When I give talks about my book and the joy and impact of note and letter writing, I often get questions about my favorite writing tools. While I use many different pens, including gel, rollerball, ballpoint, and erasable, today’s post shines a spotlight on my fountain pens. I’ve always been captivated by the elegance and individuality each fountain pen brings to my writing experience: a blend of traditional charm and personal craftsmanship.
I own seven fountain pens. Two of them (#6 in the photo above) are the same except for color. I’ll share a closer look at these special tools, outlining the pros and cons of each.
- The Charleston is the first quality fountain pen I ever owned…a gift from my husband John when he first realized I was getting serious about writing. It exudes a vintage aura. Its Art Deco aesthetics are an absolute delight, while its balanced weight makes writing comfortable. It just fits well in my hand! The nib glides smoothly across the paper. Mine is so well-loved that it’s been dropped and broken, glued, and taped., so it no longer holds the converter and I must use ink cartridges.
- Every Charleston owner I’ve ever known has loved this pen, but the resin body may not appeal to everyone and, as I have proven, might not endure rough handling. I’m not finding the Charleston pen online, so Waterman may not be making it anymore, but check out all their excellent pen lines (scroll down this page to get to the Watermans).
- The Carene is the epitome of elegance with a sleek design. The inlaid nib is not only visually appealing but provides a smooth writing experience.
- My only complaint is that if it’s been a few days since I used it last, I almost always have to fiddle with the plunger to push ink into the nib to get it to start writing. It also sits on the pricier side of the spectrum and the glossy finish can attract fingerprints.
- The retractable nib is a conversation starter and an innovation that melds tradition with modernity. It offers a convenient click mechanism for the nib to extend and retract, protecting it without needing a cap. I was intrigued by this and have enjoyed not having to keep track of the cap.
- It has a different feel since the grip has to work around the clip (which is usually removed with the cap), but I find it comfortable.
- With a transparent body, the M205 is a stunner allowing you to witness the dance of ink within. It has a reliable piston-filling system and its lightweight body makes long writing sessions less of a chore.
- Some have complained that the steel nib doesn’t provide as much flex or softness as a gold nib, but I actually prefer it to all my pens except the Waterman Charleston.
- This is an affordable yet classy choice. The Modern Classic provides a balanced writing experience with a medium nib that’s smooth and reliable. The set that I purchased from Amazon included both a fine and a medium nib, a lovely gift box with velvet sleeve, a converter for fountain pen ink, and several ink cartridges. This would be terrific for a starter pen to affordably enter the world of fountain pens.
- The construction may not feel as premium as some other pens on this list, but it’s still a great value and an impressive gift or starter pen.
- The True Writer Classic is a handsome pen with a substantial feel. It’s well-balanced with a smooth, reliable nib, making it a pleasure to use. I don’t see the exact same pens that I own in their current offerings, but their quality pens are more affordable than some. Since the nib is stainless steel, I was afraid it might be “scratchy,” but I find it writes very smoothly. I have two – one for my favorite Red Dragon ink (by Diamine) and the other for my Forest Green ink (“shin+ryoku” by Iroshizuku).
- The pen does post shallowly which some find annoying, but I don’t mind it. I often leave the cap on my desk instead of posting it anyway.
Here’s how these pens look with their caps removed:
If you’re serious about buying a fountain pen, especially if you’re going for a higher-priced one, try to find a store where you can try them out and see how they feel in your hand. Unfortunately, the nib width terms (extra fine, fine, medium, broad) are not consistent between brands. The Eastern (Japanese) pens, for instance, tend to be on the finer end of the range in any given category than the Western (Italian and German), so you should try different ones and see what you like.
Each of these fountain pens has enriched my writing journey in its own unique way. I’ve experienced firsthand the distinct narrative each pen brings to the table. Whether you’re a seasoned collector or someone looking at fountain pens for the first time, I hope my descriptions spark a further appreciation for these classic writing instruments.
Until next time, may your ink flow smoothly and your words come easily!
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