The 10 Best Fountain Pens
10. GC Feather Writing Quill
- includes different nib shapes
- genuine ink-dip design
- very delicate construction
|Brand||GC Writing Quill|
|Rating||4.1 / 5.0|
9. Pilot Varsity Disposable
- clear barrel shows ink supply
- fairly durable nib
- cannot be refilled
|Rating||3.6 / 5.0|
8. Sheaffer Prelude Signature
- brass body with red lacquer
- cap fits snugly
- can leak ink from the nib
|Rating||4.2 / 5.0|
7. Dryden Luxury
- lifetime satisfaction guarantee
- matching bamboo case
- manufactured in china
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
6. Pilot Vanishing Point
- features 18 karat gold
- comes in huge range of colors
- matte finish scratches easily
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
5. Parker Sonnet Black Lacquer
- extremely well balanced
- comes with fine or medium nib
- ink reservoir is plastic
|Rating||4.8 / 5.0|
4. Mont Blanc 145-Meisterstuck Classique
- inlaid mont blanc emblem
- luxurious carrying case
- too pricey for most to justify
|Rating||4.0 / 5.0|
3. Cross Beverly Red
- sleek and elegant clip
- comes with 2 ink cartridges
- color is darker than photo suggests
|Rating||5.0 / 5.0|
2. Lamy Safari Fine Point
- charcoal black finish
- strong steel clip
- accepts z24 cartridge converter
|Rating||4.6 / 5.0|
1. Pilot Metropolitan Collection
- available in 3 colors
- allows for very fluid strokes
- comes with cartridges and converter
|Rating||4.9 / 5.0|
A Brief History Of Writing Instruments
The very first pen was probably an animal tail dipped in blood and dragged across cave walls. This was a great way to commemorate slaying that woolly mammoth, but pretty inefficient if you were looking to pen Don Quixote.
Later civilizations used a different technique to record their thoughts. Rather than applying ink or other substances onto a surface, they used hollowed-out reeds or other implements to write into the surface. This included carving letters into baked clay, scratching characters into turtle shells, and digging into wax.
These methods had their problems, of course. The surfaces were large and unwieldy (which is why Moses always looked like he was struggling to carry the Ten Commandments). Furthermore, it was extremely difficult to erase or make corrections, short of starting all over, and most of the surfaces were brittle and wouldn't stand the test of time. Plus, writing on the go was just about impossible — you try making a grocery list on a stone tablet.
When papyrus was invented, a better way to write came along as well - the reed pen. Made from a sharpened reed, these pens could be dipped in ink and then scratched along the papyrus. These instruments were great for making bold flourishes with your writing, but they lost their point very quickly (much like Don Quixote, in my opinion).
As a result, they were replaced by quills around the 2nd century B.C. Made from the feathers of large birds, quills were hollowed out and filled with ink, and were great for drawing, as well as writing. They were a writer's tool of choice for over 15 centuries, and their design was very similar to modern pens.
It's not clear when the first fountain pen was made; attempts exist as far back as 963 C.E., but the first patent was issued in France in 1827. These pens benefited from early mass production techniques, and quickly became ubiquitous. They did tend to leak horrifically, however.
The first self-filling fountain pens came along in the early 20th century, but after ballpoint pens became the norm in the 1950s, fountain pens stopped being common and started becoming a fashion statement. There's a reason why most important contracts and legislation are signed with a fountain pen: no one wants to see a peace treaty signed using a Bic with a chewed-up cap.
Tips Ror Using Your New Fountain Pen
Fountain pens are great, but if you've never used one before, there is a bit of a learning curve. You'll likely have to change the way you write a bit, but once you see how elegant your words look on paper, there'll be no turning back.
First, let's have a quick rundown of the anatomy of a fountain pen. There's the nib, which is the pointy end (usually gold or steel) where the ink comes out. Above that is the feed, which is the black piece of plastic above the nib where the ink is fed down to the end of the pen. The feed also controls the amount of air going back in, which is important for a steady flow.
Inside the pen is the reservoir, where all your ink is stored. There are several different types of reservoirs, including cartridges, pistons, and converters. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, with the cartridge being the simplest and therefore likely the best for beginners.
When writing, it's usually best to put the cap on the other end of the pen for balance. You don't need to hold it upright like a ballpoint; instead, around a 45° angle is usually the best way to keep the ink flowing. Also, move your arm to write instead of relying on your hand and wrist. This may take some getting used to, but it will allow you to write for longer periods of time without getting tired. This is especially great if you prefer writing out angry Yelp reviews in longhand and mailing them in.
Keep the cap on when you're not using it so the ink won't dry out, and be sure to flush it every few weeks or so to ensure there are no clogs. However, the most important thing to do with your fountain pen is pull it out dramatically every time you use it so that everyone sees how sophisticated you are and feels ashamed of their crude ballpoints.
Benefits Of Using A Fountain Pen
You may ask yourself, "Why should I use a fountain pen, when ballpoints are cheaper and easier to find?" That's a good question, and we're not necessarily advocating doing away with plastic Papermates just yet. They do have their uses, especially for businesses where customers are always stealing the company's pens (it's the only reason I ever go to the post office anymore).
However, there are certain advantages to the fountain pen that the ballpoint can't match. The first involves waste and environmental impact. Once your ballpoint pen has run out of ink, it is done. It goes straight in the trash, and probably ends up in a landfill somewhere.
Fountain pens, on the other hand, can be refilled time and time again. Also, because you'll probably spend more on a fountain pen (and, let's face it, you'll like the looks you get when you use it), you're less likely to lose it. I can buy a pack of 10 pens and in a week they've all disappeared, but I've had the same fountain pen I got for my high school graduation for almost two decades now. In that respect, a fountain pen that you keep and use repeatedly can actually end up cheaper than having to constantly buy more Bics.
And, as alluded to in the history lesson above, fountain pens just look cooler. It's a great way to show someone that you mean business, and that you take life seriously. Also, your handwriting will look way better, even if you're a chicken-scratcher like me.
People suffering from arthritis, carpal-tunnel syndrome, or other hand-related ailments will prefer fountain pens as well, because you won't have to press down hard at all to get the ink flowing. Writing is much more of a light, sweeping motion, whereas I bear down so much on a ballpoint pen that it's almost like I'm trying to carve my name into my checks.
But let's face it: some folks are fountain pen people, and some aren't. If you want one, you should get one (you'll love it, I promise). If you don't see the point, though, then nothing I can say is likely to convince you.
Just know that the pizza delivery guy is so impressed when I write that bold dash in the section of the receipt where the tip should go that he often mutters to himself as he walks back to the car.