The Danger of Fountain Pens

I asked earlier this month for some recommendations on cheap, preferably disposable, fountain pens for my daughter. After some great responses, I located some for her and she loves them. Then I tried them. And I remembered how much I love writing with fountain pens. So back to the forums for advice on starting-quality fountain pens. I got two--a Lamy Safari (in bright yellow, so it'll be easy to find and identify) and a Pilot Knight. And now I'm writing everything. If I could write my posts here, I would! Shopping lists, lists of lists, random doodles.... It's so much fun! Why didn't anyone warn me that these things were addictive???? :o)
And now I have my eye on a Namika vanishing point pen....and some of those beautiful colors of ink I saw while online......

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Stop her before she shops again !!!

Oh, the horror, the carnage, the ink stains !!

Seriously, I am glad you found something that can generate this much enthusiasm. Run with it.

You go, girl. :D
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen in D.C. area

I would like to find a store in the Washington, D.C. area (preferably MD suburbs) that sells the Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen. I have tried the usual haunts - Office Depot, Staples, etc.

I would like to rejoin the handwriting world and avoid paying the horrific shipping charges from Amazon and Colorado Pens.

Could anyone provide some guidance?


I found mine...

at a Border's Books

You can also try the Pilot Petit1 Mini Fountain Pens from JetPens
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I live in Southern Maryland

The Border's in question is the one in Waldorf

and JetPens has Free Shipping on Orders over $25 (US Only) -- I do not work for JetPens, I'm just a satisfied customer (^_^)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

wsh you hadn't pointed me to that web site

Great - another obsession ... circa, art supplies (particularly conte), computer gear, and now fountain pens.... Where can I sign up for my government bailout???

Think of it as doing your

Think of it as doing your part for your country by stimulating the economy. ;)

Pen Stores

I'm not sure about the DC area, but there is a pen store in NYC called JOON who is also online and has a catalog. AWESOME! At the King of Prussia Mall in Philly is Paradise Pen. I believe they also have a catalog and are online. Again, AWESOME. Maybe there are some near you. There's also the Crane stores. They carry fountain pens. Also search for paper stores, some of them have fountain pens. I would think there has to be something near you, if I managed to find something close to me. I can never find anything decent near me! :-)

Try Pentrace, the green

Try Pentrace, the green board. Grat people and super prices. You will find the right pen. has them

I got my varsity set at Quill. They also sell them by the box. I think the multi-colored set I got was like $6.

Fahrney's and Pen Haven?

This is from Glenn Marcus' pen store directory.
I buy pens from the Internet, but nothing like a good pen shop where you can see and try out various pens.

1317 F Street, NW
Washington, DC
Tel: (202) 628-9525
1-800-624-PENS | Outside USA or Canada call (301) 568-1755 | Fax: (301) 736-2926.

This is a legendary store in Washington. Staff are patient, polite, professional and knowledgeable. You come out of the store knowing more about pens then when you went in. No problem trying out the pens until you are sure which one is right for you. Specializes in new writing instruments from major manufacturers, some limited editions on hand. Prices are good with even some great sale "tables" from time to time.. Call for a catalog or to place credit card orders. [Thanks, P. Ruden]

Pen Haven
Howard Avenue
Kensington, MD
(it is a suburb of Washington, DC)

Pen Haven specializes in antique fountain pens and carries an unbelievable range of pens. There is everything from $25 Esterbrooks to expensive 1890 Waterman pens(when they are in stock). What is even better, the owner specializes in restoring pens. Go frequently, the owner likes to chat or "play" with his latest find. If you are in the area, Pen Haven is a great place to bring in one of your "finds" from a flea market or garage sale and have the store fix it up for very reasonable price. (Thanks - J. Hilton).

Hope that helps!

"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Albert Einstein and Buckaroo Banzai

Too Upscale

I don't know anything about Pen Haven, but I'm sure that Fahrney's is not the sort of store to carry Pilot Varsity pens.

So Many Pens, So Little Time

I bought myself a Waterman Phileas fountain pen for Christmas. My first since middle school when I had one of those cheap leaky pens. The only thing I use mine for now is writing in my journal. I'm re-learning cursive and the fountain pen makes my handwriting almost look small feat! So far I'm only using the cartridges, but I have a converter and bottle of ink waiting for that day I have time to clean a major ink spill. :)

My current pen love affair is with gel pens. I love the smooth way the ink flows on every writing surface, especially notecards and Moleksine pages. I recently purchased a three pack of Uniball Signo's, and I love using them. I also have a supply of the Bic Ultra's scattered about. They're cheap and work great. My tried and true friend, the quad point pen I purchased from FC 10 years ago, is getting neglected lately.


That is _so_ not fair!

Here, I opened this thread, expecting (hoping almost) to read some horror story of how your daughter got ink everywhere, and how you were swearing off of fountain pens--only to discover that the only gushing going on was how wonderful fountain pens are!!! And I've been trying _so_ hard to resist getting myself one!!! They are _everywhere_ here in Krakow, and every time I go into a stationery store, I have to avert my eyes (thanks to you all!) and now you are making it even harder!!! :-D



So glad to hear that you have found a potential new hobby! ((This site is great for finding new hobbies and fueling addictions))

A new art supply store opened not far from my house, soooooOOooo... I **HAD** to make a visit. I found Varsity fountain pens for $1.25 each!!! I bought three ... one black, blue, purple... ran home and now am in love!

Now I'll have to get my retro-parkers up and running ... My birthday is in July so maybe a bottle of ink will make a good list topper :D

I'll have to see what a Namika vanishing point pen is... sounds ... addictive! :D

my artwork | my blog

Me Too!

I have also discovered the joy of a quality fountain pen. Be sure and head over to to further feed this addiction! =)

Vanishing points

I have to come out of lurkdom to say that I've been using a Namiki Vanishing Point for the last year and it is the most wonderful fountain pen! :) Because it's Japanese, the extra fine nib has a wonderful thin line for writing kanji. The nib retracts into the pen so you can keep it in your pocket or purse. It's expensive but worth it. I bought mine from Levenger, but not sure if they carry them anymore.

Bic makes Fountain Pens!

LINK look under Fountain pens

They look very nice... and Bic is one of my favorite pen brands because they last forEVER.

Anyone seen any or used any of these? ((says available in Europe))

my artwork | my blog


I know how I'm spending my lunch hours next week... If I find one, I'll let you all know how it works. ;-)


i had to look...

the school ones were so cute! makes me wish i lived in europe LOL

I adore my fountain pens. :D

I adore my fountain pens. :D Gel pens are nice (and I have some), but I'm such a color junkie that I'm addicted to all the colors of inks that are available for my fountain pens. My current favorite is Wampum from Noodler's. :D

Re: the Namiki Vanishing Point - the one I have is the only size available (so far) in the US and it's fairly large. (I've seen pics of a to-die-for smaller version available in Japan.)

One problem that I have is that the pocket clip gets in the way of gripping the pen comfortably. The section (the part where your fingers hold the pen) is a bit chubbier than on most pens, so the combo of the size of the section plus the placement of the clip means I don't reach for it as often as I do others. If that's not an issue with you (and some adore theirs), it is a very nice writing pen. Nibs are nice and smooth, etc. The converters don't hold much ink, though. On the plus side, the nib unit is very easy to change out and some have had custom-ground nibs made (oblique, italic, etc.). See Richard Binder's site ( for more on that. (No affiliation, just a happy customer.)

There's nothing quite as scrumptious as writing on Clairefontaine paper with a smooth wet-writing fountain pen. It's just heaven! :D

Welcome to the addiction... uh, club. ;)

Btw, those Pilot Varsity pens can be refilled. Do a search over on to see how. (It's not hard at all.)

You're on a slippery slope

I pretty quickly upgraded from the Pilot Knight to a Lamy Studio (great looking clip and a wonderful non-scratchy nib). And just today I picked up one of the new Pelikan Pura pens. I fell in love with it. I spent at least 2 hours writing in my journal after buying it at lunch and it is fantastic. One trick I have played with myself is instead of buying every new pen I see, I have bought a couple of different coloured inks. Bit less expensive, and almost as much fun as a brand new pen. Have fun!

Namiki VP (vanishing point)

The VP is my everyday pen. It's smooth as glass, uses any ink I supply, and I don't have to use two hands to post it.

("posting" refers to putting the cap on the back end of the pen while you write. It's a fountain pen aficionado’s term.)

To add your own ink to a VP you can use the cartridge converter but it doesn't hold as much ink as a cartridge.

So here's what I did:

1) bought a box of cartridges
2) when a cartridge become empty, I filled it with my Noodlers ink using a syringe purchased at your local Walmart.
3) I carry a spare store bought cartridge on trips.

By the way, if anyone is interested, I have an extra forest green VP with a medium point. The VPs have a slightly finer nib than the other fountain pens.

After writing with a quality fountain pen you will never look back.

The VPs never leak and even on a plane they write great.

insomnia cure

Glad to hear this.

My very first VP is on its way to me from the UK right now. I'm going crazy waiting for it to arrive. :)

(I also have a Lamy Vista, and also on its way is a Pelikan GO. And there's another model I'm now drooling over... This is addictive.

Great news!

Hey, congratulations on getting a VP! They are wonderful writers and very very handy. I'm betting you'll be reaching for it often. :)

A good source for VPs

Try Pam Braun provides excellent, fast service and very good prices. I have at least five of them, including one Decimo which I ordered from a dealer in Japan. The Decimo is the "slim" VP that's available only in Japan. It's lighter and slimmer than the standard VP available in the US. In Japan, the VP is called the Capless and would you believe, they've been developing this pen since the '60's? . Pilot has a new model called the Fermo, which uses a twist knob to extend the nib, again only in Japan.

Great pen for quick notetaking because all you have to do is pull it out of your pocket, push the "button" to extend the nib, and write!

Japanese fountain pen nibs generally run about one size smaller than US size nibs. Eg., a Japanese medium is like a US fine, although that can vary. Richard Binder sells pre-ground custom VP nibs, if you're looking for something like an italic or stub, and he also sells VPs and other Namiki/Pilot pens.

BTW, some say that if you get an oblique nib, you can rotate the pen so that the clip doesn't get in the way so much. Something you have to try for yourself, though.

Have fun with them!


Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
B. Banzai

Okay... got me. ;) I had to go to the office supply store yesterday to have copies made, and I bought a Varsity. It writes gorgeously.

Now I'm considering getting a "real" fountain pen (the type designed to be refillable), but I'm wondering if most of them write like this one, or if most of them write like calligraphy pens. (I have found that my calligraphy pens do NOT write very consistently - they can be quite dry and scratchy.) I know nothing about fountain pens. Where is the best place to get started learning about what a converter is vs. a cartridge, what sizes are what, etc.? (I have drooled over the pens in the Levenger catalog, but I don't know what anything IS. lol)

This: (Scribe's Treasures) has been on my wish list for a while. *sigh* But it is definitely not in the budget anytime soon.

Be blessed!
~Rachel <><

Fp info

go ti richard Binder's site then click on "reference info" in the left column.
You'll find a wealth of information there.


I joined FPN a couple days ago when I read these threads before, but I'm SO new to this, I don't even know what to ask/search for! The reference info at the site you mentioned looks like a great place to start. :)

Be blessed!
~Rachel <><

I also recommend

I also recommend Fountain Pen Network. Great bunch of folks who will help you will just about any question.

And yes, a 'real' FP will write better than the Varsity. I still love my Varsity and actually need to find those instructions on refilling the darn thing (yes, I know technically they're not refillable, but in true DIY fashion, where there's a will, there's a way!)


can't find the node where I listed a link to instructions so here are some more links :D

Link 1
Link 2
Link 3

my artwork | my blog

A good pen is not scratchy

A good fountain pen is not scratchy at all -- they should feel buttery smooth on decent paper. Calligraphy pens are a different beast, since their nibs are generally shaped differently in order to produce the thin-and-thick lines. I picked up a Levenger True Writer FP the last time they went on clearance ($10 for a normally $56 pen!) and I loooove it. I do have an assortment of cheapo Sheaffer calligraphy pens and they write so-so (the broad nib refuses to work at all.) I also have a Varsity selection, and to be honest, they are not bad at all!

Getting a decent pen with a quality nib *and* writing on better-quality paper is truly a joy. I didn't realize how problematic using a cheap plastic ballpoint could be. Now all such pens are banished from my desk, and only my beloved Zebras and Space Pen are carried around when a FP won't do.

I want in on that discount!

I want in on that discount! $10 for a True Writer? Wow!

Discontinued color

It seems to happen when they are getting rid of a color (mine is "periwinkle.") The site listed the sale price as $15, but the invoice only showed $9.95. I was suitably pleased. :-D


I got one of those, too.
Same pricing.
I was disapointed with the ink cartridge that came with it, though. It was gloppy like a cheap ballpoint and was hard to get it to write. Cleaned and popped in a new cart and it writes great.

As "Friend of Pens" said,

As "Friend of Pens" said, calligraphy pens are different. Their nibs are designed to be wide but it's a bit like scratching across your paper with a blade.

Fine nibs also will be more scratchy, but once you get into the medium range it's a beautiful thing.

internet pen sales

Lots of places are trying to sell fountain pens via internet. A fountain pen cannot be bought over the internet or mail-order, one has to try the pen out. Every pen write different.

I thoroughly disagree with this.

I thoroughly disagree with this. I've purchased quite a few pens from reputable sites like and The pens are lovely to hold and use and are some of my favorites. I do agree that it helps to know what you want.

Certainly true for tomatos

Here, probably like where you live, supermarkets have a web shote from which you can order your weekly shopping. Personally I want to go to the store myself certainly for the fresh veg and meat. The in-store pickers haven't got the time to select the best of an item; they are only concerned with picking the correct weight.

I wouldn't trust anyone else to buy my fruit and veg. Not sure that when, if, I buy a pen I'd have the courage to do it sight unseen trusting another person's judgement.

Just my shillings-worth.

Keep in mind that most pens

Keep in mind that most pens aren't available except in specialized pen shops, which are only in large cities. The closest thing I have to a pen shop is an office supply/art store that carries Cross, Lamy, and a few others. No higher end pens at all. And even if you wanted to buy just a lower end pen at an office supply store (say, Staples), their pens any more are only in blister packs. You usually can't remove them and try them out anyway. So why not buy online? :)

Online Pens

I bought some Pilot Petit pens online, after reading about them here, and I'm loving them. (Four colors so far, and I'll probably get more.) They're lined up in a pocket of my new Tom Bihn ID bag, which I also bought after reading about here....this site is driving me into bankruptcy. Thanks a lot. ;)


Of course fountain pens can be bought online. For those of us who don't live in a particularly urban or wealthy area, it's order online or have no pens. Even if one has a pen shop, they can only stock so much, and higher-end or less comon pens must be ordered in.

I prefer to try before I buy when possible, but it just isn't always possible. Instead, I read up on pens, and ask for comparisons from my fellow penfreaks who have used both the pen I'm considering and one or more that I am familiar with (for a common point of reference).

An important point to note is that fountain pens hold their value well, even in this economy. The last pen I ordered and didn't like sold on FPN for just a few dollars less than I bought it for. I think I was down $6 all told with the loss in selling and the costs of shipping it once to me and again to the new owner. I'm happy to pay $6 to have a pen shipped to me to try out, even if the match isn't meant to be.


DC/MD 'Burbs Stores

Regarding the DC/MD suburbs...

I went to Fahrney's once when I had a conference in DC. I was 100% ignored... I really don't know what that was all about... Was dressed nicely, didn't eat or drink in the store, or pick my nose but just wasn't feeling the love from the staff. My wallet was burning a hole in my pocket too. Too bad for them.

Bertram's Inkwell in White Flint Mall has a great selection. Lots of pens and lots and lots of inks.

I'll have to check out the place in Kensington and let you know how it went.

DC/MD Burbs Stores

The Levenger store has a variety of test pens to sample, plus they'll pull out dip pens so you can play with inks. Their TrueWriters are nice writers, but I don't care for the looks. Their Decathlon is a wonderful pen, but I can't pay $100+ for a pen.

just got my first jetpen order

Absolutely love the Pilot Mini fountain pen in cobalt blue! I got the Teshe rollerball (pink body) and it writes like a dream. I also got an Energel multi-point. It's better than any of the miscellaneous ballpoints floating around the office, but a little too thick for me. Even with the rubber grip I find my hand sliding down.