Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Reader Question for the Community: Fountain Pens


A Reader Question:
I am not a fountain pen investor or collector, but I enjoy using a fountain pen and reading about them. Do others here write primarily with a fountain pen or otherwise enjoy the world of fountain pens?  Do you have a daily worker you carry and use at all times, and a fancier one for special occasions? (I have a full set of Parker Frontier writing instruments for the former, a Parker Duofold Centennial fountain pen and mechanical pencil for the latter.)  What inks and papers <link> do you enjoy using? What are your favorite sources for fountain pens, inks, and paper?

28 comments:

  1. The Pilot Varsity is disposable and inexpensive. The ink flow and quality are as good as one could ask. I mentioned this in an earlier post and found I wasn’t alone in my enthusiasm.

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    1. I’ve loved these since college. My elder son always uses mine so I’ve switched to the Metropolitan for everyday use and order boxes of the Varsity for him.

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    2. One in my shirt pocket right now —

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    3. Hear Hear on the Pilot Varsity. Rarely do I use my Gunboat Diplomat.

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  2. Fahrneys is my go to. https://www.fahrneyspens.com
    I use a cheap LAMY Safari as my daily writer and have a few old Parkers form the 50's that were my grandfathers for special occasion.

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  3. Another nod to the LAMY Safari. I'm not at all a fountain pen enthusiast, but I use one with an Extra Fine nib and it's just a really great, practical, affordable, and non-ostentatious pen with nice ergonomics. I would feel a little out of place using something like a Montblanc daily, but the LAMY works wonderfully when taking notes and has a casually cool industrious design. With regards to inks, I generally rotate among various dark blues, and occasionally mix it up with very dark forest greens. I can certainly see how some folks collect pens as a hobby. I probably would too if I used paper more frequently.

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  4. I, too, use LAMY for everyday: an aluminum version of the Safari (AL-star?). I've used it for about 10 years & it still makes me happy. I like Jet Pens for purchasing ink and other supplies. (website is just their name dot com)

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  5. Being left-handed and not especially, um, dexterous I've ended up covered with ink every time I've tried using a fountain pen. But these folks:

    https://www.jetpens.com

    are smart about things I am qualified to comment on, so I expect that what they have to say about fountain pens is smart too.

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    1. I was shopping for ink online recently and saw an ink billed as "the southpaw's in." It supposedly dries remarkably fast so your hand doesn't drag through wet ink.

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  6. I actually prefer pencils ( when a wet signature isn’t required) for years I have used John Steinbeck’s preferred pencil- Palomino Blackwings “ half the pressure, twice the speed”!

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  7. I got started using fountain pens back in high school, and amassed a small collection. These days, I tend to use either a Parker Sonnet or a gold nibbed pen from the former Soviet Union as my daily writers, and enjoy Waterman Blue and Levenger Cobalt Blue. Another interesting and inexpensive FP choice is the Hero 100. Stories abound as to this pen's origins in China, but they seem alot like having a modern-day Parker 51.

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  8. I use a Parker that belonged to my father that was refurbished by Fahrney's Pens. There is something so exquisite about a fine nib gliding across smooth paper.

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  9. I have Pelikan Demonstrator fountain pen that I use at work everyday.

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  10. I collect fountain pens but the one I use everyday is a green Sheaffer "No-Nonsense" fountain pen with a fine italic nib. I use the last model design, the one with the screw-on cap, without the rubber holding section. The pen writes beautifully. I use Waterman blue ink. I like blue ink over black because you can see more shade variations. I also like using a type of non-wood paper from CVS. I forget the name but it's made of some form agricultural by-product and the ink will not "feather". It is sold as copy paper. This pen also has a nice stiff nib. I know everyone likes to say they like to use a flexible nib and flexible nibs are the best, giving you variable line widths... but I find writing with a stiff nib far more satisfying. As for variable line widths, that's why I use an italic nib.

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  11. Kids in the European country where I live have to use fountain pens. On one hand maybe it's good that the schools care about handwriting (although there are other things I would find it more important to care about!) but I find that the ink makes a mess on hands, clothes, etc.

    --EM

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  12. My late father's 1925 Sheaffer Lifetime.

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  13. Having typed everything on a computer for over forty years, I can barely write anymore. I can't recall the last time I sent a hand-written note to anyone. Using a fountain pen would be a waste for me.

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  14. I was given a set of Pelikan writing instruments from my parents for my college graduation ten years ago. Black enamel with gold bands, and a gold pinstripe pattern on the caps. The set included a fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint, and mechanical pencil. I use the fountain pen and the ballpoint daily, and the other two less frequently. In my line of work, I find myself writing a lot of hand-written correspondence, and the fountain pen works beautifully for that. The strain on the hand is lessened significantly, and it just writes so much more beautifully than any other kind of pen. I prefer a dark green ink (also by Pelikan), deriving from the tradition of British Naval Officers (Executive Officers, especially), who traditionally kept their journals and made comments using green ink.

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  15. My two go-to fps are both Parker, one is a striped Duofold from 1946, the other a Vacumatic from early 1945. I even have them loaded with 1930s-era blue-black Quink. (Ebay, where else?)

    More about Vacs: http://www.richardspens.com/ref/profiles/vac.htm
    And the striped Duofolds: http://www.richardspens.com/ref/profiles/strduo.htm

    The one that everyone collects and loves (though not me) is the "51" — more here: http://www.richardspens.com/ref/profiles/51.htm

    The 51 is very advanced, even for today, but I just can't warm up to hooded nibs.

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  16. I use a Montblanc Meisterstuck for notes and similar. I don't write letters or journal but I do write thank you notes. I've got a few other classic fountain pens but I've always preferred the Meisterstuck line. Mine is the midsize one. The classic fat model is simply too bit. I also use a Meisterstuck ballpoint for the few checks I write at home or addressing envelopes.

    The other fountain pens sit in a little holder on a desk but I don't keep them inked.

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  17. Thanks to everyone for the comments and input. All are interesting and underscore some of the reasons fountain pens are so fascinating. I really enjoy the stories of heirloom and legacy pens, and hope my pens will be part of similar stores someday. People tend to be loyal to brands or systems, so I love hearing stories about people using Waterman inks in their Mont Blanc pens, for example, or different brands of ink for different colors, or even a different marque of nib than their pen body. I live in a remote area so shop primarily from Levenger, Fahrney's, and Colorado Pen. I enjoyed excellent service from Rick Horne at The Southern Scribe (http://www.thesouthernscribe.com) when I lived in the south. I bought my Parker Duofold fountain pen and mechanical pencil from Rick, and bought my wife's expertly refurbished vintage fountain pen there. And I've learned there is no shortage of enthusiast sites on the internet.

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  18. Not sure of the maker, But I have my dad's sterling pen with a small opal on the pocket clip. Not sure of the proper terminology, but it does have a bigger nib and doesn't make that scratching sound that finer point nibs do. Love it. Use it all the time.

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  19. In my youth (born 1970) fountain pens were mandatory in German primary schools.
    For me writing with them is more relaxing to the hand and wrist, and the result is much more legible and better looking, than with any other pen.
    I'm using 3 piston and 1 cartridge fountain pen for at least 90% of my writing, all priced moderately: Two Pelikan Classic M200 in green-marbled colour (one in university office and one in home office), both with Montblanc Mindnight Blue ink. One slightly smaller Pelikan Classic M150 in black, with Montblanc Blue Permanent ink (for hobby flight log and other documents - needs cleaning a few times per year to prevent clogging by the permanent ink). Finally one Kaweco Liliput in steel, with Kaweco cartridges in various colours (for pocket carriage, due to it's robustness and little 4.3" in leather case - the only drawback is the time needed for opening and closing).

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  20. I use a Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck 149 that was a gift from my father when I was admitted to the Bar. It's been in a stand on my desk for decades. I like Waterman Florida Blue ink and Crane paper.

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  21. I use a KAWECO brass fountain pen mostly. Gets better every day. Also, Lamy, TWSBI, a second KAWECO (Sport), Esterbrook Copper SJ, and a Brause 29 Index Finger dip nib.

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  22. When I was in the sixth grade, my parents dropped me into the French section of an international school in Geneva and said, "sink of swim." Part of learning to "swim" was learning how to use a fountain pen, because ballpoints were forbidden, and indeed considered childish. It became the natural way to write long before we returned home to North America, and ballpoint pen ink has always looked ugly to me, even more than forty years later. I'll use commercial rollerballs to make notes, but letters and cards are always written with a fountain pen. My vintage Waterman Rhapsody Red Ripple is my pride and joy. It's almost as beautiful to look at as it is to write with.

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  23. I enjoy writing with fountain pens every day - they are my pens of choice at work, when I'm not using the computer. Most used are: Lamy Safaris with various ink colors; Kaweco Sport; and vintage Esterbrooks, all SJ. I also have a Pelikan M200,a Montblanc Meisterstuck and a vintage Parker Vacuumatic. They make writing random notes more fun. For new pens, I shop at Goulet Pens.

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  24. I have a small collection of vintage fountain pens; mostly Sheaffer lever fill, aa few Watermans' and an Easterbrook. My go to pen is a vintage Sheaffer Jade Green Lifetime, oversize with a medium nib. Fits well in the hand, and writes a very smooth line with almost no effort. I take notes for several committees and I find that I can write with this pen for hours without fatigue or discomfort. I use Pelikan or Waterman Black ink. Mount Blanc makes good ink but one pays a premium for their brand.

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