Hello to all of you who are reading this article! My goal here today is to help you in picking out your first fountain pen! It’s a difficult decision, and selecting the right one can be difficult. There are so many options, and with all the great articles and reviews out there, it can be mind boggling to a beginner.
By the end of this series, you should be able to make a wise choice on selecting your first pen. If you’re having a hard time, you can always send me an email, and get a personal response to your questions. Though I am a bit busy with business sometimes, I always make time to talk pens with people, especially beginners.
As with all my reviews and articles, I’m going to provide you with a little list of what we’ll be covering here. By breaking this down into categories, you should have an easier time not getting lost during the read, and scanning through if you bookmark it for reference.
My personal writing style is very “conversational”. I hope you’ll enjoy it, cause I sure love writing it! The way I’m going to break up this into categories is by using questions, and answers. Here goes:
- Part 1: Why would I want a fountain pen, and which is better for me, vintage or modern?
- Part II: Wow! There are so many choices! Can you explain them to me?
- Part III: What pens would you recommend for beginners?
Now, with that list in mind, the best place to begin is at the beginning, with question No. 1.
I’ll begin with a short list of the benefits of using and owning a fountain pen.
- They’re downright fun. This may sound like a lame reason, but it’s not. Writing can sometimes become a chore, and a burden. By using a writing instrument like a fountain pen, writing can become a joy!
- They’re better for your hands. Ever gotten cramps from writing? Chances are you were using an “ink-stick”. This is the term which fountain pen owners use to denote a ball-point pen, usually of the “100 for $5.00) variety. A fountain pen is much better for long periods of writing, allowing the hand to relax, and write without becoming fatigued.
- The personalization! Who doesn’t love a useful item, which is custom tailored to your hand? This is what makes fountain pens so much fun! There is SO much to customize with a fountain pen. Here’s some quick examples:
- There are thousands (hundreds of thousands) of pens to choose from. LOTS of variety. There is something there for everyone.
- Each pen can have a different type of nib, and a different filling system for drawing ink. For those of us mechanical geeks (like me), it’s really cool to pick out a pen with a complex ink drawing system.
- Ink colors! There are at least over 1000 different colors of inks available, from a variety of brands. You can’t even begin to approach that with a ballpoint! Best of all, a single pen can use as many inks as you like, one at a time of course. This means that you can own only one pen, but you can have a stash of 20 inks (or more) to choose from, each time you re-fill.
- Lastly (though there are many more reasons, I can’t give them all, for the sake of time), there is the nostalgia of using a fountain pen. Something sacred and wonderful about the “rituals” involved with caring for, and using it. Everything from filling it up, to cleaning it – it’s all special, and really keeps us close with our writing instrument. Sounds cheesy, but trust me, you’ll love it the first time you get to fill your fountain pen!
For me, a fountain pen is really just another tool. But it’s a special tool. One of the few tools that you can connect with, on a personal level. Though I consider myself a user, and not a collector, I still enjoy the intrinsic value of owning a fountain pen.
Indeed, in this modern day of smart phones, and super-techy gadgets, it is downright refreshing to have a delightful tool that never runs low on batteries, never has software crashes, and never gets outdated!
If you still don’t want a fountain pen now, I don’t know what to tell you! After all, what could you not love about a fountain pen? Sure, they require some light maintenance, and a little upkeep/devotion, but with a fountain pen, it’s fun to perform these tasks, not annoying. If you’ve decided that you do indeed want a fountain pen, read on for more information.
Vintage or Modern?
So, you’ve finally made the decision to buy a pen, right? Well now you’re probably looking at the dazzling array of different options available. There are hundreds of thousands of different pens on the market, and many of them have some extremely winning qualities. What you need to do is decide what you want for your fountain pen.
I group fountain pens into two main categories: vintage pens, and modern pens. There are ups and downs to both types of pens. I will explain here, the most important pros and cons of vintage and modern fountain pens:
Vintage fountain pens
- You often times get more pen for your $ than with a modern fountain pen.
- You get the added nostalgia of the pen being vintage .
- A vintage pen has history behind it, each one has a unique story.
- You might just prefer the retro style!
- Vintage pens tend to be more fragile (not all of them) than their modern counterparts.
- Vintage pens often need repair before they are functioning again. This is the same as restoring any antique when it has been out of use for a lengthy period of time. This is all dependent on where you buy your pen from. There are many reputable sellers of vintage pens who will guarantee them working for you. I will provide a list of places to purchase pens from at the end of this article.
- You might dislike the certain filling systems that vintage pens use. I personally love them! They are a lot more unique than most modern filling systems. I’ll talk more on filling systems in just a minute here.
Modern fountain pens:
- Modern pens are usually very sturdy, due to the new plastics we’ve invented recently. This is very important if you are a student, or work at a job where your pen will be subject to some light “abuse”.
- Many people, including me, prefer some of the modern styled pens. Most particularly when you’re looking at a lower price range.
- Modern fountain pens are guaranteed to work when you get them, unless of course you have a strange occurrence of a manufactures defect. Luckily most companies and retailers will replace your pen if it’s not working properly.
- Most modern pens will last longer without the need to be re-furbished. Vintage pens need their internal components replaced every 15-20 years, or more depending the filling-system.
- Modern pens can have a tendency to not write well out of the box. This is not uncommon, but it’s not extremely common either. It is something that you should be aware of. Luckily if your pens has been purchased from a good re-seller, they will make sure that the nib has either been tested beforehand, or that they have a good return policy.
- You may dislike the filling systems available for modern pens. Most of them in the lower price range will feature filing systems that just aren't as good as a vintage pen for the same price.
So now we’ve discussed the pros and cons of vintage and modern pens. In Part II, I am going to go into more detail on different aspects of them.
About the author:
Tyler Dahl is a young and enthusiastic fountain pen fanatic. The youngest professional pen-repairer currently out there, Tyler spends much of his time with inky hands, and broken pens.
When he's not blogging or repairing pens, he's currently working on building a small house with his family in Tennessee, and helping run the family farm.