What Makes a Good Fountain Pen?

Top Reasons To Buy A Fountain Pen

I’ll begin this article with a warning. If you like satisfying conclusions then this article may not be for you! Essentially, what makes a good fountain pen is how it feels to you and what purpose it serves you as an individual. What can be said with absolute certainty though is that everyone should own a fountain pen at some point in their lives!

Why Should I Buy A Fountain Pen?

Although it may be true that in our Digital Age there is not always the same need for an analogue writing instrument, my argument will always be that this reason is EXACTLY WHY there IS a need for putting pen to paper. The kinesthetic act of physical writing is an important one when it comes to learning and development for children and later in life that process of physically writing things down can be important to thought processing…also sometimes it really is just quicker! 

‘Yeah but surely any pen will do?’

To an extent yes… but only in the same way that a nutritionally complete powdered meal is enough for us to live on but wouldn't life be that much duller if we all went around in a uniform boiler suit ‘eating’ grey nutritional shakes and living in identical pods? Fair enough that may be somewhat of an exaggeration.

The experience of writing with a fountain pen is unmatched and there is something really satisfying about laying that trail of ink across a crisp blank page. Whether you choose bottled inks or cartridges, the ebb and flex of a well crafted nib is SATISFYING! One of the top reasons for using a fountain pen for me is the admiration of the craft and design that goes into creating a fountain pen and the skill and eye-for-detail that is required to produce a well-balanced and attractive pen (no matter your personal style preference).

Fountain pens over other modes of pen are the kind of item to be carried around and produced when ink needs to be laid down! Fountain pens are not the kind of pen that gets left lying around or endlessly lost. Fountain pens last. Sometimes generations! 

Fountain Pens Are The Environmentally Friendly Choice!

Using a fountain pen is a great way to reduce waste. Even low cost fountain pen options have a longevity that isn't found with disposable pens. Take for example the Faber-Castell Hexo Fountain Pen, the price of which will set you back less than a trip to the cinema, is a fine example of a beautiful pen with an attractive price tag. The Faber-Castell Hexo Fountain Pen has a sleek anodised aluminium barrel with a hexagonal shape that provides a comfortable writing experience. The sophisticated black coloured stainless steel nib is available in the widths Extra Fine, Fine, Medium and Broad so will suit almost any writing preference. The fact that it is a Faber-Castell also helps as the brand is steeped in history and has a legacy of excellence in the creation of writing instruments. (Find out more about Faber-Castell by reading: Faber-Castell: Pens, Pencils and a Whole lot of History!)

A mid-range Fountain pen such as the Esterbrook Estie Oversize is designed to last a lifetime. This fountain in particular features a comfortable well-balanced barrel produced from blended acrylic that is finished with a high polish and has a slightly wider girth than the standard Estie and is a little longer too. The cushioned cap closure provides a secondary seal to ensure the nib remains wet and ready to use. The craftsmanship behind these fountain pens means that they look great, write beautifully and are less prone to faults than the poorly designed counterparts.

There are also pens which are designed to last so long that they can be passed down through the family as an heirloom. An example of this is the Visconti Il Magnifico Limited Edition Fountain Pen Lapis lazuli - not so eye-wateringly expensive that you would be afraid to use it. It features high-quality and valuable materials such as the elegant golden vermeil finish and 18ct yellow gold nib available in a range of grades.

What Should I Look For in a Fountain Pen?

There are a great variety of characteristics in a fountain pen that can make or break the experience of writing with one for the user. Again, this is very individualistic and it is worth trying some options out to find out what works best for you. Here are some of the key aspects to look at when looking for that fountain pen which is going to bring you joy. 

You should think about how you plan on using the pen. Fountain pens are much sturdier and long lasting than many other ‘daily use’ pens and they tend to be designed to be comfortable for longer writing times.

This is absolutely not an exhaustive list but here are some aspects that I PERSONALLY find makes a ‘good’ fountain pen.

Good Fountain Pen Nibs

There are three main nib types to consider when looking at fountain pens. Each serves a slightly different purpose. 

Stainless Steel Nibs

These are great for everyday use as they are sturdy and inexpensive and they are easy to replace. These are particularly good for novice fountain users and children.

A good example of a great starter fountain pen with a stainless steel nib is Kaweco’s Skyline Sport. The Kaweco Sport range is one of those products that is so great, it has barely changed since it was first introduced in 1935! The octagonal design has certainly stood the test of time and the Kaweco Sport now has a worldwide cult following. The Skyline Sport Fountain Pen from Kaweco is manufactured from tough ABS/macrolon plastic and is a respectable 133mm long with the cap posted, but just 105mm long when closed making it the ideal choice for either pocket or handbag. 

Iridium, Rhodium, Dipped & Plated Nibs

Iridium nibs are perhaps controversial to some as ‘technically’ pens have not featured iridium dipped nibs since the middle of the 20th Century. Iridium nibs generally refer to stainless steel nibs that have been dipped to add to the hardness characteristics of the nib. There is a complex and diverse discussion surrounding this (perhaps we will get into it one day) but for our purposes we are talking about those nibs which are reinforced in some way using iridium or other metals from the platinum family. 

A good example of dipped or plated nibs is the Sheaffer Prelude. The whole collection features an array of finishes that appeal to men, women, business executives and working professionals alike. Its mid-size profile and smooth finish make it a favourite for those desiring an easy and pleasurable writing experience. The Fountain pen has a smart matt gunmetal grey finish barrel highlighted with black trims and is fitted with a black pvd plated stainless steel nib.



Solid Gold Nibs

The luxury of this nib type is met with its level of practicality. Not only do they look beautiful, solid gold nibs mould to your writing style over time.

The Cross Townsend Fountain Pen  is a 10ct gold filled/rolled gold finish fountain pen which features the optimum combination of elegance, strength and wearability with an 18ct gold nib.



Fountain Pen Nib Widths.

There are a number of nib widths to consider and a lot of fountain pens provide options. The most popular nib widths are:

Extra fine: this produces a very fine writing line and is particularly popular for those using fountain pens for drawing.

Fine: This fountain pen nib is also commonly found among those who enjoy fountain pens for drawing but it is also a great choice for people with small handwriting.

Medium: As you may imagine, this is the most popular nib width and it is pretty universally enjoyed across most writing styles and pens.

Broad: this width, as the name suggests, is the best option if you have large handwriting although it is the least economical on Ink.


As we have looked at nibs it is worth quickly touching on grips. The material of a pen grip is usually rubber, metal or plastic and will have different feels when in use. There are many variables when looking at how the material of a grip influences your experience of a pen so the best thing to do is try some out and see if you have a preference.  For me, the shape of a grip has more influence over how I will enjoy a pen over the material used. Grips with ridges or textures allow for better purchase - as someone who tends to have quite a firm grip when writing, this tactile grip is important to prevent the pen from slipping too much through movement. There are many ergonomic grips designed to better position the fountain pen in your hand.

Fountain Pens: For the Fun of Writing

Ultimately, a good fountain pen is the kind of pen which not only performs well…but makes you feel something. The effortless gliding of a well made fountain pen beats a sticky disposable ballpoint any day of the week. Fountain pens have reached accessory status. I don't just mean that in response to digital communications they are seen as an accessory. I mean in an elevated way.  A fountain pen is a statement. It says, I value the time and energy put into this action. In a professional setting it demonstrates seriousness with an element of elegance. There's a reason important documents are signed with a fountain pen and not just some sort of digital signature!

Fountain pens actually improve your handwriting too! Time and time again it has been shown that writing with a fountain pen requires slowing down. You can’t scribble with a fountain pen the way you can with a ballpoint pen. If you don't want an inky mess you have to take care. That being said…once you have used a fountain pen long enough you will find streams and streams of beautiful handwriting flowing from the nib!

The right pen for you is only a few clicks away! Explore our enormous collection of Fountain pens at The Hamilton Pen Company and find the joy in writing.



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