Fountain Pen Basics: What essentials do I need with my first fountain pen?

If you’re thinking of buying your first fountain pen, you may be surprised to discover just how many choices of styles, brands and inks there are for this traditional writing instrument! It may seem overwhelming to figure out what you need as you sift through the huge variety of fountain pens and accessories available to the modern writer. What basic essentials must you have to begin writing with your first fountain pen?

(LAMY Safari fountain pen in charcoal with a black nib)

(1) A fountain pen. It is not necessary to buy an expensive pen with a real 14K gold nib to begin your new writing experience. Something as simple and cheap as a disposable pen can be sufficient to help you get the feel for what writing with a fountain pen is like. The refillable Platinum Preppy fountain pen is a very popular choice under $5.00. There are many other pen choices in the $50.00 or less category that can even last a lifetime. Generally, most (but not all) pens in this price range have steel nibs and cartridge/converter filling systems. Just like regular pens, fountain pens come in a variety of nib sizes, often ranging from extra-fine to broad. If you’ve never used a fountain pen you’ll probably find that either a fine or a medium nib is the easiest to begin writing with. Here is a short list of some suggested beginner fountain pens:

LAMY Al-Star
LAMY Safari
LAMY Vista
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
Kaweco Classic Sport
Kaweco Ice Sport
Pelikan Pelikano
Pelikan Pelikano Jr.
Platinum Plaisir
Platinum Preppy

J. Herbin Universal Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges - Rose Cyclamen
J. Herbin Universal Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges – Rose Cyclamen

(2) Some ink. If you are a beginner, ink cartridges are the easiest way to refill your fountain pen. The most important thing is to make sure the ink cartridges you get are compatible with the fountain pen that you buy. Standard international or universal cartridges fit many types of fountain pens, but not all fountain pens. Some fountain pens require proprietary cartridges, or in other words, ink cartridges that are the same brand as the fountain pen. Here’s the same list of beginner fountain pens with suggested compatible ink refills:

LAMY Al-Star – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Safari – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Vista – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
Pilot Metropolitan – Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges
Kaweco Classic Sport – short standard international cartridges
Kaweco Ice Sport – short standard international cartridges
Pelikan Pelikano – short standard international cartridges and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Pelikan Pelikano Jr. – short standard international cartridges and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Platinum Plaisir – Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack
Platinum Preppy – Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack

Our blog includes articles that are very helpful in explaining ink cartridge use:

Crash Course in Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges
Pelikano Fountain Pen Cartridge Tips

Also worth mentioning – once you start writing with fountain pens you will notice that the kind of paper you write with will matter more than it did before. The type of paper you use will definitely affect your writing experience. To find out why, take a look at this blog article:

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are left-handed and have noticed that some fountain pens come with left-handed nibs, this article might answer some of your questions:

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

So that’s basically it – a pen and some ink are all you really need to try out a fountain pen. If you discover that you like fountain pens and want to expand on the basics, what comes next? This will be the subject of a future blog post.

What was your first fountain pen? Was it love at first write, or did your taste for fountain pens develop slowly? Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to get their first fountain pen?

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Reminiscing with Old Letters

Recently as I was going through things to recycle or take to the thrift store I found a stash of forgotten old letters from my school days. These letters date back to a time when far away friends and family did not communicate with electronic gadgets, instead they often took pen to paper and mailed off their thoughts and news using a postage stamp that you had to lick. Believe it or not, there are people today who still prefer this method of communication, but they can be few and far between. Handwritten letters are still important since they convey more meaning than a text message or email ever could. What memories did I find?

There were letters from as far away as Europe, and letters from as close to home as the neighbors across the street. It was interesting to see how as my friends matured their handwriting, news and interests would change. There was lots of talk about the latest boy-bands and news about summer school vacations. The cards from relatives that have since passed away made me think fondly of past family gatherings.

There was funky bright orange flower power stationery that closed with "P.S. How is puddy?" I’m hoping this is referring to a cat.

The back of one envelope was spattered with fountain pen ink. Interestingly the letter inside was written with a ballpoint.

I found hand written poetry entitled "The Tale of the Seahorse." I do not think this is original, but the pink waves in the left hand margin are a fun touch.

Retro greeting cards are always fun to look at. They brought back memories of shopping in the local Hallmark store!

There were a few drawings made with pen.

"P.S.S. I really like the orange julius recipe you sent me. Thanks." is written on the back of the top envelope.

Are you someone who enjoys the art of hand-writing letters? Have you ever spent time reminiscing reading old letters? What is your favorite find? Why not take the time to write an old fashioned letter using pen and paper and make someone’s day special!


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