Mar 7, 2018149 views

Best Pen for a Beginner?

Hello there,
I bought a cheap fountain pen to decide whether or not I could deal with the drawbacks of the hobby (required pressure, refilling, cleaning, etc), and I'm pretty sure I like the hobby now. However, I can already tell that the cheap pen I got has its flaws, for one thing it leaks a fair amount and thus gets all over my fingers. I would like to find a new pen with the following characteristics to replace it:
  • Under $50 USD - unless there is a significant jump in quality for only a small bit above my budget, I'd prefer to keep the pen under $50.
  • Must be able to draw ink - I don't think any real good fountain pens are cartridge-only, but I'm new to the hobby so I wouldn't know. I don't care if I have to pay a bit extra for a converter, but it has to be able to draw from an inkwell.
  • doesn't leak or become clogged to the point where it becomes uncleanable - again, I don't think any quality pens have this issue, but I put it just to make sure.
  • Fine-point or narrower, but comfortable for daily writing - I use my pen on a daily basis, so it needs to be comfortable. However, the lines put out by my medium-point pen are always a bit too thick no matter how lightly I handle the pen, so I'd like to try something a bit thinner.
I was looking at the Lamy Safari (, but I don't know enough to make a decision yet. Again the primary purpose is day-to-day writing usage, and I sometimes write for an hour on end or so, so comfort is also necessary.

Thanks in advance!

Hiya and welcome to the hobby. For me this was a resurface of my childhood fascination with all things pens - and I got into it by getting a bunch of old pens from my dad who did some cleaning. (You know, we never truly grew up in our parent's eyes) so it peeked my interest and I started again. For beginner pens - I can with my own experience warmly recommend the following pens: Pilot Metropolitan Lamy Safar (AL star if you want it in aluminum body) TWSBI ECO or 580 Star. Anything Faber & Castell Sailor
See, there are so many pens? That's the difficult thing. I would however really suggest the Lamy pen. It is far from the best pen of the above - but it is a sturdy workhorse and it has one thing that is great: interchangeable nibs that are very easy to remove and replace. The nibs are not that hard to come by and you can quickly try several sizes and also italic nibs and see if that is your thing. Once you have figured out what you like - you can take your journey ahead. There are many who simply adores their Safari's and it is easy to see why. It is a nice pen and one that in my experience (I have only two though) flows generously with ink.
If you like, you can read a bit more as I tried to sum up my own starting experiences here: Cheers! :)
I would definitely consider the TWSBI Eco fountain pen. They are reliable performers, feature an integrated piston filler, and are decently made for the $$. They have a wider section than the Pilot Metropolitan, and are also available as a "ECO-T" model which has the tripod grip section like the Lamy if desired. I own 3 TWSBI - and while the material is "slightly" less luxe feeling on an ECO than, say, a VAC 700R, it feels better than the Wing Sung pens I also have. Plus, better after-sale support if you buy from a retailer in your country (i.e., Goulet Pens in the US). ECO can be had for around $30. I own two, both in "stub" nibs, that I use mostly for calligraphy. My preference is for the Non-T ECO but then I have good "pen discipline" and don't roll them around. If you're prone to rolling the pen in your fingers,the ECO-T will help stabilize them in a proper tripod grip.
Main thing to consider is nib size and type. An ECO in EF (extra-fine) is about the same line/width as a Pilot Metropolitan F. However, in my hand, the ECO's EF nib (a German-sourced unit, from JoWo I think) is smoother and a better performer.
For $50, you can consider upgrading to a TWSBI 580. It's the "upgrade" version of the ECO, thought the ECO came later than the 5xx series. The 580 adds a swapable nib unit, metal fittings, and a faceted barrel for visual appeal/reduced rolling. It's not postable like the ECO is, so that may be a consideration.
At $70 is the VAC 700R series, which is the "ultimate" pen in their catalog. This features a VAC fill system, and even has a dedicated inkwell for use with it. However, I would avoid the 700R until you are more comfortable with filling systems as it's a bit more fiddly (you need to "unlock" the pen every time you use it more than a page or two).
Thanks for the input! I actually just received my ECO yesterday, though I haven't had much time to do more than fill it and scribble a few lines yet. I'm pretty sure I ordered the normal ECO, but there are 3 ridges right at the end of the grip that fit right with how I currently grip the pen and stabilize my grip. I'm also not sure what you mean by the 580 having a "swapable nib unit", as the ECO's nib and feed seem to me to be removable, even if I haven't tried yet... Regardless, I feel like the ECO will keep me satisfied for quite some time. I'll probably experiment with inks a lot more before looking at a different pen.
The one you got Is an ECO-T (T for Tripod). The nib is swappable on the ECO but it’s friction fit and you have to be careful or you can crack the feed. The 580 unit is swappable because you can unscrew the feed and nib together as a unit.
enjoy the Eco!
Welcome to the rabbit hole. For starters any pen can draw ink with a suitable converter. There are countless quality pens that use cartridges and/or converters. That said, you are on the right track; cartridges are a sad thing and ink should come in bottles. As for nib size almost every pen on the market is available in extra-fine all the way to double-broad. People usually do not recommend piston fillers to newcomers to the hobby. I fail to see the reason for that. My guess is that this goes back to a time when piston fillers were significantly more expensive and high maintenance. However, times have changed. Thus I recommend: The Wing Sung 698, a fantastic pen which can be had for less than $20 on eBay, or about $20 with Amazon Prime.
Or the TWSBI ECO, for about $30.
If you find the idea of a piston filler a bit too daunting, your options are almost countless, but I will limit my suggestions to two: Pilot Metropolitan (your safest bet, lowest likelihood of a lemon. Also, Japanese pens run finer than German ones) Lamy Safari (especially if you like a taller pen, some people hate the grip, I think its great)
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Nib creep is ink leaking out from the slit of the nib. This can happen due to many things. I don't have the link on me but The Goulet Pen Company has a YouTube channel under the same name with hundreds of useful videos to answer any questions you have and have one for nib creep, what it is, and how best to avoid it. Leaking is when it's coming out of the pen entirely. Like up to the point where it's filling up the cap or is all over your pockets. People often refer to nib creep as leaking but I usually use it for severe leaking.
As for the recommendations, the twsbi is an excellent one to go for. As I understand it, a piston filler is basically a pen and converter in one. The pen itself is the converter that draws the in and you do so by twisting the pen open, putting it into the inkwell, and then twisting the pen closed, which will draw the only.
Thanks for the clarity, it is indeed nib creep rather than a full out leak, but nib creep is bad enough for me.