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New Pen For A College Student

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43 replies to this topic

#1 Myrtle_T_Turtle


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 21:30

Hey FPN,


I'm looking for a nice fountain pen for when I go off to college. Here are my requirements for the pen:

  • The pen must be less than $170.
  • I would prefer a new pen - not sure if vintage pens interest me (well, at the moment at least).
  • I would very much like a nib that has some pleasant 'spring' to it (my current Lamy Safaris definitely don't, and neither does my Goulet #6 nib). However, I'm not looking for a flex pen. Slight line variation would be nice, but isn't required.
  • The pen must be durable (though, I do plan to have this pen in a leather case/pouch).
  • Nib must write smoothly out of the box, as I am terrible at adjusting nibs (and that's an understatement).
  • I want am looking for a somewhat fine nib size. Not extremely fine, though, as I do want shading inks to show some decent shading.
  • Must be able to write decently on cheap paper, especially for note-taking (another reason I'm going with finer nib sizes). I do have some Rhodia and Clairefontaine paper, but I won't be using that all the time for classes.
  • Note: I will [hopefully] try these in a brick and mortar store to see how they fit in my hand, but I will buy them online to save money.


These are the pens that I am currently considering, and my thoughts about each of them at the moment (feel free to suggest a different pen and/or comment on my thoughts - all I've ever used is Lamy Safaris and a few Noodler's pens, so I'm new to this class of pens):


Lamy 2000 (Fine or Extra-Fine Nib, Makrolon Version)

  • Very sleek, modern look! It's a pen that looks like it means business.
  • Most expensive of the three (I've found it much cheaper on Amazon, but I would purchase it from a store like Goulet to ensure I get good customer service and so they can test it before they ship it).
  • Large ink capacity, so I don't have to worry about refilling the pen constantly (in high school, I found I could go through a Lamy converter's ink capacity in two or three days).
  • I've read that this is an incredibly durable pen, even though it isn't a metal pen (excluding the section). However, I've heard the section can be a bit slippery.
  • Nib may not be the smoothest (at least, compared to the nibs on the other pens I'm considering).
  • Hooded nib, to avoid drying out during class if I should forget to cap it (and less of the feed/nib to accidentally touch and get ink all over my hands!).
  • Gold nib.
  • Nibs can't be replaced (or, at least not easily) - whatever nib I buy is the nib I'm stuck with unless I buy another entire pen.

Pilot Vanishing Point (Medium or Fine Nib, Black with Rhodium Trim Version)

  • Super convenient, no cap to worry about.
  • Hooded nib again.
  • Binderized!
  • Small ink capacity, which I'm worried I'll burn through extremely fast.
  • All-metal pen, very durable. However, of the three, perhaps the most boring in terms of looks (at least, to me). Also, I doubt the clip would get in the way when holding the pen.
  • Black laquered finish should be durable, as I've read the black matte finish has had durability issues.
  • Much cheaper than the Lamy.
  • Has easily-replaceable nib units (which can also be Binderized), though they are not the cheapest of nibs ($56-$69 a piece).
  • Gold nib.

Pelikan M200 (Fine Nib, Green Marbled Version)

  • Looks extremely classy! Has the look of a very classic and timeless fountain pen, even being one of the cheapest in the Pelikan line.
  • Cheapest of the bunch, allows me to get a nice bottle of ink or something as well.
  • Binderized!
  • Large ink capacity.
  • All-plastic, which I worry may be easily scratched and might not be too durable.
  • Steel nib, which I am concerned may not have the smoothness or 'springiness' that I am looking for (though, I have heard it's a very good steel nib).
  • The nib is gold-plated, which I have heard wears away relatively easily. I know there's silver versions of this pen (the Pelikan M205/M215 if I'm not mistaken), but those are more expensive and I really prefer the Green Marbled finish.
  • Replacement nibs are somewhat inexpensive, even when they're Binderized ($34), and they're easy to replace. Also, it's compatible with the gold nibs from the M400 pen (though they are pricey, $127 a piece when Binderized).
  • Kinda silly, but would look nice in my collection if I ever end up getting a pen from the Souverän series someday.

I'm having such a hard time deciding! What are your thoughts?



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#2 setriode


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 21:51

I own a Lamy 2000 and the Pelikan 200. For me the Pelikan is much easier to grip and write with for long periods. The Lamy has a slippery and convex grip area. The Pelikan steel nib is very smooth and soft, more
so than many gold nibs I own. The Lamy cap is easier to remove: a snap cap.

#3 Techi



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Posted 07 June 2014 - 21:53

Hi there, I was in a very similar situation to you some time ago, being also a student. However I ended up buying a m200, and the pilot vp, and getting a lamy as a gift, so I have all of the three you are considering.
From this I can say that I always seem to be drawn to the m200 (demonstrator version) purely because it is so much lighter than the other two. (Although I seem to go for an m400 because of the gold nib, however it is the same size an weight as the m200).

Although in a note taking environment I can most certainly pledge for the PVP, as important notes can come quickly and unexpected, but also be widly separated in a usual lecture, so having the retractable features are very welcome. The weight must be taken into account for this when writing for long periods of time, but I have never found the clip to become an issue for me personally.

The 2000 is very durable, and as you say it is a nice smooth modern appearance, but I tend to lean towards more 'flashy' and unique pens over understated and minimilist design. Having said that, in a profesional environment, a bright colour may not be ideal, so it is down to personal preference and how much you want to stand out.

I also seem to always grab my TWSBI vac 700 in a rush in the mornings due to its huge ink capacity when completely filled. This is very useful as a dependable pen, and the ability to see exactly how much ink is left can be very useful. And come on, it is just some cool looking pen, but not too outgoing for a professional environment.

However whatever your final decision will be, I will most certainly recommend a decent quality note taking pad, such as red and black or clairfontaine as that can make all the diffrence with quick notes.
Hope this helps,
Good luck in making a decision,


"Distrust, Confirm, then still be Suspicious"


#4 ac12


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 21:57

Personal opinion.  I would NOT take any expensive pen to school.  To me, school is a high risk environment to loose, damage or get stolen your pen.  My guide is, if you cannot afford to easily replace the lost pen, then the pen is too expensive.


Capacity should not be much of an issue

- Refill the pen every day after you finish your homework.  That way you are starting the day with a FULL pen.


IMHO you should always carry 2 pens.  If/when pen #1 runs out of ink or stops writing for whatever reason, you can quickly switch to pen #2 without loosing a lot of notes from the prof.  So your budget should be for TWO pens, a primary and a backup.  The backup can be a cheaper pen, so you can get a better pen as your primary pen.


If you want a spring to the nib, I think you are pressing the pen too hard.  A fountain pen should be written with almost zero pressure.  This also will reduce writers cramp that usually comes from gripping the pen hard and pressing the pen hard.  I can and have written for a couple of hours with a STIFF nib pen, and because I write lightly, the stiff nib does not bother me.


Consider egronomics.  How does a heavy or fat pen feel in your hand when taking notes in a 90 minute class?  And consider that you will have several classes during the day, so it is not just one 90 min class, it could be 3 or 4, 90 minute classes.  Plus writing in the library or study room between classes.

For me I need to use a pen that is light (less than 20 gram) slim or medium diameter (less than 12mm).

Example, the Lamy 2000 is 2mm too FAT for my hand and about 10 grams to heavy.  In fact it is 2x the weight of my standard writers.

Similarly the Pilot VP is a HEAVY and fat pen.

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#5 sandy101


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:00

Hero 616 Jumbo is worth considering for note taking. It is cheap, which means you don't have to worry about it disappearing, it has a fine nib and it extremely tolerant of poor quality paper. It is not a pen I'd want to use for writing essays, but for note taking you could have a couple of these and leave your more expensive pen at home.


Vintage wise - a good pen is the Parker 45 - I got one on e-bay - fine, gold nib, choice of cartridges or converter and a nice writer to boot - much better than the Hero Jumbo. I got one for £12 off E-bay and the pen writes like was made today, not 40 years ago.

#6 Flake



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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:00

I have the VP and the Pelikan, both I love. I don't find either particularly heavy or wide, but the Peli certainly is lighter. 


For me, the answer is easy, for a workhorse take the piston filler. More ink = awesome

#7 Runnin_Ute


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:19

I have two Pelikan M205's, one a fine the other a medium. Both nibs are wonderful.


A good vintage pen - a Parker 45 (my favorite is the Flighter version and I do have both) available 14k nib. Very durable. I paid $15.50 plus about $5-6 shipping for a 1960's version WITH 14k medium nib. They clean easily and you can change nibs easily. Not quite as easily as a Pelikan M2xx....

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#8 yogalarva



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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:54

I have a 2000 (stainless steel version, though) and a VP, and I absolutely love the VP.  It's my EDC pen and I think it's absolutely perfect for a college environment.  Especially if you are a non-poster, keeping track of a cap all the time gets quite exhausting.  And I have not had the ink capacity worries other people have reported - get a con-20 converter (like, $4 from pretty much any retailer) and you increase your capacity and it's super easy to fill.  The fact that it looks pretty nondescript is to your advantage, because I've never had a friend look at my VP and grab for it because it looks fancy.  Still, you should pick up a few Pilot G2's or something similar for those times when you need to loan out a pen or you run out of ink.


As someone who has been through six years of combined college experience, I don't think that the risk of having a pen stolen or go missing is as big of a concern as people make it out to be.  If you are an experienced FP user, then you know how to keep track of it.  The number one rule in college: don't leave anything alone that you would be sad to not see again.  Phones, laptops, textbooks, pens - same rule.  Keep valuables close and you'll be fine.  That being said, not every college situation is conducive to FP use.  I would never have taken a VP into one of my chemistry labs, that's a job for a cheap ballpoint or gel pen.  Use common sense, and you can have your fancy pen and enjoy it too.  :-)

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Posted 07 June 2014 - 22:55

Lamy 2K. I would recommend the Pelikan, but I haven't picked it up as a "workhorse" pen since I bought the Lamy. 


I don't think you'll be disappointed. :)

#10 fledermaus89


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Posted 07 June 2014 - 23:11

In terms of springiness, I would say M200 is about as springy as a VP. But none of the three pens are meant to give you line variation under normal pressure; if you really want that you should probably look for 14k nibs that are much bigger than 2000 or VP nibs.


As for durability, M200's plastic withstands abuse quite well; I've carried it everyday for 7 years and only recently it's showing some cracks which are really minor and would not have been visible were it not a demonstrator. 


Out of the three, I would suggest M200. 

#11 Sharkpie



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Posted 08 June 2014 - 00:43

I own all 3 and like them all. The M200 can't be beat for classic looks, a nice / comfortable nib and ink capacity.

#12 sandy101


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Posted 08 June 2014 - 00:47

I work at a college - stuff disappears - scissors, watches, G2s, rulers - even a Tombow Object that was a gift - a student borrowed it and left town the next week. People don't borrow pens, they help themselves if they see one lying on a desk, they'll pick it up, write a note to their girlfriend and walk off with, not even thinking that they are stealing.


Then there's all that time looking for the thing. It might not get stolen, but it will disappear down the back of the furniture, get into an obscure pocket of a gym bag or slip into the lining of your coat where there is a tiny hole in the pocket or get left behind in the box left behind when you move house again.


If you are unlucky, you are buying a £150 pen for someone you don't know.


Get the cheap funky ones and focus on good inks . People love preppies and they are quite nice to write with. Get that nice expensive pen as a graduation gift.


It's too much hassle.

#13 wallylynn



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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:04

Ditto to 'most everyone else.  When in school, use a school pen.  I'm fond of my Ahab and Konrad.  They have the softness you seem to be looking for.  Using the regular flex nib, not the Goulet #6.  Just don't press on them.  They're not really flex nibs anyway.

#14 Myrtle_T_Turtle


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Posted 08 June 2014 - 01:15

As someone who has been through six years of combined college experience, I don't think that the risk of having a pen stolen or go missing is as big of a concern as people make it out to be.  If you are an experienced FP user, then you know how to keep track of it.  The number one rule in college: don't leave anything alone that you would be sad to not see again.  Phones, laptops, textbooks, pens - same rule.  Keep valuables close and you'll be fine.  That being said, not every college situation is conducive to FP use.  I would never have taken a VP into one of my chemistry labs, that's a job for a cheap ballpoint or gel pen.  Use common sense, and you can have your fancy pen and enjoy it too.  :-)


I completely agree with you here. I don't plan on carrying this pen with me very often, this will more be the pen I'll use when I'm looking to have a good writing experience. I realize the dangers of carrying fountain pens to classes, and I definitely won't want to risk losing a nice pen. I'll likely use my Lamy Safaris for in-class writing on most occasions.



#15 Songyi



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Posted 08 June 2014 - 04:07

All three pens are excellent (I happen to own all three) and each have their own ups and downs.


I keep my VP in a shirt/backpack pocket as a carry-around pen for signing receipts, jotting down quick notes in my agenda, and filling out newspaper puzzles. I can't write for too long with the VP, as the metal body and odd balance becomes irritating. The low ink capacity is also a turn-off.


I really tried to like my 2K; however, its shape and nib really didn't click with me. By no means is it a poor pen, but I just don't feel the urge to write with it as I do other pens. I am currently looking to get the nib tuned professionally in hopes that it will change my relationship. The 2K is a very durable pen, and from afar one may think you're writing with a black marker.


The M200 is one of my favourite pens. I currently have a green swirl with a fine nib as well as a blue swirl with a medium nib. While out of the box, none were as smooth as my M400 medium nib, the steel medium nib quickly became a staple in my writing collection. I can use it for notetaking as it isn't as wide as the 14k M400. The fine nib on the other hand, was unusably scratchy and had terribly inconsistent flow. I had to spend a good afternoon trying to straighten out the tines and smooth out the tipping, but it was well worth the trouble.


The good thing about the M200 is that all the nibs are interchangeable. I would advise against buying a 14k M400 nib for general writing, as even though they are much smoother, Pelikan seems to grind them much broader (and their 14k EF have pretty inconsistent reviews). Both my M200s were bought second hand, and I don't think they will lose their value over the years. The balance is perfect for a variety of hand shapes and sizes, the capacity is generous, the filling mechanism legendary, and the nibs unparalleled. For $170, you could get a M200, a replacement nib, a few bottles of ink, as well as some nice paper.


Good luck on your purchase, and see you in the classroom!

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course. Ball-point pens are only good for filling out forms on a plane.”
Graham Greene

#16 alarickc



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Posted 08 June 2014 - 04:28

I use a VP at school and rather enjoy it. It is great for math and science, but I find that without a section my fingers slip after awhile so i prefer a more traditional pen for English and art history. I'm not that concerned about taking nice pens with me to school, I just never let them leave my person. They are either in the bag that's always on my person, in my hand, or directly in front of me within easy reach. I'll tell you how it works out. I currently also use a Nakaya at school, so I may be inviting fate. 



#17 The Good Captain

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Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:25

From your list, I've only got the Pelikan M200. As to the wearing of the gold plate: I wouldn't have thought you would need to worry about that a,, through college and most of your working career!

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#18 Buzz_130


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Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:39

I also own all three pens on your list.  You should try and hold both the L2K and the VP before buying online.  As others have mentioned above, both pens are heavy and may or may not be suitable for your writing style for taking notes in a long lecture.  The other part to watch for on the VP is the location of the clip.  You should also look and feel the metal tabs on the L2k to see where your fingers lie when writing.  


None of the of the pens on you list have a "spring" or line variation.  I find the Binderized VP to have a very soft and comfortable feel, and the L2K has a very smooth writing experience.  However, I really like the M20X as the nibs can be changed out with ease.  It's a great nib with lots of versatility, but don't expect flex.


Writing on cheap paper with your three pens is certainly possible, but the swing vote here will go to the type of ink you want to use.  There's no shortage of opinions on this issue, but trial and error are going to be a big part of the experience.  


If you are going to buy without holding, then I would recommend the Pelikan M20X.  Lightweight, great nib options and performance, classic look and style, and proven performer.


But with your budget that high, you could also look at some faithful vintage pens fully restored and ready to write.  The Parker 45, 51, and 75 have been faithful companions to millions.  You could buy several Esterbrook J series pens or even a good Sheaffer Snorkel.  You'd have money left for a few bottles of ink and some notebooks.  I know that's not the direction you are leaning, but with so many good restorers ready to offer something within your budget that will meet every one of your requirements, including that amazing classic nib feel.



#19 Algester



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Posted 08 June 2014 - 07:46

if I were to give you a pen for 100+ USD I'd go for CH91 but it seems its not on your list else I'd go with the Lamy Logo well the 2000 is also fine too there's also the Faber-Castell Ambition

#20 bogiesan


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Posted 08 June 2014 - 13:00

I'd buy a case of Varsity disposables. You can lose them, give the away, loan them and actually enjoy using them with no concern for value. If that's just too déclassé, two or three Sheafer schools or a pair of Lamy Safaris, inked with black and red.f
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