My dad got me started in fountain pens in my teens. I still remember using a maroon Pilot fountain pen that he bought me when I went to secondary school. I used that for many years doing homework, writing and sketching. I still have memories of taking it to tuition classes. It eventually broke and I went through a few more cheapies until I stopped bothering to replace them. I don’t remember when I switched to gel ballpoints but I only revisited fountain pens around 2008 (when I was working in Philips).
Fountain pens are like mechanical watches in a way. They don’t do the job in the cheapest and most accurate way, but they have weight, a special kind of charm and are very collectible, unlike their disposable counterparts. Of course, there are also disposable fountain pens nowadays, and a myriad of hobbyists who modify pens for increased functionality. Like watches, there are collectors who collect the creme de la creme. And in the pen world, one of the most expensive sets I’ve come across are the Namiki (Pilot) Seven Gods of Fortune. The retail price on that is USD 36,000 after discount, which averages out to USD 5,143 per pen (for something that no one would ever write a single word with).
Thankfully, for someone getting started using fountain pens, the best budget brand is the Chinese brand Jinhao. Most of them are under USD 5 and write great out of the box. You just need to get a bottle of ink for under USD 4, of which 30ml will last you an eternity. Definitely not something prohibitive to get into if you don’t want to spend a lot. Some of the designs are unquestionably direct copies though, and I understand if that would bother someone.
As for my collection, these are all stock standard pens which I acquired some time ago before the prices went sky high. Today, I would probably not be willing to pay the current market prices for them.
This Japanese pen is a great workhorse of a daily writer and is great for journaling. I paired it with a Pilot Con-70 filler so it has a huge capacity (although I lack the technical skills to fill it up properly). Writes like a dream and is available on Lazada for crazy money (SMH). Not much else to say except that world famous author Neil Gaiman is also a fan of this series of pens from Pilot, although I think he uses a more premium model.
This Pelikan M200 is the oldest pen I have. A pretty well known German brand which has great design and nib quality, although with a German price. It’s never leaked before and it’s not too big so its perfect as a travel pen. Since the Custom 74 is a bit more premium and should maybe stay indoors, these two will go together. Very robust pen although it shouldn’t be treated roughly. Also available on Lazada but I only found the green marble version for, you guessed it…..crazy money. To put into perspective, mine only cost around MYR 160 back in the day.
First sold in 1963 and virtually unchanged today, the Vanishing Point is a fountain pen legend. Not many brands produce a retractable fountain pen and with this such a long track record and rich history, there isn’t much reason to own one from any other brand either. Unless you’re some crazy collector. What I’m saying is that this pen is the Omega Speedmaster Pro of the pen world. It’s rare like the Omega (first watch worn on the moon, etc. ), but has been in such demand since the 60s that Pilot must have sold millions of them. My only issue is that mine dries out pretty quickly if I don’t use it. The capacity is smaller (since it’s a pocket pen) but I suspect that I might not have attached the converter properly. Since its writes great I’m too lazy to do any further investigation. The stealth black version I found in Lazada is priced around MYR 1,000 which is just ridiculous. Get a regular one off ebay pre-owned or something.
This Twsbi has an awesome and consistent nib, huge ink capacity and so is perfect for sketching. It’s very well made and has a solid and reassuring weight when you hold it. A Taiwanese brand, Twsbi provides high end pens for a very reasonable price. They started in 2009 but prior to that they had a long history of producing OEM pens for many major brands. There are smaller versions which are suitable for carrying around on the go as well. Many times I’ll take the Twsbi out over the others so I don’t have to handle with so much care.
In general, as far as nibs go nowadays I prefer extra fine and fine. Just note the Japanese brands run smaller than the rest of the world (much like their clothing…I’m looking at you, Kapital). Inks and and pen maintenance are an entirely different topic which I may never get into, but newbies will enjoy spending time experimenting and researching them.
So these are the four pens I plan to leave to the boys. But before that can happen, there’s a lot more writing to be done.
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