My favourite pen is actually my cheapest - a Platinum Plaisir (a Japanese company - I see the author mentions Platinum pens). I bought it in an airport when leaving Japan in order to use up some left-over cash. It looked a bit crappy and I was surprised to find, first, that the plasticky body was actually metal, just somehow made to look like cheap plastic - and then, that it wrote really well. I still think it looks a bit crappy, but it's a pleasant case of a product being far better than it appears.
I still wouldn't advise going to any trouble to find one, though. Something like a Kaweco Sport - almost as cheap - is practically as good and, in the UK at least, much easier to find.
The article might be on to something in focusing on ink - that could well be the most important bit, much as the most important bit of your record player is the cartridge (hm, there's an analogy here that isn't quite what I intended). Different inks in the same pen can make or ruin your writing experience.
Unlike a rolling ball pen, it won't skip or fail to roll with pressure due to the rightward angle-of-attack against the paper, so a proper fountain pen is actually better than most other pens for us lefties. First time experiencing smooth writing in my life.
Ultimately, the enemy of lefties is the pointy tip, and the rolling ball that's expected to be rolled against the paper, not pushed against it. Felt-tip pens work just fine for us, so those pen Sharpies are alright, but so are the 1.0 bold tip roller ball pens from Pilot, at least all the Pilots I've tried. Can't say all the others work as well.
Although I prefer bold nibs, and the reasoning of your comment is sound (bold is going to be smoother and easier to push, which is what lefties do on paper), you can definitely get away easily with medium nibs too as a lefty, unless they are badly tuned.
Fine and extra fine sized nib are a matter of 1. taste in smoothness and line size, 2. how well tuned they are, and 3. hand writing position:
I don't enjoy particularly the fine line they leave, but I have at least an extra fine (european, on a Diplomat Aero) that writes really well, and it has very little feedback when sliding on paper, to the point it's almost smooth (I prefer smooth over feedbacky) even left handed.
There are cheaper pens on the market to try out different nib sizes, if one enjoys pens like I do, definitely find your favorite
And these are the most common nib options, there's even more :)
My pocket-pen is a Pilot Petit 1, another disposable that can be refilled and dirt cheap.
Fountain pen ink does make a difference, but nib quality is probably the major factor.
Then I bought a Lamy Safari on a whim and realized I could barely hold the thing. I did some reading and found out I was using the “lateral tripod pencil grip”, but the shape of the Safari’s wedged end really wants you to use the dynamic tripod grip. I fought through forcing myself to adjust the way I hold my pen for a couple of weeks, and what do you know: it really did end my hand cramps.
Ballpoint pens push you to hold them vertically. Fountain pens work much better at shallower angles. The difference in grip, and angle, and much lower writing pressure makes a huge difference (for me) in writing comfort. After trying and giving up fountain pens a few times, now I’m sold on them.
I've a few Lamys but my favorite pens of the last year or so have been TWSBI ECO Fs, an upgrade from Pilot Metro Fs, which I find scratchy. I also have some super cheap Jinhaos that look good on the outside but are leaky. I gather most people buy Jinhaos for the exterior, and switch out the nibs.
An astoundingly cheap and surprisingly good fountain pen ($4) is the Japanese-made Platinum Preppy F. They write way better than Pilot Metros. I kind of think Preppys should be the recommended starter pens rather than Metros.
I grew up writing with cheap Parker fountain pens in elementary school-- those poor experiences colored my perceptions of pens until I tried better pens. If I had a Preppy, I would have started on my fountain pen journey earlier...
I just wrote a comment praising cheap Platinum pens as well (though mine's not that cheap!) They must be on to something.
> I grew up writing with cheap Parker fountain pens in elementary school-- those poor experiences colored my perceptions
I have a fondness for the Parker Jotter, mainly from the fact that my grandmother always used one. I like their simple appearance as well. I have a couple, one of which I use quite a bit, but I agree, the cheap Parker doesn't write as well as the cheap Platinum.
Hmm - in fact I think I left a filled Parker Jotter in the desk drawer at work, back in the middle of March...
But again I generally purchase moderately expensive Indian acrylic pens and send them to a nibmeister to work on it and the pens come out better than any branded expensive pens.
Once you get a nibmeister work on your nib then the only difference between a cheap and expensive pen is in the quality, style and material of the body (Preppy is too light unless you mod it to eyedropper pen and fill the body with ink completely, this means you will tire faster, compared to a slightly heavier pen).
If you buy them individually, they're between $5-$7 retail.
I really like a number of the Japanese spiral bound notebooks too. The paper is great for my (mostly Japanese) fountain pens and inks. However, it’s much easier for me to find Rhodia here the US.
I do love the line spacing on the Rhodia, though. Some others are too narrow and it's hard to keep my writing both legible and tiny at the same time. Others flash back to those writing pads they give you in kindergarten.
They may have some style and look good cool, but honestly, I prefer ink rollers.
This is one of the best pens I know:
Later on we upgraded to fancier pens like Lamy or Montblanc but honestly, the mass market kid pens worked better.
There were also strict rules about which colors we were allowed to use.
When we spent some time in a US school during my dad's sabbatical we were amazed that the kids used pencils - so convenient and erases better than the "Tintenkiller" we had to use.
Montblanc remains luxurious, but I have a hard time imagining them being purchased by a child or student; I associate them with older executives who would proudly display it on their desk.
It is strange you didn't mention Rotring. They are quite affordable, nice design, good pens.
The big 0.8mm ball feels much better to write with, and the ink is really great. While you don't have the same variety in ink as fountain pens, the black is really dark (& waterproof), and Uni-Ball has some nice BLX colors - the dark blue is also great. But the rollerballs are less sensitive to any imperfections in the paper, will write at any angle and rotation, never leak (so I don't need to constantly pay attention to what angle it is in in my pocket), don't get ink all over your fingers, and don't need special handling to take into airplanes. Just much more practical overall, and more of just a tool that works rather than an art piece that needs strict care (analogy).
Using rollerballs is more expensive over time; a bit less so if you buy refills instead of a new pen every time. But it's worth the convenience. And while I do keep them close since they're expensive, they're cheap enough that I never have to worry about losing one of the pens. I can afford to buy 12-packs and have 3 pens scattered around the house + a stockpile of extras.
I have also stored them up right and so forth, I have never had a fountain pen just catastrophically leak somewhere while I was writing with it. I have made them burp before, or dropped them or waved them when I was brand new to them, but I've never had an otherwise normal riding session spoiled by ink going everywhere.
Maybe I am just lucky in what fountain pens I use? Or just lucky in general?
The large perception of fountain pens, vintage or modern, around the internet seems to be that they are like small grenades that will any moment to go off and leave you drowning in ink, and I just haven't seen that.
Anecdote not data etc
And you can react to that by saying "these things are crazy" or you can say "oh yeah, it's nothing but water, that makes sense."
There's still the occasional "too muck ink in the nib dripped into the cap" but that's hardly an explosion.
The caps screw or use friction to connect to the body of the pens, with the cap covering the area you hold, the section. In many pens, there is an inner cap that seals over the nib and against the end of the section. It is intended to keep ink leaking into the cap from getting back on the section, but they don't always seal very well.
My daily driver, a Twsbi Eco, has never leaked on me.
The trick with flying with fountain pens is storage angle. The air pocket that remains in the pen is going to be at a much higher pressure than the air in the airplane, so it is going to expand. If the pen is stored nib up, that air pocket is close to the top, and can escape through the nib with minimal leakage. If the pen is stored nib down, the air pocket will expand and drive ink out of the nib.
I think the comment on what angle you keep it at until you reach flight level is spot on. If you can store it so that the air bubble is up and the feed doesn’t have a huge amount of ink in it, it should be okay.
Some variations of vacuum fillers also have a piston that you unscrew to let ink flow from the reservoir, but close when you fly.
(Sorry if this is a bit vague. I’m more of a user of fountain pens rather than a collector so I tend not to geek out as much when it comes to the technical details. I mostly tend to choose pens based on what kind of writing I’m doing :-))
Which I find interesting, because we often use highly simplified versions of things for kids and then give them the real deal later on. But I know very few Millenials or younger that used Fountain pens regularly after elementary school.
Maybe because of how much of a pain we remember them to be and never tried a more quality pen in a different context. I recently got into ink drawing with dip pens and quite enjoy their capabilities and limitations. I definitly wouldn't have as a kid.
But: What writing instrument you use should depend on the message and receiver.
There are still some good reasons to learn to write with a proper pen. The nib gives quite a unique stroke, seeing as it's flexible, which is also why you see those varying strokes on good comics, such as those drawn by Albert Uderzo, or Franquin's hillarious Gaston Lagaffe, and not to mention his dark humour series, Idées Noires.
Personally I've always been drawn to fine writing, and I started learning calligraphy quite early, inspired by the wonderful written illustrations from Tolkien's world. I was overjoyed when I found a whole box of old nibs in a bankrupt store one day. Some of them dated back to as far as the 1800's, though most were from the 40's. So I got as many as I could afford, and that's when I started writing mostly using "dipping pens" for my fine writing. On a trip to London I also found "the best calligraphy store in the world," L. Cornelissen & Son, well in my personal opinion anyway lol. So if you're into that stuff, and nearby London, this is a wonderful place to stop by.
(As a leftie, I was not too happy with that. Switched to a ballpoint whenever I wasn't in school.)
Now I have a sizeable collection, but by far my favourite is Faber Castell’s Tamitio which features a collection of italic nibs (I myself use the most modest 1.1 size).
I’d like to chime in with an appreciation for Noodler’s ink. I first encountered it when I was in New York but I stocked up and then returned home and found (happily enough) that now it’s very conveniently available online.
Also of interest to anyone exploring transitioning to fountain pens would be the Pilot Vanishing Point, which is a retractable fountain pen that is generally well regarded.
Another tip is Noodlers Ink’s fast-drying “Bernanke Blue” ;-)
My goto before that (and now) are Uniball Jet Stream. The ink dries faster than you can try and smudge it. Refills are slightly hard to come by in physical stores, but I don't write much these days and they last for ages. I got a nice metal one (Jet Stream Prime, I think, single colour) last time I was in Japan - wasn't too expensive. Very hard to find that version elsewhere, but it's lovely and heavy.
As for inks, I like really black inks. I've tried Noodlers, Herbin Perle Noir, but they turned out greyish on even on premium Rhodia No 18 pads.
Then I found Rohrer & Klinger's Leipziger Schwarz, which is a very dark black ink with a dark blue tint. It's my favorite ink to this day.
I keep ink in my pens constantly. My philosophy being that any tool that can’t take the way I use it doesn’t deserve its place. (Pens that don’t work get thrown away mercilessly).
The environment where my pens are stored and used is very dry with little variation. Perhaps humidity and temperature is a factor?
I haven't been following them lately, but they used to be very good about replacing broken parts. (Which would then break.)
I also have some expensive fountain pens, but don’t take those to work.
It has a different smell to other inks.
Now I have a small collection of 'cross' fountains that I love to use on the few occasions I have cause to write anything.
There are still a couple of pilot varsity pens in the drawer though.
Example of this is below, but feel free to skip.
Just yesterday, I reached for my custom ink replacement for Parker penman Sapphire and was glad I had it handy. I was cleaning out some boxes and rediscovered my esterbrook SJ pen with a manifold fine nib. It has been restored, but I tend to not put modern inks in vintage pens oh, so having that ink sure was handy.
I remember not really liking the pen because it was such a nail to use, but with my current journal being a poetic Earth journal using handmade carbon paper that most fountain pens don't like, this one seems to do much better then any of the rest, and really the only other writing instrument in competition to write on this journal would be a pencil, and hard pencil at that. Silverpoint inkless metal pens are entirely useless, and fountain pens for the most part don't like the uneven paper surface, it's a bit like driving off road in a 4 x 4 sedan, well it can do it, it's not really liking it.
It is just interesting to me how even though I prefer my pilot myu 701 and other Japanese pens, because of the variety of nibs available in fountain pens, I can still find a use for a pen that at the time I didn't think I could use.
> it has a clear preference for pricy paper
Well so do I :)
Based on his recommendations, I've been using Waterman Intense Black. It works great: I just write a lots of text, and don't need colors - and importantly dye-based inks are less likely to cause clogs. But one drawback is that the ink isn't water-resistant, so if my notes ever get wet, they're done. I was thinking about trying Noodler's, since a lot of people seem to like their inks.
Has anyone who has used the Noodler's Bulletproof inks noticed problems with clogging (or the pens needing frequent cleaning)? (The review I linked mentioned problems with the Buletproofs.)
Since then Mr Binder always recommends the easiest and the most watery ink ever (Waterman Blue), because he's a pen guy, he doesn't care about the Inks nor does he care about writing.
I am neither an ink guy nor a fountain pen guy, I care about what I'm writing and how long would it last on the paper and my experience writing it. I don't have any collectible pens just moderately expensive fountain pens, a really good quality of paper, and a wide variety of inks to keep things interesting. Noodler's inks are an example of American ingenuity out there.
But I have used plenty of his inks and other than Baystate Blue none of them truly give you any problem. and if you are into fountain pen and inks nobody should die without using Baystate blue at least once.
My favorite are noodler's Henry Hudson blue which is a fountain pen Hospital exclusive ink, and the general of the armies. they both are complimentary things in ways that Henry Hudson blue is blue on writing but greenish on drying. General of the armies is the opposite, it's green on writing and bluish on drying. I have my pens loaded up that Henry Hudson blue and I picked them once a week, and other than priming them a bit there is no problem.
Like you say, Noodlers inks have various flavors of permanence, from none, to archival / eternal, bulletproof, and Wardens series. Almost all of them are PH neutral which helps keep them from harming the pen they are in or more commonly the paper they're put on.
I treat inks at my house on a spectrum, depending on how long I want whatever I'm writing to last.
0. Goners - chucked because they couldn't even hit level 1.
1. Non-permanent - often water soluble, looks great and behaves well, but I don't expect it to survive being in the sun, getting wet, or otherwise taking any torture at all. An example of this is Diamine Red Dragon, which has a cool name and a cooler look on paper.
2. Bulletproof - my standard inks for journalling or other documents that I want to resist aging and be reasonably readable if dunked in a bucket of water. An example would be Noodler's Heart of Darkness (looks like a shiny onyx black on paper) or Noodler's Navajo Turquoise (optional Eel), or even the humble Noodler's Bulletproof Black (looks like a grainy black).
3. Safe inks - My 'nice' non-permanent inks. Used for birthday cards, special occasions, and self-indulgent musings if the writing is not intended to be used more than a year or so. I also reach for these when I have a pen that is misbehaving with my usual inks. An example of this would be Pilot Iroshizuku Iro Ai.
4. Top Security inks - There are only 2 of these in my house. Noodler's Bad Blue Heron, and Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher. I use the latter in my Myu 701 for things that I want to last till the end of time, and resist the sun, rain, bleach, forgery lasers, the works.
None of the above considerations can be applied to ballpoint or rollerball pens, indeed, you are lucky if you have a 3 color pack of something nice from the disposables, like the Uni-Ball Signo DX UM-151 if you are gonna go to JetPens, otherwise you are stuck with the Uni-Ball Vision Elite Needle Grip family, which does okay, but still doesn't hold up to all the color varieties, nib variations, and grip sizes that fountain pens offer.
When I need to reach for a pen that is not a fountain pen for whatever reason (half the time all my FPs are just clean and un-inked and/or out of ink and I don't have time to fill 'em) I reach for the Pilot Hi-Techpoint V7, which is a refillable version of the Pilot Precise series of pens.
I haven't used Bay State Blue, though. That's supposed to be the ink of the devil.
- Waterman Hémisphère fine nib pen[+]. It costs between 80-105 euros, depending on where you buy.
- Waterman "Encre Noir Intense" (Intense Black Ink)
Link to Product:
Cons wise, they require a good quality paper to reflect those hairlines. Also, given its nib-eating nature, instead of a fountain pen, I'd suggest pairing it with a holder and a good nib. More hassle, but more pleasure. McCafferey's Ink is a great recommendation if anyone would like to try.
"* McCaffery's inks are highly acidic and can eat away at nibs. When using this ink, clean your nib thoroughly and often to avoid corrosion. You may also find mold on the surface of the ink, or a dried skin. These developments are natural and do not mean your ink has gone bad. Simply remove the mold or skin, throw it away, and stir the ink well. You are now ready to keep writing!*"
Glass dip pens are generally available, though I haven't used one. I also have a glass-nibbed fountain pen, but it's mostly for pondering the weirdness of the universe.:-)
This is not a fountain pen ink but recreation of historic inks used with non-fountain pens.
For fountain pens try Platinum blue-black, Pelikan 4001 blue-black, Diamine Registrar's.
I was mostly looking at the mold comment.
Probably the most comprehensive ink reference I’ve come across.
I just want to add that when using cursive, I love the slanting some people do, but as a lefty I find it difficult to do "forward" (because of how I need to position paper and hand) so I started to slant my handwriting backwards if it makes sense: it's like italicizing the test in a word processor, only in the other direction: the amount of flair/personality I'd like without bending backwards to make the forward slant work with my hand position
How do Arabic writers use fountain pens? Do they write with their left hand?
I would say his writing style somewhere halfway between hook-handed and left-handed pusher.
A TWSBI Eco with a bottle of Noodler's Bernanke would do.
Pens aren't useful?
> it's hard to edit or search through what you wrote on paper
As opposed to every other document not written using FPs? I don't even know what your point is here.
Yes, this is my point.
> As opposed to every other document not written using FPs?
As opposed to documents not written on paper. Please, read carefully.
More to the point though:
You'd be surprised how fast queries can be done in the type of physical organization systems that existed before computers! People weren't stupid, they came up with many brilliant systems. There's a great art to organization, summary, and consolidation. Maximum flexibility is usually not synonymous with maximum efficiency. And we've never quite mastered the input system for computers.
Editing is generally much better on a computer though, but even that shouldn't be overestimated. As humans we are much more often limited by the speed at which we can think, than by the speed with which we can record that information.
I am not talking of one line per day, I am talking of tens of pages per day.
When you have to write at length (hours per day) there is nothing as "light" as a fountain pen, using ball pen or rollers invariably get your hand more tired.
You shouldn't really handwrite things you need to edit or search through. I would definitely type all "archival" type notes and things.
But I still handwrite plenty of stuff. Daily to-dos, retention type notes, and exploratory idea work are all better suited to paper, in my opinion.