Everything You Need To Start Writing With Fountain Pens
What started out as a holiday gift guide ended up turning into everything you need to start writing with fountain pens. Whether you’re just discovering them for the first time, or you want to pick up a pen you used to write with back in school, this page has you covered. Read on to find out the best pens, inks, paper and accessories to get you writing in no time. If you’re already a pen fan and want to get others into the hobby, check out my guide for 7 starter fountain pens under $25.
Start With A Pen
Fountain pen collectors tend to have more than just one pen. Each fountain pen writes, feels, handles, and looks different from the next. I usually have somewhere around 6 pens inked up. Some of my personal favorite pens and best writers are affordable ones. Don’t worry that a cheaper pen is too “beginner” for an experienced fountain pen user, either way they’ll appreciate the gift.
Lamy Safari – The Lamy Safari is one of the best beginner pens out there. It’s built with German precision, has a modern look, and the triangular grip ensures proper form while writing. The nib (the metal part that writes) can swap out, which is ideal for anyone who hasn’t figured out their preference in line width.
BUY – $25
Pilot Metropolitan– Regarded by many as one of the best deals in fountain pens, the Pilot Metropolitan stands out from the pack. This excellent writer is only $13.25 and includes a converter for bottled ink use. The body is constructed of metal and the Japanese nibs glide across the page effortlessly. Available in several colors and patterns, there really is a Metrolpolitan for everyone. Even though the pen is priced cheaply, it makes a great gift for fountain pen enthusiasts new and old. Personally, I’d much rather throw a Metro into my pocket than my Mont Blanc, especially during travel.
$13.25 – BUY
Al Star Gift Set – Lamy’s Al-Star is essentially the aluminum version of the Safari. It feels a bit more premium due to the metal construction. This gift set includes cartridges to get you writing right away, as well as a bottle of ink and converter. It includes everything needed, and comes in a nice gift box to boot.
BUY – $54
Pilot Vanishing Point – This pen is a little more expensive, but it’s super cool for the gadget lover in your life. The Vanishing Point by Pilot is a retractable nibbed fountain pen – think classy click pen. Made in Japan, the pen feels premium and its gold nib writes like a dream. It’s especially useful for students and note takers since there’s no cap to lose!
BUY – $145
Kaweco Sport Burgundy – Kaweco’s Sport line of pens have been around for the better part of the century, and for good reason. This pocket pen is smaller than you may think, but once you post the cap (place on the end of the pen barrel) it’s the perfect length to write with. They’re great for those who always want to have a pen in their pocket or bag without taking up too much room.
BUY – $28
Lamy 2000 – A design classic. This is my all-time favorite pen, and it’s barely been altered since its release in the 1960s. Featuring bauhaus design, a reliable piston filler, and a silky gold nib, this workhorse of a pen will make any fountain pen fan happy. Durable Makrolon resin with a brushed finish give the pen a modern, understated look — ideal for the practical person in your life who appreciates design and function without being flashy.
BUY – $125
Set of Platinum Preppys – The Platinum Preppy is one of the best beginner fountain pens out there. They’re cheap, they write smooth, and if you end up not liking it, you’re only out a few bucks. This set of Preppys includes a ton of colors, perfect for those who like to express themselves. It’s nice to have a beater pen that you won’t cry over should you misplace it.
BUY – $23.50
Platinum 3776 Black Diamond – On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Platinum 3776 Black Diamond. This classically designed fountain pen is comfortable in the hand, looks great in a shirt pocket, and features a unique cap mechanism that keeps the pen from drying out for a really long time. The Japanese-made nibs are smooth as glass and they come in a nice presentation box.
Fill It Up
Most pens come with a disposable cartridge to get you writing. One of the most fun things about the hobby is the vast selection of inks out there. I’ve put together a list of 5 Inks For Everyday Use that is full of safe bets. The inks below are a little more flashy and are well-suited for letter writing or special occasions.
J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor – A beautiful shade of emerald-green with red edges and gold shimmer. This ink is absolutely incredible, and it’s no surprise it is one of the most popular releases of the last few years. This ink is best in broader nibs to get the full effect!
Iroshizuku 3 packs – Iroshizuku is Pilot’s premium line of fountain pen inks. They come in beautiful bottles that will look great on any desk, whether at work or home. This three pack is a great way to try out several different colors and comes in a presentation box.
Diamine Shimmer Inks – Diamine’s answer to J. Herbin’s shimmering line of ink! Diamine is a trusted brand who has been manufacturing quality fountain pen ink for decades, they make some of my favorite colors. Available in a range of shades, these inks feature either gold or silver flakes inside that will make your writing pop.
Premium Paper for a Premium Pen
Regular copy paper is rough, feathery, and ink tends to bleed though. Snag a premium notebook to really make that fountain pen shine. This is one of the most important, and often overlooked accessory that ensures full enjoyment of a new pen.
Rhodia R Pad – Rhodia makes some of the highest quality, smoothest paper out there. It’s thick enough to accommodate fountain pen ink on both sides of the page and is an absolute pleasure to write on. The R by Rhodia is even nicer, featuring cream-colored paper and a soft touch, water-resistant cover. Ditch the crummy copy paper and use your fountain pen to its full potential.
BUY – $12
Maruman Mnemosyne Pads – These are amongst my favorite notebooks ever. Available in a wide range of sizes and rulings, they all play nice with fountain pens. The wire binding allows the book to lay flat and makes each page easy to write on. Featuring black plastic covers and subtle ruling, these understated books are much more than they appear.
BUY – $2+
Leuchtturm1917 Notebook – This notebook features 249 numbered pages of smooth, ruled sheets. It includes a page marker ribbon and is held closed by an elastic band. The A5 size provides just enough room for writing, while still being easy to throw in a bag and go.
BUY – $19
If you’re spending more than a dollar on a pen, at least give it a proper home! These desk accessories and pen cases are ideal for keeping your new investment in writing pleasure safe and sound.
Dudek Modern Goods – Made by one man in Arizona, these handsome desk accessories keep 9+ pens or pencils displayed nicely and ready to write. They’re fashioned from solid walnut and will look great on a desk or shelf. Use the coupon code “EDSENTME” at checkout for an additional 10% off!
BUY – $45+
OSLG Pen Sleeves – One Star Leather Goods use premium leather from one of the oldest tanneries in the country. Expert craftsmanship and clean designs add a hint of class to anyone’s fountain pen collection. The stitching is flawless and the leather will age gracefully the more you carry it.
BUY – $25+
Nock Co. Cases – Nock Co. is a company that’s been Kickstarted into pen world fame. They make intuitively designed pen cases out of durable nylon with heavy-duty zippers. A wide range of cases accommodate both pens and pocket notebooks. If you’re looking for something especially unique, check out The Brasstown. It’s a zippered pen roll that can house an entire collection.
BUY – $15+
Alvin Cutting Mat – These make a great background for photos, and an even better barrier between ink and desk. Cover up that nice wood table or kitchen counter with one of these mats and easily wash off any ink-related spills that may have happened.
BUY – $27
I give up…
It’s okay if this is all overwhelming, sometimes the best route for gift giving is a gift card. There are tons of fountain pen and stationery related items on Amazon. If you’d like to guarantee you’re getting something pen-related, make sure to check out Pen Chalet, JetPens, and Goulet Pens.
For the Regular Pen Fan
Sometimes we have to face the fact that not everyone loves fountain pens as much as we do. They’re not the best writing utensil for everyone’s needs, so I’ve decided to add a few durable, attractive, buy-it-for-life pens to the guide. Even though they’re not fountain pens, these machined pens will make a great gift, regardless of who they’re for!
Tactile Turn Mover and Shaker: The Tactile Turn Mover and Shaker are two pens that are never out of my reach. The unique grip patter, clean design, wide refill compatibility, and seamless machining result in a BIFL pen that will last forever. They’re made with pride by a one-man machine shop in Texas. For a limited time, you can snag an unheard of 25% off discount by using the code “ilovepens” at checkout! BUY – $69+
Karas Kustoms Render K: One of the original Kickstarter machined pens, this capable writer is made from a solid rod of aluminum with a sturdy stainless steel clip. The pen houses a wide range of refills and is sure to impress the engineer, tech geek, or outdoorsman in your life. BUY- $55+
Karas Kustoms EDK: Designed with the everyday carrier in mind, this short pen is just the right blend of portable and comfortable to write with. Featuring a smooth rollerball refill and some ridges for grip, this pen is made to live in a pocket and be used daily. BUY – $55+
Hopefully now you’ve got a better idea of what to pick up for your pen-obsessed loved ones. For the pen people already reading, check out my 7 Beginner Fountain Pens Under $25 if you’ve been looking to recruit others into this wonderful hobby. If you think this list would be helpful to your family and friends, make sure to hit the share button and drop that subtle hint!
Did I miss any of your favorite pen-related gifts? Let us know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This guide contains affiliate links that support the website. All prices are representative of the time of publishing (November 22nd, 2015 @ 4pm) and are subject to change. Any funds earned go towards review units and site maintenance. This is a labor of love!
9 thoughts on “Everything You Need To Start Writing With Fountain Pens”
Awesome stuff Ed and thanks for the kind words!
Super layout, photos and write up Ed. Nice sampling and great marketing.
1. I’m giving away 2 Metropolitans (both White Tiger) this Christmas. They’re a great gift, with the nice box and a beautiful pen. Heck, I need to get one for myself.
2. I’m not a Preppy fan; in my experience, the Petit is smoother. However, the Preppy 02 + Platinum carbon ink is unique (I gave away that combo to an artistic relative)
3. If you live near a Daiso Japan, they have some pretty sweet notebooks at great prices (e.g. two sets of 40 page made in Japan for $1.50 – line spacing is a bit narrow, haven’t tried FP yet, but works great with MB rollerball). Occasionally Daiso has neat pens such as $1.50 Platinum mini ball point pens (steel body, Made in Japan – I bought a few as stocking stuffers).
4. My biggie will be coming after Christmas – a set of Gist fountain pens. If you missed the KickStarter, Will has pre-orders listed on TactileTurn at slightly higher prices.
Thank you, Ed, for your recommendations. I found some interesting items on the list that I had not heard of before.