Guide to Buying a Fountain Pen

Written by Andy Glibert
7 · 25 · 19
Guide to Buying a Fountain Pen

A fountain pen really is a tool that’s going to change the way you write, and how much you enjoy the process too! They’re a beautiful addition to your collection, perfect for any and every task that you might have to tackle during your day. Whether you’re purchasing your pen for handwritten letters, crafted calligraphy or for notes during meetings, you’ll find everything you need to know in this complete guide to buying a fountain pen:

Consider the Weight

First things first, you need a fountain pen that will be easy to use. You may fall in love with a model that’s stunningly beautiful, however, if it’s too heavy to lift, let alone write with, it’s not the right one for you. Your options for materials are far and wide, and this is what makes the difference between a pen that’s comfortable to write with, and a grueling cross fit class for your fingers. The most popular material for a smooth, comfy fountain pen, is plastic and stainless steel. A pen made from lighter materials means that you’ll be able to scribble for longer and you won’t get any cramps!

Lightweight isn’t fit for everyone though, if you’re craving that luxurious feel that fountain pens are famous for, you can absolutely opt for a heavier model! Hunt for a pen that’s made from gold, silver or brass. A good price compromise is to search for a pen with gold plated detailing, you’ll get all the luxury of a classic pen with the convenience of a refined, lighter piece!


Once you’ve chosen your material, it’s time to consider the pen’s grip. This is the second element that heavily affects comfort and longevity. You’ll encounter grips that are made from plastic, metal or rubber. Your choice should largely depend on your own preference, however, keep in mind that a metal grip coincides with the aesthetic that a high end, classic fountain pen has. Rubber is great for long stints of writing, for example in school or in a note-heavy meeting. Select plastic if you want a no-fuss grip that you won’t be using for extended periods.

What’s your Ideal Inking System?

With fountain pens, you have inking options to choose from, the most popular are the cartridge system and the converter (or potted) system. Of course, the cartridge is the most modern choice. This is where you simply replace the ink cartridge by unscrewing the pen. A converter cartridge system is where you refill your cartridge with a pot of ink. The cartridge is placed inside the converter, its retracted through a twisting motion, everything is then wiped off, and you put your pen back together again! The converter system is more reminiscent of the days when a quill and ink was used, if you feel like keeping with tradition then the converter is for you!

Don’t Forget the Nib Properties

The last element to consider is the nib. This is going to affect your actual writing as well as your handwriting process. The two elements of the nib that you should consider when buying a fountain pen are the material, and the width:

Material: The most popular options are stainless steel, iridium, and gold. Steel is inexpensive, light and best for everyday, regular use. Iridium is a reinforced steel that adds a little touch of luxury to a fountain pen. Solid gold is your high end option, if you want a pen that’s incredible to look at, go for gold.

Width: Your options for width are fine, medium and wide. Fine is usually used for drawing or  for intricately written, artistic pieces. Medium is best if you want an all rounder pen that you can use for anything. Wide is going to give you a heavy write, and it’s really best for those who have large handwriting. When in doubt, its best to go for medium.

By now you should be fully versed in what to look for when buying a fountain pen. There are a tonne of options out there, from classic to contemporary, explore to find the perfect fit for you!


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Andy Glibert