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Advantages of a fountain pen

Discussion in 'Pens, Pencils, Notebooks, and Notebook Covers' started by ERCCRE456, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. grayman

    grayman Loaded Pockets

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    Well, today I started on a new Moleskine notebook for work so i thought this would be the best time to try the fountain pen. I bought the Lamy Al-Star with a medium nib and box of black ink cartridges. Once I got the ink flowing, I was ready to write. I was surprised by the angle of the nib when I held the pen in my hand. It was slightly turned to the left (I'm a righty) due to the shape of the lower section of the barrel. I was very surprised to find the pen wrote incredibly smooth, not scratchy at all. The ink flow kept up with my style of writing. I'll write some notes and then put the cap on and leave the pen on my notebook until needed again. Each time i picked it up to use it the ink flowed and wrote freely. I did try turning the pen in my hand to what I thought might be the correct position of the nib on paper, but it did not work. Holding it as the pen forced me to hold it and it wrote beautifully and required no pressure or force to do so.

    Thus far, I'm very pleased.
     
  2. ERCCRE456

    ERCCRE456 Loaded Pockets

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    I'm glad to hear that you like the pen. I hope the angled grip won't interfere with the way I hold the pen, as I hold it using just my index finger, my thumb, and the side of my palm. I read somewhere that Moleskine notebooks aren't the best for writing with fountain pens, so if it writes good on those, it's bound to write even better with some nice paper (no pun intended)
    Have you tried any other inks such as Noodler's? My package containing a bottle of Lamy ink and the converter arrived, and my pen with a bottle of Bulletproof black ink should arrive Wednesday.
     
  3. grayman

    grayman Loaded Pockets

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    I know different Moleskine have different paper. I'm using this at work for my notes. I use to use regular spiral bound ruled notebooks, but I'm opting for something smaller these days. Just makes it easier to carry around. The pen worked fantastic for me. I'm not sure of the lure or benefit to using a converter and ink. Is it color choice? For now I've got four or five refill cartridges. I had planned to pick up some good letter stationary. If I do, I'll let you know how it works. I can't imagine it being much different though.
     
  4. ERCCRE456

    ERCCRE456 Loaded Pockets

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    Apparently, you don't need expensive stationary for a fountain pen to write well. Some fairly thick printer paper is good. I read it off of this page, and I recommend that you also read this short segment.

    Also, does anyone know good places to buy specific inks? EBay and Amazon are obviously bad places to look for a specific brand and color of ink, and JetPens seems not to carry the specific colors i'm looking for.
     
  5. scríbhneoir
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    scríbhneoir Uber Prepared
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    What brand and what colors?

    JetPens' inventory changes a lot. I've picked up two Noodler's (a true purple from China and a highlighter in) and a J Herbin red I wanted. I think you can buy directly from Noodler's, or they will tell you where you can. Swisher Pens carries a wide variety. The Ink Flow in San Antonio, Texas, carries a big variety as well, and it seems to me his prices were very good.
     
  6. Black Rose

    Black Rose Loaded Pockets

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    They don't have to be expensive.

    For example, I bought my Pilot 78G pens (fine and medium) for $7.45 each from a seller in Hong Kong and these are some of the best fountain pens I own.
     
  7. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Loaded Pockets

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    As a new member to this site, and a fountain pen enthusiast, I have to comment on this thread. While I started with a Lamy Safari, I would not recommend it as an EDC pen-- it just isn't durable enough. Plus, steel nibbed pens like the Safari just don't offer me that much of a benefit, experience-wise, over a rollerball. Plus, the Safari is a cartridge/converter filler-- a piston or vacuum filler would be a much more appropriate EDC item, and just an all around cooler gadget. Nibwise, I'd be torn choosing just one. I generally carry four pens at a time, and they will always include some version of this assortment: a fine nib for general scribbling/note taking, a bold or bold oblique nib for splashing a lot of ink on the page and signing things (and truly taking advantage of all the great ink options and subtleties available for fountain pens), and an italic nib (my preference for general writing/correspondence).

    I'm an engineer, and I find the expressiveness of the color and line variation available with fountain pens as a welcome respite from the analytical nature of much of my workday.

    If I were going to recommend one fountain pen for EDC, it would be either a Lamy 2000 (German design, piston filler, nearly indestructible Makrolon body) or a Pilot Capless (great engineering, no cap to keep up with). I always find the best prices on new pens at Oscar Braun Pens (www.oscarbraunpens.com). Be careful though-- they are addictive!
     
  8. ERCCRE456

    ERCCRE456 Loaded Pockets

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    I was looking at a wide range of colors to start trying once I get more into these pens. Noodler's, Mont Blanc, Private reserve, Waterman, and Sheaffer were the brands I was looking at most, but I will probably start looking at more.
    I might try this place. I live in central Texas, so shipping would probably be very fast. They have most of the colors I'm looking for, but Noodler's Navy was one of the colors I was looking for specifically, and they don't seem to have it.

    I can see why the safari would not be durable enough for an EDC pen, so I ordered the aluminum version instead of the ABS plastic version in hopes of it being more resistant to damage. Also, this is my first fountain pen, so I wanted to start off with a couple cheaper pens- $40 or less until I'm comfortable enough to get more expensive pens.
     
  9. Simsmac0o

    Simsmac0o Loaded Pockets

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    Been watching and reading this thread, as I've also been curious about fountain pens in the past. Maroonandwhite, I would love it if you'd expand a bit more on the pros and cons of cartridge/converter vs. vacuum fillers. Also, you referred to the Safari as having a steel nib; what is the nib made of on the two pens you recommend (pros and cons for those would be awesome too)? Also, any other suggestions for *cheap* fountain pens would be great. I'm not really ready to plunk down $100+. Under $50 would be great.

    Great thread so far. :)
     
  10. shokthx

    shokthx Loaded Pockets

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    I have a bunch of cheap Chinese made fountain pens (less than $5 each). A few work really well, some are not so reliable. You generally seem to get what you pay for with fountain pens.
    If you are looking for a reliable pen, the space pen is probably the best bet. Once you start using a fountain pen, you won't want to use the space pen. No real advantage, but still addictive.

    James
     
  11. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Loaded Pockets

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    Sure, I'll tackle the nib material & filling systems questions:

    NIBS: Fountain pen ink is extremely corrosive stuff, surprisingly-- especially the formulas traditionally used. So, the best fountain pens are made with nibs that are made out of a metal that is extremely resistant to corrosion. Unfortunately for our pocketbooks, that material happens to be GOLD. This also provides a soft, smooth feel when putting ink to paper, and they can be made to be very springy/flexible, which allows the tines to separate and close relative to the pressure you apply, creating line width variation that is impossible to replicate with a ball point pen or rollerball. As an obviously cheaper alternative, many pens, including the Lamy Safari, use steel nibs. There are many people that swear by steel nibs, and dare you to tell the difference. While the new steel nibs are better than their budget equivalents from 80 years ago, I still think gold offers a noticeably better experience.

    FILLING SYSTEMS: This topic is a little more subjective-- there are strong advocates in each camp that would argue their preferred system is the best. Cartridge pens are just that-- they have room in their body to take little disposable capsules full of ink. Screwing the nib section on punctures the cartridge, and you write with the pen until that ink is used up. The downside to this is you have to purchase specific cartridges-- there are different systems, so not all cartridges fit all cartridge pens. Plus, you are limited to inks that are sold in cartridges, which excludes some fantastic options. If you want to change inks before you have used up the cartridge, you end up wasting ink since there's no great way to preserve a partially used cartridge. Most cartridge pens accept a "converter". These are re-usable devices designed specifically to fit in the cartridge space in a given pen, typically a piston-filling design, that and allow you to fill the pen with whatever bulk ink you wish to use. They work fine, but typically store much less ink than some of the more complex alternatives such as piston fillers or vacuum fillers. A piston filling pen uses almost the entire body of the pen to store ink; twisting the end of the pen moved a plunger in and out of the ink storage area to pull in or expel ink from a bottle. These are beautiful pieces of engineering, offer maximum storage, and allow you the most versatility in ink choice. Consequently, they are my favorite. A vacuum filler uses some sort of vacuum-buildup-then-release strategy to fill the pen barrel with ink. These are also really cool from an engineering perspective, and offer equivalent storage size options to piston fillers. However, they tend to be rarer, more expensive, and messier when changing inks frequently.

    Overall, to me there are four levels of fountain pens to consider:

    $1 - $25: This category includes your cheap chinese pens available on eBay, as well as some of the lower end pens available in most office supply stores. Some work okay, some are awful. Starting with one of these could be frustrating, and tarnish the great experience fountain pens can be. If this is your only option, just buy a good ball point or rollerball.

    $25 - $100: This is the best place to start for a beginner. This category includes the Lamy Safari at the low end, which is a great starter. However, I would suggest moving up to a Lamy 2000 ($90) for the EDC crowd. The difference in what you get when jumping up from a Safari to a 2000 is ENORMOUS, and well worth the $55 extra dollars. The Lamy 2000 is a piston filler, has a gold nib, is a timeless, no-nonsense Bauhaus design, is made from a really cool material that wears very well, and has the build quality of a much more expensive pen. EVERYONE needs a Lamy 2000.

    $100 - $500: Jump up to this category, and you will see benefits over less expensive pens. Gold nibs for sure, ornate and attractive nib designs, complex filling systems, fantastic build quality, etc. At the low end of this I would suggest a Pilot/Namiki Capless ($120)-- a wonderfully engineered and practical everyday fountain pen (it has a gold nib in most incarnations, but is cartridge/converter filler). Moving up a bit in this price range will get you into great iconic pens such as the Pelikan M800 (IMO the best all around fountain pen) and Montblancs. There are many really, really cool pens to be had for this price.

    $500 plus: As with most items, you can spend as much as you want to at the high end. Personally, I think all you get in this category is more exclusivity/rarity (special editions, etc.) and fancier decoration. A great hobby for some collectors, but not for me. All my pens are users.

    Seriously though, EDC members-- go order a Lamy 2000 (I think the best price/service is at Oscar Braun Pens), and thank me later. And don't get me started on inks...that's another page worth of rambling. :) If any of you have any more specific questions, please ask!
     
  12. ERCCRE456

    ERCCRE456 Loaded Pockets

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    Another bad thing about using cartridges is that ink flows only out of the pen, while ink coming into and out is a better way of flushing out buildup of dried ink.

    I got my Safari today, and have used it for a dip pen to try to use different inks. I haven't filed it, but when I came to clean it beforehand, blue ink ran out, so I think it was tested at the factory or used, and I hope it was the former. It's kind of like a stainless sharpie and most zebra pens- it's made of metal, but only on the exterior with plastic internals so it still feels like plastic. I'll do some more writing after it dries from being washed.
     
  13. ERCCRE456

    ERCCRE456 Loaded Pockets

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    I really like this pen a lot more than ballpoint pens. I used Noodler's ink, which people say is the best for this pen, before I use the Lamy (still unused, btw). It writes much smoother than a ballpoint pen, requiring so much less pressure. For some reason, I feel the need to grip my pen HARD when writing with a lot of pressure, and I'm only holding onto this pen enough for it not to move in my hand. As a result, My hand never cramps up at all.

    The ink is also excellent- no bleedthrough at all! I used a q-tip to do a swab test on some paper, and I actually used way too much. The paper wrinkled due to the amount of ink on it, but the ink didn't bleed through. Instead, this ink forms a sort of barrier between the paper and the wet ink, and the wet ink dries on top of the paper instead of in the paper.

    On a different note, is there a way to store a small amount of ink to refill "in the field"? I really need to put extra ink in my bag, but I can't think of any good storage mediums. It it's too small, I could just fill only the converter and pop it back in. The best solution I think is a small aluminum spy capsule/ pill fob. I know this ink is pH neutral (as all Noodler's inks are unless otherwise noted), so I don't think there would be a problem. If I clean the capsule really well, would it be good enough to store ink, or should I use a different container?
     
  14. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Loaded Pockets

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    I'm a big Noodler's fan-- I think I have at least a dozen bottles. Zhivago and Walnut are the best! On the fountain pen forums, people frequently exchange inks using small, cappable plastic vials. I've got some from samples people have sent me, and they appear to work just fine. Visconti makes an expensive, but very cool, travel refill bottle. Honestly, since you already have a cartridge pen, just buy some nice cartridges to have on hand if your converter runs out while you are away from your Noodler's bottle. Those cartridges are very travel friendly!
     
  15. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Loaded Pockets

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    I thought I would share some pics of my EDC pen setup with today's rotation (a Parker Duofold, Pilot Capless, Lamy Safari, and Lamy 2000):

    [​IMG]


    And since I recommended them, here are some closer pics of the Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Capless:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Black Rose

    Black Rose Loaded Pockets

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    Where did you get that pen case? That's really nice.
     
  17. Black Rose

    Black Rose Loaded Pockets

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    Goulet Pens sell an 8-pack of empty 7 ml ink sample vials for $2.50 plus shipping.

    There are the same vials they ship the ink samples you can buy from them in.
     
  18. Maroonandwhite

    Maroonandwhite Loaded Pockets

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    I got that case from Levenger last year. I just went to their site to look for it so I could post a link, but I can't find it. Perhaps it was discontinued?
     
  19. shokthx

    shokthx Loaded Pockets

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    That's easy. More pens.

    James
     
  20. scríbhneoir
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    scríbhneoir Uber Prepared
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    Curse you, oh evil one. I just signed up. As if I NEED more ink...