Fountain pens are the most personal of writing instruments. For a long time, fountain pens were the only type of pen available. When mass-produced ballpoint pens came along, however, most people opted for the cheaper cost and greater convenience they provided, and fountain pens fell out of fashion.
Fountain pens are now in the middle of a renaissance, driven by eco-conscious millennials who write less often but want a more rewarding and satisfying experience when they do. This means owning a premium-quality classic writing instrument that makes a statement, like the classic Mont Blanc 145 Meisterstuck Classique Gold Fountain Pen, a top choice around the world.Advertisement
A fountain pen is supposed to be a personalized item, so it’s key that your pen fits your hand properly. Start with the size of the pen. Bigger hands need thicker grips and find narrow grips uncomfortable to hold. Smaller hands find bigger fountain pens unwieldy and hard to write with. Before buying a fountain pen, experiment with the different sizes of the pens you already own. If you need a lot of writing precision and drawing accuracy, you will want to consider a smaller pen.
Heavier fountain pens have the more substantial look and feel often associated with well-crafted luxury items. Lighter fountain pens are often made of cheaper materials that are less sturdy.Advertisement
Nibs are the metal tips that put the ink on the paper. Rounded nib tips are the most common because they create uniform lines regardless of the writing angle or pen pressure. Flat nib tips, also called calligraphy tips, create wide vertical strokes and narrow horizontal strokes. They add a bit of personal style to your writing.
Nibs come in dozens of sizes, shapes and styles, each designed to create vivid, clear and personal strokes. Larger nibs produce bolder strokes, while smaller nibs are ideal for those who prefer thin lines. Cheaper nibs are made of plastic, mid-range nibs are made of a number of different metals and high-quality nibs for purists and calligraphers are made of 14K gold, prized for their superior flexibility and resiliency. Choose the nib that matches your writing style. There is no standard nib size, but medium is the most common and a good place for fountain pen beginners to start.
Liquid ink needs to get from the ink reservoir to the nib without leaking or spilling, so solid design is important. Budget fountain pens use lower-quality materials and tend to be more leak-prone. Most fountain pen inks are water-based and won’t cause permanent stains, but who needs a mess? Choose a fountain pen with the fit and finish that makes leaks and spills a non-event.
Your fountain pen’s grip should find the sweet spot between comfort and control, so choose a fountain pen with a well-designed grip shaped to fit your hand. It should be smooth, with no sharp edges or ridges. Materials should be soft enough to make your fountain pen easier and more comfortable to use while being durable, too. Textured grips may be more comfortable for your fingers and thumb.
Your choice of fountain pen says a lot about you. You will want to choose a fountain pen that looks great and matches your personality. There is a lot of pride attached to owning a beautifully designed and finely crafted fountain pen with a pleasing appearance, so choose wisely.
Fountain pens that use sealed drop-in ink cartridges are easy to reload when you need more ink and less prone to spilling and leaks. They are especially useful when you want to work with a variety of different colors. Since drop-in cartridges are disposable, they are also the most expensive.
Convertors allow you to use bottled inks that are available in many more colors and finishes than cartridges, but ink bottles are not convenient things to carry around.
Reservoirs use large-capacity ink tanks that are an integral part of the pen and allow for long intervals between refills. Because maintenance can be difficult and repairs can be costly, this style has gone out of favor.
Cheaper caps fasten to your fountain pen with a click, while caps that screw on and off help contain leaks and are the only ones recommended for travelers. A cap with a spring-loaded clip keeps your fountain pen safe, too.
Oddly-shaped pens may look attractive and be interesting conversation pieces, but for writing comfort, you will want to choose a fountain pen with a round barrel. The exception might be if you want something eye-catching to grab a kid’s attention.
Inexpensive fountain pens can be found for less than $10. Good-quality fountain pens cost between $50-$300. Better fountain pens start at $300, whereas the most finely-crafted writing instruments will easily run you over $1,000.
A. Yes, unless you take precautions. The safest way to prevent damage from ink leaks caused by changes in cabin pressure is to seal your fountain pen in a zip-lock bag so when it does leak, no harm is done. You can put gravity to work for you by keeping the nib of the pen pointed upward. Also, make sure your reservoir is completely full before you fly. A partially-filled pen is more likely to leak than a full one because a full fountain pen has no air to expand and force ink from the pen.
A. If you want to fill your fountain pen the fastest and easiest way, choose a cartridge pen. If you want more ink choices, choose a fountain pen that uses bottled ink.
Mont Blanc 145 Meisterstuck Classique Gold Fountain Pen: available on Amazon
Our take: Timeless style and elegance in a finely-crafted writing instrument that is a symbol of success for those with discerning tastes.
What we like: The best combination of design, materials, engineering, build quality, performance and writing experience for the money. The 14K gold nib delivers a silky-smooth writing sensation, and the screw-on cap stays on securely and won't get lost.
What we dislike: The spring mechanism on the clip is a bit tight for some.
PLATINUM Preppy Fountain Pen 7 Color with Ink Cartridge Set: available at Amazon
Our take: With seven boldly colored inks, these fountain pens are affordable and fun for beginners.
What we like: Cartridges are easy to fill. Lightweight plastic body and a fine-point nib that delivers ink smoothly. Includes two replacements for each color.
What we dislike: Should be handled carefully to avoid cracks and leaks.Advertisement
Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen: available at AmazonAdvertisement
Our take: Simple yet solid, the design of this stylish and fun pen sits comfortably in the hand and is a great first fountain pen for kids.
What we like: Universal design fits both right and left-handed users. Easy-to-fill cartridges hold a lot of ink and don't need frequent refilling. Twist cap stays on securely. Lightweight but durable plastic barrel with a comfortable ergonomic silicone grip and a stainless-steel nib. Its shape keeps it from rolling off the desk.
What we dislike: Cap does not have a clip to secure the pen, making it easy to lose.
David Van is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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