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Alternatives to pilot parallel


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I have been learning italic calligraphy and have been using a pilot parallel 2.4 mm. I'm looking for an alternative that fits in a pen case easily and has a body that looks more like a normal fountain pen. 2 pens that I was looking at were a lamy al-star with a 1.9 mm calligraphy nib or a Kaweco calligraphy sport with a 2.3 mm nib. Would you recommend these or something else?

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@JacobP Welcome to FPN.


18 minutes ago, JacobP said:

Would you recommend these or something else?


I won't, and cannot, recommend any Lamy pen model that comes factory-fitted with a Z50 nib — although I do love my Lamy cp1 after replacing the nib on it with a Z52 EF nib, and the Lamy Accent with the interchangeable grip sections is interesting but also seals quite well, which is a plus, so I quite like it after replacing the nib with a Z53 EF nib — and I think you're specifically looking at models (and Z50 Italic nibs) that fall into that category.


I also can't recommend Kaweco products, although I did buy a Supra recently (which didn't impress), and have bought many Kaweco ‘international standard’ converters when they were among the cheapest options available to me at the time.


25 minutes ago, JacobP said:

I'm looking for an alternative that fits in a pen case easily and has a body that looks more like a normal fountain pen.


There are some ‘normal’ fountain pen models that are known to be able to take the nib and feed of a Pilot Parallel pen. An Opus 88 Demonstrator (that normally uses an Opus 88 #12, which is effectively a JoWo #6, nib unit), for one; I have one of those, and it's… OK, but some more than a couple of fellow fountain pen enthusiasts on FPN really love them. There are other (cheaper to acquire, too, but that's besides the point of compatibility and functionality) pen models that can do that as well.


So, my recommendation is that you start looking into what those models are, and be prepared to discard the Pilot Parallel pen body and the factory-fitted nib that comes with the recipient pen, in order to have the end result you seem to want, never mind paying the price of two separate pens and doing some fiddling with the parts to make it work for you as a whole.


Again, the Opus 88 Demonstrator is the ‘known quantity’ that has been demonstrated online by other Pilot Parallel pen fans to work in that configuration, so if you can't find what's ‘better’ or cheaper, it still remains a functionally and qualitatively good enough option. (“Perfect is the enemy of good” and all that.)

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Have a look at these: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001729455693.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.7a4319e18u5hiP&algo_pvid=55b58164-3182-439b-9e36-08252c4cfa69&algo_exp_id=55b58164-3182-439b-9e36-08252c4cfa69-1&pdp_ext_f={"sku_id"%3A"12000017373086425"}&pdp_npi=2%40dis!AUD!27.13!13.56!!!!!%402103255a16685066139533385e197b!12000017373086425!sea&curPageLogUid=2SFZt5Njx2fs


More variety than the Pilot, and also a piston filler (more of a plunger really) with decent capacity.  I have the 0.5 mm, and it writes just as well as the Pilot, and in a 'normal' fountain pen format.






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I find the Lamy nibs usable, but not the best choice. I like the Kaweco calligraphy nibs. As mentioned already, the "Opus 88 hack" is a good option, if you love the Pilot Parallel nibs. Note that Opus 88 also makes a 2.3mm calligraphy nib. It's okay but not wonderful, IMO.


There are other options among vintage pens - Osmiroids, Shaeffer No Nonsense pens, etc.


My favorite for broad nib calligraphy with a "normal" fountain pen is the Franklin-Christoph Music Nib. This nib is on a standard JoWo #6 carrier and thus can be swapped into any of your pens that take #6 JoWo nibs. It is 1.9mm wide nominally and writes a 2mm line on good paper.


Happy writing!



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  • 4 weeks later...

I really like the Osprey Madison body for $18 it is perfect for adding a Parallel nib.



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My personal experience with Lamy nibs has been good, I have no complains so far, and they are easy to swap. A Lamy Joy is a nice calligraphy pen, but probably too large for your desires, any other Lamy pen should do as well as nibs are trivial to swap.


Ditto for Kaweco. I have not had any problem with them either so far, and I do have several Sports fitted with their stub/italic nibs that work very well. I particularly enjoy the Sports, for I can carry them on a pocket easily (and indeed usually carry three of them -a Brass and two AL- fitted with italic nibs in my backpack).


Kaweco nibs used to have uneven qualities some 5-7 years ago, but that was fixed and, in any case, they were reputed to provide an excellent customer service when a nib came out less than satisfactory. Modern nib units are screw-in and also easily swappable.


Nowadays, and based solely on my own experience, I would say that any of these two choices, Lamy or Kaweco is great. Both allow for easy exchange of nibs/nib units and both offer a very good and wide choice of nice nibs.


Without much base, I tend to lean to Kaweco because of the nib unit. Swapping the nib on a Lamy may run into a mismatch of nib-width and feeder flux, whereas with an integral nib unit one would expect nib and feeder to be matched. But that is only speculation.


There are many other options. You can find in eBay or AliExpress many calligraphy fountain pen sets. Some of them may actually be very nice (or have been for me), but it is a bit of a hit-or-miss, and given the delivery times, which compound if one gets a miss and need to try others, I would rather prefer a pen from a well known brand with good support and a wide choice of nibs.


if you want to go on the cheaper side, a Manuscript set will allow you to get a fair pen with a fair choice of nibs. Manuscript has been around since, like, forever, so one may in principle trust them to know their job. The set I got in early 90's has worked very well for me until I passed it on to one of my sons.


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  • 1 year later...

A bit late to the party, but you could try looking at the Tom’s Studio website as they do a fountain pen where there are a large range of changeable nibs.

Never tried it though.

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