Fountain Pen for a beginner

Discussion in 'The Nib' started by Texican, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. As a school teacher, I am constantly losing my cheap bics. I also like writing letters. I am considering getting a nice fountain pen for my person.

    Can anyone make any suggestions as far as stores and pens to look at? (I already looked at Smythson. Quite pricey! And I already patron a company that has a Royal Warrant (T&H)!)
  2. There are a number of decent and affordable fountain pens out there. Lamy makes some very practical ones. You can also find some Japanese ones at Jetpens, for example.
  3. A Waterman Phileas is probably the most inexpensive way to try a fountain pen, but I never cared for mine much. A Pelikan 200 is slightly more expensive, but is a very fine pen. I find I reach for it most often, even though I have a collection of higher-end pens. It's a great everyday writer with a quick piston-fill mechanism. I probably didn't need to buy too many pens after my Pelikans...
  4. Pelikan makes great pens, the 150 is the starter and is quite reasonable in price. Cross fountain pens are very robust and the new Sheaffers are very good writers.
  5. Lamy Safari. Perfect starter pen.
  6. + 1 Million to Lamy Safari. They're a bit industrial looking, but the nibs are very good and the price-quality ratio is superb. It's definitely a great started pen.
  7. Do not buy a fountain pen. Your posting lists the wrong reason to buy a fountian pen. as in a Teacher who loses pens. As a techniacl writer I recommand buying a pack of Sanford UNI-BALL Roller Ball PEN with a 0.5 mm tip.

    If you want to buy a fountian pen then first ask about the best nib for the type of writing you do then ask about the best ink system (cartridge or bottle).

    As a hint, the best buy for the money come from China.
  8. Sometimes the Rotring 600 is on sale for a good price. I also like my Sensa FPs, which can be found at a low price, because the part you hold is squishy and comfortable.
  9. Try a few disposible FPs first- Pilot Varsity/Itoya Blade
  10. TimmyBoston

    TimmyBoston Moderator Emeritus

    Pelikan M200
  11. I would suggest stopping by Paradise Pen. They have a great selection, and give you a good in-person introduction to fountain pens. Most of their pens are first rate (with the price tags to match), but will give you a good idea of what is out there.

    As far as a first pen, I would recommend a Waterman Phileas (you should be able to find a good one for $20-$30) or a Pelikan 200 (been a long time since I bought one, but probably for $100 or less).

    I would suggest something inexpensive at first. I know I also used to lose my pens until I got a pen I actually cared about.

    If you can't find anything reasonable locally, drop me a line and I'll see what I can dig up.
  12. I would recommend a Cross fountain pen for a beginner. They are actually quite nice, but cost only about $30. The will take bulk ink or cartridges. Good writers, too.

  13. I have a nice parker for letters.

    find a mont blanc and be done w/ it.
  14. Another vote for a Lamy Safari, or the transparent version the Vista (which was definitely here before the Microsoft disaster with the same name...).

    For something a bit more pricy but higher quality, a Lamy 2000 (about $100 from is an excellent pen but the nibs tend to be about a size wider than they're marked - a fine would be more like a medium on any other modern pen.

    Or you could get something vintage - a restored Parker '51' or a Sheaffer Snorkel for example. The Parker particularly is widely regarded as one of the best, if not *the* best, fountain pen ever made. The mark 1 with the 'Aerometric' filler is the one to go for as far as reliability is concerned - they stopped making them around 40 years ago but there are huge numbers of them around, and they were constructed as workhorses, often still in working order even without being restored. Alternatively, Hero of China make cheap clones of the '51' - you can buy them from for tiny amounts of money: the Hero 100, 616 or 329 are all similar internally. The only downside with the Chinese pens is that quality can be a bit spotty, and the nibs tend to be very very narrow.

    Whatever you get, think about the filling system - cartridges are more convenient, but something which fills from a bottle is more environmentally friendly. For something like the Safari/Vista, the default is cartridge but you can get a convertor which allows you to fill from a bottle - so-called cartridge/convertor fillers are pretty much the standard for modern pens these days.

    But do beware - if the bug bites you could find that fountain pens are as addictive as shaving items... my collection runs to about 20 assorted vintage pens and a few moderns at the moment, including 3 '51's, 5 assorted Snorkels, a Hero 100 in stainless steel and both a Lamy 2000 and a Vista.
  15. More good replies above. I will elaborate on my reply. I own a Lamy Safari, a gorgeous vacumatic 1946 Parker "51" and a Waterman Phileas. The "51" is my everyday pen. Never, IMO, has a better fountain pen been made. My pen was restored and retuned by Richard Binder and I am really happy with it. The Lamy Safari, however, probably writes just as well as the Parker which is saying something for a $24 pen. The Lamy will come with a filled ink cartridge that you just pop in and use straight away. It also comes with a convertor which is an empty, reusable cartridge that you fill with whatever fountain pen ink you desire. So save your cash and buy a Safari so you can try lots of different inks instead (which is where the real fun is). :biggrin:

    I will throw a plug to James, a sometimes B&Ber, at Pear Tree Pens. Nice, stand-up guy. Offers a large, nice selection of pens and inks and does samplers as well.

  16. You can get a Pelikan 150 for under $40. This is a piston filler [no cartridges and holds a ton of ink], they come with good nibs and are very light for all day use.
  17. My favorite pen is a '46 Parker 51 Vac. It stays on my desk at home. I carry in my pocket a Hero 330, which is a 51 replica. The Heros are made in China, and are very inexpensive, high-quality pens. I bought mine on ebay (came all the way from Hong Kong for $15 shipped), but here is another source:
    Hero pens
  18. My favorite is my Pelikan 1000, but my daily user is also a '46 51 Vac. Just a great workhorse. Smooth writer, lots of ink.

    I also was impressed by the Hero 51 knock off. Not a spectacular pen, but a good performer. The one thing I found was that I had to rotate the feed. Not a big deal, no tools needed. And its inexpensive enough that, if you lose it, it won't be much of a loss.
  19. I have 4 FP's, all of which are old stock. I'm definitely a beginner. I highly suggest a Reform 1745, found in the sale threads at - they are NOS and an excellent buy. It's the only one of my 4 that I will carry around, mainly because I'm certain it will not spring a leak. The others (all bought in local antique shops):

    • Sheaffer No-Nonsense: can take cartridges and converter; I don't carry it around with me because it dries out too quickly
    • Esterbrook M2 Aerometric, 1551 nib: love this one, but the sac is pretty old so I don't carry it out
    • Esterbook M2 Aerometric, 2668 nib: same as above
  20. Go for a disposable.
    A 3 dollar pen works better than all my +50 dls pens. It leaves any mont blanc pen I have tried in the shadows and crying.
    Second place comes Lamy for a -50dls. Their Stainless Steel nibs are as stiff as they can get, but then again, you asked for a FP for a beginner. Their very good flow compensates for the stiffness.
    Shaffer, Waterman and Pilot are close third. They are very good but a bit more expensive. Also it can be very difficult or impossible to find them with XF or F (Extra fine) nib. Basically the smaller your handwritting the finner the nib you want.
    Japanese and Chinese FPs are elegant and inexpensive, but they have some QC issues. Most are great, but some are a headache.

    I am sorry to be the naysayer Texican but I also have to tell you this. Reasons for not using FPs.
    1. They get lost a lot.
    2. They get "lost" a lot. Lost as in "hey! I lost a pen just like that last week. It looked just like that... HEY!:mad3:"
    3. They depend on the quality of the paper you are using. I have tried the best brands of inks. I have tried the best indie inks in the world. No matter what I use, the ink will smear on the standard paper we use at school and work. This is the main reason why I stopped using FPs
    4. Accidents happen. 99% of the time you will be the coolest guy with a fp (and I know you are not after this image, but still), the other 1% :a31::censored::
    5. FPAD will bite you. There is no way around it. They are more addictive than Tobacco and Chips together.
    There are roller-ball pens out there that are just as comfortable, and a 100 times more convenient. They may not have the timeless elegance of a FP, but in a school timeless elegance is not as appreciated as one would think (I guess I should not be saying this to history professor... sorry :))

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