Fountain pens are elegant writing instruments, and unlike ballpoint pens, they’re not disposable. Two of the most prominent features of fountain pens are elegant design and that they write well — not something you can always say about a typical ballpoint.
Like watches, fountain pens are sometimes considered a status symbol. There are many brands that produce expensive pens, but there are also many companies that produce good quality pens that most of us can afford to buy.
Now if you’re thinking fountain pens are too expensive, how many times have rummaged through your desk drawer looking for just one ballpoint that would write? A good fountain pen will write for years and last long enough to pass to your children. You can’t say that about a ballpoint or gel pen.
When my grandfather died all the grandkids were allowed to pick one thing of his to remember him by. I chose a fountain pen. For years it lived in a box way in the back of my closet, until I decided to start writing down my New Year’s resolutions by hand.
How to Write With a Fountain Pen
Last year I rediscovered journaling, and I really believe writing things down by hand helps me keep the resolutions I make as well as give me some insight into my life and the decisions I make.
Since that first pen, I’ve bought several more and here’s what I’ve learned about buying a fountain pen:
First consider what the pen is going to be used for. Each type of fountain pen has its own specialty. Do you want a showpiece to sit on your desk only to use occasionally or are you looking for something to take notes?
For the average student, a fountain pen with a fine nib is the best choice. This type uses less ink which suits the inexpensive type of paper most students use. There will be less chance of a smudge or ink bleeding through the paper. A good choice for students/note-taking is the Lamy Safari Fountain Pen – Extra Fine Nib.
Next consider the handwriting style of the user. Those with neat penmanship usually prefer fine nib pens, while heavy handed writers may want a more durable iridium-tipped nib which can take a bit more wear and tear.
There’s a fountain pen to suit everyone’s style so no one should feel like they’re fighting the pen.
Fountain Pen Nibs
Nib sizes are not standardized so what’s considered fine or medium will differ between American, German, and Japanese pens.
Ink filling techniques include cartridge, converter, cartridge-converter, and piston, but most modern fountain pens use cartridge converter which means they can use ink cartridges in addition to converters for bottled ink.
If the pen is for technical drawing like architectural sketches, it’s important to have an even flow of ink as well as a fine nib. Consider the Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen with Ergo Grip – Extra Fine Nib. This pen has a cartridge-converter filling system allows you to draw in any color.
A pen that’s meant for journal writing only has to please the writer so there’s room to be creative. A wide nib fountain pen with a variety of colored inks will let the user be really expressive. Try the Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen – Broad Nib.
The Kaweco is only 4.1 inches when capped so it’s a perfect fit for anyone keeping a travel journal. Sometimes the ink flow may take a minute to get going, but once it’s flowing, everything is smooth as silk. Cartridges come in six colors.
You have to start somewhere, so buy a pen and figure out what you like and don’t like about it. Finding the perfect pen can be a lifetime pursuit — that’s part of the fun of writing with fountain pens.
One last thought, if you have child that isn’t interested in penmanship, give them a Lamy Safari and see if that doesn’t help. School kids in Europe usually start out on a Lamy and they’re generally good for adult beginners too.