why use a fountain pen sailor pro gear ink bottle

Why Use A Fountain Pen?

John Bosley Fountain Pen Education 6 Comments

With so many different writing instruments available today that are both easy to use and inexpensive, you might ask, “Why use a fountain pen?”. You have ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, gel pens, mechanical pencils, Sharpies, markers… all very capable writing instruments that only cost a few dollars and do the job. What makes fountain pens so special that many people will spend tens, hundreds or even thousands of dollars on one?

Why Use A Fountain Pen? What Are The Benefits?

Fountain pens have many different benefits. While they are ultimately just pens that put ink to paper, to the people who use them they are so much more than that. Some benefits might be physical, while others might be mental. I’ll run through a quick list of benefits so you can get an idea of what all the fuss is about.

If you’ve never used a fountain pen, before going any further you might want to familiarize yourself with some fountain pen terminology and fountain pen basics.

They Can Be Easier To Write With

Many people use fountain pens because they find them easier to write with than other types of pens. They come in many different diameters, weights and lengths, which offers quite a bit of flexibility when choosing a pen. Fountain pens also require less pressure to write with. Since the ink is pulled out of the pen via capillary action, it takes little to no pressure to put ink on paper, which can reduce hand fatigue during prolonged periods of writing.

why use a fountain pen comparison

Different fountain pens have different sizes. You can see the difference in the barrel, nib and grip size, all of which factor into how a pen feels.

They Have Different Sizes and Shapes Of Nibs

Fountain pens come with different shapes and sizes of nibs. This allows you to choose the perfect nib for what you are writing. While some people prefer one type of nib, others prefer a variety. While a fine nib might be useful for jotting down notes, a flexible nib might be preferred for a letter because it can add more character to your writing. Regardless of which type of nib you prefer, the ability to have different pens that have drastically different writing characteristics are one of the major attractions of fountain pens.

why use a fountain pen nib size comparison

You can see that different sized nibs can make your writing look very different, even when using the same ink.

There Are Countless Different Colors Of Ink

Just as nibs can give character to your writing, inks can as well. The number of different inks that are available today is overwhelming. Each ink has unique characteristics and a unique color, and each will look and perform slightly differently depending on which pen you use it in. This means that with just a few different pens and inks you can have quite a few different writing options. Compared to the standard blue and black that are typically available with rollerballs and ballpoints, you can see how attractive it might be to have a variety of colors to spice up your writing.

fountain pen ink splats diamine iroshizuku waterman skrip sheen

There are many different colors of fountain pen inks, so you’re sure to find many that you love.

They Are Not Made To Be Disposable

Most fountain pens are not meant to be disposable. Whether you are someone who cares about the environment and cringes every time you toss a piece of plastic into the garbage or are someone who prefers to spend their money on high quality items that will last for many years, a fountain pen should satisfy you. Even fountain pens that are disposable can easily be refilled.

They Are Collectible

Whether you decide to use vintage or modern fountain pens, you will find that they are all highly collectible. From limited editions to special releases to vintage pens that are hard to find, there are many different ways to collect fountain pens. For example, many manufacturers such as Pelikan, Lamy and TWSBI release special colors every year. Montblanc releases numbered limited editions that are extremely valuable. Even if you’re not into spending a bunch of money on limited edition pens, you can always focus your collection on a particular brand or even a specific color of pen!

pastel esterbrooks green blue pink orange yellow white tan

This is a collection of pastel Esterbrooks, pens that were made in the 1950s and are getting harder to find in good condition.

There Is An Amazing Community Of Fountain Pen Users

Once you get into the world of fountain pens, you’ll find that it is full of amazing people. Online forums are full of individuals who are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Most larger cities have pen meetups where you can meet other fountain pen enthusiasts and try out pens, inks and paper that you’ve always wanted to try. Pen shows are one of the best ways to immerse yourself in pen culture, meet new people, take a class or two and walk away with that pen you’ve had your eye on.

What Are The Drawbacks To Using A Fountain Pen?

Although there are many benefits to using a fountain pen, there are some drawbacks as well. While they don’t necessarily leak all over the place like many stereotypes would have you believe, there are a few things that might make you think twice before buying your first fountain pen.

They Cost More Than Most Other Types Of Pens

One of the main reasons ballpoint and rollerball pens are so popular is because they are cheap. Fountain pens, on the other hand, are not. Even some of the least expensive fountain pens out there will cost between $10-$20 each. While it is possible to pick up some inexpensive Chinese pens for a few dollars each, the average that you’ll spend on a fountain pen will probably be somewhere between $20-$50. I even know some people who have been using them for less than a year who aren’t phased by a $200 or higher price tag. Of course, you don’t have to spend that much to get a good pen, but it is very easy to do so if you want to.

sailor pro gear fountain pen

This Sailor Pro Gear typically sells for around $250.

They Need To Be Cleaned

As I mentioned earlier, fountain pens work via capillary action. This means that there needs to be a clear path for ink to flow out of the pen and onto paper. If the ink dries out between fillings or you change from one ink to another, you’ll need to clean out your pen. Proper and regular cleanings will keep your pen working great, but if you don’t clean your pen very often you might run into issues and have trouble writing with it. While cleaning a pen might only take a few minutes, it’s still an extra step that you’ll never have to worry about if you use a rollerball.

They Have A Cap

It might seem very minor and insignificant, but most fountain pens have a cap. If you’re used to a pen where you can click a button on the top to extend and retract the tip, especially in situations where you have to quickly jot something down, a cap might be more of a hassle than you want to deal with. Of course, there are many rollerballs and even ballpoints that have caps, but losing one isn’t really a big deal. You lose the cap, throw the pen away and grab a new one. With a fountain pen, if you lose the cap you’re in trouble. Not only will the pen dry out and essentially be useless without a cap, but you won’t want to throw away your $20 or $200 pen.

Write in a journal with a lamy fountain pen

Most fountain pens come with a cap, so if you don’t want to worry about dealing with one, a fountain pen might not be a good fit for you.

They Don’t Work Well On Some Types Of Paper

Fountain pens can be a little picky about which types of paper they work well on. If you regularly write on inexpensive copy paper, you probably won’t have a very good writing experience with a fountain pen. The ink will likely feather and bleed and you’ll want to switch back to a rollerball. They also don’t write very well on paper that is used for receipts (it’s too slick) or with carbon-copy checks (you don’t press hard enough for the copy to work). Even on good, high-quality paper that is fountain pen friendly, you’ll have to be careful you don’t smudge the wet ink before it has completely soaked into the paper.

why use a fountain pen cheap copy paper ink feathering

You can see that the ink has feathered on this cheap paper. You wouldn’t want to use a fountain pen if this was the only paper you write on.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article helped answer the question “Why use a fountain pen?”. While they take more effort than most other pens, are more expensive and are a little more picky than a rollerball or ballpoint pen, for most people the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a collector, an environmentalist, someone with hand pain or just someone who wants a wonderful writing experience, a fountain pen is one of the best writing instruments around.

Hi, my name is John. I’m a Colorado-born professional photographer who recently moved back to Denver after spending 3 years in San Francisco. I’ve been using and collecting fountain pens for over 20 years. I got my first one in college when I got bored taking notes with ballpoints and pencils. Since then I’ve bought and sold hundreds of pens, but have consistency in my love of Esterbrooks.

Comments 6

  1. John, you forgot to mention that using a fountain pen promotes good handwriting and that you can write for a long time without fatigue. All this because, as you state, little or no pressure is required with a decent pen.
    I have over a hundred fountain pens, yet my favourite costs $2. It’s the Jinhao 126. It writes beautifully with no effort and is always ready to write even after weeks of non-use. The only excuse for paying a lot more is to have a pretty or exclusive exterior. For me the 126 is a good-looking pen in Stainless steel finish with excellent balance.

    1. Post
      Author

      Good point, Noel. I thought I implied it when I said they are easier to write with, but I guess I didn’t actually say that they can reduce fatigue. I’ll go add that now. Thanks!

  2. If you write a lot using a Fountain pen is NOT boring.
    I enjoy writing with different pens because most of my pens have character. Each one makes a different mark that is governed by my hand, my mindset, and mood. The mark is uniquely mine.

    1. Post
      Author
  3. I feel happy when I use my fountain pen(s) from the moment I pull it out from the case. I do not know the main reason for this.
    Another point in using a fountain pen is a special mental state using this special writing instrument.
    Fountain pens are beautiful instruments.

    1. Post
      Author

      I would agree with you, Dan. There is just something about using a fountain pen that induces a particular mental state, as well as happiness. Thanks for reading!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.