Wednesday, June 27, 2007

About Fountain Pens Part 2 - Starting Out

Sorry for the delay in Part 2. I forgot I started this series hehehe...

Click on the photos for the galleries.

Anyway, some of the people I know have consulted me when their interest for fountain pens surfaced. Among the popular questions are

1) What should I start with?

It depends on what your budget is. The price of a fountain pen can range from RM10 to RM100000. Among the cheapest that I know of is this cute Pilot Petit. You can find them nowadays at fine stationery shops like Kinokuniya.

They are a little small to hold for long periods of time though. The nib is a crudely made steel nib which serves its purpose. It writes consistently but feels very scratchy. The Petit comes in several colours and cartridge ink refills can be bought separately.

For a nicer but still affordable alternative, consider the well made Lamy Safaris. The Safaris are popular among collectors due to its low price and great performance. I know many people who swear by their Safari. The Safari comes in 3 different ranges... the Vista (seen below)

The normal Safaris. Below are examples of the annual limited edition for the Summer of 2007...

And finally, the Safari Al-Star which is like the normal Safari but comes with a matt aluminium finish.

The normal Safaris normally retail for around RM80+.

2) What are the good brands to go for?

I'm just going to give a small list of some well known brands and why they are popular...

a) Mont Blanc - easily the most well sought after brand today. They are famous for their branding and also prestige factor. The MB collectibles always sell out and their pens, while nice, are imho, overpriced. Also many users have complaint about the fragile barrel and leaky filling systems.

b) Pelikan - probably the most famous German brand (now Malaysian owned). Very consistent and high quality. But boring in most of its designs. Very very conservative. Normally the choice of people who want solid German engineering. The flasghip M800 and M1000 series have brass pistons which are a pleasure to use.

c) Namiki/Pilot - the largest of the Japanese brands. Super consistent in performance and the Namiki maki-e range is among the most expensive pens in the world with exquisite workmanship

d) Sailor - famous for possible the best nib performance in the world. Sailor specialty nibs are done by master nib makers and to use one is to understand its much vaunted nib performance. Its barrel work is still behind Namiki imho.

e) ST Dupont - solid solid performance from their pens. Super smooth nibs. But Dupont's claim to fame are their palladium chinese lacquer bodies which are scratch resistant and silk-like to the touch. Amazing feel.

f) Waterman - The famous French/American company who first introduced the modern fountain pen. Its flagship, the Exception, is an amazing piece. Consistent and smooth. Definitely high quality and a joy to use.

Still many others to talk about (e.g. Parker Sheaffer) but I'll leave that for another day...

Part 3 coming up next...

Copyright (c) Kelvin Tan

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