows for a better balance while holding the pen. Although it a little bit of a personal preference, for most people posting the cap is the preferred option.
- Refill In Time. I might sound like common sense, but make sure to refill your fountain pen in time. Some people are tempted to keep using their pen until it runs completely dry. As a result, the last few sentences they write will be filled with unclear lines and inconsistent color.
How to Maintain and Clean a Fountain Pen
Now that you bought your fountain pen, I’m sure you want to prevent it from breaking. There are a few crucial but simple steps to keeping your pen in good shape.
- First of all, put the cap back on the pen as soon as you are done writing. Obviously, this prevents any damage to the nib if you drop it for example. But just as important, it prevents the ink from drying up on your nib and stop proper ink flow. In case you forgot to put it the cap back in time, you can try to remove any dried in by soaking it in water.
- Secondly, it’s important to know how to clean a fountain pen thoroughly. This will make sure ink flows smoothly and no residues build up. The basic procedure for cleaning a fountain pen starts by unscrewing your pen. If there is still ink left in the reservoir make sure not to spill it! Then take the component that includes the nib and hold it under cold running water for a few seconds. Don’t use hot water since it might warp the tip. Then let the nib soak in a cup of water for at least one hour and regularly refresh the water if it changes color. To prevent any damage, let the nib dry in air for a few hours and reassemble the pen. If your fountain pen includes a converter or built-in filling system, make sure to clean those as well on a regular basis. After disassembling the pen take the converter and empty and fill the reservoir several times with water until the water comes out clean.
- Lastly, a fountain pen can be a delicate tool. You probably don’t want to lend it to someone that doesn’t know how to use it with care. Additionally, as you use your fountain pen more and more, the nib might ever so slightly change to fit your personal writing style. If you lend it for a long period of time, the pen might start to fit someone else’s style.
Recommended Fountain Pens
Because we know that not everyone has $1.3 million to buy a fountain pen covered with diamonds, we have selected some of our favorite pens based on their price.
Best Fountain Pen Under 50
With a budget below 50, you probably shouldn’t expect too much but they can still be good fountain pens for beginners. Since you will be able to practice writing, cleaning and filling a fountain pen several times without worries of breaking an expensive fountain pen.
- Jinhao 599: This is a very basic fountain pen. They are sold in 10 different colors and the fine stainless steel nib gives reliable results for its price.
- Pilot Metropolitan: Probably the best cheap fountain pen for beginners. With its simple design and reasonable price, the Pilot Metropolitan is a real favorite amongst people just starting out using fountain pens.
- Jinhao Dragon Phoenix: compared to the other two rather sober-looking models, this one is a real beauty to the eye and is great for gifting.
Best Fountain Pen Under 100
At a slightly higher price point, you will be able to buy a fountain pen containing a converter. While lower quality pens normally use pre-made cartridges, most pens in this price range allow you to use bottled ink. The converter will open up a whole new world of different colors.
For people seriously interested in fountain pens but don’t have a big budget available, at this price you can get some of the best fountain pens for the money.
- Waterman Hemisphere: This elegant Waterman Hemisphere is a hand-crafted pen, originating from France and comes in a variety of colors and nibs. If you purchase the complementary converter, these pens can operate with either cartridges or bottled ink.
- TWSBI 580: This pen is sporting a simple design. It can be completely disassembled and reassembled to allow the user to experience all the traditional aspects of a fountain pen. The piston ink-filling system makes it easy to change ink and has a large reservoir.
- Monteverde Invincia: Due to its iridium nib and its compatibility with both ink converter and ink cartridges, the Monteverde Invincia provides a good balance between price and quality. It comes in 4 different nib sizes depending on your preference.
Best Fountain Pen Under 200
Fountain pens above 100 normally come with high-quality nibs, the tip of the pen. These steel or gold nibs are hard and with very little give they produce rich and graceful lines on the page. The fountain pens below are very well respected and you can’t go wrong with any of them.
- Pilot Vanishing Point: This pen has an 18-karat gold rhodium-plated tip and comes in 20 different colors. Since it is shipped in an elegant gift box, it is ideal as a present for a client, friend or family member.
- Lamy 2000: This model is made out of black fiberglass and brushed stainless steel and can only be filled with an ink bottle due to its piston filling system. The 14kt gold, platinum coated nib produces smooth and elegant writing. The tip is slightly flexible so it will respond subtly to applied pressure.
- Pelikan M200: A beak clip combined with a transparent ink viewing window indicates a true Pelikan design. With a timeless polished black design, the Pelikan M2000 is relatively light compared with most other fountain pens. The stainless steel nibs are available in different sizes, making it ideal for calligraphy or other artistic endeavors. The pen you need if simple ballpoints just aren’t cutting it.
Luxury Fountain Pens
If you are paying more than $200 for a fountain pen you are probably crossing the border between functional tools and luxury items. That doesn’t mean that these pens aren’t good. They are just as good if not better than the previously listed models.
If you are looking for a good business gift or want to surprise someone that really likes fountain pens, you might want to go with one of the following models.
- Pelikan Souveran M600: This pen is hand-crafted and comes with a diamond-ground surface, finely engraved gold nib, gold-plated rings at the ink handle and a small decorative rink at the front. Put simply, a true beauty. Besides giving dependable results, it will awe people seeing it for the first time.
- Parker Duofold: Superb craftsmanship is definitely a fitting description for the Parker Duofold. Every nib is made of solid gold and contain rhodium highlights, polished to perfection by hand and assembled manually to allow for the utmost writing comfort and precise lines. These high-end pens are relatively wet writers, which allows the ink to flow easily onto the paper.
- Parker Premier: Although slightly heavier than most other fountain pens, the Parker Premier is perfect for professional writing. The solid gold nib will give clean and flawless lines with every stroke you make. It comes in a variety of colors ranging from luxurious black to pink-gold.