Oct 18, 201873 views

What fountain pens are affordable and might be of use to someone that is into crafts and an office worker?

My sister is perpetually working some crafts project and takes note with pen and paper at the office - I was hoping to buy her a good pen to use for either instance. Is there a starter kit or a fountain pen and ink set around $100 that is recommended? Any specific brands of pen that would last her a while?

Vac 700R (TWSBI's), pilot custom 74, those are mid range and under $100. 74 can take cartridges or converter, 700 is only bottle ink. Pilot metropolitan is good starting pen.
Look into TWSBI or Kaweco pens! I like to think those are good starter fountain pens.
Thanks, will do!
Do you know if your sister has a preferred nib size or pen/pencil point size? That is probably the largest hangup I can think of when getting started with fountain pens as it can really make or break the experience (for instance, if they prefer bold lines then getting a M (medium) or B (bold) nib is probably the way to go; however if they like neat handwriting that is relatively compact, an F (fine) or an EF (extra fine) is likely the way forward). The nib also effects how the pen feels while writing. EF _can_ be scratchy if the ink that is being used isn't wet enough or if the tines are unaligned (even by a small amount). F nibs tend to be more forgiving there and I haven't found a scratchy F; though I have also only used one or two of them - I have a tendency to go for flex or EF nibs. As far as a ~$100 recommendation for a gift, I would probably go with something along the lines of this:
  • Rhodia Webnotebook (A5) - $19.95
  • Noodler's Eel Black Ink (3oz) - $13
  • TWSBI Vac700R Clear Fountain Pen (F nib, if you don't have a better guess) - $67.50
  • **Total**: $100.45
If she likes being able to add flair to her writing, having a flex nib could be fun, but at the same time the price tag will go up at that point. Most flex-nib pens that I know of are $150+ on their own, and the cheapest I think I have seen one is the Pilot Elabo at $120 on sale. Alternatively, if she isn't sure what she is looking for, or doesn't have experience with fountain pens at all; it may be safer to start on the cheaper end. If you swap out the TWSBI for a Platinum Preppy, and purchase a converter for it, then she can try out a pen that won't matter much if it is lost/ broken, and will save you ~$60.
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I haven't used Italix pens in the past, so I can't give you a hands-on opinion, but it looks like a fairly sturdy pen. Having the removable button will be nice for both refilling with a converter, and potentially in an eyedropper conversion as well. Given that it is a British company, the nib will likely be European-style (slightly larger than .3mm (likely .4 or .5mm) which should further improve the likelihood of it writing smoothly out of the box). In the sense of comparing it to the TWSBI, it will usually have a smaller ink capacity (all converters do) in comparison to the vacuum or eyedropper style pens, though depending on how much your sister writes, that may be enough to last a good month between refills. I typically get between 1 and 2 months per converter-fill on my fountain pens (most converters hold ~0.5ml of ink, though that can depend on the converter) while vac fillers can normally get 2+ml and eyedroppers can get whatever the volume of the pen body is (usually ~3ml, sometimes more). Noodler's ink is fairly popular out there, and I may have a bottle or two laying around in my ink drawer; but it isn't typically my go-to. That depends on the pen I am using. My Elabo, I love to fill with Sailor nano-black ink (I didn't recommend it in the original post as it is ~$25 per bottle and I was trying to stick to the budget :) ) which should be similar to the Noodler's Eel Black, (though I don't have a good comparison point) in that they are both permanent, water resistant, and should be cleaned well between refills. On my Pilot Preppy 1.1mm italic nib, I have a tendency to go for shimmer inks (like J. Herbin's shimmer inks) as the gold dust in them can give a really cool shimmer there. I will say that in that case, the wetter the nib you have the most shimmer effect you will get, so a F or EF is likely not a good use for shimmer inks. The majority of the inks that I own are Diamine dye-based, which are nice as they are pretty inexpensive (especially if you find a sale or drop) while offering a lot of colors. The only major problem I have with them is that they smear something horrible unless I am using a piece of blotting paper (or a paper towel) under my hand while I write - I am a lefty).
Wow, there's more to these than I had initially thought. I'll definitely be on the look out for any of these brands in the future. Thanks again for all of the help here!