Many of you may know that Platinum is my favourite pen brand. Despite their rather narrow range of pens, models like the President, #3776, and Preppy represent some of the best pens at their price point, ever.
This brings me to a rather unique pen, and one that could only come from Japan, the Maki-e, which was sent to me by Massdrop.
For those of you that don’t know of Massdrop, it’s a site that curates a bunch of superb products that are suggested by users. Each product must receive a certain number of votes from the community, and once it does Massdrop will get in touch with the brand to organise a group-buy. The best thing about a group-buy is that the higher the quantity, the lower the price, like buying in bulk. So, you get to vote for the products you want, then buy them at a reduced price. Win-win, right? International shipping is also very competitive, and can be as little as a few dollars for small items like pens.
For all the buying guides out there on the internet, few talk about fountain pens specifically. Maybe it’s because there aren’t enough fountain pen blogs (like this one) or maybe it’s because not many people actually know how to buy a great pen. Nonetheless, allow me to add to this small list by offering my own guide to buying a fantastic pen that you’ll love using, and love taking everywhere with you.
Many people have a whole lot of pens, myself included, yet there are a select few in my collection that I would consider the best; the pens that, if I had to give up all my other pens, I would choose to keep. I imagine you’d like to be in the same situation, having a pen that writes when you want it, looks fantastic in your hand or your pocket, and that would make you think twice before handing it over to someone else to use.
It’s no question that some of the best fountain pens made today are coming out of Japan. Quality and materials beyond most anything ever seen, and nibs that go finer than fine; Pilot, Platinum, and Sailor are Japan’s “Big 3″ pen companies, the ones to go to for a writing experience like no other.
But why? To understand the reason why Japan is one of the best places for writing instruments, you have to look at its history. Over the course of the last century Japan has become a central hub for technology and innovation. This translates to improvements in design, manufacturing, and overall quality of products across the spectrum. If you buy a TV these days, chances are you will be looking at Japanese brands. The same goes for cars, phones, computers, almost any piece of tech you can think of.
Now most people may not associate the term “modern technology” with something as archaic and (perhaps incorrectly) basic as a fountain pen, but the two have blended together significantly over the past 50-60 years to produce futuristic “classic” fountain pens that exhibit the feeling of a vintage writing instrument and the features of a modern piece of technology.
Although most people think the best fountain pens can be found in the $100+ range, there’s a price bracket way, way below that often, but shouldn’t, get ignored. Disposable fountain pens aren’t exactly common, but a few brands sell them because some people simply don’t want to fork out anything over $5.00 for a writing instrument, but enjoy using a fountain pen. Now the term “disposable” is loosely used, as many of these pens can be refilled one way or another. That word simply refers to how inexpensive they are.
The main contenders today can all be found at JetPens, a site you all should know about (and perhaps love!), and are available for under $5.00 each. I’m here to show you which one is best, from the view of a fountain pen enthusiast, but also from the view of a ballpoint user looking for a cheap entry point into fountain pens. I’ll compare each of them with each other, more expensive pens, and the common rollerballs and ballpoint pens you often see on people’s desks. Let’s go!
This is the first in a long list of guides all about fountain pens, ink, and everything that makes a fountain pen what it is. Fountain pens are one of the most difficult writing instruments to get used to after coming from ballpoints or pencils, and maintaining them can sometimes be just as confusing. This series is designed to help you get the most out of your pens and become versed with what makes them tick. I will also delve into other topics, such as how to buy a fountain pen, how to pick a quality pen, different inks for your pen, and much, much more!
Each section will be split up into separate posts, and I will include a table of contents at the top of each post. You don’t have to follow along word by word (but please do if you can!), just skip to the section that interests you most by clicking the link in the contents.
During these guides I will introduce new words, but don’t worry! I will star any new ones and at the very bottom of the post will be a glossary of the starred terms. If I neglect to mark any confusing words, or if you have any questions at all about what I have written or elaboration on a particular topic, please comment or send me an email using my Contact Me page.