The Return of the Fountain Pen: Why People Love It Again
Fountain pens are making a comeback. They were invented in the 1880s and became popular in the 1920s up to the 1950s. However, their popularity dipped when the more affordable and convenient ballpoint pens took over. After all, back then, fountain pens were messy to use and inconvenient. Ink splatters while writing, ink-covered fingers, and ink leaks are so common, so people wanted something easier – and neater - to use.
Recently, more and more people are switching back to fountain pens, which have been improved and do not have the tendency to bleed ink like before. But why are people choosing fountain pens over other pens now?
One factor might be nostalgia. Just look at how vintage and retro trends are on the rise recently. But there’s certainly more than just craving for something from the past. Let’s explore some reasons why people are starting to use fountain pens again, and why you should make the switch too.
- They provide a smooth writing experience.
If you were to ask anyone why they use a fountain pen, they’d probably say that writing with one is a breeze, and they’re most probably right. Fountain pens provide a smooth writing experience that regular pens just can’t match.
When using a ballpoint pen, you need to press down on the paper to write properly, and avoid skipping lines that can make letters illegible. Sometimes, you’ll have to really put a lot of pressure just to achieve a good saturated line. Imagine how tiring that is if you do it only for a while. What more if you have to write several pages at a time? Using ordinary pens can result in hand fatigue.
You won’t have the same problem with a fountain pen. Its nib, the tip that interacts with the paper, allows for a smooth ink flow. This allows you to write clean lines without exerting a lot of pressure. Your pen is really the one working, and your hand is just its guide. This makes a fountain pen an ideal writing device for a long period of use, and you won’t have to worry about hand pain.
Ballpoint pens also often have a thin grip and are made of very lightweight material, so you have to put more effort into holding and controlling them when you write. This can also strain your hand. In this area, fountain pens also have the leg up.
Fountain pens have a relatively thicker grip, the most common being around 10 mm to 14 mm in diameter, so they’re easy to hold. Their barrels are made of durable materials that have a bit of weight in them, unlike the plastic barrels of ballpoint pens. The added weight makes fountain pens easy to control, which also adds to a better writing experience.
Nobody wants to experience hand fatigue from writing, and that’s one reason why people are now using fountain pens again.
- They can help you improve your cursive writing.
One of the joys of using a fountain pen is being able to write cursive more easily. If you want to perfect your cursive writing, a fountain pen will be your best companion.
It’s not impossible to write in cursive using a ballpoint pen, but it can be difficult since the ink doesn’t really flow as smoothly as a fountain pen and there’s a lot of friction on paper. Most fountain pen inks, like Webson Gill ink, are water-based, and they lay easily on paper and create full saturated lines. Writing without lifting the pen is so easy.
In addition, a single fountain pen nib can offer several line variations, which a ballpoint pen can’t. If you don’t put any pressure and just let your pen slide, you can produce clean fine lines. Add a little pressure and you’ll get thicker lines, depending on how flexible your nib is. When you write in cursive using a fountain pen, you can get fine upward strokes and broad downward strokes, and this combination will make your handwriting look very pretty.
You can write in cursive using any writing instrument, but if you want maximum comfort and a better experience, you will want to get a fountain pen.
- Fountain pens can be customized.
Another thing that makes fountain pens so appealing is that they can be customized.
The most you can do to personalize a ballpoint pen is to change its outer shell, and not much else. You can put stickers on the barrel, or if it’s made of metal, you can have it engraved. But that’s about it.
Also, if you want to get finer and thicker lines, you’ll have to purchase one ballpoint pen for each width. You’ll also need to buy several pens with one color each if you want to use different colors when you write. Lastly, you don’t really have a choice as to what ink comes with the ballpoint pens you buy.
The same cannot be said about a fountain pen. It gives you a lot of customization options.
For some fountain pens, nibs can be replaced, so you can use a single pen to write with different widths, whether fine or broad. If your pen comes with a stiff nib, you can replace it with something more flexible that can create different variations of fine and thick lines.
You can also use just one fountain pen to write with different colors. You can have several cartridges or converters that contain different colors and just swap a cartridge with another when needed. A quick side note though: you’ll most likely need to wash your pen in between color shifting to avoid color mixing.
You can also use different ink types, depending on your needs. If you don’t need anything special or are on a budget, you can just go for the usual water-based inks. They’re easy to use, affordable, and easy to wash off. If you want something more permanent and won’t be erased if you accidentally spill some water on your notebook, you can get other types of ink instead, like pigment-based inks.
Being able to customize a fountain pen makes it a great addition to your writing arsenal since you can make changes that will suit your needs. Even though you’ll need to pay quite a lot of money for one, at least you’ll really get your money’s worth.
- Fountain pens live long.
Another reason that will justify the expensive price of a fountain pen is its longevity. It’s not uncommon for a fountain pen to outlast its owner. Some pens that are already decades old and have been passed down different owners still work fine.
Many pen brands, like Webson Gill, have fountain pens with barrels made of brass, chrome, and/or wood, and these materials are very robust. They’re certainly not easy to break, so as long as you don’t abuse your fountain pen, it’ll live long. It will give you many long years of productive use.
In addition to proper use, proper maintenance also helps a fountain pen prolong its life more. For example, regularly washing and cleaning it will prevent ink from drying out, which can clog the pen’s feeder and potentially damage the nib permanently.
And because fountain pens are refillable, you can just keep using them over and over. On the other hand, if an ordinary pen runs out of ink, that’s basically its end point and will need replacement.
A fountain pen normally costs more than an ordinary ballpoint pen. This price can really motivate you to take good care of your pen and never lose it. Think about it: would you want to waste money by losing your fountain pen? Of course not!
The long life of a fountain pen makes it worth the purchase, and it’s really one of the many reasons why people prefer it.
- They’re more eco-friendly than other pens.
Fountain pens are also better for the environment in the long term compared to other pens.
Most fountain pens come with refillable ink reservoirs. If the ink runs out, you simply need to get your bottle of ink and refill. These bottles have a huge volume capacity that can last for a month or more, depending on how regularly you use your pen. This way, you will only need to purchase ink occasionally.
Some fountain pens do come with cartridge refill mechanisms, and getting a bunch of ink cartridges to refill them may not be as eco-friendly as you might like. After all, these cartridges are made of tiny plastic materials that are difficult to recycle. But these pens make up a small percentage of the fountain pen population. For most pens, a cartridge refill system can become refillable through converters. Problem solved!
Meanwhile, if your regular pen runs out of ink, you have to toss it to the bin and get a new one. This doesn’t even count the pens you’d lose or have lost along the way; it happens to everyone. Over time, these pens accumulate and contribute to the ridiculous amounts of trash we generate.
A fountain pen also comes with a reliable nib that doesn’t wear out easily. Some nibs can last for a decade or more (as long as they’re properly maintained), but if they don’t, you can just have your nib replaced. That’s less waste compared to throwing a whole pen away.
Recent events have created the dire need to make environmentally conscious decisions, and that includes which pen to use. If you are one of the many people who want to live as sustainable as possible, you’ll want to switch from a regular pen to a fountain pen.
- Fountain pens are economically sound.
The aspects of a fountain pen that make it eco-friendly also make it a practical long-term writing device.
First off, the long life of a fountain pen eliminates the need to buy a new pen so often. If you run out of ink, just refill! Even with regular refills, a 30 ml bottle can last you for months, which can save you a lot of money in the long run. Just imagine how much you’ll save when you buy one fountain pen and a bottle of ink compared to buying boxes of ordinary pens to use for several years.
If you want to write using different colors, you can just buy bottles of colored ink. You don’t have to buy a new pen every time you need a new color. And with the right ink, you can even use your fountain pen (and a broad nib) as a highlighter. How convenient is that?
Lastly, as we talked about earlier, nibs do not wear out easily. They’re made of stainless steel or gold, and either material can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. If you’ll use your fountain pen exclusively, you can expect your nib to last a decade or two before it starts to wear down. And even if it does, you can just buy a new nib as replacement, instead of a brand new fountain pen.
With all these perks, if you want something for the long haul, getting a fountain pen is the more practical choice over other pens.
- They look amazing and make you feel amazing.
This reason may not be as big a deal as the other reasons we already talked about, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Let’s be honest: fountain pens look better than most ballpoint pens. Some fountain pens have acrylic or resin barrels and pastel colors, but the more common build is a brass or chrome barrel with neutral colors, like black and blue, or fancy colors like gold or silver. Some pens also have wooden barrels, like Webson Gill’s Captain Edition pen, which aren’t very usual for ordinary pens but still look classic.
In addition to their impressive appearance, some fountain pens also have special boxes or cases for extra protection, making them even fancier to own.
These pens can also give their owners a good reputation. For instance, if you use a fountain pen at school or at work, others would get the impression that you’re serious about what you do and that you really know your stuff.
And because fountain pens don’t come cheap, they can be seen as a status symbol in some cases. Not everyone is willing to spend a lot for any pen, so having a fountain pain can really make an impression on others and can make you feel better about yourself for investing on a great writing instrument.
We’ve seen reasons why people are starting to prefer fountain pens over others, but they do have some disadvantages.
For one, most inks don’t dry easily, so if you write hastily with your fountain pen, you might smudge some lines, which will then result in messy handwriting.
Fountain pens are also quite expensive. There are many affordable fountain pens available; you can buy some for 20 bucks and below. But the better quality pens, like those from Webson Gill and other brands, come at a higher price point. If you really want a fountain pen that will last a long time (and potentially outlast you), you’ll have to spend a few hundred dollars.
Lastly, fountain pens need to be maintained properly. You’ll need to wash them regularly to avoid dried ink from damaging nibs and clogging feeders. Some ink systems will also need occasional lubrication. Ballpoint pens don’t really need any type of maintenance, apart from making sure you put caps back on, so using a fountain pen might feel like a chore.
But these disadvantages aren’t exactly dealbreakers. After all, it’s not that difficult to wait for ink to dry before writing another line of text. Also, because you shouldn’t write hastily, you won’t strain your hand too much when you write. And you can even just increase the spacing between lines to avoid smudges. Secondly, the price point makes sense given their writing performance, build quality, and long life, which you can’t get from ballpoint pens. Lastly, cleaning your pens regularly might feel like a chore at first, but once you get used to it, you won’t really bother doing it.
What’s not to like about a fountain pen? It’s a magnificent writing instrument. No argument about that. Today, people are more conscious of what they buy. Given that factor in making a purchase decision, it’s clear why more people are starting to shift from ballpoint pens to fountain pens.
They are comfortable to write with and can improve handwriting. They can be customized to fit your needs, and they are more environment-friendly too. A fountain pen is also a good investment since you can save money in the long term. Lastly, it can make you feel like a boss with its premium build.
If you want to get all these perks and feel good when writing, then a fountain pen might just be your new best friend.