The Best Fountain Pen Guide
Fountain pens are very personal instruments. Which one is the best fountain pen, is very subjective. So we decided to create a guide (below) to help you make some thoughtful decisions about which pen might be best for you.
If you talk to people who are fountain pen aficionados they will all give you different opinions of what pen they love and think is the best.
There is a lot to consider. Like the size, weight, nib size, color, design, how the pen glides on paper, even how the pen glides differently on different types of paper, whether it bleeds, or leaves lines on the page and what type of cartridge is used. And for each person one or more of those criteria is important, but no person is the same. The pen writes differently for different personalities. The fountain pen simply becomes “one” with you, with who you are and how you express yourself.
Although if we had to pick our favorite, we would have to tell you that we did fall in love with the Delta Kanaka Maoli Hawaiian Limited Edition Fountain Pen, for its design, weight, and fluidity. You’ll probably love this pen too. But, the bottom line is that there are a lot of very high quality pens in many different price ranges.
This site has been designed to give you all the details you need to find that perfect fountain pen for you. If you are thinking of buying one for someone else, this guide will also bring you as close as you can come to satisfying that person’s needs for a fine writing instrument.
Below you will find an extensive chart that shows the photo of each pen, the basic product details and a link where you can find the best prices.
The following is a narrative that explains the specifications listed above and why they are important. As you browse throughout our site you will find detailed reviews of different fountain pens that we feel are the best for the money.
The Nib Is The Most Important Part Of Your Buying Decision
What Is A Nib?
Although there are many factors that go into making a good fountain pen and how it is priced, the price of the pen is ultimately determined by the type of nib used. The cheaper pens all have steel nibs. More expensive pens have 14K or 18K or even 21K nibs. Don’t be swayed by the karat of a nib though. 14K is the standard and perfectly suitable for most people. It is strong enough so that you don’t flex the tines (the points on the nib) too much and destroy the nib.
You can also purchase nibs in Titanium, Palladium and Platinum. Personally we feel that you don’t need anything higher than 14K gold.
For a beginner, or someone on a budget, a steel nib is fine. You will have a very nice experience writing with a steel nib. However, it is the gold nib that you will want eventually. It has more flexibility than steel and gives you an incredible writing experience.
The gold nib just skims across the page, like gliding across a sheet of ice. It’s smooth and makes your writing so much more personal and beautiful. You’ll also find that your hand won’t tire when writing with a gold nib as it will with other types of nibs.
If you journal or just like writing with a fountain pen you haven’t really enjoyed the process until you use one with a gold nib.
There Are Three Basic Shapes Of Nibs – Round – Stub – Italic
A round nib (sometimes referred to as a ball nib) has been polished and ground to create a circular footprint. The width of the line is almost perfectly uniform no matter which way you move the nib across the paper. A round nib is also pretty much a standard nib and the most practical for most people.
A stub nib lays down a broader line when moving the pen up and down and then a somewhat narrower line when moving side to side. Although that might sound confusing, what is important to know is that writing with a stub nib is just as easy as with a standard round nib.
With an italic nib the finish has less rounding on the edges than the round or stub nibs. It has a sort of square-edged grind with a wider footprint. With this type of nib the pen has a tendency to catch on corners and a greater tendency to skip, unless you hold the nib straight on to the paper. An italic nib is similar to a calligraphy nib, although a calligraphy nib is a little squarer than the italic nib. With an italic nib you will probably have to write a little slower because writing fast tends to make the nib scratch and skip. But if you are really good at calligraphy you should have no trouble making this shape nib work beautifully for you.
There Are Five Basic Sizes Of Nibs
The five basic nib sizes are:
Extra fine (XF) – This nib size can be scratchy, unless you purchase a very good pen. On the plus side this nib size uses very low amounts of ink. It is also wonderful for writing small characters or numbers. So if you are an accountant or a person who loves math this pen is perfect.
Fine (F) – A fine nib is not usually scratchy and also uses a low amount of ink. This is great for writing large or small letters. So, basically this size nib works for most people, and most writers will say it is their favorite size to write with.
Medium (M) – Very smooth and doesn’t use a lot of ink. Great for writing large volumes. Probably the most popular nib size.
Broad (B) and Double Broad (BB) – The larger size nibs are usually used for writing larger print items. It uses a lot of ink and usually has a long drying time so you may have a tendency to smear the ink.
Some manufacturers also make other sizes like triple broad (BBB). There is no international standard that specifies the exact sizes for nibs, so different manufacturers will make nibs that are somewhat different in sizes but will basically be close in size to standards.
Whatever size nib you use will depend on your personal preference when writing. Fine and medium are probably the most popular size nibs and the easiest to use.
Types Of Nibs
When referring to types of nibs we are speaking of their flexibility.
A nib with little flexibility, like the steel nibs mentioned above, will hold up quite well when applying firm pressure on the paper you are writing on. So if you are used to writing with a ballpoint and are switching to a fountain pen you should start with a nib that has less flexibility. This is because when most people write with ballpoint they tend to press down harder on the paper. If you start with a nib that has more flexibility there may be a chance of breaking the nib points (tines.)
If you already know how to write with a fountain pen then investing in a nib with a little more flexibility will be a good decision. Your handwriting will have more character, and the nib’s flexible tip will make your writing more personal and unique. The flex nib will give a more interesting and attractive variation in your stroke and you will only need the ordinary round tip nib.
You can find flex nibs in semi-flexible, flexible, and super-flexible variants. A super-flex will work well with relatively lighter pressure than the semi-flex.
What Are Filling Systems?
One type of a filling system is the basic cartridge. The cartridge already has ink contained in it. The ink in the cartridge is held inside the exit hole by glue or a very thin layer of plastic, sometimes even a small ball of glass. When the cartridge is pressed inside the pen it is broken by a sharp pin and the ball or layer of plastic falls inside the cartridge and the ink is ready to flow from the nib.
Cartridges are disposable and come with the pen you buy. You can buy replacements when your ink runs out and some people even reuse them by using a syringe type tool to suction out ink from an ink bottle and inserting the syringe into the cartridge and refilling it. But this is not generally recommended.
Most of the fountain pens you can buy today have cartridge/converter capabilities. So you can choose to use the disposable cartridge or an ink reservoir known as a converter.
A converter is reusable and is a suction tool that permits you to fill your pen from an ink bottle. It takes the place of your cartridge. It is very important if you don’t want to always be buying cartridges but would rather have a supply of ink (in different colors too) that you can handily refill your pen with.
Then there is the piston filler system. It has a built-in reservoir and filling system. You can refill your pen by dipping the nib into the ink bottle as you twist a knob or piston at the end of the pen barrel. Many people love the piston filling system because it has a bigger capacity for holding ink than the cartridge/converter pens.
Using some sort of a filling system is more cost effective as the ink is usually less expensive. Plus you get a better variety of ink colors and you can even mix colors of ink if you are the adventurous type.
More expensive pens will sometimes not have universal cartridges, and therefore you cannot use a filler system. The manufacturers want to protect the integrity of the pen, making sure it is maintained properly and that the ink flow is consistently smooth and elegant. It is really their way of protecting you and your pen, since you paid a lot for it. Using their cartridges is still convenient and assures that your pen stays in perfect condition for a long, long time.
How To Find A Fountain Pen That You Will Love
Today fountain pens are considered by some to be a luxury item or status symbol. But people who love to write with style, as opposed to writing with the lowly ballpoint, have always found the fountain pen to be the most elegant instrument to write with.
It is essential for Presidents and Heads of State, who all use a fountain pen when signing an important document.
Top executives use them to show their distinctive style and top notch decision making. Some of the best authors of our time use them because it allows one to organize ones thoughts as you write since you tend to write more slowly with a fountain pen. And, of course it has always been the ultimate gift for someone you love or admire.
It’s old fashioned and modern at the same time. Let’s face it, the way it writes your words across the page is just plain romantic. The smoothness is unmatched. It just has attitude!
Above you will find an interactive comparison chart of a few of the best fountain pens on the market. Before you make any decision on what fountain pen is best for you take a good look through the chart.Rather than taking any advice anyone else will give you, look at all the options that can help you make the very personal decision of which pen to buy.
Honestly, most of the fountain pens included above are excellent options; but there are a few that we just need to point out as our favorites. So, take a look in the sidebar where you will find more in-depth reviews of some of the pens were love. So, sit down at your most beautiful writing desk and let’s dig into these options.