How to Spend Money on Fountain Pens: or, My Collection (So Far)

I’ve been fascinated with fountain pens for a couple of years now. I bought my first one back in 2015 (seems so long ago) thanks to the Pen Addict Podcast, and it’s been the most recent obsession to take a hold of my bank account (along with all my other hobbies that I don’t have time for, of course).

I wanted to gather all of my pens together to talk about them, let’s go in order that I received them!

#1: Platinum Preppy, with 03 fine nib, in Black

My Platinum Preppy 03 (top)

Recommended as a great, cheap starter fountain pen, this is certainly what it was. I got it for only $3, which is really cheap looking back at my purchases, but expensive to me at the time. I loved writing with it, and watching the ink go down the feed. It was extremely fascinating and I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to fountain pens!

This was my first fountain pen, and I knew I liked small tips on my pens and pencils, so I got a smaller nib. I think it worked very well, I don’t remember it being extremely scratchy, it may have skipped a little bit, but I inked it with a Noodlers ink, and I think that might have been the issue; I’m slowly becoming not a big Noodlers person.

When I bought this one, it came in a clear barrel and it was perfect for an eyedropper demonstrator pen, which meant that you could just put ink in the barrel, and after some extra tinkering (which included the purchase of an O-ring and some silicon grease), you would have a cheap eyedropper demonstrator pen. I tried several times to get my pen to be an eyedropper pen, but it didn’t work out for me; that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying though (see #s 5 and 11 on my list…).

Unfortunately, something happened to the feed of this pen while I was cleaning, and I had to throw it away.

#2: Lamy Safari, with medium nib, in Special Edition Petrol

This was another recommendation as a great starter fountain pen, but the price hike was quite steep for me at the time. It was a $30 pen, so 300% more expensive than my first pen! Which explains why it took me so long to wrap my mind around it; I didn’t get this one until early 2018.

I like finer tips to my pens, so I bought an extra fine nib to go with this, and it is amazing. However, buying this Lamy Safari also made me realize that Western brands (Lamy is a German brand) and Japanese brands (like Platinum) make different nib sizes. Western brands tend to run large, while Japanese brands tend to run small; for example, the extra fine nib on my Lamy writes thicker than the fine nib on my next pen, which is a Japanese brand). This was another reason why I didn’t want to invest more money into a Western brand if I couldn’t get it in a finer nib.

Lamy Safaris are known as the tanks of the fountain pen world. There are stories of how users literally accidentally ran over their Safari and it still works and is barely scratched. They also have limited edition colors that are released each year and as a collector, and it is really hard for me NOT to want to get them all (one day?).

#3 & 4: Pilot Kakuno, with one each of F and M nib, one all grey barrel, one pink and grey barrel

Pilot Kakuno are also a great starter fountain pen, as these are actually branded more towards children. Both the barrel and the cap have anti-choking holes in them (I think that’s what they’re for?), and there’s a little smiley face on the nib, for a cutesy factor. I love the nibs on these, not just for the cutesy factor, but like I said before, they write so much finer than the Lamy Safari nib.

These pens are some of my favorites because of how well and how small the nib writes. They’re seriously fantastic and a great introduction to Pilot pens.

These two pens came as a set called the Pilot Enso Kakuno Set in Cherry Blossom, however this pen comes in a multitude of cute colors if you don’t want to get the set. I’m not a huge pink or grey person, I like both colors okay, and even the combination is nice, but what I was interested in was the little brochure for the hand lettering, and I liked that I got two in the set. Plus, I’m a sucker for anything labelled “cherry blossom”!

#5: Platinum Preppy, in 05 medium nib, in Black

My Platinum Preppy 05 (bottom)

Yes, I bought another one. It had been years since I bought my original one and I wanted one pen to be my dedicated waterproof ink pen, so I thought to get another one.

As expected, the 05 Medium nib was a thicker writer than the 03 Fine nib. I bought the “size up” to see if I liked it better, and ended up confirming that I do like my finer writers.

This time, the barrel had changed to the current branding, with the smokey, semi-transparent look. I like the original look of the clear barrels, but I admit that getting the set of all 7 colors this pen comes in is nothing less than a delight (see #11 for more details).

#6: Jinhao 993 Shark, with extra-fine nib, in purple

My Jinhao 993 Shark

Jinhao pens are known for their affordability, and this one is no exception. These shark pens are only $4 each, and they’re adorable! When these pens first came out I wanted all the colors, but especially purple! I ended up buying one because I was already buying ink samples, so I got a cheap pen to add to my little order.

These pens are Chinese, so I thought that they be similar to the Japanese pens and have the more smaller tip, but the extra fine is actually somehow even thicker than the extra fine on the Lamy Safari. Disappointing.

Alas, I had to stop using it because for some reason, the ink I was using at the time kept leaking out into the cap. I’m not sure if it was just the ink or if there is something wrong with the pen itself; I haven’t tried inking it since. However, an interesting thing about this pen that I didn’t know before I picked it up is that this is a screw-on cap; all my other pens have been a snap cap. I’m not a huge fan of taking screw caps to work, so if I decide to ink this one up again, it would be a house pen, even though it’s one of my cheapest pens.

#7: Monteverde Ritma, with omniflex nib, in purple

My Monteverde Ritma

I’ll be honest, I got this pen because there was a sale on inks at Goulet Pens. If you got a Monteverde pen, you could pick a free bottle of inks to go with it. However, I think this is a great medium level pen. The pen came with two cartridges: one black and one light-ish blue. The black was one of the blackest inks I’d ever tried! I didn’t care much for the blue.

The nib… Well, on Goulet pens website it is clearly stated that the omniflex is not the best omniflex, but it should provide a varying tip to your pen. And the line does vary ever so slightly, but it’s not a great omniflex, and the tip on it is pretty big, bigger than my medium nibs. I don’t hate the nib, but I do wish I got a different one. Maybe a future purchase!

The interesting part about this pen, and my favorite part, is that the cap is a magnetic snap; it just clicks into place and is held there by a magnet.. I LOVE this feature, it is so much fun to play with! It’s also a full metal pen, making this one of the heaviest pens I own, as most of my other pens are all plastic barrels (except for my next one).

#8: Conklin Endura, with extra-fine nib, in Abalone & Gunmetal

My gorgeous Conklin Endura!

This pen is the one that holds the most personal significance to me. The engagement rings that Taylor and I wear are made from abalone, so when I saw this pen, I just knew I needed it. Taylor bought this pen for me for my birthday this year (2021) and it was the first birthday in the apartment we now share, so it’s significant that way as well. Selfishly, though I wanted gunmetal instead of chrome because I liked the look of gunmetal more.

I asked for the nib in EF and it is a great nib; it writes pretty smooth, and pretty consistently, however it’s about as EF as the Lamy nib. However, in playing with the pen, I do find that turning the pen upside down and writing with the top of the pen instead of the bottom, creates a much finer, and actually more consistent, line. Some days I’ll write like this if I want a finer line. (I happily found that I can also do this with the Monteverde Ritma, so it at least writes with a finer tip.) See below on the difference it makes:

This is one of the two pens I keep at home. This one stays home because of the cost (it is $116, so it is my first pen over $100), the personal significance to me (I think of this as my “engagement” pen), and it is also one of the pens that is a screw-on cap. In fact, this is the only pen I write with unposted (which means I don’t put it on the back of the pen). It can post, however, it is so heavy, I don’t like writing with it posted. This is another reason I don’t want to travel with it; I like posting my pens because then I know where the cap is!

#9: Pilot Plumix, with 1.0mm stub nib, in purple

This is my first pen purchase of 2021, and for this year, I gave myself just one rule for pen buying. If I’m buying a new pen, it has to be a Japanese pen. (this is why Taylor gifted me the Conklin, because I was going to buy it for myself, but the rules!) I kept seeing all the wonderful posts on r/fountainpens about broad and stub nibs and I thought, am I missing out by only liking my teeny tiny nibs? Should I give stub nibs a try? And that’s why I got this one. That’s it!

I don’t like the nib…it’s a bit scratchy for me, but I’m going to continue to use it because I do like the lines it creates, and the line variations are fun.

This pen is also a screw-on cap, which surprised me, because the Pilot Kakuno was a snap-on cap. This is also a specialized nib, not necessarily an every day writer, so I keep this one at home.

#10: Sailor Pro Gear Slim, with medium nib, in Shikiori Dragon’s Palace

My brand new Sailor Pro Gear Slim

I fell in love with this color last year when it was released, and I loved the name, Dragon’s Palace. The only thing holding me back was the price tag. Holy moly, almost $200 for a pen? However, this was a limited release, and when I got around to seeing if I like Sailors enough to cough up that much, it had already sold out on my two preferred pen websites, Goulet Pens and Jetpens. However, the other day, I happened to look at Yoseka Stationery’s stock of Sailor pens, and they still had this in stock! I bought it right away (well, after hesitating about the price again).

The downside to Sailors is that their nibs are not exchangeable, and Dragon’s Palace only comes in a medium nib. We’ll see how much I like it!

Now, I bought this pen and the below pens on the same day, Yoseka is unfortunately all the way across the country for me, and just took a bit longer to get here. I just got this pen yesterday! However, I did technically purchase the Dragon’s Palace before the Preppys, so I’m counting it as my #10 pen!

#11-17: Platinum Preppy, in 03 fine nib, in all seven colors: Black, Purple, Blue, Green, Yellow, Red, and Pink

It’s kind of a long story of why I wanted this set of pens, but the short version is I wanted pens that I would use, that I knew were good writers, that also came in a rainbow of colors. And thus, this set. Like I said, I’m really hoping to make these into eyedropper demonstrators, so hopefully I don’t mess this up again!

Now, since there isn’t anything super interesting to add to this entry, I’ll give you the long story. I mentioned this briefly in a flip thru or something, but I recently found out that the pen company Montegrappa partnered with Warner Brothers to make some Harry Potter inks. (They also made some pens, but the pens are so boring and generic looking, it’s just sad.) I wanted to buy the inks buy they are so expensive for no reason, so I got some samples of dupes. After swatching the dupes, and swatching all of my inks, I realized I had an insane amount of samples (I think I have 60 different ink samples right now), but no matching pens to use them in. So of course, I had to get a rainbow of colored barrels, and they had to be inexpensive (because buying seven pens can be over $100). I had a choice of this set, which I was familiar with, or the Pilot Petit1, which didn’t have a set to buy, but I could still have bought them individually. Those can also turn into an eyedropper, but I just looked it up, and you can’t have a cartridge converter on them, which is a shame. So I had to go with the tried and true Platinum Preppys!

Notable Entry: Itoya Blade, in black

My short-lived Itoya Blade

Back in 2019, my boss went on an errand and returned back with a free gift: an Itoya Blade! He knew I was the only person who liked pens (as much as I do, anyway), and said I would be delighted! The feed was a little skippy, but it worked most of the time and I didn’t have any complaints. Looking at the Itoya website now, it looks like these only come in one nib size. I think it was a medium-to-fine nib. I don’t think I would purchase this; it’s not refillable, and I find that very wasteful.

As pens tend to do in the shop, this one disappeared on me mid-2019. I don’t know if a customer walked off with it, or it ended up at the bottom of a pencil cup, but it’s not in the shop anymore (trust me, I’ve looked everywhere!)

And that’s the end of it. Those are all the pens I own or were gifted to me. I have a lot more on my wishlist, but I think I’m done for 2021, those two $100+ pens have me satisfied for now. (Although I definitely know which one I want next, and it’s another $100+ pen… Once the ball gets rolling, I suppose!)

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