In this post, I am going to look into the best fountain pens you can buy budgeting at certain different values of money. For the most part, I will be sticking to modern pens. Yes, it is possible to get a very good quality ‘New Old Stock’ vintage pen at less than average price. I, however, am not experienced in that field. Ask the Fountain Pen Network if you’re interested in vintage.
Best Fountain Pens Under £20
The sub £20 category is really the £10-£20 category, as that’s where pens start to becoming writing instruments, not throwaways. Here we go.
1. Parker IM £15-£20: The Parker IM is one of the lower range fountain pens from the prestigious Parker Pen company. I used a Parker IM for my final two years at secondary. There is a black and gold model, or many other finishes available depending on your taste. The nib is steel, and the pen fills from a cartridge or a converter. This pen can deal with a good amount of abuse, and it writes fairly smoothly for a low-grade pen. It looks professional and classic; a very nice item.
2. Lamy Safari £15-£20: The Lamy Safari is of a different style to the IM. It is a lot more colourful and modern, although you could probably pull off the charcoal model as a slightly more classic style. A great advantage to this pen is that you can choose and swap nib sizes from Extra Fine to Broad. It too is a cartridge/converter filler. They’re also very collectible, as they come in many different colours.
3. Noodler’s Konrad £15-£20: This one is a bit of a wild card. The Konrad’s claim to fame is its flex nib, which allows for variation in writing. Flex nibs are hard to find on modern pens, and the Konrad’s cheapness gives people an opportunity to try out flex without chasing vintage pens or paying lots for a Namiki Falcon. The Konrad is a piston filler which means it fills straight from the ink bottle. This is great, as it allows a lot more colour choice.
Best Fountain Pen Under £50
Moving up to the £50 bracket gives us a lot more maneuverability. You can start getting some good quality pens if you care to look.. not that you need to, the idea being that I do that bit!
1. Parker 51 £35+: Now, I said I’d try to stay away from vintage pens, but the 51 can’t be ignored. This classic from Parker is a brilliant writer, and much sought after by many collectors. The nib is hooded under plastic to prevent inky fingers and to improve ink flow. It’s available in either vacumatic or aeromatic fill systems; basically meaning it’s a bottle filler. It’s a reliable little workhorse, and will be able to handle pretty much anything you throw at it!
2. Sailor LeoCoule £30-£40: The Sailor LeoCoule would be a pen that I would just pass by if not for the brand. I’m really not one for colourful, in your face pens. However, Sailor is famous for its nibs. The company is Japanese, and the nibs they produce are as smooth as they come. The pen itself is a c/c filler, and Sailor actually ship it with a converter in the box! That’s really handy. The looks aren’t for me, but any fountain pen user would use a pink glittery Barbie pen if it came with a top nib.
3. TWSBI Diamond 540 £40-£45: TWSBI are a brand I’ve only just come across recently, but they’ve got a lot of good credit to their name. Their pens are all demonstrator style, which means they are transparent – you can see the insides and watch the ink slosh around. The D540 is a nice piston filler, so bottled ink ho’ chaps! I’ve heard that the nibs, whilst steel, have some spring in them which lends some line variation and ink shading. The clear demonstrator style gives the pens a modern look, so if you dig modernism over the classics, here’s your sub £50 deal.
Best Fountain Pens Under £100
The one we’ve all been waiting for!I think you’ll find some of the best value for money in this section, so prick your ears.
1. Pelikan M250 £100: From the fabled Pelikan Souveran series, we have the M250. The M250 is a bit of a hybrid really: it has the body of an M200, but the 14ct gold nib of the M400. The nib being the ‘business end of the pen’, I think this is a good deal. The M200 body is smaller than the M400, so if you have smaller hands or prefer smaller pens this is perfect for you. The nib is smooth, as Pelikans always are, and it is a piston filler.
2. Lamy Scala £80: Another Lamy here. This time we’ve got the Scala. It’s design is a bit more reserved than the Safari (that’s what you get for the price), but the joy of the pen is in its nib range. They run fine through to bold, include the Lamy ‘A’ nib (basically an MF), a Left Handed nib (suitable for LH ‘overwriters’ whom hold the pen above the line) and italic nibs 1.1, 1.5 and 1.9mm. I’m drafting this post in my notebook with a 1.1mm nib, and I struggle to write normally with an italic any wider than that. 1.9mm is a triple bold, in essence, so I’d stick to 1.1 or standard sizes unless you know what you’re doing!
3. Visconti Rembrandt £80: A special edition ‘Rembrandt’ from Visconti. Visconti are normally in with the higher end £1000s of pounds pens (This is the most expensive pen I have ever seen). It shows, as this pen itself is of a good high quality. Coming in black, blue, red and ivory, there’s a decent colour choice too. It’s a c/c filler, which I find a bit disappointing for a pen of this caliber, but no matter. A top point on this pen is the magnetic cap. As you’re capping the pen it’ll snap satisfyingly onto the barrel. Haha! The breather hole on the nib is the Visonti new moon, which is a nice touch.
Now for my top three, one from each category.
1. Parker IM
2. TWSBI Diamond 540
3. Pelikan M250
The Parker; because I prefer its classic style over the colourful acrylic of the other two. The TWSBI because I think it is incredibly stylish, although the Parker 51 is a very close second. Thirdly, the Pelikan, as I own an M200 and it is a very good quality. You can’t go wrong there.
All of these lists are based purely off of my own opinions, somebody else may feel differently. If you’d like me to look at another price range, just comment and I’ll oblige (I’ve got some pretty good ideas on a sub £150 section, but I’ll need to see some reader input!). Comment with any suggestions, questions, arguments or critique.