If you’ve been reading my Fountain Pen 101 series, you’ve seen a couple of shout-outs to Regalia Writing Labs. Beyond being a genius with nibs, Ralph Reyes, the creator, is a really nice guy.
He offered a limited run of “Full-Flex” nibs a few months ago, and Jim was lucky enough to snag one. It was absolutely amazing. Check out this fabulous flexibility. I wasn’t even putting much pressure on it.
So when Ralph announced a Semiflex nib was coming, I turned on post and story notifications for his Instagram account and eagerly awaited the star of the sale. I was lucky. I got my hands on a nib, as did Jim. It took a while, but our nibs finally arrived on Monday.
Ralph did an amazing job with the packaging. I felt like I was getting a piece of jewelry. And I loved the custom seal.
Last week I covered ink, this week I’m covering it’s holders, namely ink reservoirs. The reservoir is what makes a fountain pen a fountain pen. Without one, it would be a dip pen. Essentially, there are two categories of ink reservoirs: removable and built-in.
The ratings you’ll find below are averages and based on my opinions. Each pen is different, and every person has different preferences, so don’t discount a pen just because of a rating; research it first. Ink capacity is rated ★☆☆☆☆ (least capacity) to ★★★★★ (most). Ease of cleaning is specifically for cleaning the reservoir itself, not the entire pen, and is assuming you do not disassemble the pen at all (e.g. removing the nib unit).
If you want video instructions or step-by-step photo instructions of how to utilize some of these ink reservoirs, check out these guides: JetPens | Goulet Pens
It’s impossible to cover ink in a single post. For one, I don’t know every ink brand, and new brands are popping up every day. For two, there are all sorts of properties that people like to discuss and/or include in their reviews. However, what I’m going to try to do is give you an overview of the ink properties I’ve heard discussed most often and the “best known” ink brands.
As a side note for newbies, make sure you only use fountain pen inks. Ink for dip pens could destroy your pen.
As you start exploring inks, you’ll hear about various properties, including shimmer, shading, sheen, wetness, feathering, and bleeding. Most ink properties are at least partially dependent on the paper you use. Basic copy paper, for example, will negate almost all ink properties, while Tomoe River paper is well-known to enhance most ink properties. To enhance ink properties, you want to write/draw on “ink resistant” paper.
Another Fountain Pen Friday, another Fountain Pen 101. Welcome back! This time I’m covering nibs. Let me start out by saying that this is an introduction to nibs. I’ll cover nib customization (yes, that’s a thing) later.
Your average fountain pen is going to be available in one of the following nib sizes: Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B), Double Broad (BB), and Stub (usually 1.1mm or 1.5mm, although 1.9mm does exist). You do occasionally come across Oblique nibs (similar to a stub, but cut at an angle), but they’re far less common and typically found on specialty pens.
Some pens, especially from indie pen makers, utilize standard #5 or #6 nib units from Bock or Jowo. That means you can purchase other nib units of the same size and manufacturer and swap them out. It’s like giving your pen a mini makeover.
Something to keep in mind when selecting a pen is the origin of its manufacturer. Japanese nibs tend to run 1-2 sizes thinner than Western nibs. So if you like a M Lamy, you’d probably want a B Platinum. JetPens (yep, them again) have a great post on the various nib sizes and differences between Japanese and Western nibs.
Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101, and happy Fountain Pen Friday! This week, I’m taking a look at what I think are the best pens with which to start your fountain pen journey. This one is rather long, but I wanted to give you a good overview of each pen.
If you’ve never touched a fountain pen before, I’d suggest trying out the Platinum Preppy or the Pilot Metropolitan. They are both solid pens, with far more benefits than detriments. Another good pen, although a “step up” price-wise from the Preppy and Metropolitan is the Lamy Safari. It’s another solid pen that’s unlikely to let you down.
I’m leaving out the disposable Pilot Varsity, because, although inexpensive, it abandons the best parts of fountain pen use: changing inks and re-usability.
I’ll be rating each of the three pen on reliability (in terms of writing), appearance, durability, ink (both the availability of cartridges and the converter quality/style), nibs, and ease of cleaning.
I also took a look at several major retailers to see who offers the best deal for a “starter pack” of pen, pack of cartridges, and a converter. Prices listed below are in US dollars with the total price first, and the price of standard shipping to Maryland, United States — included in the total price — in parentheses.
Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101. Before I really dive into the meat of this series, I want to cover the basic anatomy of a fountain pen. I’m just going to cover the parts I’ll be discussing later. If you want an in-depth look at all of the parts, I suggest you check out this post on the Goulet Pen Co. blog.
Cap: This one’s easy. Most pens have a cap. Those that do, it’s important to keep them capped when not in use, so the nib doesn’t dry out. Some people like to post the cap when using their pen (like in the photo below), but not all pens are postable. It depends on the body.
Body/Barrel: Another easy one. The “official” term is barrel, but I doubt anyone would be confused if you call it the body. If you’re using a cartridge or converter pen, this is the part you unscrew to get to said cartridge or converter. Depending on the shaping of the body (if it’s tapered or not) you may or may not be able to post the cap.
Welcome to my inaugural Fountain Pen 101 issue! I’ve had a handful of questions about fountain pens on my various social media accounts, so I thought it might be helpful (and fun) to provide an introduction series. This 101 series is intended to provide you with all of the information necessary to make your first (informed) fountain pen purchase and/or prepare you to use a fountain pen you’ve been gifted. Stay tuned for a 102 series that will guide you through this rabbit hole you’ve discovered.
I’ll be posting weekly on Fountain Pen Friday (yes, that’s a thing), but you might want to subscribe to avoid missing a post. Before I go any further, I’d like to take a moment to say this won’t be an objective, all-informative series. I’ll be including what I’ve learned so far in my 1.5(ish) year journey down the fountain pen rabbit hole, including some very subjective information/analysis.
I decided to start with the simplest question: why fountain pens? But before I answer that, I’d like to take a step back and address a larger question. Why write?
The benefits of writing vs. typing have been well-documented, and are easy-to-find. Writing improves memory/recall, sharpens critical thinking, and pen/pencil and paper are easier on the eyes than digital screens.
Now, imagine how much the benefits improve when you enjoy writing. Ballpoint/Rollerball/Gel pens have come a long way. The writing is smoother, there are more color choices, and the pens are prettier than they ever have been. But fountain pens give you a completely different experience that really brings joy to writing.
So what are some of the real benefits to fountain pens? Keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive, it’s an overview of what I consider to be the biggest perks.
Alright, this is it. The big one. The one we’ve all be waiting for…whoops, nope, this isn’t Harry Potter. This is my last BWIPS 2018 post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reminiscing with me. If you haven’t yet, go read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 before continuing.
When I left you yesterday, we were all heading back to the hotel for the “official” pen show after dark fun. Somehow, between leaving Frank & Nic’s as one big group, and arriving at the hotel (a 5-minute walk if you’re going slow) we separated into multiple smaller clusters of 3-8 people.
Jim made a beeline for the hallway between the show rooms as soon as it became apparent that that was where the “event” was being held. Jim wanted a good spot, and I tagged along with him.
Soon Cary Yeager and a gentleman whose name I don’t know came down the hall and started setting up the area. I helped bring out and set up the chairs so my conscience would be clear when I didn’t stay to clean up.
Slowly, people filtered down from the bar and lobby, filling the little hallway area to overflowing.
Welcome back to my BWIPS experience write-up. Today starts the pen show after dark shenanigans. If you haven’t read parts 1, 2, 3, and 4, you might want to go do that. This post is back to a shorter length, but tomorrow’s (which should be my last post) will probably be rather long.
The announcement that the show was official over (for the day) was a bit of a bummer, but it also meant that it was time for after-show shenanigans.
It took me a while to locate Jim, who I found sitting with Adam at the Bertram’s Inkwell table. At that moment, the plan was to stick with Adam to enjoy the after party.
But when we got shoo’ed out of the room, we found ourselves in a crush of people. For a while, we sat and listened to Larry Ragland of Diplomat Pens play the guitar. I even had some fun dancing. Te was kind enough to let me include some photos she took.
Welcome back to my BWIPS experience write-up. If you haven’t read parts 1, 2, and 3, you might want to go do that. Fair warning, this post is longer than I intended it to be because there’s a lot to say. That said, I hope you enjoy it.
When I last left you, I was on my way to the Bittner table to buy a Homo Sapiens Bronze Age (VHSBA). There were a couple of people in front of me, so I waited, mostly patiently, for them to finish. Finally, it was my turn. Cindy Bittner was very efficient. She had my Homo Sapiens Bronze Age Maxi with a medium nib packaged up and checked out in a couple of minutes.
Happy as a clam, I met back up with Te and Jim, and we went to the Chesapeake Room to await the Organics (Studio) 101 chat with Tyler Thompson.
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