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Old 1 August 2020, 11:11 PM   #1
FLGatorM5
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My NEXT budget FP?

Hi folks.

I'm looking for some advice on my next FP pen purchase. As titled, this will be a budget pick, but I'm looking for some experience from those that have taken baby-steps from the bottom. Budget <$150, with an emphasis on the less.

I've had a Pilot Metropolitan for the last 3 years and it has been awesome. Writes pretty well, NEVER leaked on an airplane, and dirt cheap ($12 on Amazon). So of course, I'm giving it away.

Question: Is it a "step up" to go to something like the Lamy Safari or AL-Star in the $30-50 range? Or would I need to make the move to a low end Pelikan, Waterman, etc. in the $100 +/- arena to see an improvement in writing/feel/reliability?

Why do I feel like I just walked into the AD and asked the salesman if I should spend more on the DJ vs. the OP...
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Old 1 August 2020, 11:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by FLGatorM5 View Post
Hi folks.

I'm looking for some advice on my next FP pen purchase. As titled, this will be a budget pick, but I'm looking for some experience from those that have taken baby-steps from the bottom. Budget <$150, with an emphasis on the less.

I've had a Pilot Metropolitan for the last 3 years and it has been awesome. Writes pretty well, NEVER leaked on an airplane, and dirt cheap ($12 on Amazon). So of course, I'm giving it away.

Question: Is it a "step up" to go to something like the Lamy Safari or AL-Star in the $30-50 range? Or would I need to make the move to a low end Pelikan, Waterman, etc. in the $100 +/- arena to see an improvement in writing/feel/reliability?

Why do I feel like I just walked into the AD and asked the salesman if I should spend more on the DJ vs. the OP...
Going up in price very seldom offers an improvement in writing or reliability. Different materials though will give different feel. In most cases any increase in prices is simply aesthetics. In a few cases when looking at limited run hand built pens you will find a significant improvement in writing but only once you move beyond the mass produced models. Even in those instances most good talented nib smiths can make a cheap mass produced pen write as well as its more expensive hand crafted cousin.
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Old 2 August 2020, 01:32 AM   #3
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First advice - don’t give away the Pilot Metropolitan.

Pens that work well, and you like, you keep. Only give away those that you don’t like, or don’t work well. Remember also, that a fountain pen nib wears to an individual writing style. Although less noticeable on steel nibs, it’s still there. After 3 years yours is nicely broken in to your writing. It probably won’t be any where near so good for anyone else, so keep it.

The Lamy Safari is not a huge step up. In terms of quality of maybe not at all as they are injection moulded. The Lamy nibs are quite nice, so it’s an inexpensive way to try different nibs. Maybe try an italic, if you have yet to do so. They’re also an inexpensive way to keep pens with different ink colours, if that’s something you can use. If you fancy one, go for it.

A low end Pelikan (200) would probably be a little step up in writing performance, and it’s a classic style piston filler, but to really notice a difference you would have to go up to a gold nibbed pen, such as the Pelikan 400, or similar.
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Old 2 August 2020, 04:51 AM   #4
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Gold nibs do not write better or smoother or easier or ... than steel nibs. The nib material is not really relevant when talking general use.

There are some exceptions; steel dip pen nibs can be made to give fantastic performance at the price of having a short life span.
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Old 2 August 2020, 06:38 AM   #5
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Gold nibs do not write better or smoother or easier or ... than steel nibs. The nib material is not really relevant when talking general use.

There are some exceptions; steel dip pen nibs can be made to give fantastic performance at the price of having a short life span.
I would probably beg to differ there.

In my experience, changing to a gold nib makes all the difference.

Not only do they generally feel better from the outset, they break in to a style of writing much more easily. And once broken in, they’re generally waaay better than a steel equivalent.

Now, I’ll grant you that most makers put more effort into their gold nibs, which counts for something, but just compare similar pens that offer both, and I’m sure you will notice a difference!
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Old 2 August 2020, 10:41 AM   #6
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I would probably beg to differ there.

In my experience, changing to a gold nib makes all the difference.

Not only do they generally feel better from the outset, they break in to a style of writing much more easily. And once broken in, they’re generally waaay better than a steel equivalent.

Now, I’ll grant you that most makers put more effort into their gold nibs, which counts for something, but just compare similar pens that offer both, and I’m sure you will notice a difference!
You are free to disagree.

No one writes with the gold in a gold nib and the tip is the same "iridium" family of alloys regardless of the basic metal. The iridium tip really doesn't wear much and with fountain pens it's more that the user gets broken in that any physical change in the pen itself.

It's not like I have not tried steel, gold, alloys and even glass nibs. I've been writing with fountain pens for well over a half century and own a fair sized accumulation spread across way over two dozen different makers. My first fountain pen that was actually MINE was a hand me down from my grandfather, a Sheaffer White Dot Plunger Fill Striated green. I still have it and it still works although the plunger has been rebuilt.



For the last year or so I have been using my Aurora 888P that was most likely made in 1959.



While the are gold nibs it is often prettier but it makes absolutely NO difference in the writing performance. Some of the best writing most reliable pens I've found over the years were the old Sheaffer "School Pens" that were all steel nibbed. I owned and still own many of them from all three generations as well as the newer iterations of the design.





Steel nib Esterbrooks:


I own more gold nib pens than steel nib pens but that's more a characteristic of my long term accumulation than any search for better writing pens. I'm not sure how many fountain pens I currently own but it is considerable more than a small sample.
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Old 2 August 2020, 11:22 PM   #7
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Going up in price very seldom offers an improvement in writing or reliability. Different materials though will give different feel. In most cases any increase in prices is simply aesthetics. In a few cases when looking at limited run hand built pens you will find a significant improvement in writing but only once you move beyond the mass produced models. Even in those instances most good talented nib smiths can make a cheap mass produced pen write as well as its more expensive hand crafted cousin.
Jim, I appreciate the thoughts. Sounds like this will be more of a "spend what you're comfortable with and enjoy the journey" decision.
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Old 2 August 2020, 11:31 PM   #8
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First advice - don’t give away the Pilot Metropolitan.

Pens that work well, and you like, you keep. Only give away those that you don’t like, or don’t work well. Remember also, that a fountain pen nib wears to an individual writing style. Although less noticeable on steel nibs, it’s still there. After 3 years yours is nicely broken in to your writing. It probably won’t be any where near so good for anyone else, so keep it.

The Lamy Safari is not a huge step up. In terms of quality of maybe not at all as they are injection moulded. The Lamy nibs are quite nice, so it’s an inexpensive way to try different nibs. Maybe try an italic, if you have yet to do so. They’re also an inexpensive way to keep pens with different ink colours, if that’s something you can use. If you fancy one, go for it.

A low end Pelikan (200) would probably be a little step up in writing performance, and it’s a classic style piston filler, but to really notice a difference you would have to go up to a gold nibbed pen, such as the Pelikan 400, or similar.
Thanks Dave. Unfortunately, I've committed to gifting this one. I did buy a second one a year or two ago and for some reason, it never wrote as well. Maybe to your point, it has been the backup and not gotten much writing time to be broken in.

I like the idea of the Lamy being a good (cheap) way to start experimenting with different nibs, which I don't have much experience with other than the Pilot.

Not to stir the pot, but would going pre-owned be too much of a venture given my lack of experience/preferences?
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Old 3 August 2020, 12:01 AM   #9
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Not to stir the pot, but would going pre-owned be too much of a venture given my lack of experience/preferences?
The key to buying pre-owned fountain pens is to by the seller as much or more than the pen. If you are buying from one of the hundreds of know reputable sellers you will do jess great. Buying from Ebay or other listings can be a challenge. The known sellers will see that what you buy is working before it gets sold and provide service and support after the sale.

So places to consider:

Pendemonium:

Dromgooles

Chatterly Luxuries

Peyton Street Pens

There are many, many, more great sources but those are a few just to start. In particular if you contact Sam at Pendemonium or Terry at Peyton Street Pens and tell them what kind of writing you do they will gladly make suggestions.
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Old 4 August 2020, 02:37 AM   #10
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Over the last 35 years I have purchased literally a couple of hundred used fountain pens. Out of that I have only had about 4 that I can remember that had issues. If you get a good deal you can have a typical FP restored for under $60.00 or so, barring any catastrophic issues.

Don't be afraid. Do your research and you will come out fine.

My recommendation on a FP choice on the more reasonable side would be a Platinum 3776. You can pick them up online for about $70.00 t0 $90.00. The Bourgogne is really lovely and the nibs are superb.

EX: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Platinum-37...UAAOSwGTNfG6g5
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Old 4 August 2020, 02:54 AM   #11
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Old 4 August 2020, 10:18 PM   #12
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You are free to disagree.

No one writes with the gold in a gold nib and the tip is the same "iridium" family of alloys regardless of the basic metal. The iridium tip really doesn't wear much and with fountain pens it's more that the user gets broken in that any physical change in the pen itself.
Indeed not! However, while the iridium tip does not wear much, it does wear. You may not see it much on a pen that has been part of a large collection and used little, but you will notice it on a pen that has seen reasonable use.

I have a beautiful Parker 51 that was owned, and used extensively, by my father. It wrote beautifully for him, but the very slight differences in our writing, and the degree to which it was worn, make it less than ideal for me.

A gold nib definitely breaks in to a users writing more easily (I assume because it is slightly softer) but once broken in becomes a delight to use in a way that, in my experience, no steel nib can match.

I also find that a gold nib is nicer to use from the outset, but... you need to have a degree of flex in the nib to notice this, and I appreciate that many modern pens do not.

Sheaffer steel nibs were among the best I feel. I bought a “Targa” fountain pen with an Italic nib, brand new, in 1985. I was able to try a few before buying (always a bonus) and loved that pen from the outset. Italic nibs work well in steel, of course, as you don’t want much flex!
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Old 4 August 2020, 10:27 PM   #13
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Thanks Dave. Unfortunately, I've committed to gifting this one. I did buy a second one a year or two ago and for some reason, it never wrote as well. Maybe to your point, it has been the backup and not gotten much writing time to be broken in.

I like the idea of the Lamy being a good (cheap) way to start experimenting with different nibs, which I don't have much experience with other than the Pilot.

Not to stir the pot, but would going pre-owned be too much of a venture given my lack of experience/preferences?
One lives and learns!

Regarding pre owned, I would again echo previous advice and choose the seller as carefully as the pen. Buy from a good dealer and you most likely won’t have many problems.

There are actually many better used pens now, than a couple of decades ago. A lot of pens now come from collections and are little used, whereas once, everything used had been used quite heavily.

It is pretty essential to ‘try before you buy’ though. It’s not just a matter of making sure the pen works, but of getting a nib that suits your hand.

A good dealer, new or used, will be able to watch you write, and find a nib that ‘fits’ fairly easily. One advantage to buying new, is that you usually have (or should have) a full selection of nibs to choose from.
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Old 5 August 2020, 06:02 AM   #14
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That 3776 is very nice!

Is that the “Bourgogne”?
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Old 5 August 2020, 06:35 AM   #15
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That 3776 is very nice!

Is that the “Bourgogne”?
Yes. And here's the Chartres:

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Old 7 August 2020, 05:19 AM   #16
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Yes. And here's the Chartres:

Also very nice! I guess you need the pair for blue and red ink!

I don’t normally like demonstrators, but Platinum seem to get these colours exactly right.

They don’t load the price too much either!
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Old 10 August 2020, 07:58 AM   #17
FLGatorM5
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My NEXT budget FP?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jar View Post
The key to buying pre-owned fountain pens is to by the seller as much or more than the pen. If you are buying from one of the hundreds of know reputable sellers you will do jess great. Buying from Ebay or other listings can be a challenge. The known sellers will see that what you buy is working before it gets sold and provide service and support after the sale.

So places to consider:

Pendemonium:

Dromgooles

Chatterly Luxuries

Peyton Street Pens

There are many, many, more great sources but those are a few just to start. In particular if you contact Sam at Pendemonium or Terry at Peyton Street Pens and tell them what kind of writing you do they will gladly make suggestions.

Thank you. I will get to reading...

*EDIT* Also, I didn’t see the beautiful pictures you posted of your pens until now. Awesome!
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Old 10 August 2020, 08:10 AM   #18
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Over the last 35 years I have purchased literally a couple of hundred used fountain pens. Out of that I have only had about 4 that I can remember that had issues. If you get a good deal you can have a typical FP restored for under $60.00 or so, barring any catastrophic issues.

Don't be afraid. Do your research and you will come out fine.

My recommendation on a FP choice on the more reasonable side would be a Platinum 3776. You can pick them up online for about $70.00 t0 $90.00. The Bourgogne is really lovely and the nibs are superb.

EX: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Platinum-37...UAAOSwGTNfG6g5

Thanks Richard. I appreciate to vote of confidence to go used.

Like cars, do your research and go in eyes wide open.
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Old 10 August 2020, 08:27 AM   #19
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One lives and learns!

Regarding pre owned, I would again echo previous advice and choose the seller as carefully as the pen. Buy from a good dealer and you most likely won’t have many problems.

There are actually many better used pens now, than a couple of decades ago. A lot of pens now come from collections and are little used, whereas once, everything used had been used quite heavily.

It is pretty essential to ‘try before you buy’ though. It’s not just a matter of making sure the pen works, but of getting a nib that suits your hand.

A good dealer, new or used, will be able to watch you write, and find a nib that ‘fits’ fairly easily. One advantage to buying new, is that you usually have (or should have) a full selection of nibs to choose from.

Thank you Dave. I’m looking forward to it.


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Old 11 August 2020, 04:53 AM   #20
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Thanks Richard. I appreciate to vote of confidence to go used.

Like cars, do your research and go in eyes wide open.
Listen! No problem in purchasing pre-owned pens.

I love the all. The detractions are negotiable.
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Old 17 September 2020, 10:13 AM   #21
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Not to stir the pot, but would going pre-owned be too much of a venture given my lack of experience/preferences?

I find pre-owned fountain pens to be way less daunting than a pre-owned Rolex. There are no fakes to worry about (unless you're looking at Montblanc) and if the pen writes and doesn't leak in a test then you're pretty much good to go. Like other's have mentioned, there are plenty of reputable dealers that can help.

Depending on what you're looking for a pre-owned fountain pen could be fun, the older fountain pens that have soft or flexible nibs will definitely provide a different writing experience that you're currently experiencing.

If going new and under $150 then might I add that some Sailor (1911) or mid-tier Pilot (Custom 74 or Vanishing Point) pens are wonderful.
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Old 17 September 2020, 09:38 PM   #22
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I find pre-owned fountain pens to be way less daunting than a pre-owned Rolex. There are no fakes to worry about (unless you're looking at Montblanc) and if the pen writes and doesn't leak in a test then you're pretty much good to go. Like other's have mentioned, there are plenty of reputable dealers that can help.

Depending on what you're looking for a pre-owned fountain pen could be fun, the older fountain pens that have soft or flexible nibs will definitely provide a different writing experience that you're currently experiencing.

If going new and under $150 then might I add that some Sailor (1911) or mid-tier Pilot (Custom 74 or Vanishing Point) pens are wonderful.
Unfortunately, there really are fake fountain pens from almost every make. Even Chinese Hero fountain pens have been faked. Fortunately the financial risk is usually smaller than whith a Rolex Watch.
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Old 18 September 2020, 04:08 AM   #23
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Unfortunately, there really are fake fountain pens from almost every make. Even Chinese Hero fountain pens have been faked. Fortunately the financial risk is usually smaller than whith a Rolex Watch.
Good to know! I've never looked for Hero pens before, but I'll be more diligent about research from now on.
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Old 18 September 2020, 05:16 AM   #24
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Personally, at that price range I’d be shopping for a Sailor 1911 Mid-Size or Pro Gear Slim. A solid pen from one of the world’s greatest makers, they’re crazy reliable and available in a cornucopia of colours to suit any taste. There are many (myself included) who feel that Sailor’s 14k gold nibs are even better than their signature 21k - that’s the best nib, by one of, if not the, best nib manufacturer.

On another note, buy a duplicate Metropolitan to gift. You don’t just give away a good writing pen - no two are ever alike, and you’ll miss it...
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Old 24 October 2020, 01:39 AM   #25
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If you haven't decided yet, take a look at the Lamy 2000. Not everyone's cup of tea but it ticks a lot of boxes.
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