Fountain Pen Buying Guide
What To Consider When Buying A Fountain Pen
While a pen might be mightier than a sword, choosing the right pen can still bring a lot of pain to the head, especially when we are talking about fountain pens. The act of choosing itself is actually quite pleasing; for enthusiasts, their eyes will be spoiled by a seemingly endless sight of alluring designs, shapes, and colours. Purchasing the right one is, however, an entirely different story. There are many things to consider from :
- The material
- Fountain pen nib
- Fountain pen ink
- Fountain pen nib replacements availability
- Pen barrel
Unlike other writing instruments, fountain pens are not meant to be disposable. You have bewildering number of options from the cheap, reasonably priced, to ridiculously expensive ones. Each pen comes with its own merits, and some models will serve you better than the others. Here are some things to consider when choosing a fountain pen.
Fountain Pen Price
First things first, fountain pens are generally more expensive than other types of pens. Unless your regular ballpoint or rollerball is made of precious metals or exotic woods, chances are it is cheaper than a fountain pen. In modern days full of technological marvels, fountain pens (and other types in this case) are no longer as popular as they used to be. Well, some still use pens to write something, but now they have more options. People can take notes on their smartphones, students record lectures instead of writing them down, and typing e-mails is more practical. If you are looking for a fountain pen, either for regular or occasional use, the first thing to consider is price. Fountain pens are available from just about few pounds to hundreds and even thousands. Many (if not most) people will think that you might as well go for the inexpensive disposable ones as the end results are always about what you write down, not the writing instrument; in case you have the same train of thoughts, then this discussion is not for you.
An act of writing (not typing) has always been and will always be filled with true interactions between mainly three things: writer, pen, and paper. A writer thinks about the words in the mind; all the words are transferred from the mind to the hand; holding a pen, the hand writes down those words on a piece of paper. All these processes are just like typing, but writing enhances the pleasure because the writer can feel and hear the scratching noise created by the friction between the pen and paper. Even better, a proper fountain pen takes this whole experience to a higher level, creating the kind of writing experience that no other instruments can give. If you enjoy manual writing, fountain pen deserves a respectable role on your desk. The more expensive you go with a fountain pen, the better experience you get because every part of it including the nib, barrel, lid, and little details such as laser engraving on the body give the perfect balance. It takes a lot of engineering to create an ideal fountain pen, and that’s why the price can be high.
Fountain Pen Nib
The price of a fountain pen is greatly affected by the nib, which is the writing point of the pen. Fountain pen nibs are available in many different materials including but not limited to steel, gold, and a range of alloys. Most will argue that 18k and 14k gold materials are the pinnacles of nibs not only because of the fact that gold is a precious metal, but also its resistance and flexibility. Truth be told, material is only one of many things that determine the overall quality of a nib.
Even two same gold nibs can give totally different writing experience. Gold nibs are basically alloys, meaning there are two or more different metals combined to give the right amount of rigidity without sacrificing flexibility. If the nibs are made of pure gold, the tip of it is still going to be another metal because pure gold is just not rigid enough. Nib points come in many different shapes and widths as well. The most common ones include fine, medium & broad, yet you can still find unique shapes such as extra fine, stub, italic, and oblique Broad in the high end range. If a fountain pen has engravings or unique patterns, most will be on the nib. As you are approaching the luxury range, you’ll come across well-designed nibs that are as beautiful-looking as fine jewelleries. In the less expensive range, the nibs are usually made of steel. Please make sure you read the pen description as sometimes the steel are gold-plated to give it more interesting appearance.
Fountain Pen Filling Systems
There are three different filling systems including cartridge, converter, and piston. As always, each comes with its own advantages and drawbacks.
- Cartridge: in simple words, cartridge is a disposable tube that holds ink. When a cartridge inside the pen runs out of ink, replace it with a new one. It is simple, but you have to use cartridge designed specifically for you fountain pen for best results. Also, the disposable part removes a little bit of the fountain pens’ characteristics.
- Converter: in case the idea of disposable cartridge is too rude for you, you can always use a converter. It looks like a cartridge, but you can fill it with any ink you want. For some people, refilling can be a hassle, but it is not actually difficult at all.
- Built-in Refilling Mechanism: fountain pen with built-in refilling mechanism is probably the easiest to refill. There is an ink container inside the barrel equipped with vacuum-mechanism. There is no need to use cartridge or purchase separate converter.
Some fountain pens use direct refilling system. It allows you to simply use an eyedropper or syringe to refill the ink reservoir inside the barrel.
A good fountain pen is a piece of precision instrument. You use this not only for its nostalgic appeal, but also to show your appreciations of well-thought designs and engineering put into practical purpose. It is all about the same thing as a mechanical watch; it is a respectable tool that tells time and it still represents high level of engineering in much better ways than any digital watch can do. Any regular pen can help you write, but a fountain pen allows you to write and enjoy the excitement of writing at the same time.