Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ready for your first fountain pen?

 Taking a Closer Look at Starter Fountain Pens

    *Speaking from my own experience* When I first got exposed to the fountain pen hobby I was a little intimidated by all the options and seemingly overwhelming knowledge I thought I needed to have in order to start using a fountain pen. In reality it is not anywhere near as complicated as I thought it would be and to hopefully help you with your decision for your first or second fountain pen. Seeing as how this list is aimed for beginners in the hobby I will be focusing on pens under the $75 dollar mark so that there is something for everyones beginner budget. The list is in no particular order other than by price and I have not ranked these in terms of performance or anything else like that, I'm confident that each one of these pens will serve a beginner well and will be a mainstay even in a growing collection. Now that the introduction is out off the way let's take a look at the first of 5 pens on this list from the Japanese manufacturer Pilot.

Pilot Metropolitan

    The Pilot Metro is a great example of how Pilot does everything from ultra-high end pens to starter pens very well and does not leave one for the other. The great thing about the metro is that they are built very strong with a metal construction which makes them great options for students that want a reliable writing instrument without it being overly precious. They also come in a wide variety of colors with some more toned down colors that would be fit for a professional setting or bright fun colors to brighten up your school pencil pouch. The pens fill with a cartridge converter system like most of the other pens coming up on this list and this is actually why I prefer it to the one-off platinum preppy or pilot varsity. 
    The reason for this is that by having the filling systems in the pen you can not only reuse your pen but it also teaches people (at least me) about the permanence that writing utensils can have which is not something I really thought about before getting in the hobby. The cartridge option also allows for easy refills of the pen when you aren't near an ink bottle or in a setting that the ink bottle may be too messy, for cartridges just take the old one out and pop a new one in if they are the same color. The Pilot Metropolitan is available in a Fine, Medium or Stub nib in 14 different colors from Pen Boutique for the price of $23.99 making it the least expensive option on our list and it packs a wallop for only 24 dollars.

Lamy Safari & Al Star

    Next up we have my personal favorite and the first fountain pen I ever owned and that is the Safari from the German pen brand Lamy. The Safari holds a special spot in my heart because it was my first pen but it also holds its own on this list through its iconic design and rugged construction. Something else that makes the Safari a great starter option is that the nibs are easily removable and can be purchased separately so people can try out different sizes to see what they enjoy before moving into the more expensive pens where an extra nib gets significantly more expensive. Much like the Pilot Metropolitan the safari is available in a number of different fun colors but also in more basic ones so that they can fit into any setting whether it's school or work. The picture above contains the two special edition models for 2021 which is another thing that makes the Safari a little more collectible than some of the other pens on this list, there are many many special edition colors to track down and collect. 
Now if you do prefer the metal finish of the Metropolitan Lamy gave their Safari a metallic makeover and called it the Al Star after the aluminum metal used for the body of the pen. Essentially the same function as the Safari, the only differences between the two models is that the Al Star is made of metal and also has a clear section which is purely aesthetic and since both pens use the same nibs they write the same and are interchangeable. The Al Star comes in a variety of colors as well but they tend to be a bit more muted as it is hard to get the saturated color of the safaris on the aluminum during the anodization process. Both the Safari and Al Star models can be purchased at Pen Boutique in a variety of colors and in nib sizes ranging from Extra fine, fine, medium, and broad for $29.60 if you get the Safari and $37.60 for the Al Star.

Twsbi Eco

    The Twsbi Eco is unlike any other pen on this list and after seeing the picture it should be pretty obvious why that is, it's completely clear! Not only is it clear but the filling mechanism is different from the other pens on this list as well, its a piston filler. This means that instead of using a converter you can think of the whole pen as the converter which allows for a larger ink capacity and the clear design allows you to keep an eye on the ink level. 
    As you can see the Eco is no stranger to a bit of color either and much like the Lamys, these come out in some special edition models and colors occasionally which makes them collectible as well. With this pen being a piston filler it limits you ink options to bottle ink so it may prove hard to ink up if it runs out away from home but since the pen is a demonstrator you can pretty easily keep an eye out for when its getting low and fill it up before you go out. The Twsbi Eco can be purchased in 12 different colors in nib sizes ranging from Extra Fine, dine, medium, broad, and a stub for the price of $32.99.

Sailor Compass

    The Sailor Compass was a fantastic choice and addition to the models of the Sailor pen company and this is because it is a significantly less expensive model than their most popular pro-gear, 1911 and king of pen models. By no means am I saying that those pens are too expensive or over priced but it is nice to see them offer a pen under $100 that is still produced with the quality and attention to detail that Sailor has been known for for over 100 years. If you haven't noticed the color pattern between all the pens on this list, the compass is no exception and is offered in 9 eye-popping colors that are sure to bring some festivity to your writing experience. Something that's very unique about the compass is that the plastic feed is actually clear which gives a really cool look to the pen, it captures the color of the ink that you are using. 
    Another really nice thing that Sailor has done is that they include both cartridges and a converter with the pen so you can get writing right away and the converters that they give you match the pen's color which is something pretty unique that gives the pen a cool look. This pen in short, is a great budget offering from Sailor that is sure to lead to one of their gold nabbed models that I mentioned earlier so be careful, you won't know what hit you until after you own one of their exquisite gold models. The Sailor Compass is available at Pen Boutique in 9 colors for the price of $39.20.

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