Last christmas, I got some pretty sweet gear. My girlfriend gave me a Saddleback Moleskine cover in coffee brown, and my parent gave me another one in charcoal. Over the last 8 months, I’ve been using them at least once a week, and they’ve traveled with me to work, as well as on trips to Ocracoke Island and Lisbon Portugal this summer.
A few months ago, I saw a post on the Buy it For Life Subreddit about fountain pens. I pretty quickly fell in love with the idea, and one made it onto my wishlist. As it happens, my Dad has been holding onto a few fountain pens as gifts for a while, giving them away at graduations and other events for family members. So one of them became a birthday present for me, and you may remember seeing it in a previous post. After using it for a month, I ordered a few accessories online for more “research” on my opinion when it comes to a fountain pen. And the jury is in: I love it.
Nibs form to the way they are used. Pressing harder, or lighter, will mold the nib to your unique writing style, and influence how it releases ink. And over time, the nib can get better suited to the way your want to use it, making it fit in well with the idea of things that get better with time.
I have been using Cross’s own ink in an adaptor, which means refilling it periodically. I have been amazed with how quickly ink can drain: Three days of casual note taking leads to an empty disposable cartridge or adaptor. That is likely the reason that people used to carry around two writing implements: One pencil, one pen. The Pencil was used for most writing, while the pen was used exclusively for the signature. In fact, the pencil would be used for the signature first, and the pen used to ink it as a finishing touch.
A better place to start may be the Parker Urban Fountain Pen Kit. I recently bought one for our Realtor as a gift for when we close on a house. Although the pen itself is not “jewelry quality,” it is widely considered a durable starting pen that will last a long time. And at $50 for the entire set, including a few cartridges, refillable adaptor, and inkwell, losing one will suck enough to teach you a lesson without breaking the bank. And if you like the Parker Urban but want to upgrade to a “jewelry quality” pen from the same maker, they make those.
Or, if you are just looking to try fountain pens to start with, Pilot makes disposable ones that are available in 3-packs for under $10. Pilot Disposable Fountain Pens have a wide nib, but have been fairly well reviewed by users. The Lamy Safari is also widely considered to be a great entry-level pen, available around $30.
Waterman is another well respected pen-maker that may be worth looking into if you have the money to spend. But if you are looking for the best fountain pens without regard to cost, Mont Blanc is generally considered the best pen-maker in existence. Their fountain pens start at around $300, and can go upwards of $10,000 (I’m not kidding.)
Personally, I’ve been using my pen whenever I get the chance. It has traveled with me, and requires a certain amount of precaution: I remove the ink cartridge before flying, and replace it each time I land. The nib should be cleaned about once a month if not constantly in use, as well. Fountain pens are not meant to be treated the same as a normal ballpoint pen, but if you are interested in finding a pen that will last a long time if you treat it with respect, I would recommend giving one a try. They can make personal notes more personal, and make any task requiring a lot of writing more enjoyable if you appreciate them.