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The Essential Fountain Pen Guide (Pt. 2): Scrively’s Top 5 (+1) Entry Level Fountain Pens

When being new to fountain pens, a rather common question is the one of an appropriate beginners pen. The wide array of available pens might be confusing at first glance and there are less and less brick and mortar-stores out there, where you can actually try the pen first. Hence, you will often find yourself in a situation where you are thrown back to reviews that you find on the internet, because more often than not will you also buy the pen online. Buying a fountain pen, however, is not exactly as straightforward as buying a ballpoint. First of all, a fountain pen is most likely a little more expensive, and secondly, the options available (nibs, manufacturers, and so on) seems a bit more complicated. Anyway, this guide here is meant to help a little in these first steps of selecting a good entry level pen.

All the pens I talk about in the video lay in the price range of around 15 – 25 €, which I would consider being entry level. Apart from a few exceptions (e.g. a Platinum Preppy or so) I would not recommend to go below that when being new to the fountain pen world, since cheaper pens might be of less quality and disappoint you.

Last but not least, when it comes to nib sizes, I would generally recommend to get a Medium (M) nib to start with, and then find out from there whether you would like to rather go finer (F, EF) or broader (B, BB, stub, flex).

I hope the video is useful. Be sure to also check out the other parts of The Essential Fountain Pen Guide. Feel free to also check out my ink-reviews that also place special emphasis on lefties. Note that there is also The Lefty-Fountain Pen Guide.

What I talk about in this video:

2 Comments

  1. Julie Paradise Julie Paradise

    Regarding Pilot I found out (by trying and buying) that a lot of Pilot fountain pens share the same nibs (and sometimes feeds), so if you consider yourself an ambitious advanced beginner, meaning that you are ready to try something out but do not like to go spend more than 50-70€ there are some options to get into _tinkering and calligraphy: with Pilot nibs:

    !!! Pilot MR/Metropolitan, Prera, Plumix, Penmanship, Kaküno all share the same nib shape!

    1) First I had two Preras in F and M, these are freely interchangeable with each other and all the other Pilots I mentioned, of course. It is very easy to take the nib and feed out for cleaning, just make sure that through the little hole in the nib the tiny line from the feed underneath is centered. Prices range from 25€ (Amazon, import) to 70€ here in Germany.
    — Preras only take Pilot’s cartridges/converters.

    2) My Kaküno in M (with the smiley face on the nib, so cute!) takes Pilot cartr./conv, Price: Ca. 10-15€ online. The nib fits all the other Pilots.

    3) Pilot Penmanship pens come with EF nibs that might be hard to get. I ordered mine (1 black, 1 transparent), online for ca. 10€ each.
    Nibs fit all the other Pilots I mentioned, takes Pilots conv./cartr.

    4) My Plumix pens though had feeds and grip sections for standard international cartridges!!! These pens come with Calligraphy nibs in EF = 0.32 mm, F = 0.44 mm M = 0.58 mm, B = 0.7 mm, BB = 1 mm.

    That means you can get the nice body of a Prera or Metropolitan (I own one MR for standard intl. cartr.) and a cheapo Plumix for example and easily convert your Prera into a calligraphy pen. Even if the original feeds are different for std. itl. cartr. or Pilot’s proprietary cartridges, you can still swab the nibs around.

    I mention this because it makes Pilot fountain pens a whole lot more attractive and I wish that I had known this before, when I started, because it would have saved me from buying some random pens and instead focus on one “system” or brand before, expand on that and be able to switch things around within this range.

    The same goes with KaWeCo: I own about 20 Classic, Skyline, AL and Luxe KaWeCo Sport and 2 Liliput fountain pens and can confirm that all (ALL!!!!) of these nibs are interchangeable! Which means that you can easily try out different nib sizes!

    The cheaper KaWeCo sport fountain pens cost around 20€, spare nibs ca. 10€ (that come with grip sections in corresponding colours, but you can ignore that and just change the nib [and feed]). The only thing I find important for myself is to match a gold plated nib to fountain pens with gold trimming (Classic Sports) and silver steel nibs with the Skyline series. For some pens, like the Brass Sports or a black Liliput it does not matter.

    There are also calligraphy nibs in 1.1 mm, 1.5 mm, 1.9 mm, 2.3 mm and a twin nib for these KaWeCos, standard nibs range from EF (I find them quite consistent, pretty fine), F (something between EF and M, very weird range with my nibs), M (same as with the F, wtf?), B (nice!, mine is ca. 1 mm broad) and BB (ca. 1.2 mm). B, BB and the calligraphy nibs have their feed shaped differently, more open, but still fits into every of the above mentioned pens. (They probably fit even more KaWeCo models, like the Student, but these I cannot confirm as I do not own them myself to testify.)
    KaWeCo pens take std. itl. cartridges, one, to be exact, easiest to be replaced by another cartridge or refilled with a syringe. (Forget dreaming about a converter for the Sports and Liliputs, these just do not really satisfy!)

    Lamy nibs are interchangeable as well and also come in many different sizes. (I never owned a Lamy, never liked them, idk, but wanted to stress this option.)
    Lamy fountain pens only take Lamy cartridges/converters.

    So, as an advanced beginner myself (or a frugal pen user who owns no pen prcier than 80€), I would recommend to a pen newbie to watch out for one of these three Pilot — KaWeCo — Lamy as you have so many options!

    The quality of esp. Pilot is awesome, I never had a Pilot that did not write well just out of the box, 2 of my KaWeCos needed some more love (the B and BB had some Baby’s Bottom), and about Lamy I cannot speak.

    It really is fun to be able to freely swab & match ink colours, nib sizes and pen colours around. Cleaning/maintenance is really easy with all of these pens and they will not break the bank.

    • Scrively Scrively

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comment! Great ideas there!

      I agree that the Pilots are really good writers. I also had issues with the one or other Kaweco nib, finding some inconsistency in nib/line-widths. The Kaweco B is really broad, true. I have Kaweco Students, they are to screw into the section (together with the feed). I have The squeeze and piston converter for the Kaweco Sports, and for me they both work very well, while the piston one is better. Lamy nibs and pens are top notch, in my opinion.

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