This post is going to be a little bit about the benefits of fountain pens, and why everybody should use one. Fountain Pens seem to be on the way out – there was once a time when every schoolchild in England was trained to write with a fountain pen (I heard today that they still do in Germany). This is because of how good they are, basically.
The first thing to consider is how the pen actually works. The pen lays ink onto the surface of the page. A Biro scribes the ink into a welt it makes into the paper. This means that with a Biro, you need to press down on the pen to form a line. A good fountain pen does not require this pressure.it simply requires to be rested on the paper and moved along. That is, until you get into complex nibs like flex nibs which are designed to absorb pressure to create a thick line. It’s a common school complain that one has ‘RSI’ (Repetitive Strain Injury) from writing too much. That’s because your wrist is constantly being forced to press down on the page, which is exerting. Fountain Pen users suffer much less from this, as they are not pushing down as much. Thus, the moral is; if you do a lot of writing, it is healthier for you to use a fountain pen.
Let’s look at colour. When you buy a biro, it’s probably either blue or black, perhaps red or green. I’m not saying you can’t get other colours, but they’re far less common. Now, let’s take a look at Fountain Pen ink. Again, due to the fact that they are the ‘acceptable’ colours, blue and black are predominant. However, it is a lot easier to buy beautifully coloured inks. Check out this website. That’s 335 colours right there, just waiting to be tried out. Choosing takes a long time, believe me. I’m currently using Ebony Blue. Also, you don’t have to buy a new pen to use a different colour as you do with Biros.
The way fountain pens write is perfectly suited to cursive writing (joined up), as they flow quickly. Cursive is always the fastest means of writing, so fountain pens are well suited to rapid note taking. I also challenge you to find an italic Biro. They just don’t exist. Neither do Biros with line variation qualities, as has a flex pen. Okay, say you wanted to write an important letter. A biro just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t look impressive on the page. A fountain pen denotes elegance and luxury.
Finally, there is a misunderstanding that Fountain Pens are inundated with issues. They leak, the nibs snap, they blot and so on and so forth. Good quality fountain pens rarely ever leak. Some causes can be cracks, temperature or air pressure (they can leak on planes, always de-ink your pen before taking it anywhere by air). Otherwise, they do not leak. It’s gotta be pretty damn hard to snap a fountain pen nib. Some are solid steel, and some are gold. Chances are, by the time you’re spending on gold nibbed pens, you’ll have enough understanding on how to use them. I’ve never snapped a nib nor known anybody that has, it just isn’t done. A fountain pen will only blot if you press hard, separating the tines of the nib so that a blob of ink rolls down. It happens rarely, and it’s your own fault anyway.
So, you’re looking at buying a first time fountain pen? Here’s my advice. Buy either the Parker IM or the Lamy Safari. I have experienced good things with the Parker IM, and heard good things about the Lamy Safari. To be honest, looking at these two as starter pens, it comes down to aesthetics (mostly). If you like the elegant, professional look, go for the Parker (it comes in black and gold or brushed aluminium). If you like the modern, coloured look,, go for the Lamy (it comes in most shades of the rainbow. They’re actually very collectible, as Lamy release a new colour every year, and people go nuts over having every colour).
I’ve been using my Parker IM for two years now, and it’s taken some real abuse. Thrown, lost, dropped on the nib and more. This pen is hardcore. I’ve heard that the Lamy is too: it’s made from ABS plastic, which is tough stuff.
Both of these pens are under £20, the Lamy is under £10 for some colours, but the Limited Edit green is understandably £22.49. The Parker is around £15 in my local Smiths.
Go out and buy yourself one!