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4 Inexpensive Pens

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2 replies to this topic

#1 Kiolden


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Posted 24 November 2007 - 00:51

Hello. I recently purchased a couple of relatively cheap fountain pens, mostly out of curiosity. Wow! I really have missed a lot, writing with pencils and roller balls and keyboards all my life. Suddenly I enjoy the activity of writing by hand, something I never liked at all previously. I thought I'd share what I think of the pens I bought. I know they've all been reviewed before and my opinion is not very well informed, given these are the only fountain pens I've ever used. Still, writing a review sounded like fun, so here goes. Perhaps someone will find it a little bit useful. My handwriting is quite poor so I haven't posted the entire review as I wrote it out — plus I compose carelessly when I write by hand (hopefully this, along with my handwriting, will change with practice). There are some samples though.

Manuscript Calligraphy - Range of six nibs - Manuscript Black Cartridge

I wanted to try some italic writing and these were inexpensive and sounded good. I bought the "deluxe" set and an extra cap/barrel/converter. As such I effectively have two pens. These are the black ones, not the marbled colored ones which I couldn't find in stock anywhere. Anyway, the pen:

They are plain black plastic, 12 facets on the barrel and cap and rounded at the ends. There is a gold colored band on the barrel just before the threads where the cap attaches. It is a simple and reasonably attractive design. The only really objectionable part to me is the bulky plastic clip molded as one piece with the cap. It is quite ugly. They are light (at least I think so, I haven't much to compare to) but well balanced. They write very smoothly. I've mostly been using the fine and medium nibs, but I've also tried the 4 Broad, and all write very well, both in my sorry attempts at italic calligraghy and for my everyday scrawl. The one problem I've had is with the fine nib. The ink does not seem to flow from the cartridge into the feed very readily. After writing for a while the nib simply runs dry. Shaking the pen so that ink is forced down into the feed seems to reload it, but the problem returns after a while. This doesn't seem to affect the performance of the nib, but it is a bit annoying, especially since this is the nib I use the most. Flushing with water hasn't helped so far. I just loaded the convertor with Private Reserve Velvet Black, not sure if the problem persists.

Wality 77 - Fine? - Private Reserve Velvet Black
This pen was so cheap I couldn't resist, and I like it very much. Its not much to look at in my opinion, especially with the cap off, but its not poorly designed either. Just cheap. Its not uncomfortable to hold. The piston filler is fun and easy and the nib exceeded my expectations. It writes very easily and the line is quite fine. I would say the that the nib feels a bit "sharp" but its not scratchy. It is also a bit flexible, not enough to be useful really but it does give the nib a slightly soft feel. If I really work it I can vary the width 2 or 3 to 1. It is wet compared to the Pilot Birdie. I think that there is a little problem with ink drying in the nib or feed because after leaving it for several hours, the pen won't start or writes only sporadically. I think this maybe due to the poor sealing cap and perhaps the ink. Its easy to fix the problem by turning the piston back and forth maybe a half turn.

Pilot Birdie - Medium - Private Reserve Velvet Black
I love the look, size, and feel of this pen. Its too small in diameter to be really comfortable, but due to its heft, balance, and good length when posted, it actually is pleasant to use for short periods. It looks quite nice (simple, of course) and feels well made. The squeeze filler works well as for as I can tell. The nib isn't great. Its about the same width as the Wality, but much stiffer. It writes more or less smoothly but seems to demand more pressure and skips occassionally on certain strokes. It writes pretty dry compared to the Wality. Still, better than the Pilot gel ink roller balls I was using before. smile.gif

Lamy Safari - Medium - Lamy Blue cartridge
This is the priciest of the pens I bought, and its my favorite. Hopefully that's not just psychology... With the converter (which I haven't tried yet) this cost almost $25. Wow...obviously its not much compared to most fountain pens, but this is the most I've spent on a writing instrument (excepting computers, of course). It is a pleasure to use though. The medium nib is perfect for my handwriting. It feels stiff but not hard, and it writes more easily than the Birdie. It does seem a little finicky about angle though. Unless I hold it just right, upstrokes can be scratchy feeling (and sounding). I find that holding the pen at shallower elevation and a more perpendicular axis makes it write smoothest. I do like the look of this pen (I chose the white) and it feels very sturdy. I look forward to testing the converter soon.

Here are some scans:

All in all I'm very pleased with my first fountain pen experience. smile.gif I'm not exactly sampling form the pinnacles of fountain pen perfection - still, these pens are so much more fun and pleasant to use than pencils and BPs, etc. And yet - I'm already contemplating what to buy next...funny how that works.

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#2 Catsmelt


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Posted 24 November 2007 - 01:15

I like the Wality 77 also, and I think that the iffy ink flow comes from the ink. I've had a problem with the 77 and the more saturated inks such as Velvet Black. Switch to a more "traditional" ink (Waterman, Skrip, Quink, etc.) and you'll be surprised at the difference.

#3 sleek_lover


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Posted 24 November 2007 - 12:29

I goof around with the Manuscript as well. But I got the cheap version...from Michael's art store. Have the same love of the pen. In fact, I have been tempted to paint a white star on the end..just for kicks. Tell people it is the new entry level MB--The MB Plazible...

Have experience the same flow issue, but have a suggesteion. Either store the pen nib down or just lay it on the desk between uses OR, swap out the included cartridges for a better grade. I have used PR VB and did not experience the same issue...

My three nib set set me back about ten bucks US. It is a fun ltttle pen to goof around with. I don 't plan on doing any fancy swoops and swirls soon, so I have it for a monotony breaker...

And it is a good reminder that nice things can be had for small money..


Redacted to clean up massive spelling and typos due to not being able to see worth a tinker's dam. Contact switch-out time...

Edited by paircon01, 24 November 2007 - 14:32.

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