Any Dopers fans of the Fountain Pen?

I just recently got into writing with fountain pens, my handwriting is horrible, printing is doctor-caliber scribbling, and aside from my signature, I’ve entirely forgotten cursive writing

I started getting into good pens a few weeks back, starting off with a stainless steel Parker Jotter with pressurized Fisher “Space Pen” refill, a “Fauxblanc” wooden pen that uses Cross ball-point refills, a Fisher X-750 Spacepen and a couple Fisher Bullets (matte black, and black Titanium Nitride finishes), this got me appreciating the subtleties of a nice pen

I then started reading up on fountain pens, I used to use FP’s in high school (the old Sheaffer School Pens) and always enjoyed them, not only could they be used for writing, but also flicking ink at each other :wink:

So, I started researching good, INEXPENSIVE FP’s, the one common thread was that the Waterman Phileas/Kultur pens were incredible values, they were affordable (generally around $30-ish) , and wrote like much higher end pens, the only downsides to them was the “medium” nib was a little wide, but that seemed to be a common flaw with inexpensive FP’s, and that the body was plastic (or “Precious Resin” as the marketing drones at MontBlanc call it), it does have a brass sleeve in the body of the pen for heft though, but I’m not a fan of plastic pens

I decided to take a chance, and picked up a blue marbled Phileas, yes the pen is a wide-body, yes it’s gaudy, tacky, and ugly, the plastic is a tad slippery, but you know what, the pen just plain writes well

considering the sole purpose of a pen is to deliver ink to paper in a controlled manner, the Phileas is a resounding success, no matter how long the pen has been sitting, it starts up almost instantly, some times it requires a short tap or drawing a line to start the ink-flow back up, but generally, the pen can be relied to always work

yes, the nib is a little wide for a medium, but it’s not bad once you adjust to it, you have to slow down when writing with a FP, and actually think about how you’re writing, not just what you’re writing, you have to concentrate on forming letters, not just letting them pour out of your head and onto the page, but the upside to that is that lettering with a FP begins to take on more of a “personality” as it were…

with a ball-point or roller-ball, you’re laying down a line of ink with a tiny ink-covered ball bearing, so you only have one axis of movement, the spherical “contact patch” of the ball, as it were, with a FP, the nib has both height and width, so you have two dimensions to work with, hence lettering with a FP can be more expressive

I’ve also noticed a gradual improvement in the legibility of my handwriting, as I said before, my printing is horrible, doctor-caliber, basically because I’m operating in the “ball-point” mindset of putting down as much “data” as possible, with a ball-point, I can write as fast as I think, but legibility suffers dramatically, the FP is forcing me to concentrate on both what and how I’m writing, the slower lettering rate is showing a distinct improvement in legibility

I imagine the longer I write with my FP, the better my legibility should get

Since I enjoyed the writing and doodling experience of the Phileas, I decided I wanted to try another fountain pen, so I stopped off at my local Staples and bought a Parker Latitude, a nice brushed stainless bodied pen, also with a medium nib, I like metal pens better than plastic, and the Parker had a nice, understated, conservative design, it had decent balance, it looked like the right pen for me

I HATED the way it wrote, when the cap was posted on the back of the barrel, the balance went all wrong, the plastic feed and stainless nib felt light and insubstantial, it just felt… wrong, the line it put down was infinitesimally thicker than the Phileas, and it was a wet line that took ages to fully dry, the Phileas’s lines were dry mere seconds after writing them, and for some strange reason, the plastic bodied Phileas felt more solid and comfortable than the steel Parker , it felt much better put together

So, it went back to the store (after a thorough cleaning, obviously), and I purchased another Phileas instead, to have on hand for backup (and also because Waterman’s U.S. division has discontinued sales of the Phileas in the States, and supplies are dwindling fast, if I didn’t get a backup now, I might not be able to get one at all very soon)

Aside from the stellar writing, good balance and general quality feel of the Phileas, there are some little niceties i’ve discovered about it

it writes reliably, the Parker would occasionally run dry and skip in the middle of use, but the Phileas just flows, the ink flows reliably, even after sitting capped for 12 hours, there’s almost no priming needed
it writes well inverted, with the nib facing the paper, producing an exceptionally thin line
the nib has an incredibly smooth feel on good paper, on crap paper it’s a little scratchy, but usable, the ink tends to feather a bit much though
the pocket clip is spring-loaded, and has a few millimeters of movement, so it can handle the thick pocket edge of jeans, the Parker had a stiff, inflexible clip that would be bent out of shape on jeans pockets
even when uncapped for an hour and a half, it started right up with no priming necessary
it has no problem on thermal paper (credit card receipt paper), many ballpoints/rollerball pens can’t deal with the wax layer on thermal paper, the Phileas (and my ball-point Space Pens) has no problem with thermal paper
it can passably write on oily paper, but not on plastic, nor can it write on wet paper or underwater (water-based liquid ink, after all), once again, the Space Pens can do this easily
almost no pressure is needed to write, no “death grip” or bearing down on a piece of paper like with a ball-point

I still like my nice ball-points, and they have their uses, I keep a spare Fisher X-750 in the car, as it can tolerate temperature extremes reliably and still work when I need it, and when I fill out DHL airbills for laptop facilitation repairs, I need to use a ball-point so the information is transferred to the two other carbonless paper copies, and sometimes it’s just plain convenient to pick up a BP and write, and not have to think about letter shapes and forms, but all things considered, I’m finding that I prefer FP for most of my writing

then there are the other factors I like about FP’s;

they’re cheaper in the long-term than BP/RB/Gel pens, there is a higher initial investment in the pen itself and a bottle of ink, but after that investment, the only recurring expense would be replacing the bottle of ink when you run out, using the supplied converter (refillable “cartridge”), you don’t even need to use disposable cartridges, and a well-made pen will not need replacement, and may in fact outlive you, it could be handed down as a heirloom

FP’s, as I stated above, force you to slow down and think, not just about what you’re writing, but how you’re writing, it can improve penmanship, and give the words written a “personality” for lack of a better term

a FP introduces less waste into the waste stream, if you use the converter and refill from a bottle of ink, the waste stream from the pen is basically limited to the scrap paper you produce, and the glass ink bottle (which can be recycled), the most that a FP would add to the waste stream would be the plastic disposable cartridges, compare that to a Ballpoint/rollerball/Gel that uses refill cartridges, you’re tossing away a metal or plastic tube with a tiny ball bearing roller-ball in the tip, still, a reusable BP/RB/Gel is still better than a disposable pen, where the whole thing is chucked out

admittedly, the waste produced from even disposable pens is minimal, but when compared against disposable pens or BP/RB/Gel pens, a converter-filled FP produces the least amount of waste

Any other Dopers fans of the humble fountain pen?

Yes. :slight_smile:

I’m a wannabe. I use a really, really cheap FP. . . $7.50. But it has lasted me for years. It has cartridges, so maybe it doesn’t fit under your definition. But the ink is free-flowing and the tip is like a fountain pen. I can’t get myself to pay any more than that at the moment for one pen. And I’ve found the opposite of what you’re saying about the improved penmanship. My writing with an FP is basically illegible. The reason I like it is because I use it to write my journal which is basically stream of consciousness and the ink flows fast enough and freely enough to allow my thoughts to be literally written as fast as my hand will go. But it makes the writing pretty illegible. Ball point pens generally can’t flow fast enough to keep up. If I got a real FP, would the ink not be able to keep up as well?

Since I’m a wannabe, I’ve looked up some sites in the past and found a couple interesting ones.

A Few Notes about Fountain Pens . . basically goes over the advantages that you talked about in your note.

The Fountain Pen Network. . .yup, a message board devoted to fountain pens. You’re probably on this one.

I’ve also been looking for a tad bit more sturdy pen but not too pricey and I found these at Lamy that people on the fountain pen sites claimed were pretty good. Any other suggestions?

I also just got some BP pens today. . . G2 .07. So far, it’s the best BP I’ve found.

Me! I always carry a fountain pen, but I don’t use it all the time. I do use it for signing letters, writing checks and so on. I once read that Stephen King wrote one of his later novels in theme books with a fountain pen, so I started writing letters to my brothers and sons using a fountain pen. It was kind of a pain in the ass at first, but the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it.

I have, among others, a couple of Sailor Pens (Japan), a few Watermans (France), a couple of Parkers (US, I think), a Conklin (US, I think) and several Viscontis (Italy).

I wish that Waterman would bring back their pens in gunmetal, and I really grew into the resin body pens. Visconti’s resin bodies look like oil paintings rendered as pens.

They’re pains in the ass, but a good counterpoint to the age of the keyboard.

I’ll bet I have lost more fountain pens than anybody here. Not that I’m proud of it–in fact, I’m frustrated.

The very sleek black Waterman that I lost somewhere between a 7-11 and the bar across the street…I discovered that loss pretty quickly, searched at great threat to my wellbeing on a busy street, because all I’d done was walk across the street…oh well.

The fat Mont Blanc my husband got me, which was really too fat for me to write with comfortably but it looked very pretty on my desk. I think one of my coworkers stole it. I’m pretty sure of it, in fact. I have a specific coworker in mind. All I hope is that he hung onto it.

At least ten cheap Estabrooks that I got in the school bookstore in college. I had to walk the sales people down to the basement and show them where they were kept, as they kept insisting they didn’t carry them. (I knew where they were because the library shared space with the bookstore stockroom and I worked in the library.) Easy come, easy go.

Now I have a silver Waterman that I don’t write with, a moderately plump ivory Cross that needs to be refilled with purple ink, and a slender pinkish-beige Cross that matches my current nail polish and has South Seas blue ink.

Since I was in third grade I’ve never been without a fountain pen (well, except for the unavoidable lacunae between losing one and replacing it). I tend to use the inks that come in bottles and I always get ink all over my hands when refilling. Naturally I started with cheap Sheaffers and cartridges of Washable Blue. I quickly moved on to more thrilling colors–Peacock Blue was a staple for many years, along with a color whose name I’ve forgotten but which my mother thought looked like dried blood. (Anything that freaked my mother out was aces with me.)At one point, sometime in graduate school, one of my friends suggested I might use some more sedate colors–like black? So I did that for awhile, then reverted to type. Nobody has colors like I have, because I blend them (all with Waterman ink, though).

I have found out that fountain pens are no good for editing copy that was typed on cheapo newsprint of the type used by reporters at the newspapers I worked at, back when newspapers still used paper. Neither are they much good for signing mass-market paperbacks, kind of blotchy, you have to write fast. Because of fountain pens I can’t use Moleskine notebooks because the paper’s too absorbent.

Even the cheap ones adapt to my hand, so I don’t much like for other people to use my fountain pens, so in situations where people might ask, or just take them, I will have a gel pen substitute.

I just got an application for an American Express card in the mail. It said to fill it out in blue or black ink. I laughed and threw it away. Would they reject me if I filled it out in green? Would they count South Seas Blue as blue?

Allow me to recommend the Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen.

After years (decades?) of experimenting with cheap fountain pens, I’ve finally found one that’s worth it’s $2.00 sticker price.

Doesn’t leak. Doesn’t clog. Travels well in a pocket. Writes like a fountain pen.

Check it out.

When my Cross is willing to operate, which isn’t often, it’s a pleasure to use. I’ve tired of cleaning it and hoping it will behave when called upon.

The Parker, which cost a third that of the Cross, is ever willing and productive, and has never been cleaned.

Nope. As a lefty I hate them with a passion. It leaves me with blobs of ink all over the side of my left hand. Give me a ball point any day!

The few times I have used one, I have to write a few letters, wait for it to dry and repeat the process.

I love them. I love the fact that co-workers will not steal them, because they provide automatic ink-blob booby trappage to unwary ball-point thieves. I have nothing against ball-point thieves, am the worst of them. The cozy, responsive feel of a fountain pen improves my pen-morality because I will grab it first. They improve the beauty and quality of my ink line. Fountain pens do nothing whatsoever for my legibility, but that is asking too much of a humble writing instrument. They are wonderful for drawing, I have about 500 various size nibs I got for my birthday as a teenager. You insert them in an old fashioned wooden or plastic pen body, dip in ink, tap on a blotter and go. Writing or drawing with a fountain pen is a satisfying and sensual experience.

I adore fountain pens, but I cannot find my Waterman Phileas. :frowning: :frowning: :frowning: I’m stubborn enough to not want to buy another one, since I know I’ll find the damn thing after I shell out money again. Sigh.

I’m looking for one that’s between, say, $30-75 that can have an extra-fine nib. My writing is incredibly small and I need a fine ink line so it doesn’t look like a long ink blob*. I want a fine ink line without any skipping. I realize that the finer the nib, the scratchier it will feel, but I don’t want something horribly scritchy. Any recommendations?

*[sub]No, writing larger is not the answer! :)[/sub]

I found I didn’t write enough to keep 3 fountain pens working, so I narrowed it down to my Rotring Core. I can’t seem to explain why I want to write with a fountain pen. I like it. It seems even more frivolous, now that I can grab a couple of fat ballpoint with drug names on them, every time I visit a doctor. I don’t even know what most of the drugs are for, but they shower my doctor with neato pens. :stuck_out_tongue:

I had the odd cheapo fountain pen when I was in high school. My first ‘real’ fountain pen was (and is) a blue Waterman Phileas. I have two or three (I know I have a red one and a green one) vintage Esterbrooks with the filling lever on the side. (Remember the classic comedy bit where one guy shoots a stream of in into another guy’s eye? One of those.)

But the pen I use most is a Levenger Mediterranean. Not too expensive, it looks good and writes well with its fine nib.

I love my vintage Parker 51s. I have two, I keep one with black ink and one with a color. They write so beautifully, and they fit my hand perfectly. IMHO they don’t make 'em like that anymore - I have a few pens I’ve gotten from Levenger, but they’re not the same. They’re kind of obviously “signature pens” - too heavy, not a fine enough line, etc. I have never found a modern fountain pen to be as smooth or as good a daily writer as my vintage Parkers. (Granted, I only write letters by hand, so “daily” writer with me isn’t very.)

It’s kinda’ funny if I step back and look at things objectively, I’m a tech, i work in a rapidly evolving high-tech field, yet my favorite pen isn’t a gel, or even a Fisher Space Pen (although I DO like them), but a fountain pen, old, obsolete technology, my favorite watch isn’t my Casio G-Shock digital, it’s my mechanical Automatic Seiko Orange Monster, once again, old technology, and my favorite flashlight is a SureFire incandescent (G3 with 200 lumen P91 lamp assembly or my A2 Aviator), not a super-high-tech Cree/Seoul/Luxeon Rebel LED flashlight

I guess I like reliable, time-tested technology…

I have two fountain pens at work, and it’s all I use.
My favorite is my Pelikan with its fine nib and purple ink.
The backup is my Lamy, with its extra fine nib and green ink.
Fortunately, no one has ever tried to steal them (thank goodness, I’d be very, very sad) and I bring another pen with me when I’m walking around to get signatures- the fountain pen scares people.
And I’m usually covered in purple or green ink. Very professional, I know.

Had one since Junior High, when we used 'em to flick ink at each other. Everyone else grew out of 'em and moved on; not me.

My current is a Parker Sonnet, medium nib. Writes nice and smooth, never clots, reasonably priced.

I like the fact that the fountain pen forces you to slow down while writing. It’s for writing letters, love songs, and poems; business correspondance, not so much.

I’d think for love songs and poems you’d use a quill. :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a Pelikan M 200, their entry-level piston model.

My first pen in second grade was a Pelikan “Pelikano” beginner model. During the following years in school I had several Lamy pens, both aluminium and plastic.

I’m curious, did those of you who have used fountain pens since grade school or high school go to Catholic schools? I remember using fountain pens in grade school and I went to a Catholic school but for 6th grade and part of high school I attended public schools and they did not require fountain pens.