Please enjoy the original writing, Christian travel journal, and photography by a hapa haole named Gail Rhea.

Original Writing & Photography

by Gail Rhea

 

 

 

BEST FOUNTAIN PENS FOR EVERYDAY USE

 

There are literally hundreds of fountain pens available both current and vintage (before 1960), pens to use, pens for pocket/purse jewelry, and collectibles. Since I can't possibly cover them all, this list is only of the more popular, recently available user pens that may be available as new or new old stock (NOS).  

If you find a pen that isn't on this list or reviewed on other websites, forums, or blogs, please check How to Buy a Fountain Pen. If you're satisfied that it meets the main criteria, you may as well go ahead and buy it after checking the store's return policy because there are a lot of pens about which the rest of us have absolutely no knowledge. In general, you won't have any problems with pens straight out of the box from the better pen companies such as Namiki/Pilot, Parker, Pelikan, Sailor, and Waterman. Cross nibs are made by Namiki and Pelikan, so you can count on their being excellent daily writers, also. These reputable pen companies also offer a free nib exchange within 30 days on several of their pens, so if you find a pen but prefer a different nib, contact the company and inquire about exchanging it for only the cost of shipping and handling.

As of July 9, 2008, all data on this list is accurate to the best of my ability. Manufacturers have the right to change specifications and pricing without notice. All pens are subject to availability.

 

PEN

Brand, model, available nib(s), size if available, weight if available, proprietary cartridge/bottle fill only, additional comments.

In general:

     Lightweight is about .75 oz

     Light-medium weight is about .85 oz

     Medium/average weight is about 1 oz.

Nib abbreviations are:

     XF for extra-fine

     F for fine

     MF for medium-fine

     M for medium

     B for broad

     BB for double broad

     I for italic

     O for oblique (left-foot), used by right-handed people

     RO for reverse oblique (right-foot), used mostly by left-handed people although some right-handers prefer them, too.

 

Price in US$

(range given when price varies with nib material and/or  finish)

 
Discounts as much as 50% off may be available if you're willing to shop around.

Pilot Varsity, M only, lightweight, disposable.

$      3

Pilot VPen, F only, lightweight, disposable.

   3

Platinum Preppy, F only, steel nib, lightweight, Platinum cartridge or optional converter, also available is an optional adapter to be able to use standard international cartridges.

   3.75

Pilot Petit1, refillable mini fountain pen, Pilot mini cartridges. 

4.50

Parker Reflex, M only, steel nib, F available from Parker Service Center at (800) 523-2486, Parker cartridges or optional converter. Discontinued.

   7.50

Pelikan Pelikano Junior, M only, steel nib, right or lefty grip, optional converter, better for very small hands.

   11

Pentel Tradio, M only, lightweight, flex plastic nib, Pentel refills.

12

Kaweco Sport/Al-Sport/Art Sport Unique, F/M/B, steel or gold-plated or 14kt gold nib, lightweight, comfortable, compact, excellent for pocket or purse, 4-1/8" capped, 4" uncapped, 5-1/4" cap posted, short standard international cartridges or Monteverde mini-converter. Nathan Tardif retrofitted some Sports into eyedropper pens - these are sold by Swisher Pens.

  14-185

Sheaffer Javelin, F/M, 5x.56,.9oz, steel nib, Sheaffer cartridge, optional converter 15-35
Stypen, M only, cartridge only, chrome or steel nib, twist-action retractable nib. No longer exported to the U.S.

   17-30

Pelikan Pelikano, F/M, steel nib, optional converter, lefty grip available for M nibs only. This reliable school pen with its smooth nib is highly popular with adults with more expensive pens as well. The smaller Pelikano Jr. is better for very small hands.

   17.50

Pelikan Future, F/M/B, .5oz, stainless steel nib, optional converter

20-25

Waterman Kultur, F/M, .58oz, gold-plated steel nib for the solid colors/steel nibs for the demonstrators, Waterman, Pelikan or Rotring cartridges only, optional converter. This school pen is the same as the Phileas minus the brass half-lined barrel and with different finishes. Kulturs are sold in Europe and are not retailed in the U.S.A. but may sometimes be found online or at pen shows in the U.S. Discontinued.    20-25
Lamy Safari/Vista/Al-Star, XF/F/M/B, 5.6x.5,.65oz, steel nib, lightweight, Lamy cartridge, optional converter. The grip may not be comfortable for everyone. Some nibs are very smooth while others are less so, but overall, this could be the one pen that you want to toss into your backpack. The aluminum Al-Star is more prone to dings and scratches than the plastic Safari or see-through Vista.    25-40
Rotring Core, F/M, 5x1/5x.5, 1oz but only .5 oz w/o cap, steel nib that can be used on 3- or 4-part forms. People either love or hate this conversation-starter with the unusual ergonomic grip. Discontinued.    25
Rotring Freeway, M, 5.4x.43, 1.15oz 30
Pilot Prera, F only, stainless steel nib, Pilot cartridge or optional converter 40
Pilot Knight, M, stainless steel nib, Pilot cartridge 45
Sheaffer Agio, F/M, 5x.4, .8oz, Sheaffer cartridge, good for women/smaller hands 50-105
Sheaffer Prelude, F/M/B, Sheaffer cartridge, steel or 23kt two-tone gold electroplate nibs, optional calligraphy nib kit 55-130
Bexley Fun Time, F/M/B, steel or steel-plated nib 59

Pilot Ecrino, F/M/B, .48oz, Pilot cartridge, gold-plated nib, optional converter, good for women/smaller hands. Discontinued.

60

Waterman Phileas, F/M/B - XF is available from Waterman, .7 oz, two-tone gold-plated steel nib, Waterman, Pelikan or Rotring cartridges only. This excellent pen has the reputation of winning more people over to fountain pens than any other. Try it and believe. Also available in starter kit with M nib only. Now discontinued :(. 60

Conklin Signature, F/M, steel nib

65-75

Parker Latitude, M only, other sizes available from Parker - ask about a nib exchange, 5-3/8", .75 oz., steel nib, slide converter.

65-90

Conklin Glider, F/M/B, two-tone 14kt gold nib, resin body

70

Pelikan M150, F/M/B, bottle-fill only 70
Waterman Ici Et La, F/M, 5x1-3/8 (or 5x7.16), .7oz, steel nib, silk case, no converter, Waterman or Pelikan or Rotring short cartridges only, good for women/smaller hands 75

Lamy Studio, XF/F/M/B, stainless steel or rhodium-plated 14kt gold nib

75-135

Pelikan Pura, F/M/B, stainless steel nib, cartridge

80

Filcao Leader, various models, finishes and fill mechanisms

80-150

Cross Century II, XF/F/M/B, Cross cartridge, stainless steel or 23kt gold-plated nib

80-250

Cross ATX, XF/F/M, 5-3/8x1, 1oz, Cross cartridge, stainless steel nib, lacquer finish has rhodium-plated steel nib. The all-chrome finish is slippery and some may find the section of the others to be too slick as well. Be sure to dip-test the nib because I've found the XF stainless steel nib to be very close in width to the F rhodium-plated nib.

85

Pelikan Technixx, F/M/B, steel nib

85

Waterman Hemisphere, M, stainless steel nib, cartridge/converter 85

Parker Inflection, F/M, Parker cartridge, steel nib

90

Parker Sonnet, F/M/B with pen & I/O/RO from Parker, 5-1/8x1, .9oz, stainless steel, semi-flex gold or two-tone gold and rhodium-plated nibs, Parker cartridge/converter. The two-tone nibs are stiffer by comparison and the gold nibs made prior to mid-2004 are springier than those made later.

90-305

Rotring Initial, XF/F/M/B, stainless steel nib, hefty weight typical of Rotring pens, new APC system prevents leaks even while flying

95

Pelikan M200, XF/F/M/B/BB/OM, 4x, lightweight, bottle-fill only, the 250 is the same except for having a 14kt gold nib

95-145

Waterman Harmonie, F/M, 5x1-3/8, .8oz, stainless steel or gold-plated steel nibs

100

Pelikan Epoch 360/361/362/363/364, XF/F/M/B/BB/OB, medium weight, rhodium-plated 18kt gold or stainless steel nib, long cartridges only (not short, not converter)

 100-350

Cross Townsend, XF/F/M/B, Cross cartridge/converter, stainless steel, rhodium-plated, 23kt gold-plated, 18kt gold, or rhodium-plated 18kt gold nibs

110-390

Namiki Vanishing Point, F/M/B, 5-3/8x.5, .65oz, Pilot cartridge/converter, 14kt nib. This is the discontinued predecessor to the current version called the Pilot Vanishing Point (below). This popular, push-button retractable nib fountain pen commonly referred to as the "Classic" or "1st Edition" Vanishing Point (the earlier model was called the Pilot Capless as is the current model in Europe) is now going for as much as $165 if you can find one, but has also been found as low as $65.

120

Pelikan M215, XF/F/M/B, lightweight, stainless steel nib interchangeable with M200 nibs, bottle-fill only

130

Waterman Expert/Expert II, F/M, 5.5x.45, 1oz, steel or gold-plated steel nib

135-145

Platinum 3776 F/M/B/BB, 14kt gold nib, Platinum cartridge/converter

140

Pilot Vanishing Point, F/M/B, 5x .5, 1.1 oz, Pilot cartridge/converter, 14kt gold nib. This current version is wider at the grip and heavier, being made of enamel over brass, than the "Classic" pen (above). The nib units retail for $30 and are extremely easy to change should you desire to alternate nib widths. This is called the Capless in Europe, and is not to be confused with the slimmer Capless Decimo that is made of aluminum or the Capless Fermo which is twist-retractable instead of push-button.

140-420

Caran d'Ache Ecridor, F/M/B, steel nib or rhodium coated 18kt gold

150-515

Cross Apogee, XF/F/M/B, 18kt gold nib, Cross cartridge/converter

150-170

Lamy 2000, XF/F/M/B, platinum-plated 14kt gold nib

160

Sailor 1911M, XF/F/M/B/Music, 5-1/2", .6oz, 14kt gold nib, Sailor cartridge/converter. Sailor is known for very smooth nibs.

160

Waterman Charleston, XF/F/M/B, 5.25x.5, .85oz, 18kt gold or rhodium-plated 18kt gold nibs

165

Namiki Falcon, F/M/B, 5x1, .6 oz, Pilot cartridge, 14kt gold flex nib, resin

170

Sailor 1911, this is the big brother to the 1911M, 21kt gold nib, XF/F/MF/M/B/Zoom/Music, Sailor cartridge/converter

170-420

Conklin Duragraph, F/M/B, extra-large pen, two-tone 14kt gold nib, resin

180

Cross Verve, XF/F/M/B, two-tone 18kt gold nib with the most expensive finish, Cross cartridge/converter

185-450

Cross (any) 

>200

Namiki/Pilot (any)

>200

Pelikan (any)

>200

Sailor (any)

>200

Waterman (any)

>200

Parker 100, 18k gold nib, Parker cartridge

280

Sheaffer Legacy Heritage, F/M/B, 5.36x.49, 1.15oz, Sheaffer cartridge, 18kt gold nib

340-540

Parker Duofold International (mid-sized)/Centennial (large), XF/F/M/B/IF/IM/IB, Parker cartridge/converter, 18kt gold and rhodium nib

400-850

Omas 360/360 Mezzo, XF/F/M/B, 18kt gold nib, cartridge/converter

425-495

 

"WHAT?!" you shriek, "A pen for over $400???" Yes. Actually, the retail price for Waterman's 100th anniversary Waterman LeMan 100 in gold was $14,000, the limited edition platinum and diamonds version of "Birth of Royalty" of the Mandela Collection from Omas was $15,000 and the Guinness Book of Records lists the La Modernista Diamonds by Caran d'Ache, sold in 1999 for $265,000, as the most expensive. Don't worry, those higher-priced pens are mainly pocket jewelry or collectibles and typically don't work any better than models selling for less than $125.

In fact, you're more likely to get an excellent user pen that works straight out of the box the less you pay. The paradox is attributed to manufacturers not wanting to have to adjust nibs on the lower-cost pens because it would eat up their profit margins and figuring that they won't have to adjust nibs on the more expensive collectible pens because they won't ever be used. As a result, good daily writers are definitely not an example of "You get what you pay for" for which we all can be very glad.

In case you're wondering, two good reasons for buying a daily writer that retails for over $125 is to have a gold nib and/or to have a larger size that suits one's hand better. The advantages with gold nibs are that they're more expressive than steel nibs and won't be corroded by ink which, historically, has been somewhat acidic. A third reason is that the majority of pens that cost less than $100 are filled by a cartridge or cartridge/converter that contains .5 to 1 ml of ink. Piston-fillers, such as the Pelikan M400 and M800 that hold about 1.5 ml of ink, give the impression of holding tons more ink, letting you write seemingly forever before you have to stop to refill.

 

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