Inkophile – Fountain pens worth the hassle?

Inkophile wants to know if we agree with the commenter who doesn’t see any advantage to fountain pens.

I can see the commenter’s point of view. I like fountain pens, and a properly tuned pen on the right paper is a joy to use. Lots of cool inks to choose from, dynamic line width, and really nice pens to have and hold. The problem is that most of what I have to write on isn’t that right paper.

So I end up with ballpoint myself. A good ballpoint that is fresh and used regularly will write well. A brand-new BIC crystal stic in broad is really nice. However, ballpoints don’t really have much line quality. Ballpoint looks like ballpoint, and they don’t really come in wide line widths.

For line quality nothing beats a fountain pen.

I agree that rollerballs combine the worst of both worlds. For me they don’t add enough advantage over a ballpoint to make them very useful. The really fine gel pens are fun to play with, and are a little less hassle than a fountain pen.

For now, for me, it’s ballpoint. Now please stand by for my semi-annual “switching back to fountain pens” post 8-).

10 thoughts on “Inkophile – Fountain pens worth the hassle?

  1. I am a person who WANTS to love and use fountain pens, but I cannot get over the “fussiness” of them — which ink to use? Will this ink play nice with this paper? Will this ink fade over time? Will the pen clog up with this ink? Will this pen write better if it’s adjusted or the nib is smoothed? It’s simply exhausting to me. So ballpoints and gel pens win by default. But I do love to look at beautiful fountain pens, so I am glad someone uses them and that they exist.


    1. I know exactly what you mean. I get lured by them a few times a year. I fall in love with the feel of writing with them, and then fall out of love as their idiosyncrasies pile on me.

      There is one thing that I just cannot do with a ballpoint though: Write a letter. For some reason, that commands a fountain pen, no matter what.


  2. I love, love, love my Noodler’s Ahab. And I do have a few vintage fountain pens, nothing expensive. The Ahab is comfortable and has a flex nib. I’d rather write with it than anything else and I use it on everything. I run Noodler’s Lexington Gray through it. It’s a bulletproof ink with a nice color and dries quickly. Noodler’s also makes a refillable roller ball, if you like that sort of thing. The other pen I use regularly is a Retro 51 rollerball that used to be a stylus/pen combo. Now I run two pens, in case one runs out.

    That Ahab and ink will set you back about $32 or so. It’s not a fussy pen. It is adjustable (kinda weird in that the whole nib piece can pull out. I just push it all back in and it writes fine.) I had the first Noodler’s flex pen but it wasn’t as nice as the Ahab.


  3. If you want a fountain pen that will write on anything, a fine nib (Kaweco Sport, Lamy Safari EF) and Pelikan Blue/Black, or Lamy Blue should do the trick.

    The only thing I don’t do with my fountain pens is address envelopes (I use either a Zebra gel ink pen, or a Parker Jotter with a gel refill for water resistance). I could use my Platinum Carbon pen, I guess (a fountain pen that uses pigment based waterproof ink) but I save that for drawing πŸ™‚


    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for the tip. However, you may want to check the water resistance of those Gel cartridges if you’re really concerned about water resistance. I was surprised to find the Parker Gels I had to be pretty washable.


      1. Ah, thanks Steve, will do πŸ™‚ Maybe I should switch to the carbon pen, as I know that’s ok (it survives watercolour washes, after all!)

        I did forget to put this link in the first post, Inky Journal rates inks according to Moleskine friendliness. My experience of their paper suggests that this should mean the “Moleskine Proof” inks will work on most papers.

        Anyway, I hope you (and perhaps Randall H) do find your way back to fountain pens. As I say in my comment, I’ve found that the key is to have at least one pen/ink combo that will write on anything, and get fancy with the rest of your collection πŸ™‚


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