A common question we get here at LOCBHY is what our fountain pen recommendations are, and our good friend Vanessa Langton (@vanessa_langton) of Youtube's Pen Gangsta is here to help us all out! She's put together an amazing list - and beginners and long-time journalers alike are sure to find something they'll love below.
Going through my extensive pen collection, it was easy to pick out pens that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to expand their personal collections. It was way easier than I thought it would be to choose these pens, because in all honesty, I love so many fountain pens! There were some pens that made the list and for the sake of not overwhelming this list with too many options, I had to painfully cut a few pens out. There are going to be disagreements with my choices and that everyone’s selections are going to be different than mine and that is perfectly fine! Feel free to list your top fountain pen choices in the comments below. I would love to see what you choose!
My top fountain pen choices include pens for various budgets that are perfect for everyday use and pens that are worthy of passing down to the next generation. From inexpensive pens that if misplaced would not be the end of the world, to some pens that are worth saving for and that will never leave your desktop or your hand.
Platinum Prefounte (MSRP $11) The Platinum Prefounte is a step up from Platinum’s popular Preppy fountain pen, yet it is still inexpensive enough that you would not mind giving this pen away to someone or cry too much if you lose it. If you can get over the smoothness of the Prefounte’s nib (because this budget pen’s nib is surprisingly smooth) you will notice that this pen is versatile. Depending on what kind of ink capacity you prefer, the Prefounte is a cartridge converter pen that can easily transform into an eyedropper pen with a little silicon grease around the threading. Its semi-transparent barrel allows you to see ink levels or if converted to an eyedropper, you can entertain yourself for hours watching the ink swish back and forth.
TWSBI Eco (MSRP $30.99) With its practical form and its distinctive hexagon cap, the TWSBI Eco is a reliable piston filling pen that anyone can enjoy. TWSBI offers several nib size choices to suit your style of writing—from fine for those with small handwriting, all the way to stub if you feel so inclined to add a bit of pizazz to your everyday writing. Not only will you be able to fill this pen with a lot of ink, but your ink choices also expand as the pen’s barrel is completely transparent. Shimmer inks and brightly colored inks will change the appearance of your pen with each ink fill. For long writing sessions, the TWSBI Eco is the perfect choice with its ability to hold a lot of ink. It will take a while to run low on ink.
Kaweco Sport (MSRP $25-100) There is a reason that the Kaweco Sport has been a popular pen for nearly 100 years. Aside from being known as a reliable writer, the Kaweco Sport comes in a variety of finishes including plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, and brass. Based on your selected material; the Kaweco Sport evolves into a very personal pen. Its small size is ideal for an everyday carry, carry it in your pocket, toss it into your bag, or keep it in the car—this pen is a survivor and can take a beating!
Field Journal Refill
$100 - $400
Esterbrook Estie (MSRP $195) The Esterbrook Estie comes in a wide variety of colorful finishes that includes a lovely purple lilac to a very serious dark black ebony. Regardless of what finish or trim suits you, rest assure that the Estie provides a smooth and enjoyable writing experience for writers. You will never have to worry about ink leakage as the pen has O-rings that safeguard the pen from unfortunate ink accidents (if that were to even happen). The cushioned cap mechanism helps the nib to resist hard starts and believe me when I say that hard starting pens have no place in our pen collections. I have always found the Estie to be a pleasant and consistent writing experience.
Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero (MSRP $199) Using a Leonardo Momento Zero fountain pen is like taking a vacation to Naples, Italy and enjoying a scenic tour. Offering a gorgeous assortment of colorful pen materials including acrylic and ebonite finishes, each pen color reflects Naples’ natural beauty or at least what I imagine the city’s beauty to be like as I have never had the pleasure of visiting (hello bucket list!). Each regular sized Momento Zero has a smooth writing stainless steel nib that resists hard starts and offers a pleasurable writing experience. With each new pen release, Leonardo is unafraid to experiment visually with the pen’s material and trim colors. Pair that adventurous scheme with one of the most satisfying writing experiences and the result is pen perfection.
Pilot Custom 823 (MSRP $360) Dependable, consistent, large ink capacity, smooth 14k gold nib—the only thing this Pilot Custom 823 will not do is clean your kitchen. There is a reason why everyone raves about this pen’s awesomeness and believe me when I say that I resisted the siren call of the Pilot Custom 823 because I assumed it was just an overrated pen. I was so wrong! This is pen that is constantly inked and ready to go, always on my desk and prepared to perform when I need it to. Its gold nib performed perfectly out of the box. It has a vacuum filling system that is a joy to ink up simply because watching the ink fill up the transparent barrel fills my heart with joy.
The Family Pack
Pelikan Souveran M600 (MSRP $505) Perhaps this pen is on your grail pen list and if it is not, it should be. There is a reason Pelikan Souverans are popular amongst many fountain pen users. Maybe it is because you can store the pen upright for several days and it will still write instantly without hassle. Or when the cap is posted, the pen is impeccably balanced. Regardless of the Souveran’s size, they all feel perfect in the hand—I just so happen to favor the M600 because it is a perfect fit for my hand, it is not too big, it is not too small. It is just right.
Aurora Optima (MSRP $550) A pen that originated during the 1930s, the Aurora Optima exudes Art Deco elegance with a classy Italian twist. The Optima’s unmistakable meander patterning around the cap band recalls Italy’s ancient ancestry while simultaneously providing the pen’s design a stylish edge. Its 14k gold nib is created within Aurora’s factory and offers writers a satisfying and effortless writing experience. Even the extra fine nib writes smoothly! I cannot stress this enough—if you ever have the opportunity to buy an Aurora Optima, do it.
Visconti Divina (MSRP $1295) Maybe the Visconti Divina is a bit over the top for the average person, but this decadent grail worthy pen embodies the statement ‘go big or go home.’ It is an oversized piston filling pen created from resin and detailed with spiraling sterling silver appointments. The 18k gold nib writes like a dream, at least the 1.5 stub nib on my Divina does. This is a pen that I see leaving behind to my children, who now are not fountain pen users. I believe that the Divina possesses high amounts of magic to turn anyone away from a loathsome ordinary Bic to a marvelous fountain pen any day!
Vanessa Langton is an Art Historian with a passion for 19th century photography history, mid-20th century street photography, Post-Impressionist painting, and fountain pens. When she’s not conducting research, she’s writing with fountain pens and experimenting with various inks and papers. Vanessa collaborates creatively with several notable pen companies and distributors as well as creates YouTube videos under the Pen Gangsta pseudonym.