Guide: 3 Best Beginner
Fountain Pen Kits
(At Any Price!)
Getting into the fountain pen world can be a bit daunting. There are so many options to choose from, there are things you may or may not know you need, and sometimes it’s just easier to have a solid starting point. This guide aims to provide the new fountain pen user with three full kits full of the best beginner fountain pens to get writing, each at a different (yet still affordable) price point. Read on to check it out!
This beginner kit comes in just under $35, which isn’t too bad considering you’re starting a new hobby. The Pilot Metropolitan is a solid, reliable beginner fountain pen that feels great in the hand and lays down a nice smooth line. It’s available in either a Fine or Medium nib, and includes a converter. The converter is inside the pen in place of an ink cartridge and allows you to suck up ink from a bottle. Using bottled ink gives you a TON more options when picking out a color, and adds to the charm of using a fountain pen. Clairefontaine’s Classic Notebook is loaded with ultra heavy, super silky, 90gsm paper. It’s excellent for fountain pen use, once you try premium paper, it’s really hard to go back. For the ink, I’ve chosen J. Herbin’s bottled inks. They’re affordable, come in a bunch of nice colors, clean out easily, and look great. I recommend Blue Nuit or Perle Noir if you’re trying to keep it simple. This kit contains the core pen, ink, and paper you need to really get a feel for writing with a fountain pen. $35 still too much? At the bare minimum, pick up a pack of Pilot Varsity pens (~$8) and the notebook – you won’t regret it!
Bumping things up a notch, this kit includes one of my all time favorite fountain pens, an excellent journal-style notebook, and quite possibly the best, darkest black ink out there. The Lamy Safari is an excellent beginner pen because it allows you to switch nibs rather easily. Thought you’d love that medium nib, but find it too broad? Pick up a replacement nib in Fine for around $10 and easily put it on. The triangular grip is not loved by all, but it does ensure a proper grip, and helps you align the nib properly to the page for the smoothest writing experience. If you’re not into plastic, the Lamy Al-Star is for you. For a couple bucks more, you get an aluminum body and a clear, smoky black plastic grip. It takes the same nibs and converter, so no need to worry there.
Unlike the Metropolitan, the Lamy pens don’t include a converter (they do come with a single cartridge to get you writing right away), so make sure to pick one up in you intend on using bottled ink from the start. The Rhodia Webnotebook is a premium, journal-style book with cream-colored paper throughout. It’s smooth, heavy, and a dream to write on. The cover is semi-rigid, and it includes an elastic band to keep it closed. I’ve also suggested the best black ink I could find. After trying over 25 black inks, I’ve settled on Sailor’s Kiwa Guro Nano black as the best. It’s dark, super smooth, permanent on the page, and comes in an awesome bottle that’s easy to fill from. Do pay attention to how long this ink sits in your pen, as it contains pigments (color particles that make the ink both dark and long-lasting) that may clog when sitting for too long. Personally, I’ve never had an issue with this ink, therefore making it one of my favorites out there!
The other kits I’ve suggested lean towards the utilitarian side. This eye-catching kit doesn’t break the bank but is full of premium products that are great to use and look at. The TWSBI 580AL isn’t cheap, but damn is it nice to look at. This pen has a self-contained piston filling mechanism. To ink up the pen, simply submerge the nib in ink, and twist the back until the pen is full. Since the body is clear, you can see the ink sloshing around inside the pen. It’s mesmerizing to look at, and reminds you that you’re using a fountain pen. This upgraded version has aluminum parts that give the pen a bit of added weight, and some welcomed durability. For the writing surface, I’ve suggested the white-covered Rhodia Ice pad. It’s full of bright white paper with light grey ruling, perfect to show off the true color of an ink. The 80gsm paper is fountain pen friendly and a pleasure to write on. Sticking with the elegant theme, the Pilot Iroshizuku 3-packs of ink write just as nice as they look. The kit gives you three color options, loaded into a nice display box. The bottles and labels on the ink make a nice addition to any desk. While this kit is a bit more expensive, it really showcases the pen and ink, making for a more enjoyable experience.
Even if you’re not looking to start collecting pens (let’s see if you can really stick to this once you get started…), a fountain pen is a great addition to anyone’s desk. If you can improve upon, and make mundane tasks like note taking more enjoyable, then why not!? You can find in-depth reviews of most of these pens and inks over at The List. Let me know in the comments below how you got started with fountain pens! What’s your favorite beginner pen?
Thanks for reading!
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