Saturday, 3 September 2016

On the subject of cheap fountain pens...

There are several schools of thought when it comes to fountain pens, some see them as a work of art, some just prefer writing with them to using disposable biros, but for me, it's always been a question of functionality.  A pen can be the most beautiful thing in the world, but if it can't be used to write with, then really what's the point?

For those just starting out with fountain pens and don't want to spend too much money on the matter until they've made a decision on whether or not they actually want to continue with it, the question becomes if using a cheap fountain pen is the best way to determine if you're interested in continuing with the style in general.

With this in mind, I've pulled a number of pens out of the roll I use to give people a try at using a fountain pen, to see if I still use the cheaper ones when I have more expensive ones to work with.

The first set are very cheap chinese pens, the top two costing around £2 each (free delivery), the lower autograph pen costing around £8.  The Baoer writes reasonably, you sometimes have to go over the line more than once to make sure you've got a solid line, but it's a good heavy pen.  The second pen (no identifying manufacturer) is a very heavy pen along the lines of the larger Jinhao pens, the flow is very fast and while it's a broader nib than I'm used to, it's very much for those who like ot know they've got a pen in their hands.  The last is made by Autograph, solid metal pen with a european medium nib, nice construction, sometimes jams with thicker inks.

The next set are a Preppy disposable (but still refillable) fountain pen, writes comparable with most Japanese extra fine nibs, but a very light barrel, retailing for around £3, the next step up being the Plaisir fountain pen at around £9, with a nib equivalent to a Japanese fine and a slightly more well constructed barrel, and the last being a Sailor Hi-Ace, again around £9, Japanese extra fine line again, lightweight plastic body and it comes with a converter.

The thing here (for me anyway) is that all of these pens write just fine, sure, they're not as smooth or fast flowing as the custom pilot MR I use every day, and they're not as solidly constructed as the Lamy Al-Star that sits next to the MR, but they're fine pens and they make for perfectly good tools, with the interesting thing being that several people just getting back into writing with fountain pens (or just taking it up for that matter) find it easier to work with these pens than they do with the specialised versions that I've got.

The question however, was whether or not I still use the cheaper pens when I've progressed to customised pens.  After all, why would you go back to using a rusty Rover when you've got a Ferrari in the garage...?  I still use the Hi-Ace on a regular basis, the others not so much, I've got too used to the pens I like most and use all the time, particularly the ones where I've built and rebuilt them to my own tastes, but the exercise tonight has got me thinking, so I'm going to move up the ladder tomorrow and have a look at the mid range priced pens that I've got to see how often I use them...

However, I am interested in everyone else's thoughts?  Do you all still use cheaper pens or is it just the nice pens that you use now you've been around a while?