Friday, May 23, 2014

Some Criteria for Buying a Fountain Pen

So you have decided you want to buy a fountain pen because you are tired of ballpoint pens—the "handmaiden of Beelzebub," or other inferior products that put more strain on the environment because they need cartridges, etc. What would be some of the criteria you should employ? Well, it seems to me that they should (i) either be piston fillers that draw ink from an inkwell, or fountain pens that allow you to use a converter. The first are few and far between nowadays, the second are plentiful. Almost every fountain pen that uses a cartridge can also use a converter. And (iii) it should be a fountain pen that allows you to change the nib or nib section easily and without any fuss, so that you are not stuck with the nib you with which you bought the pen. What are the alternatives?
  • Lamy: almost all Lamy pens allow you to change nibs at will (with the exception of the Lamy 2000 (a piston filler whose nibs cannot be changed). So, Lamy safari, vista, AL-star, nexx, linea, cp1, accent, studio, logo and joy pens all take the same nibs. You could either buy separate nibs (for less than $15 at Amazon, or Goulet Pens, or many other outlets. Or perhaps you could buy different pens with different nibs that can easily be switched. You just pull the nib from one pen and put it on the other. It's easy. There is no need to do this right away or all at once, but you can do so at any time you feel like it. Lamy pens use two different types of converter, so be careful to see which one fits your model. There are the Lamy Z24 and the Z26 Converter. Usually there is one included with the purchase of the pen. If you want a cartridge for backup, make sure you buy the Lamy type as others won't fit. When you buy a Lamy, you buy an "eco-system," not just one pen.
  • Levenger: The Levenger True Writer series, as well as many of Levenger's other pens, like the L-Tech (my favorite). You can easily unscrew the entire nib section and exchange it with another. The nib sections cost almost twice as much as the Lamy nibs (and the pens are a bit more expensive, but they are a good choice.
  • TWSBI: The nib section exchange works the same as on the Levenger. Furthermore, it is my experience that some of the TWSBI nib sections work well on the Levengers. In fact, they work better in my experience. Some Edison nib sections also work well with Levengers. But you must do your homework to see which ones fit, even with the TWSBIs.
  • There are other pens that work similarly, but the ones mentioned above are the most popular and most easily available pens.
  • Pelikans, though piston fillers, also have exchangeable nib sections. But they are proprietary and in my experience do not work in other pens. They are also much more expensive which is perhaps not bad, as Pelikans are high quality pens.(/li>
It's probably a good thing to go with one of these pens. The nibs on many other pens can also be exchanged, as the nib and feed are often just friction fit, can be pulled out, and be changed. But this is not for the faint of heart. You also need to know a great deal (and experiment to get it done). It's probably not something you want to do, if you are deciding to buy a pen for the first time. And perhaps you will never want to do it.
The easiest in my experience are the Lamys and the Levengers.

1 comment:

JustDaveyB said...

I would recommend a Lamy as a first FP. The Safari is the classic model. I would recommend you try one first as the grip section is formed in such a way that it forces your fingers into a certain position. If you wish for a heavier Lamy that has a normal round grip section I would recommend the Studio model. Both models use the the same Z50 range of nibs available in Stainless steel from Extra Fine all the way to a very broad 1.9mm italic. Some of Studio models come with a 14K Gold version of the nib that adds to the look.