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School Pens


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48 replies to this topic

#1 Apotheosis

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 15:21

I've not seen anyone do a comparison of school fountain pens so I thought it'd be fun if I be the first to contribute.

The 3 pens I'll compare are :
1. Staedtler Learner's Fountain Pen (with Noodler's Widow Maker)
2. Faber-Castell Children's Fountain Pen (with Noodler's Kiowa Pecan)
3. Lamy ABC (with Lamy Blue from the cartridge included)

1. PACKAGING :
Straight forward packaging unlike many other higher tier brands. Included with the pens are fun label stickers for the caps and refill carts for the pens.

a. Staedtler's Tube
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b. Faber-Castell's Package

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c. Lamy ABC's Box

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2. APPEARANCE & DESIGN :

These writing instruments may stick out like a sore thumb on a shelf side by side the Pilots and Pelikans, but these robust, anti-sleek fountain pens are perhaps the most purpose driven of all. Emphasis on being more utilitarian than 'pretty-looking' is obvious in all the 3. As expected, they're built to last and are made to withstand rigorous use. Durability is compulsory in lieu of their intended target market. They are lightweight and sturdy - a delightfully fun combination for school use.

One of the key features of these pens are the design of the caps and barrel ends. Meant to prevent rolling off tables, you may feel assured that these perky little things won't do a sudden nib-dive onto the hard and unforgiving floor.

A ) Caps :
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(from top to bottom : Lamy ABC, Staedtler, Faber-Castell)
Comparison of Caps :
Staedtler :
Pros : Triangular shape cap made of hard rubber and big, which equals more stopping power
Cons : Oversized
Faber-Castell :
Pros : Similar triangular shape with an added 'twist' on the top which can be attached to a school bag or even a key ring
Cons : Oversized
Lamy ABC :
Pros : Almost fully circular which conforms to the overall shape of the barrel
Cons : Almost circular equals less stopping power

B ) Barrels & Ink Window :
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Comparison of Barrels and Ink Window :
Staedtler :
Pros : Brightly coloured stripped barrel with a nice little ink window
Cons : Not so nice little ink window when you need to check the ink level remaining in the cartridge
Faber-Castell :
Pros : Multiple ink windows makes it easier to monitor the ink level in the cartridge
Cons : Ink windows are hallow (no inner protective clear plastic inside the barrel like the Staedtler) so watch out for loose carts and ink leaks
Lamy ABC :
Pros : Nice smooth wooden finish. Feels really nice in the hand
Cons : No ink window and wooden surface will eventually stain with ink with may be near impossible to remove. Will also dent and scratch from use

C ) Barrel Ends
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In my opinion, only marginally effective from preventing the pens from rolling. They work best on levelled tables but not so much against a slanting table top (which are still in use in some schools). Only with the pens capped do they offer better stopping power (as you can see pictured below).
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(slanting surface of about 80 degrees, Lamy ABC almost rolls off)

C ) Section and Section Grips
The other key feature in these pens are that all section grips are rubber and contoured in such a way that it guides your fingers into the correct tripod position when holding fountain pens. They also provide added comfort fro extended periods of use and I dare wager, will provide the user with more hours' worth of writing with them than any regular fountain pens.
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All 3 contours differ slightly but the intended purpose is the same : To teach the user the correct grip position. The Faber-Castell has the longest section while Lamy, the shortest.
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Comparison of the Grip Sections :
Staedtler :
Pros : Perfect placement of the contours that accomodates the thumb and forefinger.
Cons : Nil
Faber-Castell (pictured below) :
Pros : Longest section, giving you more flexibility in shifting your grip while in use
Cons : No thumb contour, instead it flattens out at the bottom where my middle finger's top knuckle rests which makes it rather uncomfortable
Lamy ABC (pictured below) :
Pros : Nil
Cons : Both sides contoured the same way. Short grip area caused me to grip the section really close to the nib, requiring me to hold the pen at a higher angle to let the nib touch the paper or alternatively, grip further back towards the barrel to get a lower angle.

Faber-Castell Grip close-up
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Lamy ABC Grip close-up
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3. FILLING SYSTEM :
Cartridge filled only for all with the bonus exception of Lamy ABC which allows you to use their converter. The other 2 uses standard carts and enough space in the barrel to store a spare cartridge.
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(I have found that Waterman's cartridges and Manuscript's converter also fits Staedtler and Faber-Castell in case you ever wanted to try alternatives)

4. NIB PERFORMANCE :

The business end of any fountain pen.
All carry "A" nibs for beginners with rounded ball tip ends for easier handling on paper.
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Staedtler "A" Nib :

NAIL : Lays down a smooth wet line that writes like a nice fine-medium stub
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Faber-Castell "A" Nib :

SOFT : Lays down a smooth wet line and writes like a nice fine-medium stub
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Lamy ABC "A" Nib :

NAIL : Lays down a smooth wet line similar to Lamy's "F" nib. Does not feel as stubby as the others but if you prefer, do a nib swap !!
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5. CONCLUSION :
No one pen is better than the other as each appears to have their little pros and cons and it is just based on my experiences when using them. I would vote for Staedtler in the 'comfort of use' category but only because I've had it and used it longer than the other 2 so this may eventually change once I've clocked equal mileage of use with them.

It is my (humble) opinion that those wishing to learn how to use a fountain pen correctly should stop looking for cheap (and sometimes dodgy) 'buy-and-throwaway' fountain pens and instead invest in one of these fun filled writing instruments. They are well built preparatory pieces that are reliable, durable and most importantly back by familiar brands known to produce quality products.

Please know that this comparison is purely based on my own experiences (which may or may not be the same as yours) and I welcome and appreciate any additional information that may prove useful to improve this review for our community's reference.

Brgds
Leo

Edited by Apotheosis, 09 November 2010 - 23:24.

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#2 Ondina

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 15:52

That's an splendid comparative review, Apotheosis. Thank you.

#3 Ann Finley

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 16:26

An excellent review of these pens that may not otherwise have been reviewed! Great job :).

Best, Ann

#4 Apotheosis

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 23:28

That's an splendid comparative review, Apotheosis. Thank you.



An excellent review of these pens that may not otherwise have been reviewed! Great job :).

Best, Ann


Thank you both !
It was a fun project for me and I'm just glad I could contribute.
regards
leo
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#5 Safari_Camo

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:03

Nice review, I really liked, the photos are superb.

Regards

#6 pelman

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:13

Have you written with a pelikano Jr? I would be curious to get someone's opinion. Just bought my kiddos the peikanos. They are so excited to get their first fountain pens or "ink pens" as they like to call them. Will post after arrival and getting reviews from the kids.

#7 rcarlisle

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:38

Very good review. But which do you think would be best to for a child?


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#8 Apotheosis

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 03:01

Have you written with a pelikano Jr? I would be curious to get someone's opinion. Just bought my kiddos the peikanos. They are so excited to get their first fountain pens or "ink pens" as they like to call them. Will post after arrival and getting reviews from the kids.


Unfortunately I've not writtenw ith a P Jr. before..maybe one of these days i'll get that chance and it would be great if we could see a review of it from you once you're ready.

Very good review. But which do you think would be best to for a child?



As with us adults, it would all depend on the child's preference so it's really hard to say which would be best.
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#9 TWRDO

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 05:40

Have you written with a pelikano Jr? I would be curious to get someone's opinion. Just bought my kiddos the peikanos. They are so excited to get their first fountain pens or "ink pens" as they like to call them. Will post after arrival and getting reviews from the kids.


I have a Pelikano Jr. I haven't tried any of the pens in this review (which I enjoyed!) but judging by the descriptions, it should be very similar in feel and performance.
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#10 vans4444

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:13

Thanks for a great review and excellent pictures.


My daughter started using the Faber-Castell when she was 8 now that she is 10 she has moved on the a Lamy Safari and a Kaweco Sport.

The pen made her friends envious. The things that really make the pen outstanding for an 8 year old are

1. It comes with a little sticker so you can write your name and stick it on the pen
2. It can take a spare cartridge in the barrel. This seems to be a source of great fascination to her and her friends
3. The holes in the side of the barrel so you can see the ink level

She still has the pen, but only really uses it for home work. I think she feels it is now looking a little young for her now. At the London Pen Show she bought a Kaweco Sport with her own saved up pocket money.

So based on my limited experience I think these pens are very good for young children, but they will quickly want to move on to a more adult looking pen.

#11 Apotheosis

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:32

Thanks for a great review and excellent pictures.


My daughter started using the Faber-Castell when she was 8 now that she is 10 she has moved on the a Lamy Safari and a Kaweco Sport.

The pen made her friends envious. The things that really make the pen outstanding for an 8 year old are

1. It comes with a little sticker so you can write your name and stick it on the pen
2. It can take a spare cartridge in the barrel. This seems to be a source of great fascination to her and her friends
3. The holes in the side of the barrel so you can see the ink level

She still has the pen, but only really uses it for home work. I think she feels it is now looking a little young for her now. At the London Pen Show she bought a Kaweco Sport with her own saved up pocket money.

So based on my limited experience I think these pens are very good for young children, but they will quickly want to move on to a more adult looking pen.


That is just so cool..a dad and daughter combo of fountain pen users !
I'm still not sure at what age is 'the right age' for kids to try out fountain pens..i guess 8 would be the benchmark ? or will it be younger ?
Stil..I think it is just so cool vans4444..(oh wait I already said that !)
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#12 Apotheosis

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:33

I was getting bored of Lamy's A nib so i thought I'd try something different !
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#13 RMN

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 00:15

Nice review.

One remark about the preformed section of the Lamy.

It is to short for YOUR hands, but the pen was designed for small children, so you should judge from their perception.

You should take pics of a child holding these pens...

I held this Lamy myself in the shop, and it is not good for me. I don't have children so I can't compare myself.

It would seem these nibs are identical, at least from the same factory.


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#14 Apotheosis

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 01:16

Nice review.

One remark about the preformed section of the Lamy.

It is to short for YOUR hands, but the pen was designed for small children, so you should judge from their perception.

You should take pics of a child holding these pens...

I held this Lamy myself in the shop, and it is not good for me. I don't have children so I can't compare myself.

It would seem these nibs are identical, at least from the same factory.


D.ick


Hi RMN
That's a very valid point and in fact, the comparison of all three pens should have been done with the help of a child..but since i dont have any, I indicated the review was based on my own experiences.
:)
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#15 Beechwood

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 15:52

Subject matter to one side, this must rate as one of best reviews seen on this site, and comparative reviews are never the easiest.

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#16 pen2paper

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 16:31

excellent review! thank you!
an update,
including Pelikano Jr. (new, similar pens),
in a childs hand would be appreciated.
Also, noting whether finger grip area is made of silicone type material, or natural latex material (anaphylactic reactive issues).

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#17 freewheelingvagabond

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 20:31

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#18 tanburi

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Posted 20 November 2010 - 22:08

I was getting bored of Lamy's A nib so i thought I'd try something different !
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:thumbup: (The best Lamy nib.)
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#19 eilu

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 23:12

I just want to add, I own the Faber-Castell in green, and it can take an international converter.
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#20 impossiblebird

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 20:13

Fabulous review!

I have a couple of the Faber Castell pens, and I find them very comfy in use, but I am a wee bit bigger than the target audience: pushing 50. So I've gone through the "this pen's too young for me" stage. 'Fraid I don't have any children I could get to demo it. I have a latex allergy (thanks to years of working in medical research labs) and the grippy stuff's silicone, not latex.

I do find the mini "twirl" at the back end of the barrel interferes a bit with capping the pen. It's a lovely smooth, elastic nib, though; medium seems a bit on the broad side of medium; the pen takes a Faber Castell or Rotring converter. Handles my usual Noodler's ink nay bother.

I can also thoroughly recommend the matching propelling pencil, which is like one big grip section http://davesmechanic...ing-pencil.html It's the same length as a closed Kaweco Sport, and I keep one in my pocket, along with a Sport FP, when I'm out and about, because it's more comfortable in the hand than the Sport pencil (although the grippy stuff makes it a tight fit in the Kaweco pouch; the pen has to come out first!). If it were a 0.9mm lead rather than 1.4mm, it would be even better. :embarrassed_smile:







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