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Best $50 - $75 fountain pen

nemo

Cheaper than ink
I know you weren’t asking me, but I do not, and would love to learn!
Manifold nibs are very stiff nibs that can be used with carbon copies without suffering damage from being pressed too hard. Most big pen companies made them -- I've got some tough steel Esterbrook nibs and a few rigid German Durchschreibefeder (marked D) nibs on my Pelikans. They can, of course, be used in normal writing but don't expect any "give" or flex that many people like in a fountain pen.
 
Congrats! You do know what a manifold nib is, right?
Not exactly, but there is a page on the site that explains how to fill using different methods. It will be a learning process! I would be interested in learning what kind of nib that is. Thanks!
 
Manifold nibs are very stiff nibs that can be used with carbon copies without suffering damage from being pressed too hard. Most big pen companies made them -- I've got some tough steel Esterbrook nibs and a few rigid German Durchschreibefeder (marked D) nibs on my Pelikans. They can, of course, be used in normal writing but don't expect any "give" or flex that many people like in a fountain pen.
That is great info, Nemo, thank you! I jumped in blindly, wanting to try something old, like the razors. I am excited to try it and to interact with others more here. Worse case, I don't care for it and I find it a better home than sitting a drawer here!
 
Yes, the Eco has a #5 nib and the 580 has a #6. The only difference is the size. Physical size, that is. The size of the writing is the same. Often larger nibs will be softer and write with a little more bounce, but Jowo nibs are notoriously stiff, so that's not the case here.
Not that it makes a difference to the central point, but the nib on the 580 is not a #6 size. It is a larger #5 nib. It is the same with the Precision fountain pen.
 
Not that it makes a difference to the central point, but the nib on the 580 is not a #6 size. It is a larger #5 nib. It is the same with the Precision fountain pen.
You're right that the 580 has a number 5 nib. However, a "standard" modern number 6 nib is larger than the number 5. thewritingdesk.co.uk describes the Vac 700 as using the larger (emphasis added) number 6 nib.
 
You should be ok. Many modern nibs would have been considered manifold back in the day. Like Nemo said, there just won't be any bounce in the nib.
That is great info, Nemo, thank you! I jumped in blindly, wanting to try something old, like the razors. I am excited to try it and to interact with others more here. Worse case, I don't care for it and I find it a better home than sitting a drawer here!
 

Doc4

Stumpy in cold weather
$50-$100 is infamously a "dead spot" in the fountain pen market.
In terms of new pens, I would tend to agree. Lots of great pens at the $20-$40 range, and you probably don't notice much of an improvement at the $50-$100 range so why spend so much more. You need to get into the more expensive pens to really notice a difference.

Of course, vintage pens bought second hand can be a totally different thing!
 
Well I ended up getting a TWSBI 580ALR Fine nib. I wanted something in between my Pilot Fine and Safari Fine nibs and this is spot on. Very smooth and very happy with it so far. I’d still like to get a vintage/second hand pen or two before I consider moving up a price range. But who knows honestly, that Pilot custom 92 shipped from japan and around $120 is tempting!!

Pics of my recent purchase from Lemur Ink:
5F216153-DAD3-4083-BA6C-F3323B150003.jpeg
 
In terms of new pens, I would tend to agree. Lots of great pens at the $20-$40 range, and you probably don't notice much of an improvement at the $50-$100 range so why spend so much more. You need to get into the more expensive pens to really notice a difference.

Of course, vintage pens bought second hand can be a totally different thing!
Doc, what would be your top recommendations for vintage or second hand for sub $100?
 
I am thoroughly enjoying my newly acquired hobby, and am considering acquiring a more expensive fountain pen, maybe or I might just stay content where I am currently. This may be my last, or it may not. Who knows 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️

So my question(s) what would be your recommendation for a pen in the $50-$75 range? What makes it better than pens in the $15-$30 range? Is it even worth it? Not yet ready to drop $150-$200 on a pen. Someday, maybe. Not there yet though.

I’m having lots of fun with my less expensive pens. I completely understand the ymmv and all, and would appreciate hearing your experience comparing the less expensive to a bit more expensive pens!

For reference here’s what I currently have:
  • Lamy Safari multiple nibs for it (F, M, 1.9)
  • Pilot Metro F
  • Pilot Kakuno M
  • Platinum Preppy F 0.3
  • Platinum Preppy M 0.5
Thanks so much for sharing your experience and recommendations!!
I used to sell guitars, and they have a lot in common with fountain pens. People would look at a £200 guitar, then point to a £400 guitar in the same range and brand, and ask if it was twice as good. Being honest, I would say No. The £400 guitar was made using more attractive wood grain, OR it was assembled by someone more experienced, OR better machine heads and saddle.
The law of diminishing returns. I have pens which cost £1 or £2, and they are nice, and write nicely. I have £15 pens which are twice as nice in every detail. You will get little extra by spending only twice or three times as much. Slightly more attractive, perhaps.
If you go for the Platinum Plaisir you'll find it uses the same nib as your Preppy. It is, in fact, the same pen but with an aluminium cap and barrel instead of plastic. You can swap them. Buy what you wish, but the greatest value is in the zone you're in now.
 

nemo

Cheaper than ink
I used to sell guitars, and they have a lot in common with fountain pens. People would look at a £200 guitar, then point to a £400 guitar in the same range and brand, and ask if it was twice as good. Being honest, I would say No. The £400 guitar was made using more attractive wood grain, OR it was assembled by someone more experienced, OR better machine heads and saddle.
The law of diminishing returns. I have pens which cost £1 or £2, and they are nice, and write nicely. I have £15 pens which are twice as nice in every detail. You will get little extra by spending only twice or three times as much. Slightly more attractive, perhaps.
Don't forget reliability and longevity. I've had $5 and $10 pens that wrote great right after I inked 'em up. But soon the nib comes loose or the cap cracks or doesn't catch threads, or section leaks in the shirt pocket. I rely on my pens like folks from early and mid 20th century and don't want something that dries up after a few hours and won't write. Inconvenient as well as embarrassing.
 
I stopped buying Chinese pens for this reason. Sure they are ridiculously cheap, but you get what you pay for. They dry out, corrode, leak, break, etc.

As for vintage, a well-restored vintage pen will likely outlast a lot of the lower and mid-tier pens made today, and even some of the higher tier ones with notorious QC issues (cough Visconti). I'm confident that my P51s will be writing for my grandchildren long after the Custom 823 has cracked...

Doc, what would be your top recommendations for vintage or second hand for sub $100?

If you want to go vintage, and I would encourage you to, don't worry so much about a model or make, but focus on who you are buying it from. You want something sold by a reputable pen restorer who will ensure that you get a well functioning writing instrument that will work as intended. There are a number of those people in the US and Europe whose work you can trust.

From there, you can look at their inventory and see what strikes a chord with you. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with Parker or Sheaffer; both have models well within your budget.
 

Doc4

Stumpy in cold weather
Doc, what would be your top recommendations for vintage or second hand for sub $100?

I am not "into" vintage pens like some others, so I don't really know what's "a good bet" or a top recommendation. I guess I could take the easy answer and say "one in good condition that is inexpensive", but that says everything and nothing.

My suggestion would be to find those vintage pens that you like, and then see what the "going price" for a decent one is.

One thought, though ... avoid paying for the "collector characteristics". Collectors will pay extra for "mint", for "in the box", for that special colour that they only made in 1944 for six months ... and that bumps the price up for "collectability" reasons rather than "pen quality" reasons. You don't need that.
 

AimlessWanderer

Remember to forget me!
NONE of my cheap Far Eastern made pens have...

A) Cracked... but then I tend to buy metal bodied ones. I have a few (<£3) spares of the ONE plastic bodied demonstrator I do use... but I haven't needed them in the few years I've owned and used it.

B) Leaked... other than when I somehow got a stray hair caught between the tines on one, and didn't notice immediately. That kind of dribbled a bit. Easy fix though.

C) Corroded... but then I have only been using my <£3 for three or four years at a guess. At that rate, I probably wouldn't use enough pens in my lifetime, to add up to some mega spendy pen that I can't get a £1 replacement nib for.

D) Spontanteously disassembled itself or catastrophically failed in any other way.

Some DID need an extra three minutes to refine the nib a little before I first put it to work. However, I would much rather spend those three minutes, than spend an extra £100+ so I didn't have to spend three minutes on it. Sadly, nobody else thinks my time is worth £2000+/hour either :p Maybe someone else wouldn't be so lucky, and might need to spend £10 on three pens, in order to get one good one. Still a bargain.

Another bonus with the cheapies... They gave me a good education is what aspects to avoid (plastic bodies, stepped transitions and threaded grip sections), should I choose to "upgrade" at a later date.

I consider vintage pens to be significantly higher risk than cheapo modern pens. No warranty/returns, unnecessarily complicated fill mechanisms, limited availability of spares, and potentially professional repair fees to pay if and when something does go awry. I think that arena is for dedicated enthusiasts, more than just fountain pen users. It's like looking for a new car, and being recommended a 1930s Austin. Perfect for some people, but not necessarily for everyone.
 
I used to sell guitars, and they have a lot in common with fountain pens. People would look at a £200 guitar, then point to a £400 guitar in the same range and brand, and ask if it was twice as good. Being honest, I would say No. The £400 guitar was made using more attractive wood grain, OR it was assembled by someone more experienced, OR better machine heads and saddle.
The law of diminishing returns. I have pens which cost £1 or £2, and they are nice, and write nicely. I have £15 pens which are twice as nice in every detail. You will get little extra by spending only twice or three times as much. Slightly more attractive, perhaps.
If you go for the Platinum Plaisir you'll find it uses the same nib as your Preppy. It is, in fact, the same pen but with an aluminium cap and barrel instead of plastic. You can swap them. Buy what you wish, but the greatest value is in the zone you're in now.
I appreciate you sharing your experience and insight!
 
Don't forget reliability and longevity. I've had $5 and $10 pens that wrote great right after I inked 'em up. But soon the nib comes loose or the cap cracks or doesn't catch threads, or section leaks in the shirt pocket. I rely on my pens like folks from early and mid 20th century and don't want something that dries up after a few hours and won't write. Inconvenient as well as embarrassing.
Sounds like when something goes wrong with a FP it can really go wrong! Good to know so I can be on the lookout/aware of some shortcomings at times. Thanks for the insight Doug!
 
I stopped buying Chinese pens for this reason. Sure they are ridiculously cheap, but you get what you pay for. They dry out, corrode, leak, break, etc.

As for vintage, a well-restored vintage pen will likely outlast a lot of the lower and mid-tier pens made today, and even some of the higher tier ones with notorious QC issues (cough Visconti). I'm confident that my P51s will be writing for my grandchildren long after the Custom 823 has cracked...



If you want to go vintage, and I would encourage you to, don't worry so much about a model or make, but focus on who you are buying it from. You want something sold by a reputable pen restorer who will ensure that you get a well functioning writing instrument that will work as intended. There are a number of those people in the US and Europe whose work you can trust.

From there, you can look at their inventory and see what strikes a chord with you. Personally, I don't think you can go wrong with Parker or Sheaffer; both have models well within your budget.
Thank you kindly for sharing your insight! I’m considering a couple that have been recommended to me already, the Parker 51 and Sheaffer Imperial. I got a feeling I’ll end up with the parker at some point for sure!
 
I am not "into" vintage pens like some others, so I don't really know what's "a good bet" or a top recommendation. I guess I could take the easy answer and say "one in good condition that is inexpensive", but that says everything and nothing.

My suggestion would be to find those vintage pens that you like, and then see what the "going price" for a decent one is.

One thought, though ... avoid paying for the "collector characteristics". Collectors will pay extra for "mint", for "in the box", for that special colour that they only made in 1944 for six months ... and that bumps the price up for "collectability" reasons rather than "pen quality" reasons. You don't need that.
Thanks Doc! I appreciate you laying out your thought process there. That’ll help me avoid paying a premium. I’m thinking I’ll just be on the lookout for a good user-grade in looks that writes really well. Might toss up a WTB ad on the BST, see if someone has one collecting dust that they’d like to move on.

Any experience with Gold nibs? I’m curious as to how they compare to a stainless nib?
 
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