WTB a nice fountain pen (for beginners)

Discussion in 'Classifieds' started by phillyforager, Jan 17, 2020.

  1. phillyforager

    phillyforager One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    107
    Hi All,

    I'm new to the fountain pen game - does anyone want to sell me (a noob) one of their fountain pens?

    I have no idea what type of pen I should start out with.

    Thanks
     
  2. Garrett

    Garrett My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Tacoma, WA
  3. Héctor Fernández

    Héctor Fernández One Too Many

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    Another thing to remember, not all nibs are created equal.

    Good luck with the search.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
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  4. phillyforager

    phillyforager One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    107
    Do you have any recommendations? I know nothing about this.

    Anything helps!
     
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  5. phillyforager

    phillyforager One of the Regulars

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  6. robrinay

    robrinay One Too Many

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    If you are new to fountain pens buy a cheap cartridge filler with a steel nib to practice writing with. Buy a well known make of pen from a reputable pen shop or department store. Once you’ve got the hang of writing with it and are not pressing too hard, which will damage the posher flexible gold nib found on a better pen, buy a better pen. I guarantee that if you enjoy the experience you’ll want a better pen with a gold flexible nib. eBay is a good source of quality vintage pens. Choose one which takes bottled ink using a converter and also ink cartridges for convenience and longevity in case the ink cartridges become unavailable as with a converter you can always use bottled ink. If you’re buying from eBay make sure you buy from a seller with a history of selling fountain pens who has a high number of feedback and it’s 100% positive. Obviously read the description for reassurance it’s in full working order and test it immediately it arrives.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
  7. phillyforager

    phillyforager One of the Regulars

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    107
    Thank you!
     
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  8. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    20,295
    Location:
    London, UK
    As a Gen X baby, I'm just old enough to have been taught to write with a fountain pen when we first used ink in school, then switched to a fibre tip or biro for years, and eventually, from about fourteen, back to fountain pen. I've tried a lot of things, being left handed, but always found fountain pen and a quick-drying ink the best combination for enjoying writing and legible handwriting (not that, in this modern world, I ever seem to have occasion to write more than a greetings card by hand, but...).

    As has been suggested, cartridges can be a convenient way to get started; most decent cartridge pens come with an adaptor that allows you to use bottled ink as well. A Parker Frontier can be had cheaply on eBay, and they're a pretty decent pen with a range of colour options.

    Personally, I've always much preferred to use bottled ink. A tiny bit messier (though if you're careful and keep away from small children and small dogs while doing it, it's not a whole skill set above tying a shoelace...), but I tend to find it's a] vastly cheaper in the long run, b] gives you longer with ink in the pen between fills than cartridges (particularly if it's a true fountain pen rather than a cartridge pen with a convertor), and c] minimises the environmental impact. Part of the attraction of the fountain pen for me is that it's not disposable - I can keep reusing the same pen, therefore less wastage in the world (in theory - I've probably partially cancelled that out with the number I've collected, though I do keep a range of different colour inks on the go). Cartirdges are nasty plastic; fewer of them and recyclable ink bottles instead is a good thing...

    For ink, especially for a beginner, I'd recommend something like Parker Quink. 'Dollar' brand I've also found available cheaply. Try to opt for 'washable' ink til you're used to it!

    If you want to try a range of styles of pens, get yourself onto eBay and look into the Chinese options. Chinese folks still use fountain pens to a much wider degree than the West, so there are many more options from there. You can try out a lot of different types of fountain pen very cheaply, as well as find high quality pens that, if you buy direct from a Chinese supplier, you'll pay £10 for, as opposed to £30 for the same pen from a Western reseller.

    Buying direct from Chnia you have to be patient. TYpically you can pay little or often zero for postage. This, I'm told, is because the Chinese state, in order to stimulate business and therefore jobs, heavily subsidises internationsal postage. If you're prepared to wait threew weeks for a pen, there's big savings to be had.

    Another thing to watch for with Chinese pens is that branding works differently. My favourite Chinese pens are Wing Sung, but not all Wing Sungs, or All Hero brand pens, or whatever are made by the same company. The brands are owned by the government and licensed for use to several different manufacturers. You can tell by model numbers. If you're buying a Wing Sung pen, those with a three-digit model number are much better quality than those with a four digit number. Made by different companies, and the price will be vastly different. With small difference in the pens sometimes, though often typically it's just quality of materials.

    My absolute favourite fountain pens currently are the Wing Sung 601 model. Basically a late 1940s spec Parker 51 (though, ironically, with an improved inner mechanism over the original, and usually an 'ink window' - a small, transparent panel so you can look and see if there's any ink left in the pen). A model Parker haven't produced since the sixties. In an originalcolour (not the glitter blue), at first glance you'd never notice until you looked closer at the cap and see the Wing Sung logo. The 601A is also nice, but with a different nib, not the sleek, hooded kind on a 51. See, for example, this listing:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Wing-Sun...hash=item3d8b49829d:m:mtQNvQ0vfwTYmzi7xK6G18g

    If you're new to 'real' fountain pens, you might find it helpful to pick up a 'demonstrator' model. Great way of telling at a glance if your pen is inked! So-called because they are entirely transparent, demonstrator models go back to the thirties, when they were first issued to salesmen to show customers how impressive the innerworkings of the pen were. They were only ever issued in small quantities as sales tools, but when the originals becamse prized collectors' items in recent decades, inevitably there arose a fashion for transparent pens in new models available to the consumer. I've got a couple of WS601s like that, and they're nice to use. If the Parker 51 style doesn't appeal (thought the pump mechanism in the Wing Sung 601 really makes them the easiest filling pen I have ever used), have a look at the Wing Sung 698 - I have a couple of these https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Wing-Sun...=193229221951ef41e62bb07e43919279bc63fb8f31dd and they are great. Very easy way of learning how the pen works and how best to operate it, using a demonstrator. There *are* cheaper versions of this around, in the four-digit variety - if you want to try with minimal expenditure, you can get them for a couple of quid. Not bad by any means, though consistency of quality can vary, and the 698 is definitely a big step up.

    Another resource you might find helpful is: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/

    Excellent resource, I've looked in on it from time to time. The late 'John in Covina' from these parts, RIP, was also a big mover and shaker over there, and turned a lot of us at TFL on to some great pens.

    Most importantly: enjoy your pens, and don't be afraid to carry a (non-leaky, or course!) fountain pen around and use it as any other pen. Rubbing a white/undyed, wax candle over something written on paper in founain pen is an old trick to 'waterproof' it (e.g. on envelopes, lest it get wet in postage); for any situation where a fountain pen won't write (e.g. so many modern, glossy, greetings cards) I find one of those Space Pens an ideal back-up. Carry two fountain pens - use one, the other refilled; refill each as they run out at all times you need a pen, and you'll never be caught without ink.

    Also sold in the Western market as the Pilot Capless. Wonderful pens, so convenmient to have a one-handed operating fountain pen. If only they could make a 'true fountain' version which would be so much easier to deal with (and hopefully carry more ink) than the converter version. Not sure if that's possible, though, with the design?
     
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  9. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    20,295
    Location:
    London, UK
    Just one more thing on Chinese pens: assume the nib to be one size smaller than the Western equivalent - so a Chinese medium is a Western fine and so on. Thy like 'em fienr out there because of the intricacies of Mandarin script. The Japanese are similar.
     
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  10. Carlos840

    Carlos840 Call Me a Cab

    Messages:
    2,583
    Location:
    London
    I am far from an expert compared to the above posters, but fountain pens were still obligtory in school during my time (90s), we were not allowed ball points, it had to be a cartridge fountain pen with blue ink.
    The desk we used still had the holes on the tops for the bottles of ink in them, which thankfully we didn't have to use.
    The recommended fountain pen brands in the supply list were always the same: Parker or Lamy, these were what you had to get as you learnt to write.
    Having used both throughout the years i have to say that my favourite was Lamy, they are pretty good and made in Germany. From memory i had the ST and the Al-star, i prefered the Al-star as it is a bit thicker.
    Both can still be bought today.

    Saying that i have never used a mont blanc or something fancy like that, so have no point of comparison against fancy pens. But as a student that pen did everything i needed a pen to do.

    https://www.lamy.com/en/lamy-al-star/
     
  11. Nobert

    Nobert Practically Family

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    749
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    In the Maine Woods
    I started with Sheaffer, which makes a whole range of fountain pens, from $20 cheap-os to Lifetime Guarantee models. Pretty widely available.
     
  12. Kane

    Kane Familiar Face

    Messages:
    97
    Location:
    Southern California
    As mentioned above, this is a good resource to learn about pens and ink:

    http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/

    Getting into fountains pens is like falling down a rabbit hole, or into an inkwell.
    A few good pens to start with are the Lamay Safari pens and the Pilot Metropolitan pens. They are cheap and they work great. They accept cartridges or you can use refillable bladder cartridges or refill empty cartridge bodies with bottled ink.
    Noodlers Ink not only only makes interesting inks, but he also offers very cool and inexpensive pens, many that have flex nibs so you can get into the flex nib thing.
    I would not get an expensive pen with a gold nib until you have had some experience using a fountain pen. Unlike wring with a ballpoint pen, a fountain pens require no downward pressure. The ink is drawn out of the nib by capillary action with the paper. New users will often be heavy handed and can easily over-flex and damage an expensive soft nib. Start with an inexpensive pen with a steel nib until you get the hang of it. If you want to flex the nib get one of the inexpensive Noodlers Ink pens.

    Good luck, and Write-On, Brother!
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2020
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  13. Héctor Fernández

    Héctor Fernández One Too Many

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    My suggestion is to try them. Different millimeters, will give you different ink thickness.

    I use extra fine nibs because I have a light grip and don't put lots of pressure when writing. I also write in cursive, a lost art, so it is important for my pen not to feel scratchy.

    Sent from my SM-N960U using Tapatalk
     
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  14. tropicalbob

    tropicalbob My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Location:
    miami, fl
    For the price, I don't think you could do better than a Pelikan. When I first got interested in pens many years ago I bought two of them, and they're still two of my favorite and most often-used pens.
    Take a look at fahrneyspens.com when you get a chance and get on the mailing list for their catalogue: they send one out every so often showing all the latest offerings in the pen world, and it's one of those little things that makes my day when I find one in my mailbox. Best of lick.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  15. Kuro

    Kuro A-List Customer

    Messages:
    319
    Recommend Lamy.
     
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  16. makitright

    makitright One of the Regulars

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    Location:
    Montreal - Upper New York State
    TWISBI pens are also a high functioning pen at reasonable prices.
    Lamy is also very good in terms of quality function.
     
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