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Performance On Regular Paper

paper fountain pens test cheaper

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#1 SenZen

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 00:26

The subject comes up regularly, which is normal since not everyone has access to good paper, or is willing to splurge; and yet it might not be splurging but part of a good experience. In any case after using only Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Tomoe River, Fabriano and HP 32 lbs for the past few years, I finally tried all my pens on regular, no name copy paper, and here are the results:

 

On decent paper all my pens write well or very smoothly, the more expensive Sailor Pro Gear, Pelikan m600, Parker Sonnet and a Lamy Studio are particularly nice; on copy paper the results were surprising to me:

 

Smoothest:

  • Pilot Metropolitan medium nib.
  • Platinum Cool medium nib.

It's particularly impressive that these two pens, one cheap and the other not that expensive, do better than much more expensive pens.

 

Decently smooth:

  • Sailor Professional Gear medium nib.
  • Parker Sonnet fine nib.
  • Pelikan m600 fine nib.
  • Muji aluminium fine nib (x4).
  • Lamy Studio fine nib.
  • Waterman Le Man 100 fine nib.
  • Faber Castell Ambition extra fine nib.
  • Kaweco Sport fine nib.

It's particularly impressive of the cheap Mujis, and the extra fine Faber Castell. The Le Man 100 is my most expensive pen by far, and only does ok on good or regular paper: c'est la vie!

 

Smooth but nothing out of this world:

  • Lamy Vista fine and medium nibs (x7).
  • Parker Sonnet fine nib.

 

Barely usable:

  • Pilot Penmanship extra fine nib.

This nib is so fine you can feel every single bit of texture on the paper.

 

My conclusion is that it's easy to miss the point of fountain pens with certain pen and paper combinations, and that you should give yourself the chance to try better paper, even HP LaserJet 32 lbs paper can make a big difference, and you can use it at work to print special documents or presentations. If you can't or won't you can still have a good experience for not much money with a Pilot Metropolitan, which is amazing value, the Platinum Cool would be if of my two didn't refuse to start.

 

There are even cheaper pens but I value reliability too much to try them, although you might enjoy tinkering.

 

There is a second point, which is how ink looks on cheaper paper, and how much it feathers, which doesn't happen on good paper, although it does dry faster.

 


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#2 OMASsimo

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 00:58

In my experience, your second point is the only relevant one. Most modern papers are not fountain pen friendly and show a high tendency for bleed through and feathering. This is getting worse with wetter writers, which are often considered the nicer writers by the fpn community.

 

The paper used in my office is lousy recycling paper and terrible for fountain pens. Many of my most beloved vintage pens are hardly usable with this paper. Not because it would feel bad writing with them on the paper but because the bleed through is so bad. The most practical pens are very dry writers which are not exactly my favourite s.



#3 IndigoBOB

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 01:30

Honestly, I use Sailor Kiwa Guro for cheap paper and it works well even on Mead.  Worth the price IMO.

 

AND the Kiwa-Guro helps make finer nibs write smoother.  I love this ink because it basically allows me to use fountain pens outside the realm of fountain pen friendly paper and into the EDC arena of my own ballpoints and gel pens.

 

But with most other inks I have problems with just about every fountain pen.



#4 Nail-Bender

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 01:40

At this point, I think I can make ANY pen write on newspaper.

It just takes careful tuning & proper ink selection in order to make that happen.

 

My successes involve a very small tip and a lot of polishing.

Flex nibs and stubs are out.

 

Scratchiness is not an issue either but the line on good paper may be way too thin for your liking.


Edited by Nail-Bender, 01 February 2018 - 01:49.


#5 minddance

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 01:57

I find grainy papers reducing my line width by quite a fair bit due to undulating contact between nib and paper, a broad Faber Castell Loom, for example, would be a very acceptable medium with the correct inks. And a Pelikan m800 medium would be just 'fine', especially with inks like Rohrer and Kingner Sepia.

Due to the undulating and rough surface, my copier papers seem to prefer wet inks and pens.

#6 KellyMcJ

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 05:39

My EDC is a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a fine nib. I swear that thing will write on anything. I use Sei Boku ink. If I could only keep ONE pen from my whole collection it would be this one.

#7 chromantic

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 06:12

There's cheap paper, then there's cheap paper. A few years back, the place I worked for switched from bog-standard Staples 20 lb. copy to Kelly copy 20 lb. and the difference was striking, it was much brighter (98% v. 90%), so color really popped on the page, much smoother, allowing some sheen with some inks, and much less prone to feathering and bleed-through than the Staples. I'm going to miss it.


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#8 AAAndrew

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 15:05

Ink has as much, if not more of the influence on working with cheap paper. 

 

I was pleasantly surprised just this morning to find my Sheaffer Valiant writing quite well on our office copy paper using Herbin's Lie de The ink. 

 

A fine nib will always have a better chance on cheap paper than a broad one. 

 

What ink do you find working on cheap paper?



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#9 Nail-Bender

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 17:45

What ink do you find working on cheap paper?

 

My favorite is PR Ultra Black Fast Dry but apparently I'm the only one who likes the stuff.

There have been many horrible reviews :huh:



#10 ac12

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 20:29

You can get decent fountain pen paper without spending a LOT of money.

Go to Staples during their back to school sale.

  • Single subject, wire bound, made in BRAZIL. 
    • Last year it was, 25 CENTS each.
    • I buy these notebooks by the dozen (12 for $3), and don't worry about how much I use/write.
  • Loose filler paper, made in BRAZIL. 

IMHO, it is not worth the hassle to use "junk" paper, when you can get decent paper at an inexpensive price.

Although if you are in an office environment, you may not have a choice.


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#11 ISW_Kaputnik

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 20:32

At my job, we print a number of forms for in-house use.  Our letter sized printer paper is 22 lb. stock, the legal sized is 20 lb.  When writing on the letter sized with a Pilot FM nib and my typical Pilot Blue or Blue-Black inks, I don't notice a huge difference from my higher quality (or more expensive) journal papers.  With the 20 lb. legal size, though, even when using an extra fine nib, there is a definite tendency toward feathering.

 

I write more at home on my "good papers" than I do at work, and carry a decent quality pocket notebook, but I still want a pen and ink combo with me that will write on most papers.  Something with a fine nib, and one of my Pilot inks generally works well to adequately.

 

If I need to write on a piece of cardboard held vertically, I take out my Fisher Space Pen.


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#12 JakobS

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 20:39

After many years, it is apparent that it isn't the cost of the paper that matters, but the quality, so I never say cheap paper, but lower quality paper as there are numerous inexpensive papers that work perfectly with fountain pens.

 

I was helping a post doc record data recently, and he was using basic mead spiral notebooks, and that paper didn't feather a bit, a little show through, and spots of bleed through, but I was able to use both sides of the page perfectly. It was a breath of fresh air, because I could enjoy writing without the worry I find with the poor quality 50% recycled paper we use as copy paper in general. There is better recycled paper out there, but our general stores does not carry it, it appears...


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#13 minddance

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 00:34

Some pen-ink combinations tend to want junk or more absorbent, mainly my dry Pilots and Platinums and Preppy or else they just won't give me the look I want. It is especially difficult and hard, literally, to use Pilot gold nibs on Rhodia.

#14 ShneaSIG

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 01:22

I find that Pelikan 4001 series inks are well behaved, even in "wet" pens, on the office bulk copy paper.

#15 ENewton

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 02:46

My EDC is a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a fine nib. I swear that thing will write on anything. I use Sei Boku ink. If I could only keep ONE pen from my whole collection it would be this one.

 

I also have a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a fine nib and find that I can use it on cheap printer paper, even with very wet inks.  



#16 minddance

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 02:55

 
I also have a Sailor Pro Gear Slim with a fine nib and find that I can use it on cheap printer paper, even with very wet inks.  


+1, in my experience too. This, I feel, is due to the fact that Sailors are all extremely dry, except the Naginata Togi.

#17 alexander_k

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 09:01

As already pointed out: 

  1. Common (cheap, widely available, general purpose or whatever one calls it) paper varies a lot concerning characteristics that affect writing with a fountain pen. Thankfully most of what I've tried is tolerable to good.
  2. Not all pens or inks are affected in the same manner. 

Consequently, finding the right combination of pen, ink and paper has become an interesting (or frustrating, depending on your point of view) game. I admit that I find it quite enjoyable even though often baffling: why would one Parker 51 fail so miserably on Clairefontaine Smart Print paper yesterday, while another 51 (with the same ink) behaved impeccably? I've still much to learn about the physics of wet writing. 

 

The bottom line: yet another reason for having many pens and inks. 



#18 JayKay3000

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 09:06

i guess the ops point is relevant, but its useful to have a mix of f m b pens around and not to force a certain pen to write on certain paper. I think this post should have been more about type of paper, cost and quality. Start with a pen that is smooth and see how it reacts on different paper. Expensive paper doesnt automatically make it the best and a bad pen will generally be bad on most paper.

#19 SenZen

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 16:39

+1, in my experience too. This, I feel, is due to the fact that Sailors are all extremely dry, except the Naginata Togi.

 

My one Sailor Pro gear is really wet ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It became wet after spreading the tines a little though, it was dry when I got it. As a wet pen it brings out the best out of Tsuyu Kusa.


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#20 rsexton

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Posted 07 February 2018 - 22:00

Thanks for running this experiment.   It's consistent with what I'm experiencing - a cheap fine nib Platinum Preppy outperforms much nicer pens on low-quality paper.      

 

I've tried Lamy and Pelikan inks in Lamy & Sheaffer fine-tip nibs.   I get about the same amount of feathering. EF Lamy nibs are reasonably good, but aren't good writers for me on Rhodia or Mnemosyne paper - they're too fine. 







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