Write Off: The 7 Best Fountain Pens

True, you can use a word processor like a philistine to write most things down, but where is your sense of style? Handwritten notes have so much more impact than something printed out. Whether you want to send a poem to the love of your life, or scrawl an incisive note to your boss offering your resignation, you’ll make a bigger impact if you do it by hand. Those who really want to impress with a flourish do more than just use some 99 cent plastic piece of disposable garbage, they go to the height of sophistication with a fountain pen.

These pens are a good way to reduce waste and save money, in addition to being stylish. They are also more comfortable to write with than standard office pens since they have more girth and provide a better grip. Selecting a pen is about how often you write, how you hold your hand when you write, what feels comfortable, and how impressive you want it to look sitting beside the espresso machine in the executive dining room. For choices that hit every budget and every user level, we’ve found the 7 best fountain pens.

Preppy Platinum Fountain Pen

Preppy Platinum Fountain Pen

Pro: Disposable
Con: Limited nib options

For the Forgetful: You’re constantly leaving your car keys somewhere and have put on a full jacket and tie ensemble only to discover you forgot pants. Well, we have the pen for you. The Preppy Platinum is a disposable line that gives you all the joy of a standard fountain in a cheap body. Made from recycled plastic these are moderately eco-friendly and can be reused with many ink cartridges or even bottled ink if you have a converter. Comes in numerous colors and doesn’t often drip or suffer from interrupted flow. You can only get these in medium and fine points. [Purchase: $5]

Nemosine Limited Fission

Nemosine Limited Fission

Pro: Large construction
Con: Stiff, steel nib

For the Newbie: Fountain pens are a whole different beast when they hit the page and aren’t necessarily for everyone. If you’re new to the game and don’t want to drop a small fortune on something you’re going to hate, start off with the Limited Fission. The large size fits better in a man’s hand and works more easily for beginners who need to adapt their writing style. With a gorgeous gunmetal finish, this is sure to catch the eye without straining the wallet. For ink delivery this is hard to beat. It is melt-in-your-hand smooth without burrs, catches, or scratching on every kind of paper, even if you’re a quick scrawler. Posters who put the cap on the back will find it weighty and draws the nib away from the page, and the steel nib is stiff can make it feel like carving with a survival knife if you’re used to gold tips. [Purchase: $25]

Kaweco Classic Sport Guilloch 1930

Kaweco Classic Sport Guilloch 1930

Pro: Short and portable
Con: Nibs feel wide

For South Paws: Lefties can have fits with many pens on the market, particularly if they’re an overwriter since they’ can easily drag their hand through wet ink. While some products claim they can fix this problem, our experience has been that you don’t need a specialized piece of kit, just the right one for your lefty ways. The Guilloch 1930 is inexpensive, easy to use, and has a very short body that improves pocketability while cutting down on weight. These don’t skip or scratch even if you drag them on the page and give precision writing to over and underwriters alike. Aim for the fine or extra fine nibs since these tend to feel wider during use. Etched ridges on the sides give this a vintage appearance and an easier grip. [Purchase: $30]

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

Pro: Nibs can be changed easily
Con: Many moving parts

For the Nib Swapper: Sometimes you need to change from a big, broad nib to an extra fine, but don’t feel like going through a lot of steps. Now you don’t have to. The nibs on the TWSBI 580 are fully swappable by just unscrewing one and putting another in its place for a quick change from office work to calligraphy. Flat points on the body give you a good grip and ensure that this won’t roll away under a cabinet. Inside is a piston ink system that is better for those who prefer bottles to cartridges. Not only can you change out the nib, you can entirely disassemble the pen for simpler troubleshooting or cleaning. You’ll get a generous ink flow from this that will prevent hard starts but can also contribute to a little bleeding and perhaps even some blotching. The problem we found with a pen that can so easily be taken apart is there is more to go wrong; so various issues might abound. [Purchase: $50]

Pilot Vanishing Point

Pilot Vanishing Point

Pro: Extremely fine writing
Con: Clip can interfere with writing

Most for the Money: Retractable point fountain pens are too often made shabbily with deal-breaking flaws throughout. Not so with the Vanishing Point. It performs without lags or skips and doesn’t bleed through so you can use it on your calendar or blotter. The nib is made from 18K gold with rhodium plating. It’s Japanese, meaning fine points write at an extra fine level and at the extra fine level your lines are but a gossamer whisper on the page. Though it is gold, the tip is surprisingly stiff without much play and the built-in clip sits at the writing end and can get in your way. Works with cartridges or a converter and comes in a wide range of styles to suit any office or home. [Purchase: $101]

Parker Premier

Parker Premier

Pro: Large ink capacity
Con: Ink requires time to dry

For the Scrivener: Hand-polished and assembled by an actual person, the Premier from Parker is a work horse that looks good enough to daunt your peers. This is a full-bore wet writer with a beefy 18K nib so expect to get a fair amount of ink and some bleed. You’ll also need to let it dry a bit, and lefties will hate it since they’ll end up with ink-stained hands after a single sentence. That being said, this writes smooth as glass with absolutely zero dry starts and can go on and on without error. If your job entails writing by hand, you’ll be able to use this for hours on end without fault, fail, or skip. Though it is heavier, there is limited fatigue from extended use thanks to the perfect throwing-knife level of balance. [Purchase: $258]

Mont Blanc MEISTERSTUCK 149

Mont Blanc MEISTERSTUCK 149

Pro: It’s a Mont Blanc
Con: Expensive

For the Truly Refined: There are bigger, badder, more expensive fountain pens out there, but there is no denying that the Meisterstück 149 is the flagship of the most noted premium fountain pen maker in the world for a reason. Technically, it is a marvel. The piston works well to give you a smooth operation throughout, without any degradation on the ends of letters, though it is hard to clean (since it’s a piston). The 18K gold nib is a wonder to behold and to write with offering you the perfect amount of softness and strength. They come in any size you can imagine and stick true to form when using them. The style is minimalist but is clear upon uncapping that anyone around is in the presence of greatness. If you have 10 grand to drop, you can also get the Mont Blanc Skeleton which is an engineering marvel. [Purchase: $935]

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