Tips for buying your first fountain pen

I got my first fountain pen several years ago when I was in seminary. Several professors used them and promoted their use (Donald Whitney and Hershael York, in particular). It was a Pilot Metropolitan. I got a second one as a gift when I graduated--Metropolitan again. I enjoy writing with them, and haven't intended to collect more. But after I bent the nib (the tip) on one of those, I wanted a fountain pen for my office. So I got a Pilot Kakuno.

Some of what makes a fountain pen special is the care. Once a month, I clean and refill my pens. I takes a little bit of time spread over two days to make sure it is clean and dry. Then I refill it and take them back to their places (how many other pens have places? None.). The ritual makes writing with a fountain pen so much more enjoyable. It is like hand-grinding coffee for a pour-over in the morning. It takes time and effort but that is the fun of it.

What should my first fountain pen be?

The Pilot Kakuno.

It is promoted as a first fountain pen with packaging that look likes it is intended for a child. But the pen is awesome. The nib writes smoothly. The feel is really good and light in my hand. I still enjoy my Metropolitan. But I would choose the Kakuno first.

I have four tips for buying your first fountain pen:

  • Get it in the medium nib. It has a thicker line that doesn't scratch.
  • Get a piston converter. This will allow you to clean the pen each month and refill it with ink. The squeeze converter is not as big.
  • Get a Waterman ink. I like Serenity Blue or the Green. I have my eye on black now, but having different colors is not just for kids. I once heard of a law firm that gave a different color ink to new partners so that people can tell who marked up a document. Having distinct inks stands out., but I don't think I'll do purple. Waterman inks write well on common papers like legal pads and composition notebooks. I don't want my ink to sink through, and I don't want to buy special papers just for my fountain pens.
  • Store it with a slight lean upward. I noticed the first couple of years that my pens would leak on occasion and I didn't know why. Then I learned that you want to store your pen with the tip up, so that gravity doesn't cause it to run out.


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