The market has myriads of choices for fountain pen brands and models, so how do you decide when picking the right one for you?
This post covers that question and additional questions tackling things such as:
- The advantages of using fountain pens
- Fountain pens for daily use
- The best models and brands
- Affordable fountain pens
How to choose a good fountain pen
Here are basic considerations to take into account:
Determine the right nib size and nib material for you. For the nib size or thickness, there are variations between brands, as there is no set industry standard for that.
Most brands and models you will see carry a medium grade nib, and for most users, that’s the ideal thickness. You would want to check that out first before trying other sizes.
If you are a heavy daily user, one with a fine nib might be suitable for that purpose compared to fountain pens with broad and stub nibs. Also, fine nibs have their own charm as long as they are not scratchy, but yes, there are those who also prefer scratchy nibs for some reason related to feedback.
Next to check is the nib’s material, where you also have lots of options to choose from. You start out with fountain pens with gold or steel nibs, which are the most common materials, but if you have time to check more models, consider looking at those units that use titanium.
Steel nibs are more affordable than gold nibs, but that doesn’t mean they are lacking in terms of quality. There are deluxe steel nibs that offer the same smooth writing experience that gold nibs offer.
With regard to gold alloys used in making nibs, know that most of these contain either 14 carats (about 58%) or 18 carats (75%) of pure gold. That should be considered when weighing the price of a unit with gold content.
- Grip size
Which do you prefer for the grip of the pen – something thinner or thicker? Get the right diameter for comfortable writing and having just the right pressure on the hand.
The body also comes in different materials, so you need to find the material with just the right weight overall.
The body’s shape is also an important consideration. High-end brands come with triangular body options, so you might want to check on that.
In addition, when picking from the circular tube options, you might want to check the different variations.
For instance, there are pens shaped as cigar, which means they have straight bodies down the middle with ends that are rounded or curved.
Another option in this category is the flat top shape, which means that the pens have a cap that is straight and flat.
More options for shape include baseball bat, faceted, bullet, and tube.
Paper comes with different quality and characteristics. Some types show feathering while others have smooth surfaces.
The challenge here is to choose the nib or pen that will work with the kind of paper that you usually use. When using the wrong pen together with paper that doesn’t match, writing either results to paper that feathers and bleeds or writing that has little to no feedback.
You also need to factor in the ink that you will be using, because there are different types of ink. Some inks are classified as wet, others dry.
Drying time is also different among ink brands.
Likewise, you need to consider echoing ghosting, a writing phenomenon that is also a function of ink, not just of paper.
Why use a fountain pen over a regular pen
What makes a fountain pen worth the extra expense for a writing tool?
Many people switch to using fountain pens as their daily writing implements because:
- It feels better to the grip
Generally, fountain pens are thicker and have nicer grip sections than the usual pens. For people who have a penchant for heavier pens, fountain pens made with metals easily accommodate that preference.
With fountain pens, users have a better feeling in their hand, as against the flimsy feeling they get from a writing tool made of plastic.
- There is less pressure required
Ballpoints and similar writing tools require lots of pressure to write completely saturated lines, while fountain pens don’t need that much pressure for the task.
For many users, this translates to reduced hand fatigue. Also, that results to easier writing with the arm being the main source of writing force rather than the fingers and the wrist.
For artists, that means allowing them to effortlessly and consistently create solid lines.
- Fountain pens have steady writing properties
Your fountain pen will maintain its writing properties under normal conditions and proper care. There will always be the same pen and the same writing quality that you have been familiar with using it.
Anything that’s short of terminating the service of a valuable nib, you can always customize, repair and maintain on your own.
- It offers variations in line width
With fountain pens, achieving thicker lines only requires changing the pressure on the pen when writing. If your work needs to generate greatly varying widths on the line, you can opt for options called flex fountain pens.
- Using a fountain pen improves writing stamina
For some people, writing stamina is an important part of doing their writing tasks. They just want to accomplish more within the work time given to them in the office or in their own personal space.
For these people, the decision to make the switch was worth it. There is less pressure on the body and more work is accomplished.
Fountain pens are the friendlier pieces of stuff when it comes to environmental protection.
There are things to use like ink, a bit of water, and soap when cleaning the pen, but only two things go to the trash - the paper and the ink bottle.
In the case of the fountain pen itself – it will go to the landfill only after 10 years, 20 years or even 90 years of service.
Are fountain pens good options for daily use?
Answers vary, but let us just take up views that users expressed in some discussions online, and comments from people with a lot of experience using fountain pens.
There are particularly three salient points to echo from users in this regard:
- Personal state of affairs
It depends on how you use the pen. If you work in an office, that probably means you’re doing note-taking and other stuff like signing and annotating. For this, a fountain is a great pen to use.
This also goes with people who write essays and songs in the evening after work. A fountain surely suits these activities.
There are drawbacks however, and one of them is that fountain pens are ink-based, which means you have to bring ink cartridges or bottles wherever you go – even when traveling.
If your work particularly requires using waxed and glossy papers, you might also find it hard to get a pen that you can easily control so it will not slip. The same is true with uneven writing surfaces.
If you need it for drawing, a fountain pen might just be perfect for the job, and as long as you intend to use the pen as frequently as possible to study the details of its movements, you’ll be on your way to creating sketch masterpieces.
Fountain pens do a wonderful job of forming precise, smooth linework. Compared with dip pens, they are easily transportable, and as against fine liners, fountain pens are more spontaneous and livelier if you need to do your sketches on the go.
Maintenance of fountain pens is the challenging part of using them. Some users point out that, while these writing tools write beautifully, they require more work maintenance-wise. Regular cleaning is important.
That’s apart from the hassle brought by the need to refill, but if you don’t mind the additional upkeep, it’s fine to stick to using a fountain pen.
Best fountain pen brands
Brands and models are offered at various price points, and that is a very important thing to consider. Know your price limits, so you’d know which can be evaluated within that price range.
We’ll try to cover preferences and features as much as possible in our listing to help you come up with a set of points of preferences that will guide your choice.
Here are the top 7 brands for your perusal:
- Webson Gill
Webson Gill comes first when recommending a brand for quality and feel. The power of this brand lies with the feature related to balanced weight and also about smooth and consistent strokes.
You may also want your fountain pen to have ink cartridges that perfectly fit the pen’s barrel, which means you will not frequently run out of ink when writing with a Webson Gill unit.
Many people regard Montblanc fountain pens as the best, but when you carefully look at the fine points about the business, this is more about marketing strategies, about which they are pretty good at, rather than quality.
So, for turning heads, a Montblanc would be a good choice. No worries about quality. Insiders in the company say Montblanc is putting a lot of effort to come back to their old standards, which began to drop in the middle of the 90’s.
So, popularity-wise. Go for a Montblanc.
Pelikan brand exudes in the reliability side, which means whenever you want to use it, it will always do its writing function – without slips and without skips.
Looking for a gift for your child for his graduation and on his way to the corporate world? A Pelikan fountain pen will be a good idea.
The pen might take a lot of beating from years of use, but it won’t give you any problems – even if it is not given that extra care.
It’s especially important when you are busy writing and you want to continue on and on until the last character is inscribed.
For the best ink flow, you have to look at Lamy, a German brand. They make a huge variety of pens of different styles, shapes and sizes. The nibs are easily interchangeable across models.
As to ink flow, expect it to be really nice, with the nib neither too dry nor too wet. You can write with just the right pressure resulting to great writing every single time.
Some Lamy models come with a piston converter, one that you can use in place of cartridges for ink refill. This feature is one of the easiest ways to refill a fountain pen.
You simply twist a knob there, turn the knob in the opposite direction to close and you have the pen already refilled and ready for the grueling tasks you need to subject it to.
Are you not into spending more for your first fountain pen? Or just - not now.
If you want to avoid mid-priced units and other really highly-priced models, the Chinese Jinhao line of fountain pens is worth a look.
While you can enjoy the ability to buy more units from Jinhao without spending a lot like you would with a single fountain pen made in Japan, the US, or Germany, these Chinese fountain pens are definitely not for everyone because of their size.
So, if the size will be comfortable in your hand and will not cause tiredness while you write, get a Jinhao unit.
The thought that you can easily change models without being regretful over the price will be an advantage when you do such a switch in the future.
If looking classy with your outfit means a lot to you, you’ll find a good friend enhancing your looks that way with every single Parker fountain pen there is in the market.
What makes Parker pens give that kind of impression? There are several reasons cited, but one that stands out is the “arrow pocket clip” that adorns the base side of the pen.
That arrow feature is present whether or not the Parker model is an expensive unit or a more affordable one, so even if you will end up with the cheap Parker Jotter model, the low price does not matter if “elegance” or the classy effect is what you’re trying to achieve.
Note: If budget is not that tight and it allows you to go up a little over a hundred dollars for a fountain pen, Parker has really sophisticated and stylish models for that price range, or you can also check out Webson Gill in case none of the Parker models catches your fancy.
Here’s one brand employing the expertise of Japanese penmakers, known for making fountain pens with fine nibs that produce fine lines.
In many Pilot models, the nib can be so fine that it is easy to make scratches across the paper, but for first-time users of a Pilot pen, that scratchiness can be corrected after doing or practicing more strokes.
The grip of Pilot fountain pens can be problematic though. Because of the plastic body of most of these pens, there is a tendency for the pen to slide through the grip and the writer to make errors with his sketch.
I will use a fountain pen for the first time. What are cheaper options?
You can start with these 3 quality yet very affordable pen models:
- Pilot Metropolitan
The Pilot Metropolitan model is one of the brand’s cheapest, retailing at $15, and with a more thorough search for cheaper offers, you may get a unit at a price lower than $11.
This is a daily-use fountain pen with a smooth nib and a sturdy metal build. The metal material is sure to last a long time and guaranteed not to rust easily even with a user’s hand that’s sweaty.
- Wingsung 3008
If you’re only willing to put under $5 for a fountain pen unit just so you can start using a fountain pen and know how it feels like using one when writing, then this $4-model from Wingsung can be a good choice.
The 3008 uses a piston filler that will allow you to only dip the pen into the ink bottle for refills and also give you a large ink capacity to last throughout an entire school term or months of writing work.
Note: The cap of this pen easily gets rusty. You can use nail polish to prevent that from happening.
- Moonman M2
Also coming with a huge tank for holding large quantities of ink, the Moonman M2 is an eyedropper pen that also writes smoothly. The lines that it makes are clear and clean without the user putting in a lot of effort drawing or writing.
An ergonomic pen as some people describe it, the Moonman M2 will allow you to write numerous pages of notes without you experiencing tiredness in your hand or fatigue.
And for the cost: It is sold at under $30 with some stores selling it at the lowest price of $11.
Searching for the right fountain pen to use can be a lot of fun, so enjoy every single second of it. The moment you hold the right pen, you stop the search and end the fun as well.