Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101, and happy Fountain Pen Friday. Sadly, this is the final issue. But fear not, pen enthusiasts! I’ll be back in a few weeks with Fountain Pen 201. If you missed any of the previous issues, you can check them out here:
For now, however, I’ll be discussing the benefits of brick and mortar stores. While online stores are fabulous, there are some things they simply can’t provide. To aid you in your brick and mortar store search, I’ve compiled a map of stores known to sell fountain pens. But before I get to that, let’s discuss brick and mortar store benefits.
Most important, in my mind, is the ability to handle a pen before you purchase it. You can see it from every angle and learn how it feels in your hand. Depending on the pen, and the store, you may be able to dip-test it, meaning you dip the nib in ink to test the writing quality. This is probably the only thing that is absolutely impossible for an online store to replicate, making it a HUGE point in a brick and mortar store’s favor.
Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101. We’re down to the last two issues. This week I’m covering paper.
As a fountain pen user, you’ll have to give thought to what paper you use. You’ll want to make sure you use “good” paper, often referred to as “fountain pen friendly”. This term references paper that “behaves well” with fountain pens, and is, to some degree, personal preference.
In this particular case, it will be easiest to discuss various properties paper is judged on, rather than the paper itself. If you’re only interested in overviews of different paper and notebooks, then feel free to jump ahead to that section below.
Bleedthrough is considered a negative trait. As I mentioned before, this is how much an ink bleeds through paper. Particularly “bad” paper will cause bleed-through with nearly every ink, but some ink will bleed through on nearly every paper. Keep in mind that you can make virtually any paper bleedthrough if you lay down enough ink.
Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101 and happy Fountain Pen Friday. This week, I’ll be discussing cleaning and filling your pens. However, because videos can explain cleaning WAY better than words ever can, I’ll be linking to videos for a decent portion of this post. I’ll also provide you links to good pen cleaning supplies. NOTE: The prices listed below are in USD and don’t include tax or shipping.
Cleaning is one of the down sides to fountain pens, especially if you can’t disassemble the pen. However, it is vital to preserving the quality and prolonging the life of your fountain pen.
As a rule, you should thoroughly clean your pen every time you change inks or before you store your pen for an extended period of time (think more than 2 weeks without use). If you are simply refilling your pen with the same ink (some people always use the same ink in a specific pen), then you should clean your pen every 1-2 months.
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.
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