It’s about time for me to toot a bit about the glory of writing with a fountain pen. Now before you ask, I’ve provided a link to Amazon if you want to see some Fountain Pens. About five times a year someone writes to me asking my recommendations for fountain pens, so here goes …
But, first, what’s your favorite writing instrument? (No computers please.)
First, there is no comparison between a fountain pen and any kind of ball point pen you can find. Any kind. There is simply no comparison. A fountain pen has real ink; a ball point pen has gupe. There is a flow of ink, a scratching of the pen, and most of all a sense that the pen is yours. For life (if you don’t lose it). I’ve had some of my fountain pens for more than a decade and they are friends. When someone writes me a personal letter on stationery, I have stationery reserved just for a fountain pen experience.
Second, avoid buying the cheapest fountain pen you can find. Buy a decent one. Maybe a Waterman or a smaller Pelikan. Yes, there are some crazy, crazy prices for fountain pens but you don’t need those. The key is the nib, not the price of the barrel. Remember this … yes, it will cost more … and you’ll have it ten years. And you don’t throw these things away a litter the world, as those do who use Bics and the like.
Third, my favorite fountain pen is made by Pelikan. But, I also like Conklin (Mark Twain) and I have a wonderful Conway Stewart with a clever little clip plunger that draws in the ink. I’ve bought pens in places we visited (like Venice and Rome) and I’ve gotten some as gifts — the kind folks in Pretoria bought me one. I recommed a fine nib — medium nibs are pretty thick and can be hard to use if you have to write in a confined space. They are fine, of course, for checks and signing books!
Do they leak? Of course they do. Pens should leak, friend. Pens that don’t leak don’t have ink. They have gupe. If you get a blotch of ink on your finger or on your shirt, it’s a sign of distinction not a smudge. (By the way, not sure I’ve ever had a blotch on a shirt — but I sure have on my index finger. I’ve come close, though.)
Yes, I almost never use cartridges. I prefer “converters” and have an assortment of converters in the various pens I have.
Ask a fountain pen user about their pen … that’s all you’ll need to ask.