Friday, June 22, 2012

Beginner Fountain Pens

The first fountain pen I bought was a Parker Latitude in stainless steel. It was actually pretty good as a beginner fountain pen although a little more expensive than I was expecting ($90 when I purchased it in Winnipeg).

I've had a few people ask what is a good beginner's fountain pen so I thought I would do a quick and easy round up of several suggested beginner fountain pens. In my opinion, it should be no more than $35, it should not require any tweaking to get it to work the first time, and it should be easy to find and work with! JetPens has a section for beginner fountain pens, where you can find all of these.

Which one you pick will depend on whether you want a disposable pen or not (although I'd personally recommend you get one that can be refilled with a converter - less waste!), what kind of nib you like, and whether you prefer a plastic or metal body. At this price range, the nibs are steel and the bodies are plastic. Nothing wrong with either of those - it's just about your taste and writing style. The best way to learn what you like is to try out pens in a store if you can, or better yet, at a pen show!

Pilot Varsity - Disposable - $3.00
Pentel Pulaman JM20 - Disposable - $3.30
Platinum Preppy - $3.30
Pilot Vpen - Disposable - $3.80
Pilot Plumix - Italic - $7.25
Pelikan P67A Pelikano - $11.50
Sailor Clear Candy - $16.50
Sailor HighAce Neo - $16.50
Pelikan P480M Pelikano - $18.40
Lamy Safari - $26.00
Lamy ABC - $23.00
Lamy Nexx - $23.00
Kaweco Classic Sport - $23.50 - $26.50
I haven't used all of the pens on this list. The ones I have used and are my personal favorites are the Lamy Safari, the Kaweco Classic Sport, and the Pilot Plumix.

I like the Lamy Safari because they come in a range of fun colors and different nib sizes. The nibs are easily interchangeable, and you can even get calligraphy nibs for it. They come with an ink cartridge and once you pop that into place, they write straight out of the box (with a cartridge or converter of course), and I've never had a problem with a Lamy pen to this day. The steel nib is hard and will give you uniform writing and reminds me very much of the Uni-ball Signo gel pens - ranging from a 0.38mm nib for the extra-fine fountain pen nib, all the way up to 0.7mm which mimics a broader fountain pen nib. The overall appearance of the Lamy Safari is fun and exciting and reminds me of candy, not unlike the colors of these Uni-ball Signos!

The Kaweco Classic Sport is great because it's a smaller, compact, and more portable pen than the Lamy Safari is. You can buy Kaweco nib units separately as well, including calligraphy nibs, so you can have one pen and several nibs for it. Kaweco nibs are great quality, and write very nicely straight from the box. There are also several fun colors available - while the design of the Kaweco Classic Sport is a little more reserved than the Safaris, the Ice Sport is saucier than the Classics! If you want to really splurge on a yummy Kaweco, check out the AC Sport Carbon fountain pen. This one is on my wishlist!

The Pilot Plumix is another one of my favorites because it has the most affordable italic nib fountain pen I have found. While the body is not outstanding in terms of appearance or comfort, the flat italic nib is great to write with and it adds some spice to one's penmanship! It's amazing how awesome an italic nib can make your writing look! The blue body is my favorite.

I really want to try the Sailor Clear Candy because it comes in such a delicious array of colors, and I hear Sailor makes great nibs!

Anyone out there who feels the same, or differently about any of these pens? What are your favorite "beginner" fountain pens?


On Fountain Pens said...

Great post, very useful info and I got to know some pens that I never heard of before! Gonna save up for a bunch of them to review in future :D

GourmetPens said...

Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed :) They're all pretty decently priced so I keep telling myself "I should get one of each for investigation purposes" but that doesn't convince anyone else but me.

Sheila McLean said...

I don't have experience of all of these, but they all look like great choices. I have a Kaweco and think its a great little pen, and I've used Pilot Varsities and Platinum Preppys (preppies?) and enjoyed them. I am not a Lamy fan, but I understand I'm about the only person on Earth who isn't; to each her own!

If someone were interested in something a little bit older but still readily available, I'd suggest a Reform 1745 (German school pen) or any of the Sheaffer school pens, or one of the NoNonsense pens. All available on eBay and from some private sellers as well.

GourmetPens said...

Oh! Thank you for commenting and sharing! I have never even heard of Reform 1745... I'm going to hunt around a little bit! I recently acquired a NOS Sheaffer Prelude and my god, that nib is mind boggling and smooth! Vintage pens and older pens are so awesome.

How come you don't like Lamy? Is it the grip? Or the pen style? I'm curious! I'm pretty versatile when it comes to pens - not terribly picky about anything so I have yet to meet a fountain pen I don't like.

Brian Coffey said...

I like the Lamy Safari as well! I agree about using pens that allow a converter to be used to reduce waste and really don't like the disposable pen options.

Christeeeeeen said...

For anyone who starts out with a Pilot Varsity/VPen--don't toss 'em when they run out of ink. Once you become more familiar with fountain pens and comfortable with tinkering with them, you can actually pull out the nib and feed and refill those "disposable" fountain pens. Even with all the other non-disposable fountain pens I have, I always keep a Varsity with me and have refilled it three or four times since I got it. There are even discussions at the fountain pen network about refilling these pens. LOL

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