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Fountain Pens Are Cool

11/02/2018

Last week, HisNibs.com shared a link to a Bloomberg article about fountain pen ink that stated, “Worldwide, fountain pen sales are forecast to total $1.15 billion this year, up 3 percent from 2017 and almost 31 percent from a decade ago, according to market-research company Euromonitor International.” Yes, fountain pens are cool and so is ink.

An inkophile needs a stable of pens to test and compare several colors at the same time. A five-pen rotation works well for me and for a reasonable investment, these are some of my favorite models.

  • Pilot Metropolitan – My three are good writers, but might seem slender in a large hand.
  • Pilot Kakuno – Mine has a good nib and adds virtually no weight to my kit.
  • Platinum Plaisir – Good nibs and attractive colors. Slightly larger than the Metropolitan.
  • Kaweco Sport – Modern pocket pen works well in small spaces. Nibs can be swapped.
  • TWSBI Eco – Small nib and simple design, but folks swear by the Eco. The Diamond 580 is my preferred model.
  • Lamy Safari – Sturdy build, but the grip is awkward for some users. Nibs can be good if finicky about ink. The Studio is my preferred model for an everyday pen.
  • Nemosine Singularity – Good build for the price. My italics work best with well-lubricated inks.
  • Conklin Duragraph – The stub nibs are smooth and juicy. I liked the design and performance well enough to purchase two.

Although I have owned a few inexpensive Chinese pens that wrote well enough, most brands have been too inconsistent to recommend. However, for the modest investment, they could be worth the gamble. Amazon and eBay offer quite a few, but you might have better luck at His Nibs.

The Pilot Metropolitan has emerged as my favorite fountain pen for ink testing because it cleans easily and flows well with every ink. The Duragraph with its wide nib is good for general writing so it will often get filled with an ink I would use for a journal or correspondence. The Kakuno or the Singularity come out to play when aqua ink is on the menu. The Nova Orange Plaisir is happy with orange ink or sometimes a fill of Noodler’s Lexington Gray. Either way, it makes my desk look cheerful.

My current pen rotation for testing ink includes

  • Silver Pilot Metropolitan – green ink
  • Aqua Pilot Metropolitan, Kakuno, or Nemosine Singularity – blue/aqua ink
  • Plaisir – red/orange ink
  • TWSBI – purple/burgundy ink
  • Duragraph – black/brown ink

That makes five pens for under $150. Or a mix of Metropolitans and Plasirs could be put together for less than $75. Add a selection of ink samples and you are on your way to being a collector. Now wasn’t that easy!

Though I have never needed to make a return, do purchase where that would be easy. Low-end pens can be imperfect by some accounts though I suspect that is less common with the pens on my list.

Most of the links are to Amazon from which Inkophile receives a tiny commission when you buy within 24 hours of clicking the link. Thank you for your support.

 

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12 comments

  1. Very concise and informative. I found myself agreeing with you as to preferring the TWSBI 580 over the Eco and the Lamy Studio over the Safari. I am also with you on the Conklin Duragrap being good enough to buy two! However I found that they liked to be used daily otherwise the big size 6 nibs had a tendency to hard start.

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    • Thanks. Good to hear your opinion of the pens. Yes, some of them can be a little demanding and insist on daily attention. Cheeky, I’d say.

      With a few exceptions like the Platinum #3776 Century, I expect a hard start when a pen is inked but unused for days at a time. Of course some pens are more prone, but highly saturated ink exacerbates the problem. Some of the inks I’ve liked best in the Duragraph include Stipula Verde Muschiato, Diamine Prussian Blue, Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu, Diamine Umber, Diamine Peach Haze, and Stipula Saffron. Waterman Florida Blue and Blue Black would fine as would a number of J. Herbin inks. Have you found any ink that is less inclined to cause hard starts?

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      • I did not realise that the type of ink made a difference but just assumed that hard starts were the pen’s fault, so I have not really thought about which inks are more prone. My favourite pens for Not hard starting are my Pelikan M205 and M800, and of course the Platinum 3776 that you mentioned.

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        • The pen is the primary culprit for hard starts, but ink may contribute to the issue. In some cases, ink is the sole cause. It really is a trial and error activity so I kept a log for many years. It is easy to forget a pen and ink that worked well together and a pleasure to rediscover them years later.

          My Pelikan M400 never has a starting problem with WFB, It is such a great duo that the pen rarely gets filled with anything else. Why tamper with perfection?

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  2. Funny you should say that…I put Waterman Serenity Blue in my M205 blue demo and it was such an ideal combo that I have never switched since!

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  3. I love my TWSBI Ecos. (I have and love a 580AL as well, but it has a larger nib than I prefer and so I don’t use it as much. I may buy a new nib unit for it one of these days.) My Metros and Plaisirs are also in frequent use. I have other pens — both more and less expensive than my go-to pens — but it’s the $20-60 range pens that I use the most.

    (And I’m pretty sure you’re the one who got me to try the Plaisir. Thank you!)

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    • Hi Nicole!

      That price range does appear to be the sweet spot for many fountain pen users. IMO the quality and variety in that range has improved considerably in the past decade and I am happy to take advantage of it.

      Since you brought up the TWSBI nib, it’s a personal quirk but the larger nib on the 580 encourages a better angle for my hand. Between my two pens, the 580 is slightly smoother. However, bang-for-the-buck makes the Eco the better deal. Both are good pens and I have no qualms about recommending either one.

      Welcome on the Plaisir. So glad you like it.

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      • I love the feel of the 580, but I got a medium nib when extra fine is my preferred writing size. I’m not actually sure why I went so much bigger than my personal preferences. The result is I’ll use the 580 happily for writing thank you notes and such, but it writes too large to be my daily driver. Oh well, I still love it.

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  4. […] Fountain Pens Are Cool […]

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