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April 26, 2021 6 min read 15 Comments

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.

 

UNDER $100

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!

 

$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.

 

$400+

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.


15 Responses

CharlesKnomo
CharlesKnomo

May 09, 2021

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Dave
Dave

April 30, 2021

Oh my I could write a book!

I agree with the TWSBI Eco and 580. I have a brace of Eco’s with the stub nib that I keep inked. I love to use them in my journal for emphasis and for titles in my BuJo. They are reasonably priced pens and are easily disassembled for cleaning. Thumbs up.

The Kaweco Sport is a nice pen. I had one for a year or so, the AL-Sport. It’s a great pocket pen (built like a tank) but I found it uncomfortable for longer writing sessions. It is a great quick note pen for a list-keeper or BuJo user. But I don’t think it’s a writer, at least not for my hand.

The Platinum pens are very interesting. I bought my wife a Plaisir, but she didn’t use it must. That pen can be left unused for weeks and will write when you uncap it. I’m really impressed.

I don’t have any of the expensive pens. Once I get to the $200 level I’m unwilling to carry the pen. So no comments there.

Pens I think deserve mention include:

The Namiki Pilot Falcon. At its price point ($150+-) is has a great nib and is a fine writer. Because of its unique shape (which I love), it is a soft writer and has a bit of flex for some light line variation. The Soft Fine is a Japanese fine, but is still a smooth writer. I keep several of these inked.

The Pilot Vanishing Point is an interesting pen. I think most pen lovers either love them or hate them. I was on the fence for awhile, but recently inked my black matte pen with Noodler’s X-Feather and am using it for notes during the evening 10m ham radio net and for logging radio contacts while operating in the field. The fine nib is an excellent, smooth writer. I like it so much that I bought a second fine nib unit for my blue VP and am using Noodler’s X-Feather blue in it. They are great pens and not too expensive.

I also like vintage pens. I have a few Esterbrook J Series that I’ve restored. (It’s not hard to do.) These generally sell for around $30 and it is easy to replace the ink sack when it inevitably hardens. There are a wide range of nibs available and they are easy to replace. The Master series writes very well and these pens are light in the hand, well-made, and balanced. I have a demi-J that I restored and then installed one of the Fine Master series nibs. With some Noodler’s Zhivago ink, it makes a beautiful, wet, smooth, green-black line.

And then there is the venerable Parker P51. These are still highly sought after vintage pens. They were so well made that many of them are still using the original ink sacks. If the nib is in good condition, it will be a very smooth and wet writer (with the right ink). There were two models, the early Vacumatic action and the later Aeromatic version. The former is more difficult to restore when work is needed, but there are plenty of pen experts who will do the work. The latter are much easier to restore, but require application of some heat to remove the section so the sack can be replaced.

Others commented on the Lamy 2000, which is also a great pen. The Lamy Studio is a gorgeous pen and a good writer. If you opt for the gold nib you’ll have a software, smoother writing experience. The nibs in the Studios are easily replaceable, but might need tuning by a nibmeister.

If you like to tinker, then a Noodler’s Charlie pen is a good pen for the price — free with certain bottles of Noodler’s inks. You’ll have to pull the feed and clean it, then adjust the feed and nib to get the flow right. It’s an eyedropper fill so it holds lots of ink. But it needs to be kept more than half full or it might burp from heat transfer from your hand to the air in the reservoir.

OK, ok, so I wrote a book. What can I say — I love writing with fountain pens!

Rosanna
Rosanna

April 27, 2021

Looking for some recommendations for mid- level pens… $75-$150
Thanks for the article/& list. Several new ones I’ll have to try.

Bradley Zmuda
Bradley Zmuda

April 26, 2021

The Lamy 2000 and Platinum 3776 are also fantastic options for reasonably priced pens to use for life.

Mary
Mary

April 26, 2021

Great minds, maybe! Started with the “little guys” Kaweco, TWBI Eco, then got hooked. Pilot Custom 823 a dream, Leonardo Momento Zero, quite delicious, hovering over Pelikan, and I think you have sold me on the M600. Also having fun with some nice Japanese Wancher, Pilot Urushi, and not forgetting Diplomat. But where, oh where, are those Lochby grey and blue journals???

Michael Smith
Michael Smith

April 26, 2021

There is a missing category between entry-level (say, under $35) and $100, It’s the sweet spot that will hook someone as a fountain pen aficionado. It’s where the instruments go beyond utilitarian and become a writing pleasure, when you want to invest in great paper and experiment with inks to enhance the experience. Only then do you catch the bug to buy the $100-plus and $400-plus categories.

John
John

April 26, 2021

I would swap a Twsbi Diamond 580 for the eco T. Although my collection (more like accumulation) leans towards the Eco, the 580 is an absolute joy

Rick
Rick

April 26, 2021

I have a brown striped Monteverde Prima pen in my Lochby notebook. It’s discontinued I think. But the colors match the notebook perfectly. Plus, it’s a rather inexpensive pan and I wouldn’t feel too bad if I dropped the notebook and hurt the pen. I’m glad you are promoting fountain pens with the notebook!

Cam Wesson
Cam Wesson

April 26, 2021

No love for the Lamys? Hard to beat the 2000 for a daily writer.

LOCHBY
LOCHBY

April 26, 2021

This is probably the dilemma of most fountain pen users, Bud S! A lot of us started out with just one or two fountain pens, only to end up amassing a collection.

LOCHBY
LOCHBY

April 26, 2021

We agree, Patrick! Great (and similar) value just like other, more expensive fountain pens!

Bud S
Bud S

April 26, 2021

Truth is, I have too many fountain pens. Shame on me. The one I use most is a TWSBI. Great daily writer. But, it is fun to occasionally pull out one of the “nicer” ones. If I can ever sell/donate/repurpose most of my other pens I would love to get a Pilot 823 or a big Pelikan. I’ve learned it’s better (for me) to have only a couple of go-to pens – one for each distinctive mood or purpose. Having a dozen or more just sitting around, never used, is a little disheartening.

Patrick H Wrisley
Patrick H Wrisley

April 26, 2021

I have the Brass Kaweco and love it! Great weight and writes beautifully!

LOCHBY
LOCHBY

April 26, 2021

Happy you loved it, Dave! Good luck on the fountain pen collection!

Dave
Dave

April 26, 2021

I loved this article. So far, the pens in my collection are all below $100. Since I agree with the assessments for that group, I’ll keep these other pens in mind when I’m ready to up my game!

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