The Complete History of the Fountain Pen & Shopping Guide

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Fountain Pen is one of the most classic and clear writing tool, this kind of pen is the one that writing experts can’t go without.

With different prices from the cheapest to the most expensive one, fountain pens go beyond the writing fluidity and the luxury of high-end ball point pens.

Using its nib, the fountain pen is the latest version of a dip pen and unlike the dip pen, the fountain pen uses an internal ink storage that draws the ink from its canister to the nib itself using a feeder without dipping it in the inkwell.

History of the Fountain Pen

Fountain pens have the earliest record back in the 10th century, though the fountain pens that we know nowadays didn’t exist until the 19th century. In 1884, Lewin Waterman patented the first model, before Waterman’s version, fountain pens are having an issue about its ink spills and blots that resulted in a ruined sales contract.

Fountain pens work by controlling the rate of the ink flow through the pen itself. When the pen is an upright angle, the ink storage is going down by gravity and goes down the feed and to the nib.

Reasons to Use Fountain Pen When Writing

  • It feels better – Why? because when you use a fountain pen, you don’t have to press it hard down to write like what you do when using a ballpoint pen and fountain pens are much easier and comfortable.

 

  • It’s environment-friendly – Unlike ballpoint pen where you can just throw them away after the ink ran out, fountain pens can’t be thrown away since when you ran out of ink, you just have to refill the ink container and you can continue what you’re doing.

 

  • It’s economical – Fountain pens are somewhat costly at first but in the long run, you will just realize you can save a lot than buying ballpoint pens. Why we so?  because fountain pens can last longer than it could be in your family for generations. You’ll just have to take care of it properly.

 

  • It makes cursive handwriting look better – Aside from decreasing fatigue, the touch and hand movement you make using the fountain pen will make your writing look finer.

 

  • It makes you feel like a king – On of the best appeal of using a fountain pen is that you will feel good. It’s something Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt used that will make you feel like a smart gentleman.

Anatomy of a Fountain Pen

Fountain pen design is just simple. Basically, the pen has 3 major parts, the nib, the feed and the filling system.

The Nib

The nib is the metal tip of a fountain pen. This is what touches the paper when you write. Back in early years nibs are commonly made out of gold because of its flexibility and it can provide protection for being damaged. However, nowadays nibs are made with stainless steel and gold alloys since these elements are known for being durable and strong.

In the center of the nib, there’s a small slit that helps the ink flow down the tip. You will also find the breather hole, at the top of the nib that brings back the air into the storage to avoid a free space from forming. This acts as a stress reliever for the pen and to prevent the nib from breaking when you use it.

There are 3 basic tips shapes for Nibs. It comes with round, stub and italic. Round which is the most common shape has a fair looking line when you write, while stub and italic nibs are used in calligraphy.

Nib also has 5 basic different grade for the size of the tip.

  • Extra Fine (XF)
  • Fine (F)
  • Medium (M)
  • Broad (B)
  • Double Broad (BB)

Feeds

The feed is a black plastic that is in the bottom of the nib. It is not that obvious but the feed is the most important part of the fountain pen. It is the one that gives way for the ink to go through from the container to the nib and it also helps the air fill the container.

Filling System

The filing container is the one that holds the ink inside the fountain pen.  There are different models that are commonly used in modern models of the pen:

Cartridge

This is the most popular type of filling system in fountain pens in nowadays. It is a small, sealed plastic tube that holds the ink. You can easily remove the cartridge out of the pen if it runs out of ink and put on a new one.

This is the most convenient type, however, you just have to use a particular cartridge made for your pen and sometimes ink is limited. Though they are not that expensive, refilling your own pen could still save you money as time goes by.

Converter

If you are not fond of buying new cartridges when you run out of ink, then a cartridge converter would be a great option for your fountain pen.

This looks like a normal cartridge but it has a filling property that will allow you to put ink on it. One advantage of choosing this filling system is that you can have different options of ink to us, however, it would be a hassle refilling it than throwing it away and putting a new one.

How to Refill Cartridge Converter
  1. Twist the converter counterclockwise to push the are out.
  2. Detach the fountain pen cap and unscrew the nib from its barrel.
  3. Push the converter to the nib up until it’s secure.
  4. Submerge the nib in the ink bottle and twist the converter clockwise to take in the ink.
  5. Twist the converter counterclockwise to let the air out of the converter. This will let you take more ink since it lets the bubble out of the converter.
  6. Repeat #4 to get more ink.
  7. Assemble the pen with your converter inside it.

If you find it difficult to fill the converters using this steps then you can also remove it from the pen itself then use a dropper to refill the ink and just attach the converter back in the pen once it’s full.

Pistons

This filling system has a screw that makes the piston up to the barrel and sucks the ink through the nib and to the container. It is a built-in converter and you need to manually refill it every time since you will not be able to use cartridges with it.

How to Write Using a Fountain Pen

Post your cap

Posting the cap means having the cap of the pen at the end of it. This will make you feel even, though some people choose not to have it at the end and prefer setting it aside because that’s what makes them comfortable to write.

Find the correct angle

Fountain pen should be in a 40 – 55-degree angle in your writing surface. In this angle, the ink flows easily and will have a smooth writing. Though for the round tip nib, make sure to let you nib’s top point up and not rotated to the sides.

Use less pressure while writing

If you’re writing using a fountain pen, there’s no need to put so much pressure just like what you do with ballpoint pens. Just use the exact force and pressure since the ink just flows from it.

Putting so much pressure will surely block your ink and will destroy your nib. So just keep it light.

Use your arm 

You should use your arms when writing using the fountain pen since this style will keep your nibs steady and control the pressure you’re putting while writing, however it feels strange at first but you’ll get used to it. This writing style is way better than writing using just your fingers.

Finger writers are people who write using their fingers, which means they move their fingers to write, but this style could cause you to have too much pressure and will result in ink flow problems.

Best Fountain Pens for Beginners

If you want to use fountain pens but don’t want to spend much money for it, then you can try these types of fountain pens:

Pilot’s Varsity Fountain Pen

This kind of fountain pen from Pilot is disposable and cost around 10$ for a pack of three. It is also easy-to-use! Varsity fountain pen has its nib laser cut and has a convenient supply of ink in different colors. It also lets you see how much ink is left because of its visible ink supply.

This is a good start to write using a fountain pen. However, some ink feathers on the paper will cause your handwriting less legible than the original one.

Pilot Metropolitan

This fountain pen from Pilot that costs $18 is a good option since it writes better, it is very light, and the nib is smooth. The barrel is also made of brass which you wouldn’t see in most pens. This gives you the illusion that you are using some expensive pens.

The good thing about this pen is that it is refillable for continuous use and it comes in different colors and sophisticatedly placed in a black storage box.

Lamy Safari 

This fountain pen from Lamy Safari is the most recommended for starters. It cost around $20 but this kind of fountain pen is reusable and can be refilled so it would be easy and convenient for the user. It is also available in different grades like medium (M),  extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M), broad (B), and left-handed (LH).

The ink flow of this pen is remarkable and will give you a smooth writing experience.

Caran d’Ache Ecridor Retro Palladium-Coated Fountain Pen

Ecridor Retro is a Swiss made pen that has been also popular because of its good quality metal since 1947. It has a piston ink pump or an ink cartridge. Its vintage pattern makes it more classy. 

This pen is from Caran d’Ache and costs about $160. It is absolutely perfect if you’re trying to find a satisfying writing experience.

Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Platinum-Plated And Resin Fountain Pen

If you want a more expensive kind of fountain pen, then this pen from Montblanc that costs around $720 will be a good choice. Meisterstück as what it is called is a masterpiece when it comes to modern writing.

It has a screw on lid and in is available in Black resin, platinum, and gold-plated metal. This will be an excellent gift choice.

How to Take Care of Your Fountain Pen

Keep the cap on

This will avoid the ink from drying up and will prevent your nib from getting damage but if you happen to forget to put the cap back and discovered that there’s a dried ink blocking you can soak your nib into a water, this will help soften the ink. If it wouldn’t work try flushing your pen by filling it and emptying with water.

Don’t let anyone borrow your pen

Since it is your pen, don’t let anyone borrow it. You’re not being selfish in this case though, it is just that the nib will adapt to your writing style and if you let someone use it might get your nib damaged.

Flush your pen regularly

It is good for your fountain pen to have a flush once in a while. In this way, you can be sure that the ink will flow properly since flushing can remove ink build ups in the nib or feed. You can also try soaking your nib overnight in a cool water.

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