Fountain Pens and Paper

thaidye39

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Sorry for the triple post. It was not my intention.

You are all really terrible influences :p

I am very interested in acquiring a nice (beginner?) fountain pen/journal combo - hoping under 200 together.

I am currently looking at travelers and moleskine journals an lamy fountains, but would love any suggestions.
 
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Siv

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Fountain pens are like ukuleles, there are some brands that work out the box and others that need fettling by a professional before they sing. Similarly, when you buy used, you get a bargain but you may not get the writing experience you want - and conversely a used pen is sometimes worn in so well that it writes amazingly. So the same advice is always true - try before you buy.

But with these times being what they are, you may be stuck with ordering online and trying them out. So my suggestion would be to stick to reputable brands - e.g. Pilot, Sailor, Lamy, Pelikan, Parker, Montblanc. I would further say that to have the highest chance of perfection out the box, a Japanese made pen is your best bet, i.e. Pilot and Sailor (and Platinum). Also stick to the same ink brand as your pen to begin with - they are after all designed to work with each other. Then there's the nib - steel vs gold (and here's where prices go from sub $100 to well over $100 and beyond). There are also titanium nibs are rarer but some prefer. And the nib size and flex - fine, medium, broad, stub, soft, hard etc etc. If you have no idea what you'd like then you really should go find a pen store and try them out. Montblanc stores have a neat setup where they have identical pens with all the different nib sizes for you to try and find which one you prefer.

When it comes to paper, you need to find paper that reacts well to the ink/nib combo. Some paper works well with some inks and horrible with others. Since paper is relatively cheap, I suggest you try several out. Moleskin is fine but check out Rhodia (my personal favourite and all I'll use given the choice).

Sorry for not giving you a direct recommendation - it's a hard thing to do without knowing your preferences a little better. So the best advice I can give is go join the forums at fountainpennetwork.com where you'll find much more insight.
 

Larry Usselman

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Sorry for the triple post. It was not my intention.

You are all really terrible influences :p

I am very interested in acquiring a nice (beginner?) fountain pen/journal combo - hoping under 200 together.

I am currently looking at travelers and moleskine journals an lamy fountains, but would love any suggestions.

Avoid the Moleskine journals. The paper is not fountain-pen-friendly (feathering, bleed-through, etc.). Rhodia, Clairfontaine, Black-and-Red are all good paper choices.

A Lamy 2000 is a great pen. Classy design, reliable, tough as a brick, holds a lot of ink, snap-off cap, and excellent, smooth-writing nibs.
 

thaidye39

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Look up used Parker 51 Pens on eBay. You will find a good one for around $120 or less, often a good one for writing will go for less because it has a scratch or dent. Just make sure it has an intact bladder and has been tested. A gnarly looking example in good working order will make a good story as well as be less attractive to criminals. I have one with no jewel and one with a broken clip and some with dents, but they are good to write with and they were available at a lower price.

I have several 51s and a Lamy 2000 and a Pelikan and some others, but the Parker 51s (in good working order) are by far the nicest to write with. And Parker in is also inexpensive. I like the Blue, not the dark Blue. I use the Lamy and Pelikan on sketching expeditions because they have larger ink capacity which makes them more useful to use for a larger sketch. But the Parker 51s are ideal for journalling.

Don't forget to pack some ink if you are taking a fountain pen on an extended adventure. A Nalgene Wide Mouth 50ml is useful to carry the ink, stored inside double ziplock bags. Or if you are not worried about the weight, just take the Parker Quink bottle inside double zip lock bags. I keep the box and keep the jar in the box when travelling. It is amazing how far a tiny spill of ink can get.

If you are going into a pressurised aircraft cabin, it may pay to buy a packet of 12 BIC finepoints or crystals and leave the fountain pen inside a plastic bag on the aeroplane. Although cheap and plentiful, BIC biros go back to 1945 and are still a nice biro to carry, with a nice history to study.

For a journal, the Moleskine type journal is good. I do not think there is such a thing as a "beginner" journal. You just need to work out what you like.

I make my own journals. It is not hard and you can make sure you have the best available paper for a low price. For an adventure I will break down a sheet of Arches 185GSM Smooth or Hot Press paper. It will make a 16 page single sided or 32 page double sided book about A5 size. Or a 32/64 page book about A6 size. There are videos to show you how to assemble and bind a book. If you already have some archival 90GSM copy paper, you can just fold the A4 in half to make pages for an A5 size journal.

At home I just use a four ring binder and a clip board. I carry loose leaf paper in the clip board and put it in the binder when its written on. The binder has TABs for months and my projects. I can buy high quality loose leaf paper in packets of 100 sheets for under $10. I can take it on a car based adventure, but its too hard for a bus or walking or riding a bicycle.

If you have not started journaling yet, start now, don't wait for the adventure to find out how you like to do it and to develop the necessary habits required to make it a success for you.

I love Bic Crystal pens! I also really like the Pilot G2. I also like Arches paper - for water color and colored pencil - very nice!

I used to journal a lot in my younger days, but stopped for a decade or so, but am looking to get back into it.
 
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thaidye39

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Avoid the Moleskine journals. The paper is not fountain-pen-friendly (feathering, bleed-through, etc.). Rhodia, Clairfontaine, Black-and-Red are all good paper choices.

A Lamy 2000 is a great pen. Classy design, reliable, tough as a brick, holds a lot of ink, snap-off cap, and excellent, smooth-writing nibs.

I picked up 2 Rhodia notebooks at the end of summer. One is a dotted steno pad and the other is a square dotted notebook and was mispriced at under 3 dollars. I like both of them, but would probably enjoy a harder cover. I am rough on notebooks. Thank you for your input!
 

thaidye39

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I love Japanese craftsmanship. I am a BIG fan of their nippon gakki guitars :)

That is also why I was looking at the Travelers journals. Japanese designed and made in Thailand, I believe.

No one has commented on those, so maybe they are not very good for fountain pens?
 

Larry Usselman

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I love Japanese craftsmanship. I am a BIG fan of their nippon gakki guitars :)

That is also why I was looking at the Travelers journals. Japanese designed and made in Thailand, I believe.

No one has commented on those, so maybe they are not very good for fountain pens?

I've never used them, but Traveler's Notebooks (the company) uses Tomoe River paper, a Japanese paper that is very highly-regarded in the fountain pen community. It's very thin and lightweight, but it's great for fountain pen inks.

If you haven't already found them, I highly suggest taking a look at the Goulet Pens site for a ton of excellent information on pens, papers, and inks.
 

Bluesy

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I do love the Ledgerdomain Journal by Levenger. It's a total splurge, but I love the paper and the ruled lines, the gilt edging, the turn of the 20th Century look of the cover.

My collection of pens embraces the inexpensive to the higher end of the market, but the ones I reach for are the restored Esterbrooks. The ink just flows effortlessly irrespective of the width of the nib.

The ink flow has to keep up with the speed of my writing and these humble pens do a wonderful job. They aren't fussy. Look for the J Series Esterbrooks and unless you want to get into pen restoration, purchase one that has already been restored with a new bladder. You'll find them on ebay. Use quality ink and you'll find there's very little resistance to the paper. Your words flow on the page.

Like ukuleles, so much to explore!

Bluesy.
 

Jerryc41

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After watching fountain pen reviews on YouTube, I now have about fifty of them. You will find many channels reviewing pens ranging in price from under $5.00 to $1,000 and more. There are lots of excellent pens available for under $10. Some channels review "starter pens." I have a Lamy Safari ($20), a highly-regarded pen. The Chinese make very good pens for low prices, available on both Amazon and eBay.

EDIT: The Parker Jotter is very similar to the 51, but it costs only about $20.
 

Jerryc41

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My collection of pens embraces the inexpensive to the higher end of the market, but the ones I reach for are the restored Esterbrooks. The ink just flows effortlessly irrespective of the width of the nib.

Bluesy.

I got a nice old Esterbrook last week. I wanted a couple of pens with the old, side lever for filling. I got a similar old Shaeffer at the same time from The Pen Market. On eBay, I found a Shaeffer Snorkel, a pen I had when I was a kid.

Pens are so much smaller than ukuleles. Storage is easy. I have a wooden case that holds 34.
 

Bluesy

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One of the things I like about the Esterbrooks in addition to their no-fail performance, is that so many vintage nibs are available and they're so easy to change. Hope you enjoy yours.

Love those Shaeffers too. I don't have one, but keep looking at them. One of these days, I'll go for it.

My father inadvertently got me interested in fountain pens when I was just a kid. He had a Waterman Patrician and a Parker Vacuumatic just laying around in his desk and he gave them to me when I was about 12. I loved using both of them but dropped the Patrician. That beautiful gold nip bent upon impact.

A couple of years ago, I found a Waterman restorer in Texas. He re-worked the nib and spiffed it up. It looks great, but I haven't had the heart to fill it and use it. The Parker still needs new innards.

Sorry about running on. These arcane interests I have - Oy!

Bluesy.
 

thaidye39

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After watching fountain pen reviews on YouTube, I now have about fifty of them. You will find many channels reviewing pens ranging in price from under $5.00 to $1,000 and more. There are lots of excellent pens available for under $10. Some channels review "starter pens." I have a Lamy Safari ($20), a highly-regarded pen. The Chinese make very good pens for low prices, available on both Amazon and eBay.

EDIT: The Parker Jotter is very similar to the 51, but it costs only about $20.

Thanks, Jerry.

What kind of paper/notebook/journal do you use? Do you write and/or sketch?
 

Jerryc41

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Thanks, Jerry.

What kind of paper/notebook/journal do you use? Do you write and/or sketch?

;) ;) ;) I keep the pens in a big pen display box.

Whenever I write something, I use one of the fountain pens, but 99% of my writing is done at the keyboard. I'm not about to get into buying special paper and ink. I have several bottles of ink that should last the rest of my life.

Last night, I ordered a little Moonman 80 Mini, and I watched a review of a pair of Montenegro Ten Commandments pens. They make them in red and blue, 100 of each for $444.50 each. I don't think I'll be getting one.

I also watched an "unboxing" of a $650 pen - a Visconti Homo Sapiens. The woman started crying because she was so happy.

Maybe I can take a picture of the pens and a couple of pen holders I made.
 

Rllink

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I have a couple of Pilot Metros that I use daily and a more expensive Monteverde carbon fiber that is sort of my dress pen. Considering I hardly ever get dressed up I hardly ever use the Monteverde and then when I do it is always dried up. As far as paper, I find more paper that ink won't bleed through than paper that it will. I mean, you don't have to spend a lot of money on paper, you just have to find paper that the ink won't go through. Not a hard task. I have some fancy fountain pen specific stationary and a couple journals that I never write in because they are so nice, but for everyday I use a Mead spiral notebook that I get at the grocery store in packs of five that does fine for just taking notes. The ink doesn't bleed through. Nothing special with them, but if you want to be special, then by all means, you can get special paper anywhere that specializes in pens. I do some business with Jet Pens online. I do like to write letters and send them though, old school. It is just fun to write them. I'm a writer, so I like to write.

I guess I'm more into ink than I am into the pens. I don't use cartridges and I buy ink all the time. Another place to throw your money, if you are into buying things. There are a lot of inks to buy. That's where they get me.
 
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Jerryc41

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I have a couple of Pilot Metros that I use daily and a more expensive Monteverde carbon fiber that is sort of my dress pen. Considering I hardly ever get dressed up I hardly ever use the Monteverde and then when I do it is always dried up. As far as paper, I find more paper that ink won't bleed through than paper that it will. I mean, you don't have to spend a lot of money on paper, you just have to find paper that the ink won't go through. Not a hard task. I have some fancy fountain pen specific stationary and a couple journals that I never write in because they are so nice, but for everyday I use a Mead spiral notebook that I get at the grocery store in packs of five that does fine for just taking notes. Nothing special in them, but if you want to be special, then by all means, you can get special paper anywhere that specializes in pens. I do like to write letters and send them though, old school. It is just fun to write them. I'm a writer, so I like to write.

I guess I'm more into ink than I am into the pens. I don't use cartridges and I buy ink all the time. Another place to throw your money, if you are into buying things. There are a lot of inks to buy.

I know what you mean about ink - 100s of different "flavors." I've settled on black and blue. Ink is rather pricey, so I'll stick with what I have.

I use spiral notebooks to write everything down. If I have to check on something I ordered or a phone call I made, it's right there. Very convenient. With fifty pens now, I think I can stop buying. I do like picking one out each day as my "Daily." :)
 

Rllink

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I know what you mean about ink - 100s of different "flavors." I've settled on black and blue. Ink is rather pricey, so I'll stick with what I have.

I use spiral notebooks to write everything down. If I have to check on something I ordered or a phone call I made, it's right there. Very convenient. With fifty pens now, I think I can stop buying. I do like picking one out each day as my "Daily." :)

Yes, there is a pen store, The Pen and Quill I think they call it, about an hour south of me. They sell bulk. I take empty bottles down and fill them. I don't know why I have to do that, but I do every time we go down that way. They want you to think you are saving money by doing that, but I've been known to pour out a bottle of something I like the least so I can go down and fill it up with something new to try that I probably won't like any better. I'm not saving any money, that's for sure.
 

thaidye39

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I have a couple of Pilot Metros that I use daily and a more expensive Monteverde carbon fiber that is sort of my dress pen. Considering I hardly ever get dressed up I hardly ever use the Monteverde and then when I do it is always dried up. As far as paper, I find more paper that ink won't bleed through than paper that it will. I mean, you don't have to spend a lot of money on paper, you just have to find paper that the ink won't go through. Not a hard task. I have some fancy fountain pen specific stationary and a couple journals that I never write in because they are so nice, but for everyday I use a Mead spiral notebook that I get at the grocery store in packs of five that does fine for just taking notes. The ink doesn't bleed through. Nothing special with them, but if you want to be special, then by all means, you can get special paper anywhere that specializes in pens. I do some business with Jet Pens online. I do like to write letters and send them though, old school. It is just fun to write them. I'm a writer, so I like to write.

I guess I'm more into ink than I am into the pens. I don't use cartridges and I buy ink all the time. Another place to throw your money, if you are into buying things. There are a lot of inks to buy. That's where they get me.

I'll check out those pilot pens, thanks! I'm not really into spending money for the sake of spending money. I'm a minimalist and live with less, but I try to be thoughtful and to buy quality and responsibly (I really try for local/small business for each purchase). I send hand written thank you notes and thinking of you cards, but I don't write letters. I am very interested in keeping a journal. I sometimes consider digital, but I'm not sure it's the "best" way (for me).
 

aremick

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I have a couple of those Metros too - a fine point and a snub (stub) nose. I think they're great pens, probably the most expensive I have, and I have trouble finding a reason other than prestige or vanity to buy anything more expensive
.

Even Pilots cheap pens, the Plumix and the Preppy, are great pens.

My wife has a Moonman eyedropper which she doesn't care for much because it rolls away, and I have a piston fill demonstrator that looks kind of neat, writes well, and likely was pretty cheap....
 
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noahenholm

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Sheaffer is my favorite fountain pen; it takes less pressure to use and has improved the quality of my handwriting. It suits most writing styles, yet is economical for starters, making it the best italic fountain pen available today.
 
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