Fountain Pens

ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian
edited January 2018 in Lifestyle

@BuddyJ expressed some interest. It's a new hobby for me, but I've purchased quite a few and I thought I'd show and tell what I have so far, and give some opinions.

A couple of definitions for those who may not be familiar with fountain pens"
-posting - the act of putting the cap on the non-writing end of the pen
-cartridge converter - for pens that take ink cartridges, a converter fits in the same space and allows you to fill the pen with ink from a bottle.
-nib - the writing tip of the pen. They come in many widths, so for this thread I'll use F=fine, M=medium, B=broad. Typically Japanese pens (Pilot, Sailor, etc.) definition are a full step finer than European/American. So a Japanese M should be approx. European F.
-generally, inks have different flow rates across brands and even colours within a brand. So, if you hate how your pen writes, try a different ink. For example, Pelikan pens are known to flow very well, but their inks are somewhat dry to compensate. Their ink may not work well in a pen that likes more flow, you may find it scratchy and inconsistent.
-nail - a nib that has no flex and likely no line variation. Most modern steel and many gold nibs are like this.
-feed - the black part on the back of the nib, where the ink comes down from the reservoir and 'feeds' the nib

I'm not sure how many pics I can attach to a single thread nor if I can keep them in any sort of order. I'll do what I can, but I'll make a partial list for now.

Noodler's - Flex and Ahab. They essentially have the same very flexible approx medium nib. Very wet writers, lots of ink flow - particularly the Ahab (the fat one), which can be messy to handle, though not on paper. Designed as much for art as for actual writing. Cheap entry level pens, I'd never ever carry one around in my pocket.

Lamy aion M- a new model for Lamy mid 2017. Solid aluminum construction. Cartridges or cartridge converter, which is how I use it. Very very very smooth medium nib (definitely a nail), my favourite to write with at the moment and is my daily user at my desk. However, I HATE that the cap is loose and rattles when on, and takes significant effort to post (put on the back end of the pen while writing), you have to really push it down on the barrel to get a solid fit. As I much prefer to post, I won't carry it around with my - here at home, I've had the cap flop off while writing multiple times, I'd lose it out in the field.

Kaweko Brass Sport M- wanted this for field/pocket carry. Cartridge only, though I believe you can get a small capacity converter. Awful out of the box, reading online tells me many have the same experience but flushing or soaking the pen with a gentle soap & water solution fixes a lot of that - it did for me. I still don't love how it writes, having tried a couple different brand cartridges, but it's at least usable and I will field test it this week. The cap is a little loose posted, which may become an issue if it moves around or pops off - the pen is MUCH to short to use unposted, at least for me. Also to note, online writing suggests the cartridges can come loose, I put a wad of paper towel in the back end of the barrel to prevent this occurence, which is a common hack.

Pilot Metropolitan F - (no pic) cheap entry level, but excellent construction. One of the 3 generally recommended for entry level fountain pens. Cartridges or cartridge converter - it may not come with one, but mine did and they can be had online for cheap. The F nib is way too scratchy and thin for my use, though my wife likes it after I put a better flowing ink in it. I would like to try one in M.

Pilot Namiki Falcon - nib is 14K gold SM = SOFT Medium, allowing for more flex and line variation. Just opened up and inked it today, both my wife and I tried it out. Nice smooth writer for both of us. A strong candidate for a pocket pen when I'm wearing a suit, it has the 'classic' black and gold trim look. Lighter than either of us expected. Posts well. Mid level price range around $150. Pilot is a very well respected fountain pen manufacturer, and this is a commonly recommended 'next level' pen.

Pilot Namiki Silvern Tsumugi M - I am a BIG sucker for sterling silver, this is an all silver body that comes/came in I believe 4 different patterns. I'm going to not ink this one for now, and keep it in 'new in box' condition. I believe the series has been discontinued though you can still find a few new on ebay. Handling it, the body is much smoother than I expected from seeing pictures. Side note, yes it can tarnish over time. For some, what will be part of the beauty of it. I haven't yet investigated, but there are small bags you can get that prevent tarnishing.



  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian
    edited January 2018

    So, those were the 'new' ones, now I have a few vintage pieces. Most of these are restored, and I will ink them and use them, with one BIG exception. But I've just acquired them, so for now this is a very preliminary 'show and tell' with no writing experience.

    Parker Vacumatic Major F - Parkers from this era can be dated, this one is 1st quarter 1945. I feel like no collection of vintage pens is complete without a Parker, so I picked up this relatively inexpensive one to try out and have. It's restored, mostly meaning the guts (barrel, feed) have been cleaned and a new ink sac has been installed. Vacumatics came in at least 4 different sizes, this is one of the larger ones. Lighter than I expected. The body is celluloid, and the more common colours are black and green.

    Sheaffer's side note, they dropped the apostrophe s at the end some time in the 1970s and were Sheaffer from then on.

    Sheaffer's 'Slender' Balance F - so called because, while Balance is the name of the line, no 'Slender' named model existed...but this one is slimmer than the big Balances, more along the size of a smaller Junior. Like the Parker above, Balances came in many different sizes, and there are some anomalies out there such as this one. Black and silver striped celluloid, this one's in great shape and the colour crisp. Sheaffers with a white dot were for a long time their 'premium' pens, often coming with a lifetime guarantee up until the 50's. This one can be dated by era rather than to a specific year, the flat ball clip I am told points to 1935-1940.

    Sheaffer's Imperial Touchdown F - gold plated early-mid 1960's. Touchdown is what Sheaffer's called the filling system, and they used this version from the 40's through to at least the 2000's (along with other filling systems, cartridges, etc.) I have always loved the look of this style of inlaid nib, and it's been a hallmark for Sheaffer from this era right up to present day. Imperials are not hard to find, and not particularly expensive - 1970's Imperials can be found new in box for under $40, though this earlier gold plated version ran me a little over $100. Restored, and I plan to use it.

    Sheaffer's Snorkels - Snorkels were made from 1952-1959 (one later model, the Pen For Men (PFM) came out in 1959 and ran a few more years), and refer to the very unique filling system. When the button on the back of the barrel is turned, a tube extends down below the nib for ink filling. It was marketed as a very clean way of filling a pen, no need to immerse the whole nib and feed and then wipe them all off afterward. It was also a complex system with lots of moving parts.
    -First year Snorkels had a gold (still investigating whether plated, filled, or solid) Snorkel tube
    -they came in 5 colours at first: black, burgundy, grey, pastel blue, pastel green
    -in c.1957, they introduced several more colours, some of which are very rare desireable and expensive today
    -for all years, they came in 13 (!) different models, with differentiation by trim levels, nib type, metal caps, and up to the SOLID GOLD Masterpiece model, which is really rare today.

    For now, I am going to collect Snorkels as my main focus. I only have 1 in hand but I have about 10 in transit.

    Sheaffer's Snorkel Demonstrator - a demonstrator is a pen with a clear body, such that you can see the inner workings. This concept was not new on Snorkels, multiple manufacturers had been doing demonstrators with either cutouts or clear bodies since at least the 1920's. Back then, they were intended as a salesman's//store sample, with which to demonstrate the workings - thus, they are relatively rare. Today, demonstrators are common and a mainstream pen for many manufacturers. This demonstrator I has some features I haven't seen elsewhere online - the cap was originally clear near as anyone can tell (has corrosion from the brass insert now), where most of them were originally painted black inside. And it has the gold first year Snorkel tube - I haven't seen another one online, though of course they must exist. In any case, it's very rare and will be a feature part of my collection.

  • d3k0yd3k0y Loveland, OH Icrontian

    I had been looking at a Lamy Safari for a while, buddy actually bought one, smaller than expected. With that in mind i bought the longest one i could find, which was Lamy calligraphy something.

  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian

    The Safari is also, along with the Pilot Metropolitan, one of the general top 3 recommended for a beginner to fountain pens, in the ~$20-25 range. I forget the other offhand.

    Your calligraphy model probably has a different nib than a typical writing fountain, I would hazard a guess it's wider (it actually looks hugely wide in your pic, not sure if a myspace angle) and not that well suited to scribbling down notes.

  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian
    edited January 2018

    I forgot to add my Pelikan in the first post. Pelikan is a very well received and old German brand. Mine is a recent limited edition Ocean Swirl model M805 with a medium nib. Nib is 18K gold, plated with rhodium. M800's have gold trim, M805's chrome/silver/palladium/whatever, but are otherwise the same body size and nib selection. Lovely depth to the colour, not evident in my or any other pictures I've seen online. Some complain that the colour is not uniform, that it's flatter and darker in places - certainly true with mine, but it doesn't bother me.

    I don't know what they call their fill system, but it's plunger based - turn the end cap to open, dip nib in ink, turn end cap until closed. Voila, done.

    So far, it doesn't love the ink I filled it with - Diamine Registrar's blue-black - but I've had that ink in about 4 different pens now and yet to find one that writes well with it, so changing out the Pelikan to something else shortly. Feels nice in hand but not my favourite.

    Top 3 for overall, including comfort, line, ink flow etc. are right now
    Lamy aion. But that damned cap...
    Pilot Falcon - light, comfortable, more line variation than the Lamy
    Noodler's Ahab, with the caveats that I would only block print with it, not write, and that I'd never carry it tends to flow so well that if carried or stored nib down, it will definitely put ink into the cap in a short time. But it's comfortable, and gets great line variation with its soft 'flex' nib.!

  • BuddyJBuddyJ Dept. of Propaganda OKC Icrontian

    Excellent. Thanks for sharing. That sterling pen is especially beatuiful.

    I have two pens; a Pilot Metropolitan medium nib (silver) with converter, and a Kaweco Sport fine. The Pilot was my first and I'm extremely happy with it. It isn't flashy but it sure writes nice.

    The Kaweco Sport was a Christmas present this year. It's smaller and lighter than I imagined. I'm still on the first cartridge with it so I haven't been able to try it with any other inks so I'll probably jump down that rabbit hole soon to see just how vile the converters are for it. I'd very much like to try the brass-bodied one you have to see if I like the extra weight. I generally prefer heavier pens.

  • edcentricedcentric near Milwaukee, Wisconsin Icrontian

    At my desk I keep a Pilot Metropolitan (this one is a White Tiger) with Terracotta ink, a Pelican 200 (which is about 40 years old) with black ink, and a Levenger True Writer which is a heavy stainless steel body pen (tooled in a basket weave pattern) with dark blue ink.
    Without ink, there are about a dozen other pens.
    I have a few from OTHO, a Dude, Jazz, and a Giza. They are very nice pens for the money. I carried the Dude for a long time, it looks a lot like the Kaweco Sport, but a bit larger and with a clip.
    When I get a chance I'll lay them out and take a picture or two.
    My favorite inks are from Diamine. I have tried some others with so-so results.
    I do have some 1670, the dark green with gold flecking. It looks beautiful but you can't let it sit in a pen, and I am too lazy to fill very time that I want to write.

  • drasnordrasnor Starship Operator Hawthorne, CA Icrontian

    My sole fountain pen is an A.G. Spalding:

    This mainly gets used for writing checks and signing things. I think I'm probably just bad at fountain pens because it goes through ink pretty fast and gets scratchy when it gets low. I'm thinking about getting a Pilot Cavalier or Lamy Al-Star; I like my pens to be narrow.

  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian

    Have literally a couple dozen more 40's-50's-60's mostly Sheaffer pens, but still working on organizing and displaying. Did get a couple of cool desk sets in.

    Parker Model 4, c.1957 Sputnik! Where are you!

    And an old 1940's or maybe even 30's Sheaffer dealer display set. I haven't opened up the pen to verify it's from the same era. But the cardboard around the pen head (where it's marked 'FINE') looks right for that age.

  • ketoketo Occupied. Or is it preoccupied? Icrontian

    Sheaffer Snorkels c. 1952-1959. The Fiesta Red, the Sage Green, and the (clear) demonstrator are considered rare.

  • edcentricedcentric near Milwaukee, Wisconsin Icrontian

    Keto, You need to go look up Fran Blanche on YouTube. She built a replica of a model of Sputnik, with the beeping and everything.

    I picked up a couple of Platinum Preppy disposable fountain pens. If you bought their cartridges you could keep using them, but at $3 each why would you. The nibs are a bit stiff, but they write smoothly. The ink is interesting, it almost looks like thin gel ink. It is deff thicker than standard inks. The line is very nice, esp for $3.

  • sazboomsazboom White Lake MI Icrontian

    So during my leadership training at General Motors, I discovered that all the leadership at the company used Moleskin style notebooks and fountain pens in meetings to take notes. Here I was with my computer thinking these dinosaurs were living in the stone ages. Thing was, these men and women in meetings never seemed to forget a thing. They could recall a detail on a meeting a month ago before I could search for it. I was amazed! So I swallowed my pride, bought some notebooks and some disposable fountain pens, brushed up on my cursive, and started taking notes. Sure as Sunday, written notes kicked the computer's ass. I was remembering things better and more clearly organizing my thoughts as I wrote during meetings.

    So I don't work for GM anymore but I take that bit of advice with me now. In every location I work now I have a stack of notebooks and a pile of disposable fountain pens. I even bought a couple Lamy at their store in San Francisco over Valentines day as a gift for @Sazbean and I. Ill likely take this tread as a little challenge to get some better fountain pens for my note taking.

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