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The Single Most Important Feature Of A Fountain Pen Is...


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#1 effandpee

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 18:06

...comfort and balance in the hand. Thats my conclusion as my pen-buying fever is beginning to abate. A nib can be tuned and flow can be adjusted. I can put up with a stingy or finicky filling system. I can ignore garish colour schemes or just save them for home. But the one thing I cant do anything about is whether a pen is comfortable to hold.

Taken me a long time to get there, but Ive finally learned that, no matter how well a Pilot VP writes, I cant get on with the clip, that the L2K looks and feels magnificent, but its section tapers too drastically, and that Edison uses some stunning materials, but their concave grip doesnt allow me to hold the pen far enough back.

This is a necessary but not sufficient condition of course. A truly great pen needs to have much more. But if its annoying to write with, then just forget it.

(Oh, and it shouldnt leak either...)

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#2 Pickwick

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 18:44

Picking up one of your comments with regard to the Pilot VP. I've long since come to the conclusion that this pen is designed purely as a note jotter, push the button similar to a ballpoint to jot down a short note or memo, and not meant to write for any length of time.


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#3 jmnav

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 22:43

...comfort and balance in the hand.

 

And what about an "it depends"?

 

Formally, I would say that given that "pen" is the sustantive and "fountain" the qualifying adjective, it follows that, as you point it, "The single most important feature of a fountain pen" must be that it provides ink at demand and only at demand for a large enough period of time.  That's what takes apart a "fountain pen" from other clases of "pens".  Secondarily, that it provides that ink in order for you to write, is the second-most important quality; that's what the "pen" in "fountain pen" stands for.

 

Now... giving the above for granted, I don't think you can point out a single feature to be the most important, unless "being OK" is an acceptable answer (which would be just an epithet).  I have very comfortable and well balanced pens that say nothing to me because of their nibs (i.e.: my nineties Montblanc 146), then I have very good nibs, like that of a Pelikan 400 or a fifties' Montblanc 144 that, because their bodies are too little for my tastes I can't give them an 'A'.  Then I have a pen that is almost the perfect size, a Waterman's Hundred Year "de Luxe", but it's too light and its XF nib, albeit quite flexible, doesn't hit the bull-eye for me; another one, a fifties Montblanc 146, is perfect in its weight , girth at the section and balance, but its nib is a bit too stiff and its body about 1 cm too short. Then, there's a Waterman 515 which... well, I think you see the trend: a fountain pen is a connundrum of characteristics, no one of them being more important than the others; unbalance just one (be it nib flexibility or point size, ink flow, lenght, girth, weight, balance...) and the whole magic is broken.


Edited by jmnav, 14 November 2017 - 22:45.


#4 OMASsimo

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 23:12

Of course it's the safety belt! How else could one deal with the dangers of writing with a fountain pen?

 

In other words, it's a silly question, at least in my opinion. Quite a number of features must be right or the pen will be a drag.



#5 vicpen123

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 00:35

The single most important feature of a fountain pen is its enchanting, somewhat spiritual and innate ability to guide my hand to write clearly and concisely with wit, humour, intelligence, wisdom and insight so as to convert my deepest thoughts to decipherable marks on a sheet of paper.

 

There is nothing else that could serve me so well. What more could I ask?



#6 praxim

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 01:19

...
(Oh, and it shouldnt leak either...)

This. If it leaks irreparably then no other feature of the pen will persuade me to buy it. I could say the same of inks, or pets.
I consider getting from point A to point B an undue constraint on what might otherwise be an enjoyable drive.

#7 virgilio

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 01:35

...its feed. If the feed is no good, it's quite hard to improve it, unless there is an obvious manufacturing defect. I like a generous feed, since it is much easier to adjust the nib to one's own preferences, than to adjust a feed.

Additional blather.

Second would be a light pen (around 10 to 12 g) so as not to tire the hands. I write 3 to 4 hours a day, day in, day out, so I cannot tolerate a heavy pen.

Third is a slender pen (diametre about 1 cm at its maximum) that tapers, that is, thickest near the joint of the barrel and section, à la Parker 51.

Fourth, an open, moderate-size nib; I find hooded nibs hard to keep at the proper writing angle.

Fifth, a pleasant, classic appearance similar to the aerodynamic pens of circa 1950, with a hard, durable plastic barrel and gold-plated aluminium cap. The section should NOT be smaller in diametre than the barrel, so the pen can be held securely in the hand. But I don't like triangular grips. Keep it simple and easy to hold.

Sixth, a nib and feed that can be easily pulled. No knock-outs for me, thank you.

Seventh, smooth, fine steel nib that writes very wet, but doesn't feather. A little bit of tooth is nice. Gold wash is always nice for the sake of appearance.

Eighth, a piston-filler; lengthens time between clogs and avoids hard starting. Occasionally a piston will stick, but that is a small price to pay for the most reliable and durable of all filling systems. Nothing against a well-designed converter tho. Ink capacity should be around 30 drops.

Ninth, writes first time, every time, even after a week of non-use, with no blots and no skating.

I have just described, more or less, the Scolastica (school-pen) made in the 50s by Universal, the biggest penmaker in the world at that time, out of Turin, Italy. But they used too soft a plastic and the threads crack after a year or so. The pen is absolutely beautiful in a classic, Italianate way. Absolutely reliable and easy to work on. Sold for around 10 piastres in current money. Could be made in China for 50 centimes.

#8 virgilio

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 02:07

The only other flaw in the pen is the nibslit: too narrow, so you have to widen it for enought ink flow. Probably designed to write on cheap notebook paper, not modern copy paper or fine paper.

#9 MuddyWaters

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 02:20

The single most important feature of a fountain pen is its enchanting, somewhat spiritual and innate ability to guide my hand to write clearly and concisely with wit, humour, intelligence, wisdom and insight so as to convert my deepest thoughts to decipherable marks on a sheet of paper.

 

There is nothing else that could serve me so well. What more could I ask?

 

Lovely response. What are the characteristics of the pens that lead to this experience?


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#10 vicpen123

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 02:55

Just being a fountain pen and not some other inferior writing implement is enough.



#11 Ian the Jock

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 11:02

Just being a fountain pen and not some other inferior writing implement is enough.


This.

It’s a well kent fact that Scotland (The Land Of The Rising Water) has the most beautiful, picturesque, colourful, history laden landscape in the world.

It’s just a shame that you can only look at it through a rain soaked car window.
 
Every cloud though,  If there was no rain, there’d be no RAINBOWS.

 

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#12 thx1138

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 11:30

"The Single Most Important Feature Of A Fountain Pen Is"

 

It's ability to write.



#13 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 14:31

What do you want the nib to do?

A nails a nail, so it don't matter if gold or steel. With the money saved on steel you could get good to better paper and some inks, dry, middle and wet.....

What width do you wish...very skinny, skinny, middle, broad or very wide?

 

Writing is 1/3 nib width&flex, 1/3 paper and 1/3 ink, and in that order.

 

Do you want the 'noobie's' wish of butter smooth at all costs....or do you want a nice ride a springy regular flex nib can give you....if you can find a regular flex nib, outside of the Pelikan 200.

Semi-vintage before mid '90's would be a lot cheaper. You have to ask on the Sheaffer subsection about which pens are regular flex.

 

Pens with balance I like the 200 for a starter pen....the nib is a springy regular flex 1/2 a size narrower than the modern fat and blobby 400/600 nib. And it writes with a clean line!!!!!

 

 

 

I find, semi-vintage or vintage standard or medium-large pens to have better balance...posted... and better nibs.

The Chinese make a lot of heavy metal pens that are cheap.....some folks think they must have a wide fat pen.

Japanese pens offer real affordable pens.....and are narrower than German. Their B is a western M, their M a western F.

An M nib is much easier to write with than a EEF. The sweet spot is wider.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 15 November 2017 - 18:58.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany      Info on Bock nibs

 

Due to Mauricio's improved definition of Super-flex, I try not use the term Easy Full Flex, but fail...sigh.

 

Semi-flex is an “almost” flex; not a ‘flex’ nib. It is great for regular writing with a touch of flair. It can give you some fancy; but it is not made for real fancy writing. For bit more of that get a maxi-semi-flex. Both spread tines 3X.  Those are not "Flex" nibs. 

 

Wider than Normal does not exist. Wider than Japanese does. Every company has it's very own standard + slop/tolerance. Developed from the users of it's pens and inks only; not the users or inks of other companies pens. The size you grind a nib to, is your standard only. Paper and ink matter to nib width. Thank god for 1/2 sizes or it would be boring.


#14 deepak23

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 16:26

For me it has always been 'I should be able to afford it'...

A lifelong FP user...


#15 PAKMAN

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 16:43

Will it make me happy!


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#16 wjeverly

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 18:34

For me the whole point of the fountain pen is - well, the point. I seem to be fine with many different pen sizes, from my Parker 45s to my Sheaffer PFM, but I'm pretty stuck on a .3mm nib. I have a couple that write with a .4mm line, and that's okay, but anything larger just doesn't get used. I must write smaller than most other people... 

 

The only exception is the #98 Fine Stub nib in my Parker 75; I have quite a bit of fun with that.

 

The only other criteria for me is that I have to find the pen attractive, but a subtle kind of attractive, nothing that demands attention. How's that for subjective criteria!

 

Walt



#17 Sailor Kenshin

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 23:41

...comfort and balance in the hand. Thats my conclusion as my pen-buying fever is beginning to abate. A nib can be tuned and flow can be adjusted. I can put up with a stingy or finicky filling system. I can ignore garish colour schemes or just save them for home. But the one thing I cant do anything about is whether a pen is comfortable to hold.
Taken me a long time to get there, but Ive finally learned that, no matter how well a Pilot VP writes, I cant get on with the clip, that the L2K looks and feels magnificent, but its section tapers too drastically, and that Edison uses some stunning materials, but their concave grip doesnt allow me to hold the pen far enough back.
This is a necessary but not sufficient condition of course. A truly great pen needs to have much more. But if its annoying to write with, then just forget it.
(Oh, and it shouldnt leak either...)


I'm with you there. The pen shoul d'disappear' in my hand, so all I am aware of is writing.

#18 jar

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 00:23

That it is not so butt fuggly that I would never use it or be seen with it unless in a totally darkened room.


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#19 Honeybadgers

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 01:32

For me, the #1 most important thing is that it always start, never skip, and never dry out when used reasonably.

 

That's a hard and fast important rule for me. it must write properly. No pen that skips or hard starts even occasionally gets reached for in my collection.

I don't love dry writers either. 



#20 georges zaslavsky

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 13:13

Nib and filling system. If a pen writes bad and skips too much, then it isn't worthy of its price.


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