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Fountain Pen novice looking for a pen

Standard "Bic" ballpoints, pencils, chopsticks, and similar sized items make my hands hurt if I use them very much or very long. Since all my 'writing' is for the most part all electronic (email mainly but some IM on the cellphone), I haven't been overly concerned about ballpoints for my signature since I don't write that many checks or short notes. However, I would like to improve the quality of my cursive writing and this is only going to happen with a new pen and practice. The financial realities are that a Pelikan M600 off Fleabay is too expensive to be anywhere close to a reasonable near term acquisition.

I want a fountain pen larger than a standard disposable ballpoint with the barrel diameter being the main thing. The "Sharpie" diameter or a bit more is about right. I have used Lamy Safari and Rotring pens in the past and they are way too awkward for me, though I did like how the Rotring laid a line down. I don't like cartridges for ink, piston's seem to be out of my price range so, that leaves the eye dropper or converter option for ink. A medium nib seems to be a good width to start, though in the future a music or italic broad nib might be fun.

The Pilot 78G looks like a good place to start but, the needle point fine or broad italic nibs put me off not to mention they seem to be out of production or possibly moving to China with the only mediums being relatively expensive. There are some apparently well regarding Chinese fountain pens but, I'm having a hard time understanding what is offered with them (quality, price, functionality).

The other "group" of pens I'm having a hard time picking through are Sailor's. Online ads and posts in general are more confusing then helpful and the company website left me frustrated. What I seem to be drawn too is the 1911 series with their Japanese nibs that seem to run thin for type and have a different shape. There is a King, standard, small, and Profit model? It seems like the defining difference are in the Nib and pen size. The really expensive ones have 21K gold nibs and the large King model. The small is just that, too small with a small ink capacity and probably not a good size for my hand issues. Which leaves the 14K nib model in the middle. Is this 'middle' model a profit model or are they different or just made from different materials? I'm pretty confused on the Sailor fountain pens other than a fine nib is way too small.

Staying under $50 would be ideal but, $100 is realistically a hard limit with a reasonable timeframe to save for. What am I missing in brands or other pen options?
 
The Platinum Plaisir may fit your needs well. The reason I mention this one is that the cap seals very well, so if you use the pen infrequently the nib/feed won't dry out. The pen body is aluminum, and is good quality. Another option is the super-cheap Pilot Varsity line of pens. They are marketed as disposables, but you can pull the nib and feed out and refill them.

My daughter's 78G (like most fountain pens) must be used regularly or the ink dries and clogs the feed.
 
It's doubtful that you could get a Sailor 1911 or Pro Gear pen under $100.00 but they really are very nice pens. They are not Sharpie width though until you get into the King of Pen line.

The differences are primarily in the size of the pen and the generic shape. The 1911 line are all based on the Sheaffer Balance model with cap trim similar to Montblanc; the Pro Gear line are based on the Parker Duofold or Sheaffer Flat top model and again, come in three basic sizes. All use the same cartridges/converters with one exception. There is the "Realo" versions that are converter filled.

In the under $100.00 range you can find some Platinum #3776 Century pens in the solid colored bodies. The Platinum Century series have fairly large nibs and are relatively wide compared to the Sailor or Pilot pens.

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Left to Right: Pilot Custom 743, 742, 74, Sailor 1911L, Platinum #3776 Custom, Sailor 1911S

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Looking at these right now:
TWSBI 580 or 580 AL $50-55
Platinum 3776 Century under $80 on Amazon from a Japanese seller. You may have to allocate about $8 for converter.
TWSBI Eco $30
The Platinum like other Japanese pens is a narrower nib. My B is wonderful. (More like a M in a western )
 
It's doubtful that you could get a Sailor 1911 or Pro Gear pen under $100.00 but they really are very nice pens. They are not Sharpie width though until you get into the King of Pen line.

The differences are primarily in the size of the pen and the generic shape. The 1911 line are all based on the Sheaffer Balance model with cap trim similar to Montblanc; the Pro Gear line are based on the Parker Duofold or Sheaffer Flat top model and again, come in three basic sizes. All use the same cartridges/converters with one exception. There is the "Realo" versions that are converter filled.

In the under $100.00 range you can find some Platinum #3776 Century pens in the solid colored bodies. The Platinum Century series have fairly large nibs and are relatively wide compared to the Sailor or Pilot pens.
Thank you! A picture is worth more than a 1,000 words in this case! :001_smile
 
I wish I had a good pen store close to me to feel these in my hand and see some inks. It looks like the size differences in the pens and nibs is more subtle then the introductory and beginner webpages and posts I read.

That Platinum #3776 Century looks like it might be a really good option for me even though it is a bit above my 'target' price. It is about half what Sailor is at normal street pricing though I guess I will keep on eye on the Sailor fountain pen I'm watching.

How do these
Platinum #3776 Century pens compare to some of the more common options in a similar price range in terms of feel, quality and, durability for normal use outside of an office environment? Also, they look like they are a good choice for someone that may put them down for a while with their "slip and seal" technology or is that mainly marketing fodder?
 
I wish I had a good pen store close to me to feel these in my hand and see some inks. It looks like the size differences in the pens and nibs is more subtle then the introductory and beginner webpages and posts I read.

That Platinum #3776 Century looks like it might be a really good option for me even though it is a bit above my 'target' price. It is about half what Sailor is at normal street pricing though I guess I will keep on eye on the Sailor fountain pen I'm watching.

How do these
Platinum #3776 Century pens compare to some of the more common options in a similar price range in terms of feel, quality and, durability for normal use outside of an office environment? Also, they look like they are a good choice for someone that may put them down for a while with their "slip and seal" technology or is that mainly marketing fodder?

The "Slip and Seal" really only is an issue over really extended periods. That still requires the threaded cap to be fully screwed on.

You don't say how far away you are in East Texas so knowing where that is could help with suggestions.
 
The "Slip and Seal" really only is an issue over really extended periods. That still requires the threaded cap to be fully screwed on.

You don't say how far away you are in East Texas so knowing where that is could help with suggestions.

I am Two hours away from Rockwall (East Dallas), an Hour and Half from Texarkana and, about Two and Quarter away from Shreveport.

I also travel to OKC a lot to see my Mother and she likes to go to New Orleans so that is an infrequent but possible connection as well.
 
Haven't been close in a very long time. Went to Padre Island with Mom once and picked up a box blade outside of Austin a few years ago.
 

Doc4

Stumpy in cold weather
Standard "Bic" ballpoints, pencils, chopsticks, and similar sized items make my hands hurt if I use them very much or very long.

I want a fountain pen larger than a standard disposable ballpoint with the barrel diameter being the main thing. The "Sharpie" diameter or a bit more is about right. I have used Lamy Safari ... in the past and (it was) way too awkward for me ...

The Pilot 78G looks like a good place to start but, the needle point fine or broad italic nibs put me off not to mention they seem to be out of production or possibly moving to China ...

Staying under $50 would be ideal but, $100 is realistically a hard limit with a reasonable timeframe to save for. What am I missing in brands or other pen options?

So, size is the ... um ... big thing for you.

The 78g (or the Metropolitan) won't work for you as it's too thin. If you want a large-sized cheap pen of good quality, get the Platinum Preppy. (Or Plaisir ... a Preppy with a better/stronger body.)

The other option at a reasonable price would be TWSBI. Not "the best" at the sub-$100 game, but one of the few with the size you want.

What was your problem with the Safari? That would have been one of my suggestions ... was it the "triangle grip"?


The other "group" of pens I'm having a hard time picking through are Sailor's. Online ads and posts in general are more confusing then helpful and the company website left me frustrated. What I seem to be drawn too is the 1911 series with their Japanese nibs that seem to run thin for type and have a different shape. There is a King, standard, small, and Profit model? It seems like the defining difference are in the Nib and pen size. The really expensive ones have 21K gold nibs and the large King model. The small is just that, too small with a small ink capacity and probably not a good size for my hand issues. Which leaves the 14K nib model in the middle. Is this 'middle' model a profit model or are they different or just made from different materials? I'm pretty confused on the Sailor fountain pens other than a fine nib is way too small.

The Sailor 1911 line has confusing nomenclature, and they often use different names in Japan vs. overseas. But let me simplify things: there are three sizes, medium/standard, large and "King of Pen". Each size has two different styles: the rounded-end model (often called 1911) and the shorter-but-otherwise-identical flat-ended model (often called "Profit").

The smallest of those three sizes will not suit your needs.

The King of Pen would suit you well, but it's phenomenally expensive.

The middle of the road "large" would do you well, but is still expensive.

Japanese pens tend to be smaller ... shall I blame smaller Japanese hands? Dunno why, but that seems as good an explanation as any ... and you only get to the larger size with the more expensive pens on the whole, with few exceptions. So if you are thinking of getting a "cheap Sailor" below the 1911 grade, you will almost certainly be disappointed with the lack of girth.

Sailor nibs (on the 1911) come in three general categories: regular nibs, the naginata togi, and Nagahara specialty nibs. Regular nibs are ... regular. The usual XF, F, M, B sort of thing. These are good nibs; you occasionally see a music nib or zoom nib or what have you, but it's mostly just the regular stuff. The naginata togi is an interesting nib that is like a stub nib turned 90 degrees so it's broad on the cross-stroke and thin on the down-stroke; this is a design created by the Sailor master-nib-maker Nagahara-san (now retired but his son continues in his place.) Nagahara-san also invented many other specialty nibs which can be fun to write with, but are generally very large and juicy so not for daily note-taking; they are also very expensive.

Again confusingly, "naginata" is a name Sailor also gives to a size of nib, larger than their standard nib. So you can get a 1911 with a Naginata nib but it's just a normal nib-point, at a lower cost than the same 1911 with a "naginata togi" nib. You will see below four nibs (removed from the pens). Apart from differences in colour, the two on the left appear the same; one is a "naginata togi" and the other is a "naginata" with regular nib.

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Clear as mud, right?

Naginata togi close-up:

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Confusing nomenclature for Sailor pens:


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If you win the lottery, get the King of Pen. Otherwise, save your pennies and eventually get the next-largest model. Since you can't change the nibs on a Sailor pen, you will by then have experimented with cheaper pens to decide what nib size you want.

IMHO, if you are going to spend the money on a full-sized 1911, you should spend the extra money and get the naginata togi.
 
So, size is the ... um ... big thing for you.
....
What was your problem with the Safari? That would have been one of my suggestions ... was it the "triangle grip"?

Yes, carpal tunnel and other issues makes using skinny round 'sticks' very unpleasant. The Safari triangle grip was the culprit. I also found the balance way off. The Rotring Rollerball I used briefly was the same way, bad balance and funky off center grip.


... Otherwise, save your pennies and eventually get the next-largest model. Since you can't change the nibs on a Sailor pen, you will by then have experimented with cheaper pens to decide what nib size you want. ...

Good advice. The KOP is really a not an option for me because at that price, I would be looking at the larger Pelikan's. The next size down seems to be the best compromise if I go this route with fountain pens.
 

nortac

"Can't Raise an Eyebrow"
Before spending money on an expensive pen, I would suggest trying a couple of inexpensive pens that take #6 nibs that are easily and inexpensively swapped out. The Nemosine Singularity is about the size of a Sharpie, maybe slightly thinner, but not by much. They usually sell for about $20.00. The Jinhao X 750 is dirt cheap, comes with a "fat" medium nib that is easily swapped out, is a large pen, QC is hit or miss, may take some fiddling with to work well, but again is dirt cheap, but looks nice enough. The Century 3776 works as advertised with the sealing cap, but may be smaller than what you want.
 
The differences are primarily in the size of the pen and the generic shape. The 1911 line are all based on the Sheaffer Balance model with cap trim similar to Montblanc; the Pro Gear line are based on the Parker Duofold or Sheaffer Flat top model and again, come in three basic sizes. All use the same cartridges/converters with one exception. There is the "Realo" versions that are piston filled.

Fixed that for you. I knew what you meant.

I'll second a vote for the Ranga ebonite. I haven't tried them, but people seem to like them. You can find nice big fat cigar shaped ones with good Jowo nibs for about $80 or with generic steel nibs for quite a bit less. They seem like good value pens.

If you want to go cheap and big, there's the Jinhao 159, available for $5 or so on ebay, which is modeled on the Montblanc 149. Big pen, classic cigar shape. You have to wait a few weeks for it to arrive from China, but I like mine, especially for the price. Somebody described it as a "Fake it before you make it" pen, I guess in reference to the Montblanc comparison.
 

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
If you have a Staples store near by go check them out. They now carry Cross FP, and Pilot Metropolitan and a few of each to choose from. They are in the $20 range. It will get you started.

But a word of caution, I have the Cross FP, one of the cheap $20. I won't buy another one. It feels so cheap. It's very light and writes more like a super bold roller ball pen. It's hard to keep up with the ink flow, it just pours out in thick lines.

So if you get one, get the Metro, way better pen.
 
Like you, skinny pens are very difficult for me to use. And like you, I switched to fountain pens to improve my hand writing. HUGE, and profound improvement, but mainly due to the lack of pressure required to produce ink to paper.

When comparing pens, focus on grip diameter, not barrel, as this is what is going to matter most when holding the pen. www.GouletPens.com has photos and measurements of all pens they sell, and I find that very helpful when comparing pens. For me, grips over about 9.75mm are comfortable.

For your first pen, I strongly recommend against spending any more than about $30. For one, you are also going to need ink and paper, (ink at least $15/bottle) and you're probably going to want an interesting color for casual correspondence other than just blue or black. And, once you start using your new pen, you will find some things you like or dislike that you hadn't considered and want to buy another pen. I can almost guarantee it.

I think the Pilot Metropolitan is a fantastic first pen. A very affordable pen without looking or feeling like a cheap, almost disposable, beginner's pen.
 
For your first pen, I strongly recommend against spending any more than about $30. For one, you are also going to need ink and paper, (ink at least $15/bottle) and you're probably going to want an interesting color for casual correspondence other than just blue or black. And, once you start using your new pen, you will find some things you like or dislike that you hadn't considered and want to buy another pen. I can almost guarantee it.

Bottled inks
are part of the reason I think FP are so popular in addition to the pretty lines they lay down. The physical stress and hand & wrist pain issues related to writing with cheap ballpoint pens while very important to many people, is only a small part of the attraction IMHO.

Pelican Edelstein Sapphire and Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-gao are two inks I plan on buying at some point. Initially, it will probably be just some cheap Parker ink, though I do have a couple really cheap Kohinoor "document inks" coming my way out of Europe via Ebay. Montblanc Document Blue looks pretty but, boy it is expensive. http://www.diamineinks.co.uk/ offers a good value too given the current exchanges rates and affordable shipping so, I see a bunch of 30mL samples heading my way at some point too when I have a few pens to ink with different colors.

Thanks to the generosity of a forum member, I will have a couple FP to "test drive" so I can see what works best for me before I save up for a more expensive FP. Hong Kong and Japan via Ebay offer some good prices and options on various Asian FP so, that is probably where I will go when I learn what I really want and build experience.

That just leaves the paper! Black'n'Red and Sugarcane notepads from the common office supply superstores is probably where I will start though, a ream of the better copy paper might be a better option to learn on. Thankfully, that is a decision I don't have to make today so, next time I go to Bee Club in the neighboring town (~30 miles away) I see a stop at Staples and Walmart for stationary supplies!
:001_smile
 
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