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Top Five Fountain Pens (If Viewed Purely As A Writing Instrument)

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#1 vonManstein

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 17:00

Its difficult to make a list of top five fountain pens. It all depends on what we mean by top five. We can mean the one we like more, or the rarest, best jewellery pieces, best gift pens and so on and so on.

But if I look at the fountain pens purely from the functionality point of view, how good as a writing instrument they are, this would be my top five list:

Pilot Elite
Parker 51
Lamy 27
Pilot Capless
Aurora 88 (original)

What fountain pens are best writing instruments in your opinion?
Inked: Sailor King Pro Gear, Sailor Nagasawa Proske, Sailor 1911 Standard, Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon, Parker 51, Pilot Custom Heritage 92, Platinum Preppy

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#2 pajaro

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 18:09

Parker 51

Sheaffer Imperial Touchdown inlaid nib or Dolphin nib.

Montblanc Meisterstuck (144, 146 149)

Waterman Carene

Modern current models of Pelikan M series (M2xx, M3xx, M4xx, M6xx, M8xx, M1xxx, whichever size you like)

 

These pens generally offer long, trouble free service in my experience.  Older models favored by many here also have filling system issues eventually.  The above pens can be sabotaged by a careless or reckless user, but that's your own fault.  Filling systems have gotten better in the case of piston fillers particularly.  The Sheaffer Touchdown fillers are the easiest resacs I have done, and PVC sacs are available to put a stop to resaccing.  My Parker 51s require no work beyond the occasional flush.  Forty-eight trouble free years out of my first new 51.  The MB 144s have given some trouble, but I noticed Montblanc made product improvements that addressed the issues.  Now they are reliable barring user sabotage.  Stop taking stuff apart to look at it!  Or not.  They are your pens. 

 

Five isn't quite enough.  There others of near equal quality that could be added.


Edited by pajaro, 10 September 2018 - 18:12.

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#3 fountainpen51

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 18:15

From a more functional point of view, I would stay with:

Waterman 7 Pink
Noodler Boston Safety with a Waterman stub nib
Waterman 54 BCHR
Waterman 12 BCHR
Pelikan M1000

Easy maintenance and always ready to write.



#4 MarcShiman

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 18:19

Any pen that you own can be the best writer from a functional point of view. I spent some time getting my TWSBI to write as I prefer, and now its my favorite. 

 

If you are talking about the brands that are consistently good, then yes - a Parker 51 or a PFM might be your pen. But as with any vintage pen, it was likely used by someone before you, and the shape of the iridium changed to fit that of the previous owner over time. 

 

For the best flexible nibs, you need to try a vintage (pre-1970) Omas. . 



#5 vonManstein

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 21:42

Pelikan M1000? Boston Safety pen? Seriously?
Ever tried intermittent note taking with M1000 or 149? It’s a chore. It’s like using a Corvette for moving home.
Inked: Sailor King Pro Gear, Sailor Nagasawa Proske, Sailor 1911 Standard, Parker Sonnet Chiselled Carbon, Parker 51, Pilot Custom Heritage 92, Platinum Preppy

#6 praxim

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 21:49

"purely from the functional point of view, how good a writing instrument they are" goes to one's preferences in nib feel, pen length and girth, section shape, and the ink fill and feed. Still, why not take up on FPN a question about personally preferred pens? :D The implied criterion here is exclusion of appearance.

 

I concur with the original Aurora 88 except it that the 88P version is more robust than the first 88, and the modern incarnation of the 88 is even better, just without the cachet. Still, I will not permit in my list two pens from one manufacturer.

 

The Montblanc 14x qualifies for me as one of the five best. As I mentioned metaphorically once before, it is a robust and well-oiled writing machine.

 

Pelikan makes the list. Whether modern ones are better is moot. They have not had as long in which to develop problems, and I prefer their older nibs. Just a 1950s 100N would do me but I won't complain about an M400 from 30 years later or an M800 from 30 years after that.

 

Soennecken. They are wonderful.

 

As are Omas 55x

 

Much as I would love to include an Onoto for its nib, it falls away when you get to managing the ink flow. S T Dupont, modern Onotos and similar pens with the best Bock nibs, tuned, are right up there as writing instruments but the list was curtailed at five.


"...all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service." Charles Darwin

#7 sandy101

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 19:43

My top 5 

 

S T Dupont D-line  - understated, balanced, well made writer 

 

MontBlanc 146      - the grip takes a bit getting used to, but it just writes and writes. The pen gets out the way and lets you get on

 

Cross Townsend   - nicely balanced, and the nib and feed seems to cope with most inks you can throw at it. Better with a convertor, that Cross' cartridges. A robust everyday carry.

 

Lamy 2K               - like the 146 - balanced, nice writer - piston fillers store more ink, so you can get a couple of sessions of uninterrupted writing out of it

 

Italix Parson's Essential - lovely nib, sits well in the hand and writes. A good pen to carry everyday. Best nib in a pen under £50.



#8 sciumbasci

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 21:30

Don't lynch me, but I think that if we are to think just as a writing instrument, then the school pens win. This is why:

Moderate flow: not too wet, not too dry
C/C filling system: you can't break what you don't have
Built to last being thrown around inside a pencil bag
The cheaper the better, lose or break one, buy another one

#9 Maine Vintner

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 22:05

Don't lynch me, but I think that if we are to think just as a writing instrument, then the school pens win. This is why:

Moderate flow: not too wet, not too dry
C/C filling system: you can't break what you don't have
Built to last being thrown around inside a pencil bag
The cheaper the better, lose or break one, buy another one

No need to lynch; I think this is a fair answer and I agree with you.

 

Where is the Esterbrook J on this list?! Pure writing stick, swappable nibs, and highly available!



#10 sansenri

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 23:04

here is my list based on pure writing performance and feel

 

Aurora 88 (modern)

Aurora Optima

Pelikan 140

Pelikan M200

Omas 557F

 

a few others very close



#11 inkandseeds

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 23:41

My top 5 + 1. These are pens that are normally inked and that go lots of places with me from my home office to the college where i teach to camping trips in the mountains and deserts, not to mention daily hikes and bike rides. Roughedness helps given my mannerisms and lifestyle.

Sheaffer Imperial III with triumph nib filled with BSB
Esterbrook J’s with a bunch of different nibs
TWSBI Vac-Mini
Karas Kustoms Ink
Sheaffer Preludes
Cross Solo

The latter two are very dependable for me and not a burden to replace if they are lost or crushed.

#12 fountainpen51

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:34

Pelikan M1000? Boston Safety pen? Seriously?
Ever tried intermittent note taking with M1000 or 149? It’s a chore. It’s like using a Corvette for moving home.

No doubt! I speak specifically of the ones I have, now they are as I like them, my M1000 is no longer so wet, I have no problems for quick notes, easy cleaning and ideal size for me. With the Boston Safety the same thing happens, I have it adjusted to my taste and it is perfect, also easy to clean and very good functionality. I speak of my personal pens in particular, if not, for functionality / price, I think that currently almost any Chinese pen is perfectly acceptable for day to day.



#13 alexander_k

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 07:44

There are many pens I haven't used yet but from the ones I enjoyed, my list would be: 

  1. Parker 51
  2. Pelikan M800 
  3. Pilot Capless 
  4. OMAS 360
  5. Conid Bulkfiller 

I guess that such a list reveals more about the user than about the pens. For example, I didn't include Pilot Custom 823, several Sailor or Delta pens I use daily with great satisfaction, as well as all those 1950s and 1960s German piston fillers, which in my view represent the best in fountain pen performance. Am I leaning towards the exotic?



#14 christof

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 08:33

Parker "51" Aerometric Filler

Pelikan 400 (1950-1956)

Lamy 2000

Pilot  Capless 1990's

Montblanc 149 1970's


. . . my current S A L E S . . .

 

 

 

fpn_1501079397__18762338330_19cf666a48_o


#15 jmnav

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Posted 14 September 2018 - 15:39

I still didn't put hands on my best pen, but I concur it's a moot exercise since it depends on you as much as it depends on the pen itself... and even the moment: nowadays I wouldn't sign for a single best pen league but at least for two: one for desk (bigger, more flexible nib) and one for shirt pocket (shorter, wouldn't mind a nail nib).

 

Anyway my (no) list:

 

For desk:

A Montblanc 146 from the fifties, only the lenght of the modern one.

A Waterman Hundred Year de Luxe (the PMMA version not the celluloid one) only a bit heavier.

A Matador 996, only with the MB 146' balance.

A Pelikan 800, only with a nib worth its salt and the mass center a bit, just a bit, towards the nib.

 

For shirt pocket:

A Parker Super 21, only PMMA instead of polystyrene

Maybe a Montblanc 144 from the fifties only just a little longer

 

Best "jack of all trades":

Pelikan 215, only with a 400 nib from the early fifties

 

...And even, then, this comes from my very limited experience: i.e.: Sheaffers (PFM and relatives) look to me quite good, it's just I didn't put hands on one (yet?); Montblanc 138 with a proper (for my tastes) nib looks also a great candidate... out of my price reach, etc.



#16 pandemic

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Posted 18 September 2018 - 22:44

Have to second Sandy101's comments about the Cross Townsend.  Had on that I used and abused (heavily abused) the pen for over 20 years.  Sadly it disappeared into the ether, so I went out and both 3 more.  Pens seem bullet proof and with the lifetime warranty, you never have to worry.  Like other cross pens, the caps seal well so you can leave it for a month or more and when you pull the cap off, they just write.

 

As for others;

 

Esterbrook J, SJ - Like Main Vinter said, multiple easily swapped nibs (you can find one you like) also it's easy to replace sacs.  Good everyday writers

Jinhao 992 - Yes, they are cheap pens.  But that's part of the reason for including them.  For $2, get a pen that has a surprisingly decent (remember $2) nib. I use these for work because I write a lot on cheap paper and they perform. I've got five loaded with different colours for different clients.  They can easily be turned into ED pens, and if you lose one or break one, no worries.

And if the the mood for a smaller pen, I pull out my Waterman Flashy. A nice small pen with a lovely hooded nib.

 

 

 

 

 

#17 samba

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Posted 20 September 2018 - 16:41

From the functionality point of view,I'd pick up: 

1. Parker 51 Aerometric

2. Pilot AM 82G

3. Lamy Safari

4. Sheaffer Imperial 440

5. Pelikan M200

 

Thank You.



#18 rwilsonedn

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Posted 01 October 2018 - 23:04

Isn't this kind of like asking what are my top five paintings from the point of view of a useful sheet of canvass? In this day of biro and fiber-tip the whole point of fountain pens is aesthetic (perhaps excepting those people with pain issues who really need--not just appreciate--zero writing pressure).

If I take away all the aesthetic considerations, I'm left with reliability and cost/benefit. From that point of view my top pens, hands-down, would be the Pilot Varsity/VPen, which I find bulletproof, impossible to dry out, and refillable, and the Pilot Petit1, which is similarly reliable but easy to carry in a pocket or pouch, and apparently capable of being launched into a brick wall without harm. Both have very smooth (but not glassy) M-ish nibs. Both are absurdly inexpensive, especially considering that both are refillable, and the Petit1 can probably be used as an eyedropper-filled pen, though I haven't tried this myself.

ron



#19 Zinonas

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 19:49

Parker 51 aerometric.
Parker 75.
Pelikan 2xx.
Esterbrook J,SJ or Dollar.
Sheaffer Balance.
Actually my favorite pens are frankenpens (rangas and ebonite noodlers conrads with vintage nibs) but the above pens are the best pens with original parts I have used, excluding some extremely expensive MB's and a few obscure vintage pens that may be exceptions to the general quality of their brand.

Edited by Zinonas, 13 October 2018 - 20:02.


#20 praxim

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Posted 13 October 2018 - 22:07

If I take away all the aesthetic considerations, I'm left with reliability and cost/benefit.

The words "purely as a writing instrument"  can be taken as not going beyond writing itself, so not only would aesthetics be excluded but so would any other practical aspect. That would leave at least half of my pens jostling for the top five. For example, there is the 97 year old Onoto 3205 I just mentioned in "What pen did you finish today"; a brilliant writing pen so long as you do not flap it about too much. And so on.


"...all observation must be for or against some view if it is to be of any service." Charles Darwin





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