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Pilot Metropolitan - Still The Entry Level Recommendation?


penzel_washinkton
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Pilot Metropolitan - Beginner's Sanctuary or Not Anymore?  

35 members have voted

  1. 1. Do you consider the Pilot Metropolitan as still one of the default recommended fountain pen for beginners?

    • Definitely, what gibberish are you talking about?
      15
    • Yes, but those price increase.....
      6
    • Not anymore
      2
    • Never been recommended in the first place
      12


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Just want to get up to speed on one matter that I found rather interesting.
Recently, the blog Gentleman Stationer has updated their top 5 recommended list including the fountain pens section.

While skimming through the top 5 recommendation of entry level fountain pens, I was surprised that the Metropolitan (which took 1st place last year at the same list) was swatted straight out of the top 5 list while noting that the Metros the price increase as the main factor. Please note that this is not applicable generally on other blogs, I still see the Metropolitan being the number 1 recommended beginners pen in other lists.

Personally I would still put the Metropolitan in my beginner recommendation list if I were to compile one, due to the robust material, heft, above average nib performance and pen design that seems destined to be classics BUT just barely. In the 20-30 USD price range, competitors are springing up from all directions, TWSBI with their GOs, Diplomat with their new Magnums, Chinese pens which I can not mention one by one. This in turn makes it difficult to recommend the Metropolitan as a default recommendation for a beginner fountain pen.

 

So, over to you fellow member of the community. Do you still find the Metropolitan a no brainer to recommend as a fountain pen to beginners?

If not, then what are the "default" pens you recommend to beginners?

Edited by penzel_washinkton
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It's still easy to find for $10-12.

 

In the $20-30 range, we're looking more at the pilot explorer

 

If we want to keep it in the $10-15 once all the $10-12 metros are gone, the kakuno and plaisir are going to be the new daddies.

 

I personally think the wing sung 698 and 601 are better, but they require the buyer know their way around ebay and stuff, and buy bottled ink. When you're preparing a newbie, you want their first pen to be versatile and take cartridges. Bottles come later.

Selling a boatload of restored, fairly rare, vintage Japanese gold nib pens, click here to see (more added as I finish restoring them)

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For me, it depends on the age and aesthetic of the person.

 

For a child, a brightly colored, durable pen is good choice. My daughter's first pen was a Lamy Safari, which I purchased in the mid 1990s and which still performs as if it were new, but a Metropolitan, a Prera, or a Pelikano would be great choices also. I'd avoid Kaweco, because although the Sport looks cute, the nibs aren't good enough, in my opinion, to exemplify the fountain-pen writing experience.

 

For an adult who might be intimidated by the idea of a pen as a fragile, the Metropolitan remains a good choice and comes in several sober colors, which might be important to a person who regards bright colors as cheesy or unprofessional.

 

For an adult to whom I want to convey the feeling of a fountain pen as special, I have, in recent years, typically chosen either a vintage Parker (21, 45, or 51) or a new Japanese pen (Pilot Stargazer, Platinum Vicoh, Platinum 3776, Sailor Pro Gear Slim), depending on whether the person is likely to respond to the idea of vintage.

 

I realize that, in answering this question, I am thinking of what pens to give as gifts, and in that context, price is seldom a dominant concern. If a friend or colleague who wanted to buy a pen asked me to recommend one under $30, yes, I would probably guide the person to a Metropolitan.

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I think the sheer diversity of quality entry level fountain pens has grown or become more widely available in the last couple of years that any top five list is pointless, as you could easily switch out any number of pens for any one of those listed for the same reasons. Also, I dont feel that having a pen fill from a bottle should be a limiting factor, it isnt too difficult or time consuming to do compared to rummaging around for a cartridge, unscrewing a pen, removing the old cartridge, and putting a new one in. I can fill from a bottle in that time. Also, many new users are interested in fountain pens because they can fill them from a bottle, and use a wider variety or volume of ink colors.

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FP Ink Orphanage-Is an ink not working with your pens, not the color you're looking for, is never to see the light of day again?!! If this is you, and the ink is in fine condition otherwise, don't dump it down the sink, or throw it into the trash, send it to me (payment can be negotiated), and I will provide it a nice safe home with love, and a decent meal of paper! Please PM me!<span style='color: #000080'>For Sale:</span> TBA

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I think the sheer diversity of quality entry level fountain pens has grown or become more widely available in the last couple of years that any top five list is pointless, as you could easily switch out any number of pens for any one of those listed for the same reasons. Also, I dont feel that having a pen fill from a bottle should be a limiting factor, it isnt too difficult or time consuming to do compared to rummaging around for a cartridge, unscrewing a pen, removing the old cartridge, and putting a new one in. I can fill from a bottle in that time. Also, many new users are interested in fountain pens because they can fill them from a bottle, and use a wider variety or volume of ink colors.

 

 

Another reason for filling from a bottle, especially for a new user, is that when one fills from a bottle, the nib and feed are quickly saturated and hence likely to produce a good line immediately. With a cartridge, it can take a while for the ink to start flowing, and in the meantime, an inexperienced user might think there is something wrong with the pen.

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Personally I believe the Lamy Safari is a far better entry level or starter pen. Don't forget that it is very easy for a newbie to grasp a FP like a ballpoint so keep in mind that the Lamy's beveled section will help a new user to learn a proper tripod grip.

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Having been a owner of a Pilot Metropolitan F nib and being currently a owner of a Lamy Al-Star M and F nibs, I got to say that I prefer the Pilot.

 

I prefer the classical look of the Pilot Metropolitan (mine was the plain black version) as opposed to the industrial look (my Al-Star is the graphite version). The grip of the Pilot never bothered me (although I have a slight preference for the Lamy grip). As for overall quality, I much prefer the nib quality of the Pilot, which had some - i. e., manageable - feedback but never faltered or had some quirks, unlike my F nib on the Lamy. The converters of the Metropolitan were, overall, its greatest shortcomings, although my overall evaluation of the pen is quite positive.

 

However, I also agree that there other germaine models to consider in the fountain pen entry level, as there is a plethora of pens that newcomers should consider, such as the Platinum Plaisir, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco models, Chinese models (the Jinhao x750 comes specially to mind), Pelikan (Twist, Pelikano and even Stola) and eventually Faber Castell, depending on the budget...

Edited by Iur
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I voted “Never been recommended in the first place”. My suggestion is always Lamy Safari/Al Star. Plenty of colours (childish, youthful, conservative, etc.) to choose from, several nib options and easy to find cartridges and converters where I live.

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I think the Metropolitan, Lamy Safari / Vista and Muji aluminium are terrific pens, my one medium Metro has a particularly enjoyable nib; but there are many other parameters related to the user's experience and expectations. I've had several mid range pens fail miserably, beyond repair, and it took me a long time to get two more expensive Parker Sonnets to work, while these just soldier on: there is a lot to be said for reliability.

 

At $12 which has been the usual price in the US Metropolitans where a huge bargain, I don't know how much they are now but even at $20 something they would be at a similar price to Safaris.

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

 

B. Russell

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It should be noted that europeans may 'have' to buy the Metropolitan online, since the Pilot MR - the version sold in Europe - does not allow for converters to be installed, AFAIK. There are workarounds of course, such as cartridge refilling, but those unwilling to do so or that are just starting out (as it was my case a year algo) may end up either buying the Metropolitan online or decide in favor of a different model.

 

I bought from Goulet and almost paid as much from shipping as the cost of the pen. This os no critique to the retailer, as the service was impecable.

Edited by Iur
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Beyond pens such as the Preppy, the Metropolitan and Plaisir are good entry level pens. I don't have any personal experience with Lamy, but assume they are good as well. I think it really depends on what one is looking for in terms of a "starter" pen. I started out with $150-$200 Pelikans, but no longer have the means to start at that level.

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I simply do not see how the price (range) of the pen ought to be logically correlated to the level of user experience when I make pen recommendations. Just about everyone has a budget or budgetary constraints when it comes to making a purchase, and that is an important criterion for filtering out options that are not 'affordable' and thus unsuitable. However, the intended user's apparent lack of experience with fountain pens does not imply any of the following:

  • the user is the purchaser, or will be funding out of his/her own pocket for the purchase, of the pen
  • the purchaser is shopping at the 'budget end' of the market, or otherwise wants to spend as little as possible
  • the user is not committed to using or diligently maintaining his/her first fountain pen as a writing instrument
  • the user's requirements, preferences and tastes will match that of either my own or the purchaser's (or that this is an opportunity that ought to be leveraged to cultivate and/or steer them to match my own

I'd say the girth, weight, balance and length (in roughly that order, although they're ultimately all relevant) of the pen ought to be foremost considerations. The material of the pen body — including cap, barrel and section) — resistance to staining (as opposed to, say, scratching) is important, because an inexperienced user is apt to get ink onto the pen (and his/her fingers and hands) some time, even if he/she is diligent about keeping it well protected in a velvet-lined carry case when not in use; then there are users who just might not care that much about trusty everyday tools showing signs of wear and tear, so scratches may not tarnish the value of the pen in the user's mind (although the purchaser may feel differently). A cap that seals well, and prevents ink from drying out when the pen is capped and unused for a week or two, matters; then there's how the user feels about the handling of a screw cap versus that of a snap cap. Low maintenance is next, and so I would favour cartridge/converter as a filling mechanism over piston-fillers, eye-droppers, etc.

I don't think the Pilot MR (of which the Metropolitan is just a sub-range with plainer designs; there is no Pilot Metropolitan, only Pilot MR Metropolitan) will necessarily match the intended inexperienced fountain pen user's requirements and preferences for girth, weight, balance and length by default, any more than a particular style of running shoe will match the beginner runner's feet and gait. Also, in my experience, the caps on Pilot MR pens do not seal as well as that on Platinum and Sailor pens. That is why I wouldn't blindly recommend the Pilot MR as a beginner's pen.

If someone wanted to select a fountain pen for purchase that is cheap, robust to the point of almost bulletproof, low-maintenance, with the assurance of a high-quality Japanese made product, I have no problem recommending the Pilot MR, but that has nothing to do with the intended user's level of experience or commitment.

 

The first fountain pen I bought my girlfriend (now fiancée), that she didn't just casually borrow from my then-small collection of fountain pens to use on the odd occasion, was a Sailor kanazawa-kaga maki-e KOP which she loves to this day, so you can say that was my personal choice of a beginner's pen for someone I cared about and wanted to delight. That, of course, is not the same thing as what I'd recommend to others as a beginner's pen.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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I recommend the Parker 45, available on EBay for $10 - $30. They run forever. Look beautiful. The original cartridge/converter, so successful that Parker used c/c in the P-75 and nearly all pens that followed. Easy to grip. Just the right weight. Nibs cost around $15 for steel ("octanium"), so you can buy a 45 and two spare nibs -- like buying three different pens.

Washington Nationals 2019: the fight for .500; "stay in the fight"; WON the fight

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I didn't vote in the poll because I didn't like any of the options. While the Metro is a good choice, I like the Lamy Safari better and would recommend it to anyone asking me for a first pen, for reasons mentioned by others.

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No default....dependent on individual.....

 

Yes, I think the best choice is the pen that appeals to the person who wants to acquire a fountain pen. They'll learn its care and feeding quickly enough, and go from there. No training wheels required.

fpn_1375035941__postcard_swap.png * * * "Don't neglect to write me several times from different places when you may."
-- John Purdue (1863)

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even among Japanese peers, the MR had never been the entry level recommendation .. that distinction goes to the Preppy instead ...

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I will recommend a Lamy Safari as a beginner pen. My opinion is only related to my personal experience with the MR and the Safari. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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It should be noted that europeans may 'have' to buy the Metropolitan online, since the Pilot MR - the version sold in Europe - does not allow for converters to be installed, AFAIK...

I prefer the European Pilot MR as it takes international standard converters instead of Pilot converters, and I don't get along with the newly reduced range of Pilot converters. (And I enjoy more choice in my cartridges, too.) The downside is that the converter must be purchased separately.

 

My opinion is that yes, the new price of the Metro is going to scare some potential fountain pen owners. I also feel there does need to be a sort of "default" recommendation as it's unreasonable to expect people to invest time in getting personalised recommendations for something they're only curious about. (And requests for personal recommendations from strangers introduces a whole host of additional problems.)

 

The Metro had the magic combination of professional looks, fairly reliable operation, reasonable comfort, and a price that didn't shock potential owners used to free pens. Only one criteria has been downgraded, but it's not perfect in the other categories, either. I haven't found a better default yet, though, so I'm still on the lookout.

 

It might have been the Kaco Edge with its increased nib selection, if not for the cracking caps.

 

(My Dark Lilac Lamy Safari sits in a drawer while I use a Jinhao clone that's the same colour. I just don't get along with it so wouldn't recommend it to others, but I realise that's just my own experience.)

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I prefer the European Pilot MR as it takes international standard converters instead of Pilot converters, and I don't get along with the newly reduced range of Pilot converters. (And I enjoy more choice in my cartridges, too.) The downside is that the converter must be purchased separately.

I never looked for a Pilot MR that uses 'international standard' converters instead of proprietary Pilot converters and ink cartridges, but (to my surprise) I have received one in my online ordering – from Malaysia, if I recall correctly — that was like that, and it came with an 'international standard' converter instead of a Pilot CON-B converter already installed (and there was no ink cartridge included in the tin).

 

Thus, I'm not familiar with the downside you described.

 

My opinion is that yes, the new price of the Metro is going to scare some potential fountain pen owners. I also feel there does need to be a sort of "default" recommendation as it's unreasonable to expect people to invest time in getting personalised recommendations for something they're only curious about.

As a fellow fountain pen user/purchaser and fellow consumer in general, I strongly disagree with your sentiment expressed above. Intelligent and/or informed purchasing decisions require proper due diligence, and I staunchly believe it should be performed at the ultimate cost of the individual prospective purchaser, as a trade-off against the additional 'cost' or 'loss' of buying sub-optimally. I don't want anyone to be cheated or misled as customers by retailers, but I also don't want a world where people get (or are 'owed') what they want by default without putting their time, energy and thinking caps on. If people don't want to invest time to do research into and/or 'study' the market offerings into what they would like to buy, then I think reasonable expectation is that 'by default' they'll get something that deliver to the stated product specifications and fulfil all applicable consumer law obligations, that were nevertheless not designed and tailored to fit their requirements or satisfy them optimally.

 

Avoid the upfront cost of due diligence, and wear the impact of sub-optimal purchasing as an ongoing thing for the 'lifetime' of the product bought. Those who feel they're ill-equipped to do proper due diligence themselves can always engage others to perform the tasks — as a personal favour, for the price of a beer, or as a professional 'analysis' service — without expecting either the industry or 'the community' to make it easier as if they're entitled to good advice and/or easy decision-making just by wanting to make a purchase.

 

If someone asks me for a recommendation, I almost always either take the time to properly consider their requirements and preferences against what is on the market, or tell them unambiguously that I'm under no obligation to render them any assistance and they haven't demonstrated why I should make the effort, so they can engage someone else with whom they have some leverage or pre-existing relationship.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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