Throughout its long history, established in 1884, Waterman has produced a wide selection of the highest quality pens in a broad range of prices. In 2010, Waterman continues as a major player in the 21st Century pen market, with the creation of the Serenite d’Art Collection, by pushing through the boundaries and producing some of the most beautiful pens in the industry today.
The Serenite d’Art Collection, inspired by Water, Air, Earth and Fire, combines the finest materials with the creative vision of a modern artist. The curved bodies, the unique textures, the splendid colors and the breathtaking designs merge into true masterpieces that are extremely pleasing to the eye yet highly functional. How often does that happen in the art world?
Gorgeous hues of blue, red, silver and black and the unique designs encompassing Mother Nature at her strongest, is sure to please the ever evolving needs and desires of today’s sophisticated pen collector. Waterman’s Serenite d’Art has hit the mark, combining art and the art of fine pen making!
While the Serenite d’Art Collection is superb, those looking for a more moderate price point, check out the enormously popular Waterman Carene, Perspective and Exception collections. With the same Waterman eye for detail, these collections offer an elegant gift at a much more affordable price.
Waterman has changed the face of the modern pen; for a unique gift this holiday season choose Waterman, now available at Executive Essentials!
Whether you are looking for college graduation gifts for her or college graduation gifts for him, you’ve come to the ‘write’ place. Over the last few weeks, Executive Essentials has put together a great little series on pen types and styles to fit the various types of graduating students and personalities. We know from years of experience that pens are highly popular graduation presents. We know that the many varieties and style’s of pens are the reason so many people feel excited giving them as gifts to graduating students. There is nothing like the thrill of writing with a fine instrument and a refillable pen, well crafted and honed, is a gift that can be cherished for a lifetime.
Today I’m going to show you the best graduation gifts for business school graduates. Or at least, the best pens to give to that business school major that is about to make their way into the big, brave world. My choices look a little something like this.
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149 Fountain Pen Gold & Black
In the world of fountain pens, Montblanc is renowned. In the world of Montblanc, the Meisterstuck 149 is legendary. The 149 is the flagship pen of a company that oozes with prestige and pride and for good reason. Montblanc has the delightful habit of producing artistic pens of high quality. A fresh to the world business graduate will make a big statement when they produce this simple, yet stylish writing instrument when they go to sign their first big deal.
As a side note, I’d like to mention something about Montblanc. In order to find out the price of this pen, you will have to request the price be sent to you via email. I’ve noticed that this has bothered or scared a few people away from purchasing pens from Montblanc. The truth of the matter is, is that Montblanc works hard to protect their brand. Because of this, they certify the companies that sell their pens. One of the rules is that the seller must only offer prices upon request. This doesn’t mean that the pens are so pricey that you can’t afford them. Be brave! If you are interested in a Montblanc pen, take the extra time to request a price. At Executive Essentials, your email will be treated with care (no spam) and you will be pleasantly surprised at the response you receive.
Visconti Wall S.T. Rollerball Pen Platinum
Visconti is quickly becoming one of my favorite pen companies. Unlike many pen companies, Visconti understands that pens should not only be durable and attractive but they should have character as well. Visconti makes sure that their pets have plenty of character to spare. A perfect example is the Wall Street. Created from a green, red or platinum celluloid and finished with silver accents, these pens are very similar to vintage celluloid pens of the past. This pen has a feel and spirit of the fast paced life on Wall Street and features a unique four sided barrel that allows it to be highly ergonomic and assures a comfortable feel. If you have a future stock trader entering the world of high finance, this is the perfect graduation gift.
In the world of big business, presentation is everything. In that vein, the Waterman Carene Rollerball is a prime example of how to present yourself right. The Waterman Carene Contemporary Black and Gunmetal Rollerball Pen is inspired by the streamlined symmetry of the world’s finest yachts. The pen features a modern crisscross decor on the cap in line with Waterman history and a deep black lacquered barrel. A branded ring and glossy finish on the cap help distinguish this pen. It’s a powerful piece that exudes confidence and control, important traits for any aspiring business person.
There are plenty of pens that demand your attention by their looks. But more often than not, you don’t know a pen’s true qualities until you interact with it. This holds true in the world of business as well. Fast talking and hard selling is the mantra of mainstream business in the modern world, but I think I speak for a lot of consumers when I say it’s nice to run a business that has a slow pitch but delivers in spades. The Omas 360 Mezzo is a great, simple looking pen, dressed in black, but it’s usability far outshines its modest attire. The 360`s triangular body is based on ergonomic principles and combines a perfect grip and nib angle to permit fluid, uniform calligraphy with uninterrupted ink flow. This pen is perfect for those soft spoken, hard working graduates in your life.
In every graduating class, regardless of the field, there is one student that decides they are going to remake their profession in their own mind. They are going to do things just a little bit different. And usually, they end up changing the world. If you have a graduate that reads the text books and goes right when the rest of their class goes left, this Namiki Fountain Pen is for you.
The Vanishing Point retractable (yes retractable!) fountain pen has experienced an amazing evolution since its inception. Its brilliant design and ingenious technology make it a pen for the new age. A larger size, durable metal body, and attractive appointments make the Vanishing Point unmistakably unique. This white model has a sleek, clean look that invokes the purity of mind necessary to break all the rules and come out on top.
These are my suggestions for that business school graduate in your life, but don’t take my suggestions as the end all. Take some time to look at the Executive Essential catalog and have some fun finding the pen that will fit your special graduate perfectly.
The ovens are far from heating up for this 2011 Thanksgiving dinner, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas is content to wait on the sidelines until we are all done digesting. In fact, ho-ho-ho tinged commercials have already infiltrated the airwaves and local shops are already trimming their newly frosted windows in red and green. It is clearly time to start thinking about the gifts we choose to say ‘thank you’ to those around us in our daily lives. And there is no better way for a business to say thank you to its employees and customers than with a high-quality pen that is stylish and affordable.
Executive Essentials makes gift giving easy by offering a wide selection of personalized pens from top name brand companies like Cross, Waterman, Waterford, Parker, and Dunhill. The pens in the EE catalog come in a wide variety of styles and prices to fit the needs of just about any company’s budget. At Executive Essentials, we have the ability to offer substantial discounts for high volume orders and with a little extra time, we can let you see a finished sample of your logo pen prior to your order. We know that you want the very best when you give gifts and we have the pens you need and the service to make it come true. And, unlike cheap custom pens, our pens come from name brand, well-respected companies that offer quality, style and satisfaction guaranteed.
Take a look at a few of the amazing pens in the Executive Essentials catalog that come with the option of being engraved.
This streamlined pen from Parker has a stainless steel body that is brushed to give it a textured effect before it is buffed to smooth gloss finish. Although the shape is simple, the pen itself is designed for a comfort and feel that is appreciated by both men and women. The gold accents give it a flair that is striking without being gaudy or garish. Listed at $65 with another $14 for engraving, the Parker Sonnet is a gift worth giving and worth receiving.
One look at the elliptical shape of the Waterman Carene Ballpoint brings to mind an object of speed and grace. The almost bullet like design has a simplicity that is understated and mired in a long standing tradition of craftsmanship. It all makes sense though when you find out that the Carene is modeled after the world’s finest Yachts. The barrel is a high-gloss lacquer and is trimmed in gold for a dynamic look with a weight that feels good in all hands. This executive pen carries a $150 price tag and costs $16 to personalize, but it’s not a gift soon forgotten.
At the lower end of the price spectrum is the Claria in chrome from Waterford Pens. But, don’t be fooled by the $31.99 price tag. This inexpensive pen is far from cheap. The chrome barrel of the pen gives it a substantial feel and the shape lend it a fit for any hand. The rhodium plated finish give it a look that shines bright with sophistication and prestige. This is a great pen for everyday use. One that can be put to work and offer style all at the same time. Engraving this pen costs $14, with two choices of font and 22 characters of engraving text. The right price. The right pen. The right gift.
This is part three in our three part series by Tracy McCusker. Tracy is an avid pen buff & unrepentant word-slinger. Fascinated with pens from a young age, she converted to fountain pens in 2000 after being introduced to the Parker Frontier and Parker Vector. Today her pen collection numbers in the hundreds. Tracy is a staunch advocate of “going analog” for writing & creative brainstorming. When she’s not hanging out at her local fountain pen shop, her digital presence can be found guest posting at the Surly Muse.
We’ve come to the part of the guide where the gifts are a little more expensive as we explore pens in the $100 to $200 range. So sit back and enjoy as Tracy reveals some of her favorite pens in this range.
Pens From 100 to 200 dollars
Fountain Pens: Cross C-Series ($185.00) or the Pelikan M205 ($109.00 – $115.00)
The Cross C-Series is a pen which does not get nearly enough love. It is my favorite pen under two hundred dollars. The aggressive chrome stylings on the C-Series have been called a masculine, an ode to chrome obsession. There is a mechanicalness to its design, but the C-Series strikes me more as “modern design” than “masculine.” The cap screws on in one of the more innovative systems I’ve seen. If you or your intended recipient can get their hands on the pen at a showroom or store, I’d recommend giving the pen a test-drive. The Cross C-Series is a very heavy pen. It is one of the heaviest I own, rivaled only by two very heavy Waterman pens (the L’Etalon and the Carene). I was sold after writing with the Monaco Blue C-Series and comparing it against every other pen in its price range. None of the others felt as smooth on the page. The C-Series rubberized grip is also a novelty at this price-point, but it keeps long writing sessions comfortable despite the pen’s weight. As a word of caution, Cross steel nibs can start off a little scratchy (toothy we call it), but a good nib will become smooth with use.
The Pelikan M205 is the smallest of its numbered series (which spans from 200 to 1000). It fits perfectly in my hand (which is diminutive). The larger numbered series (for example, the 600 @ $304.00) may be a more comfortable fit for larger-handed folks; however, the price increases as the pen size does, so it’s always important to ask, can this smaller pen work for me? While the grip area (delineated by the notches where the cap screws into the body of the pen) is the smallest I’ve seen on a pen when the cap is posted it feels like an average-sized pen. The M205 has a steel nib that has a bit of tooth that gives the nib character. The M200 sometimes can be found with a smoother gold-plated steel nib; however, the nibs in the 205 should be interchangeable—and can be ordered separately from the pen if it doesn’t suit the user’s taste.
The Cross C-Series is recommended to everyone, even though its appearance may put off giftees (and givers) at first. This pen may need to be tried in-store before the giftee appreciates the workmanship of the pen. The C-Series is especially recommended for persons who love aggressively-styled pens.
The M205 is recommended as a good value pen, as it is made with the same precision as its more expensive brethren. As an added bonus, the M205 can be found as either a demonstrator or a highlighter pen (which uses its own special highlighter ink). If your giftee likes luxury pens for a purpose other than just taking notes (who doesn’t love a good highlighter?), the Pelikan M205 might be the right choice.
Rollerball: Visconti Rembrandt Rollergraphic ($145.00) or Parker Ingenuity ($160 – $190.00)
The Visconti Rollergraphic, or Eco-Roller as it is known in other circles, and the Parker Ingenuity are both unconventional rollerballs. The Visconti is filled with a cartridge or converter like a fountain pen, thus able to use your favorite inks (or to allow you to enjoy/try a much wider range of colors or inks that would normally be available to you). The Visconti Rollergraphic is inside the resin body of the Rembrandt line. Like the Van Gogh line, the Rembrandt has a light resin body that has a rich depth of color when held up to the light. No picture will fully capture the play of subtle colors in the resin, so if you can see a Visconti in person, do so! The “Eco-Roller” is thusly titled because if you are using the pen with a converter, you are wasting less plastic/metal/ink by not buying and disposing of refill cartridges.
The Parker Ingenuity, on the other hand, is not a rollerball at all. It uses its own unique refills that are like a combination of the rollerball, porous point, and fountain pen. The pen has a metal nib (that really serves like a hood). If I had to peg what this pen was closest to, it would be a rollerball since it is trying to have “the best of all worlds,” as the rollerball was between the ballpoint and the fountain pen. I have no experience with the Parker Ingenuity, aside from my favorable experiences with Parkers in the past. What the Parker Ingenuity is, is exciting. It’s a new piece of pen technology. The conversations that it might start when someone asks to borrow it might be worth the price alone.
The Visconti Rollergraphic is recommended for eco-conscious giftees who don’t want to make the leap to fountain pens. The Parker Ingenuity is recommended for early-adopters willing to take the leap without long-term feedback on how the “5th technology” of this new pen works.
The Waterman Carene is one the most elegant pens that I’ve laid eyes on in the past fifteen years. Compared to any pen on this list, or in a high-end pen catalog, the Carene has a stand-out design. Its barrel is a heavy brass overlaid with lacquer that tapers into a rounded end. The characteristic Carene black button isn’t featured on the ballpoint; nevertheless, it retains the curvy, graceful profile distinctive to the line. The Carene ballpoint is heavy, but it has gotten lighter with successive generations. My chrome-trimmed Carene from 2007 is noticeably lighter than my gold-trimmed Carene from 2002. The pen comes in two different kinds of lacquers, the glossy lacquer featured on the Amber Shimmer and the matte lacquer featured on the solid-colored chrome trim pens. These lacquers create two different kinds of pens. The glossy lacquer pens are a bit slicker to hold. The glossy lacquer has some self-healing properties that hide small scratches. My ten-year-old glossy Carenes show remarkably little wear. The matte lacquer pens, on the other hand, feel more comfortable when writing at length because there’s a bit more “grip” to the surface. The downside is that the matte surface shows nicks and scratches very easily. Two of my matte-lacquered pens have started chipping badly due to poor care. If you decide to invest in a matte lacquer Carene, please do yourself a favor and purchase a pen case for it! Unlike some of the other workhorses on this list, the Carene needs to be given the care that a luxury item deserves.
The Carene is recommended for pen lovers, avid writers, and those that can give appropriate care for their writing instruments. This is a pen that needs to be taken care of!
For a First-Time Fountain Pen User: Pelikano JR ($10.40), Parker Vector ($24.00) or Namiki Vanishing Point ($140.00)
Gifts are sometimes the best way to introduce an avid writer (or someone who could become one) to fountain pens. There is a great joy in putting a nib to paper. But we don’t all rocket from the ballpoint world right into the 18K top-of-the-line fountain pens. For a young writer (or someone who just likes big bright colors), the Pelikano JR is a good introduction to pens that aren’t the standard mass-produced disposables. The Pelikano JR has a smooth Pelikan steel nib (reportedly the same nib on the slightly-more-expensive P58). At such a low price-point, it’s not a big deal if the Pelikano nib suffers some wear & tear… actually, maybe you should consider buying two.
For a teenager/student looking to get into pens, the Parker Vector is a good jumping-off point into one of the major pen manufacturers. The Vector has a nice black & chrome modern styling in its latest offering, a steel nib that can take the punishment of a heavy hand. Starting fountain pen users often write more heavily (or too lightly) than the pen requires. The Vector is very forgiving as the writer experiments with their writing. The Vector isn’t perfect—make sure to flush the nib before filling it (look up how to do it before putting the nib under running water). The Vector will be scratchier than most good pens. If the Vector isn’t visually appealing, the Lamy Safari always can make a good entry pen too.
The Namiki Vanishing Point is expensive for a starting pen. It is over a hundred dollars. However, the Vanishing Point is aimed at those who might already be comfortable with fine pens. Specifically, with click-push ball pens that are a staple of the office since the arrow clipped Parker Jotter was introduced in the 50s. The click-mechanism of the Vanishing Point makes the fountain pen much more familiar to the average writer. The VP’s nib is semi-hooded—it writes uniformly and doesn’t dry out quickly. Namiki-Pilot sells replacement nib for these pens, so mishaps from dropped pen are minimized (as a side note: be sure to make friends with your local fountain pen repair shop!). It’s a good place to get a ballpoint enthusiast on the fountain pen wagon or to at least dip a toe into the world of nibs, converts, and ink bottles.
For Someone Looking To Impress: Visconti Impressionist Collection ($199.00 – $279.00), Visconti Opera Elements Ballpoint ($265.00), or the Waterman Carene collection ($150.00 for ballpoint, $275.00 for fountain pen)
The Visconti Impressionist Collection and the Visconti Opera are stunning pens. Visconti’s resins are, in a word, amazing. When you hold the Impressionist under the light, the layers of resin create a depth of color with a touch of translucence. The Visconti Opera’s swirls are equally striking. Unlike other pen companies that use plastic resins, Visconti uses vegetable resins as their color base, creating unmatched beauty. I know. I’ve held them. My Visconti Van Gogh constantly surprises me with its richness in color compared to the lacquers and resins of other brands. Impressionists are pieces of art to display on a desk, in the hand, in a pen stand. The resins of the Visconti barrel are by no means delicate, but they’re not as up to the rough-and-tumble as metal-bodied pens are. If you insist on using them at the local coffee shop / on the slopes of Mount Lassen, be sure to protect them adequately from loose change or other small objects that could scuff their surfaces.
The Carenes, on the other hand, beg to be displayed everywhere. Take them wherever you go; write with them wherever you write. I’ve already gone on at length about the ballpoint so I will keep my comments short. The Carene fountain pen is a pen for the ages. Unlike stiff Visconti nibs, Carene nibs are impossibly buttery. The inlaid nib on the pen body means that the nib is protected from drying out quickly. I have owned three Carene fountain pens, and each one was of fantastic quality. Carene gold nibs don’t need to be broken in. They write like champions out-of-the-box. The word of caution is for the weight of the Carene. The fountain pen is heavy and is meant to be used unposted. Nevertheless, I am confident that if the look of the pen entices you, the Carene will likely become your favorite pen.
If you have your sights on a Waterman rollerball, may I politely suggest otherwise? Waterman rollerball refills are notoriously erratic. While you may be able to find alternative refills that fit the pen, I would just as soon recommend Visconti rollerballs over Waterman.
For Someone Looking for the Out-Of-The-Ordinary: Fjader Ballpoint ($15.99), Monteverde One-Touch & Stylus ($30.00) Lamy Dialog Ballpoint ($99.99)
The giftee who loves pens (or more generally) out of the ordinary, there are pens that may fit their personality. This list is by no means extensive; I encourage you to shop around to find something that fits their personality (do they like beads? Crazy colors? Strange patterns?). I’ve selected three pens which fit three different types of giftees. These pens throw traditional pen wisdom to the side.
The Fjader Ballpoint looks like a feather. I’ve never seen a pen quite like it—bulging to one side and tapering to a point; it certainly stands out from the crowds of tube-pens or fish-eye cigar-shapes. Being a ballpoint, the Fjader is a giftable pen to any and all who write. The Fjader low-price makes it tantalizing as a stocking stuffer, or as a gift to those who already collect pens and might appreciate how this harkens back to crow quills.
The Monteverde One-Touch & Stylus reminds me of the bright colors of the Tombow Object and the stylings of Retro 51. What earns it a spot on this guide is that until other traditional pens, it acts as a stylus for modern touch screens and it provides handy ink-based writing when the stylus won’t suffice. Even though I don’t have any touch screens, the small knob on the end of the pen actually seems to make the pen look better than the One-Touch without the stylus. For the tech-heads who need a stylus, or the design-heads who just think a pen might look funny without one.
The Lamy Dialog Ballpoint had to be included because the pen looks like the future. Twenty-five years in the future, pens probably will continue to be modern, retro; doughty and elegant; restrained and loud as they do now. However, with the Lamy Dialog, your giftee can pretend to live in a different future twenty-five years from now. One that’s boxy, white-on-gray and more than bit retro-futuristic–much like 60s architecture in LA. Check out the other Lamy Dialog pens. There is a different design for the ballpoint, rollerball, and fountain pen. The ballpoint is my favorite, but perhaps another might strike a chord with you!
For Someone Who Has Pain When They Write
It’s probable that there is someone on your gift list that has pain in their hands. Sometimes after a long day typing, the most relaxing thing to do is to unplug from the computer. Maybe catalog the day in a journal. But it’s hard to do this if you have carpel tunnel, arthritic joints, or other pronounced hand pains. My go-to pen of choice after long days of typing is Sensa’s Cloud 9 ballpoint. The gel grip on this pen feels angelic; it is a comfort after hours of hitting hard plastic keys. The cushioned grip is also quite thick, forcing a looser grip to be used when writing. For giftees who have deeper problems than stiff joints, the Yoropen may be an appropriate tool for them. The Yoropen has a unique (and kind of crazy-looking) design that relieves pressure on the hand by changing how your grip transmits pressure to the tip of the pen. If someone you know is suffering carpal tunnel or other joint-related problems, the Yoropen may be the best choice of pen for them. I can think of no greater gift than giving the gift of pain-free writing to a benighted writing enthusiast.
Phew. And that’s it for this holiday pen gift guide. We hope you’ve enjoyed Tracy’s in-depth gift guide as much as she enjoyed writing it. Don’t be shy about asking questions or leaving comments. Both are appreciated. And good luck out there finding the perfect pen gift for that special someone in your life this holiday season.
This post is second in a series about the technical aspects of fountain pens. — by Tracy McCusker
In an effort to educate readers about fountain pens, I have embarked on a series of articles about their technical aspects. In last week’s article, I listed the three factors that affect the writing experience with a fountain pen: the nib, the ink, and the type of writing paper. The nib provides the baseline scratchy/smoothness that must be taken into account when you are writing. While a nib that is truly a dud can be tweaked or replaced by a nibmeister, for our purposes, the nib is the “given” that can’t be easily changed.
Ink and paper, on the other hand, can be varied quite easily. Changing the ink in a pen is as easy as buying a new cartridge, or using a converter with a different ink. Paper, too, has a lot of variances. Paper that you find in a copier or laser printer isn’t high-quality stuff; it only takes a bit of looking to find pads from Rhodia or Clairefontaine that are more accepting of fountain pen ink.
Based on my experience with finicky nibs, I have found that in most cases, my complaints (writing is too scratchy, line is too thick) were complaints about how a particular ink interacts with a particular nib. So, before chucking that pen that’s giving you an unpleasant writing experience, let’s look at little more closely at the role ink plays in the pen.
More Pen Anatomy:
No two fountain pens are alike. How the tip of the nib is ground, or how the tines slope toward the tip accounts for some of this uniqueness. The other factor is the pen’s feed system. The feed system is the mechanism through which ink is delivered to the tip of the pen.
If you look at a demonstrator fountain pen–a pen that is entirely clear so you can see its innards–you can see that a pen has fairly simple parts inside it. It has a reservoir of ink and a comb-like piece of plastic that stretches from the body of the pen to near the tip of the nib. This comb is the feed system. On many modern fountain pens, the feed is visible under the nib. On certain pens, like the Waterman Carene or Parker 100, there is a smooth underside to the nib; the feed is hidden behind plastic.
The feed brings ink to the tip of the pen. The breather hole on the nib allows air to flow back into the ink reservoir to replace the ink flowing to the nib. This feed system is designed to work at standard pressure. At cruising altitude on a plane, the air-exchange can cause leaks or breaks depending on the quality of the feed. It is good to be cautious when traveling and store fountain pens upright either completely full or empty (I prefer empty) to avoid complications with the feed system.
Feeds are often marked more by when they go wrong than when they are functioning. Feeds can sometimes become misaligned to the nib, causing all sorts of fun problems like start-and-stop blobby writing. Flipping a pen over, the feed should be centered on the fountain pen tines. If it is skewed to the side, you can usually gently push it back into place with a finger. A properly functioning feed should be fairly invisible–not a part to fret about. When a feed goes wrong, usually the pen must be handed over to a professional for repair or replacement.
Because the feed system is a part that can’t be tweaked without considerable expertise on most modern pens, it is much like a pen’s nib. These are factors that you have to work around. Depending on the characteristics of the feed system and the nib, a fountain pen will interact with inks in different ways. Some inks may move through a nib sluggishly and provide for a dry, scratchy writing experience. Some inks may be very liquid and provide a very wet line.
Reviews can point you towards which inks are more likely to provide an enjoyable writing experience. A good ink reviewer will provide visuals of writing with the ink. Most reviewers will provide samples of the ink from different pens/nibs or on different papers. A color that strikes your eye is the starting point for selecting an ink. This is important. If an ink doesn’t look good on the page, you aren’t going to want to write with it.
Depending on what a user is looking for, there are a variety of considerations that go into choosing an ink. An ink that “Works well” is a personal standard. It is usually based on qualities like the ink’s dye on a page (is it a dark, saturated color?), how well it flows from the nib (is it a dry or hard-starting ink?), and if it provides the thickness of line desired by the user.
Some drawbacks to inks are “feathering” (when the ink spreads on the page unintentionally) and “nib creep” (when the nib spreads out over the fountain pen nib, possibly corroding or staining the nib without proper care & wiping the nib).
For those who wish to use fountain pens to sign documents, there are waterproof inks called “bulletproof” by Noodler’s Ink. These inks are cellulose-reactive inks that become water-proof and bleach-proof when they come in contact with paper. The drawback to bulletproof inks is that they can be hell to get out of clothing. If you’re a bit liberal with the ink as I am (and end up with spots of it in strange places), bulletproof inks can be hell on clothing.
Almost all fountain pen users have a favorite ink that they find works well in most fountain pens. My ink of choice is Private Reserve’s Ultra Black. I love how dark the ink appears on a page (it is one of the deepest blacks I’ve found), and it moves through most nibs fairly well. It provides a wet line on most papers. Although it has the tendency to feather (little lines spread from the original line) on papers that aren’t up to a certain quality, I prefer the super-dark line more than I care to find an ink that feathers less on cheap paper.
For fountain pen users starting out, Private Reserve is one of the low-risk inks that I encourage users to try. They have an excellent range of colors, a neutral pH (and thus won’t corrode a nib), and are fairly free-flowing inks.
No Two Pens Are Alike:
As I have said before and will repeat ad-nauseum: no two pens are alike. Even if they are the same model.
Two Four-Leaf Clover Montaguts with the exact same outwards proved this point to me quite clearly last year. One nib was smooth as butter, the other was scratchy out of the box, and was only approached the smoothness of its sibling with diligent care. My solution to this problem was to change out my usual ink, Private Reserve Ultra Black, with Noodler’s Borealis Black. The Borealis Black smoothed over some nib issues, but finally, I simply choose to use the smooth-nibbed Montagut and give the scratchier nib away to a budding pen collector who was branching out into new types of pens.
Changing inks can change your writing experience for the better, but it can only modify the baseline of the nib.
This post is third in a series about the technical aspects of fountain pens. — by Tracy McCusker
I have spoken at length about the anatomy of fountain pens in this series: how to identify interior parts, how the feed system works, how ink interacts with nibs. My main theme has been function over style because it’s all too easy to get sucked into a pretty carbon-fiber or tortoise shell barrel without thinking about the most important bits.
But there are points of style that can’t be ignored when thinking about functional pens. Style is the first consideration that I make when I reach for a writing instrument. When I write my daily journal pages, I want a cheerful, well-flowing pen to keep my mood light. If I am drafting the first scene of a novel, a no-frills pen that’s a hard-worker is my go-to selection. For editing, a pen that won’t dry out while its uncapped is my choice.
These considerations aren’t so much about how a pen looks, as they are about how the pen nib is styled. There are three main styles of nibs: an open nib, an inlaid nib, and a hooded nib.
The open nib is the standard nib that you see on 95% of modern fountain pens. It is called an open nib because you can see every part of the nib (it’s narrow base, the flare of its shoulders, the breathing hole, and its tines). The nib protrudes from the pen body to draw attention to itself. Open nibs can be plain or ornamented with filigree because their design is meant to impress. Open nibs can suffer from ink drying out if it isn’t in use. Their open design often allows nibs to be easily replaced or tweaked if the feed system goes awry. It’s no wonder that the open nib is so popular; the brazenness of a bare nib sets fountain pens apart from ballpoints.
While the open nib is the most popular of all nib styles, I prefer variety in my nibs. As a fan of both ballpoints and fountain pens, I don’t feel the need to flaunt open nibs if they don’t suit the pen design (and I honestly feel like most pen design isn’t served by sticking to standardized open nibs). I keep an eye out for open nibs that aren’t of the standard shape or size. The Lamy Studio has an open nib in a non-standard style; its short rectangular nib integrates into modern angles of its body.
Hooded nibs are the exact opposite of open nibs. They are also incredibly rare on modern Western pens. The nib’s body and shoulders are covered by a piece of plastic or metal. A hooded nib often doesn’t look like a nib at first glance. The hood has two advantages and a feature that’s seen as a drawback. It keeps ink from drying out quickly on an uncapped pen and it allows a writer to grip the pen close to the tip. For people with small handwriting or just a desire for precise motion, the hooded nib is appealing. The drawback feature is that the hood creates a rigid nib. Rigid nibs are uniform in writing—almost like a ballpoint. For people who buy fountain pens for flex, or for the gentle swooping change of thick-to-thin lines, hooded nibs don’t provide those lines at all.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that I am a great fan of hooded nibs. I write at length and for a variety of business purposes. I prefer a pen that will take to being uncapped, and will write with relative uniformity. The small, thin lines that can come from a hooded nib are fantastic for making small notations (for this reason, hooded nibs are sometimes sold as “accountant nibs” online).
Finding a good hooded nib is difficult because of their relative rarity. The most popular hooded nibs are found on vintage Parker 51 and Parker 61 pens. Chinese pen maker Hero makes an array of Parker 51 clones that hold up well to everyday use. For a new twist on the hooded nib, Namiki-Pilot’s Vanishing Point pen has a retracted hooded nib.
The last nib style is the halfway point between a hooded and an open nib. Like the open nib, the inlaid nib is visible from the top. Like the hooded nib, its feed system is hidden by a piece of plastic or resin and not easy to repair. The inlaid nib gains some of the dependable uniformity of the hooded design because it is usually mounted on a pen body. It, however, remains a style fixture in modern fountain pen manufacture because it celebrates the presence nib as a design feature. Inlaid nibs are often integrated into the pen body in astonishingly sleek designs. An inlaid nib is unforgettable. Unfortunately for pen aficionados, inlaid nibs are even rarer than hooded nibs, as there are not as many vintage inlaid nibs pens as popular as the Parker 51, nor are there a flood in inlaid nib clones on the market.
My earliest experiences with fine fountain pens were with an inlaid nib. It should be no surprise that the Waterman Carene that I’ve spoken highly of on this blog have inlaid nibs. The Carene is one of the few non-vintage inlaid nibs on the market. Other inlaid nibs are pseudo-inlays, like the Montegrappa Nerouno Linea (the nib juts beyond the pen body, so it is not a proper inlaid nib), or have been discontinued, like the Cross Verve. A collector can usually find vintage or discontinued inlaid nibs at a price. If an inlaid nib is the object of your attention, finding a list of pens with inlaid nibs can usually be found on fountain pen collector message boards.
Nib style can be an important stylistic decision to make, though one that’s usually made for the pen already given that the majority of pens have default open nibs. Despite my own quest for variety, there is nothing wrong with an open nib. Most fountain pen buyers start out with open nibs. Only after buying a few pens do debates over the suitability of open and hooded nibs arise among collectors. What it boils down to is this: open nibs are the gold standard, but hooded nibs are worth a try for their workman-like dependability. Inlaid nibs carry a hefty price tag but are incomparably gorgeous.