Fountain Pens and Paper

I have been visiting this site since its beginning and have been blessed with a multitude of ideas, tips and suggestions which have contributed to the organization of my chaotic life. I was lucky enough to find the Million Monkeys Typing website, just a week before D*I*Y opened. I have used writing tips and journaling tips. I love the hPDA and I even use a main planner now (one of many which I have bought and never used). I am officially on my way to being organized.

I have a few comments and a couple of questions which I will pose in this piece. First of all, I love to write but I never enjoy it as much on my computer as I do with a fine pen and a clean, crisp piece of paper. I have just bought my second fountain pen. It is a Sheaffer Javelin which is very nice to write with without spending three digits. My comment on this is that I was amazed at the lack of retail interest in the sale of fountain pens in my area. I only found three outlets in Victoria which carry fountain pens and two of them only had one pen! The third store had the pen I bought on sale for $35 and the next prices up were $99 - $299 which was out of my budget range. The retailer told me that I was the third person she sold that pen to that day. My conclusion is that there is a demand for fountain pens but very little supply. Is this the same in other areas?

The other thing that I discovered was that not one retailer in town carries Moleskine notebooks. Does everyone buy them online? I had never heard of them before coming to this website but I am now very interested in purchasing one.

Now I will come to my main question. I want to take care of my new purchase and know that it will last me for years if I do. I thought that I had read somewhere that recycled paper contains bits of metal which will greatly decrease the life of the nib of my fountain pen. Is this true and is it true with all recycled paper? I have a Cachet Woodnotes blank notebook that I was looking forward to writing in but it is made with recycled paper, neutral pH. Should I only use my G2 in this book and keep my fountain away?

I would like to send out a big HURRAY! to Doug and everyone else who has made this website the success that it is. I visit it every day to find what little bits of helpful knowledge I can squeeze out of it. Keep up the good work and thank you, this site has been a real life saver for me.

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Nib worries with recycled paper

I've never heard the story that recycled paper contains metal bits. I think metal bits would do harm to more than just fountain pen nibs.

The main problem I have had with fountain pens and recycled paper probably comes from cheap recycled paper -- ink feathering. Some people also complain of stray fibers from recycled paper getting caught in their nibs.

My advice would me to try the pen in the notebook and see if you are happy with the writing experience. If you have loose fibers gunking up your nib, just wipe the nib clean and use other paper. If you have ink problems, you may want to try a different pen or ink, or you may want to use other paper.

There are reasonably-priced pens out there in the world, but many places that stock fountain pens seem to think that they are only high-end lifestyle accessories. You may want to try Simply The Best in Victoria. You can see a short review online. (I'm nowhere near Victoria, so an online search is all I can offer.)

-- flexiblefine

Recycled paper and fountain pens, cheap or otherwise

It's been my understanding for some time that much recycled paper does contain metal, probably from staples that remained in the paper. Whether this would actually damage a fountain-pen nib or not--I dare say it's not been determined scientifically one way or the other. Iridium, which virtually all nibs are tipped with, is pretty hard. On the other hand, you can easily grind it down with sandpaper, etc. So... I use acid-free copier paper from the office-supply section of virtually any store, and avoid recycled products. The 24-lb weight (U. S. system) is heavy enough that even a free-flowing pen won't bleed through. The 20-lb weight is good for pens that don't flow as freely.

Thank goodness there are still many good, inexpensive fountain pens available. The Lamy Safari comes to mind as one excellent one. With luck, you can obtain a really fantastic vintage pen for little money, too, but the vintage-pen market is a minefield of risk-taking--I learned that the hard way.

Recycled staples, etc.

I hadn't heard anything about metal in paper, but as soon as you mentioned staples it all made sense. Yuck!

So far, I've been using whatever plain copy paper the office uses for my planner, but I'll have to look into a nicer paper for my next batch of pages.

I agree with your suggestion that great old pens can be found cheaply -- I've got a wonderfully smooth Parker 21 that I bought at a gun show, of all places. Of course, you can also find junk. Try to find a way to try a pen out before you buy it... or go to a pen show!

-- flexiblefine

Pens and paper

I switched to using a fountain pen about a year ago and I will never go back. After buying and using several models from Waterman, Parker and Pelikan I settled on a Pelikan M150 for every day use. After using the medium nib that came with the pen I switched to a fine nib so that I could write in the skinny lines of my Covey planner. The Pelikan 150 is a great pen. It holds allot of ink and has never failed me. I also have a couple of Rotring fountain pens that I use for walking around pens. They are durable, reliable and write nicely. If you are using cartridges, I would strongly recommend switching to a converter and using bottled ink. You have a much wider selection of ink, including some pretty cool colors from companies like Private Reserve and Noodlers. As for paper, I prefer the Clairefontaine notebooks, but I also use several different Moleskine notebooks, including the new, less expensive, Cahiers notebooks. They are OK but nowhere as nice as Clairefontaine, who's papers are made for fountain pens. The
paper makes a BIG difference.

Beware, you may think a $90 pen is expensive today, but soon you will be lusting after a $200 pen, then a $350 pen, then...

Thomas -

Pens and Paper

I began switching earlier this year to Fountain Pens - I started out with a Lamy Fine Line Pen - Then Got a Waterman Fine Nib - Then I got a CORE by Rotring Again fine nib. I just like the fine nib as I like to write small and writing on the index cards it is easier for me. I do Have a med nib on a Mont Blanc Pen. - I should never have bought my first pen. BIG Mistake - That is all I use now - I have several bottles of ink. I prefer the Noodlers Ink - Got it and several of the pens at good price and great service. - I find the Noodlers Black FANTASTIC. as it will not feather if at all on the recycled index cards. I even use it to do crossword puzzles and it doesn't bleed thru like some other disposable pens I used to use. The ink is also water proof when dry. If you read about it - you will learn about it being used to prevent check fraud. - I tried the swishers version of the ink and it didn't work as well. - I also love the Blue Noodlers ink - and the Royal Purple Noodlers ink - These are not waterproof - But just a nice looking color. By the way these all have the converters that were mentioned above - I also recommend them.

Reliable writers

Of all my couple-of-dozen fountain pens (as I said before, I collect only for writing purposes, so I don't want a mammoth collection), the Pelikans would be my "desert-island" pens. I also bought a liter bottle of Pelikan 4000 black ink, which may be a lifetime supply at this point, as I'm 65 going on 66!

I have a Pelikan M-150, an M-250, a Souverän M-800, a ditto M-600, and every one of them writes unhesitatingly, every time, all the time, on any kind of paper. I can't say that of any other pen I possess. The nib variety of Pelikans is also unsurpassed as far as I know.

Still, I'd hate to give up my other pens. They're fun if not as reliable as the Pelikans!

Pelikan Pens

After reading the earlier posts in this discussion, I found myself in the local pen shop. They had a great deal on a Souverän M-805, so it has replaced the M150 as my everyday pen. I really like the feel of it and the larger size and ink capacity. It writes beautifully. I miss being able to see the reservoir though.

Thomas -

How strange... After

How strange... After reading your post, I took a look at my M-600, which is several years newer than my M-800 (which still says "W. Germany" on it!), and indeed the reservoir is not transparent. Yet the barrel is transparent for about 3/4 inch midway down its length, so you can see the plunger--but not the ink! I wonder why?

Anyway, I know you'll enjoy your 805. The M-800 is THE best pen I've written with, and I've read pen-lovers' posts asserting it's the most nearly perfect pen ever manufactured, period.

Nibs, paper, ink

I'm not familiar with the pen you bought, but I'm guessing a $35 pen probably has a steel (as opposed to gold) nib. I'm definitely not an expert, but I think the steel nib might be more durable than a gold nib, and anyway, I'd be surprised to see a single notebook's worth of paper do any significant damage. Though as a previous poster said, most are tipped with iridium, so who knows if steel vs. gold makes a difference?

What I do know is I've been a fountain pen user for about 10 years, and my first pen (a Waterman Laureat) had a steel nib and still writes well, even after heavy use with recycled paper - I used it all through university and used recycled notebooks almost exclusively. Although I'll second (or is it third?) the recommendation for the Clairefontaine notebooks: great paper! Miquel Ruis are nice too, but often harder to find. It's tough to go back to regular paper, let alone recycled, once you've tried a really high quality paper - though I do believe Clairefontaine contains a certain percentage of recycled pulp.

I just picked up the Moleskine Cahiers last week, and I'm finding that the paper is holding up nicely despite all I've heard about Moleskines and fountain pens. My everyday writer these days is a fine Namiki Vanishing Point with Noodler's Legal Lapis. I also tried the above mentioned Waterman (also a fine, but a broader, wetter fine) with some Roting cartridge ink (my featheriest combination among a half dozen pens), and again, no problems with bleed through. The paper definitely isn't as smooth or heavy as Clairefontaine, but the lines are closer together, and I like that, especially in the pocket sized notebooks.

Steel, gold, iridium

With most modern inks, it makes not one bit of difference re: longevity whether a nib is made of steel or some precious metal (usually either 12- or 18-carat gold). In earlier times, ink was so acidic that it would eventually eat its way into steel nibs, so precious metals were substituted for steel in better pens. I'm old enough to remember writing in grade school with pen holders and replaceable nibs, and how corrosion would manifest itself pretty soon.

The actual point of the nib is almost always an iridium alloy which for practical purposes is unaffected by ink, but could conceivably be damaged over time by abrasive writing surfaces. It's something I wouldn't worry about for an instant.

You'd think that gold would make for a better writing experience because of its "flexibility" due to its softness, compared to steel. But in fact gold only makes modern nibs springy, not truly flexible. Flex nibs are nibs that expand and contract with minute variations in writing pressure, allowing an expressive line that many today would find unnatural or distasteful due to conditioning by use of ballpoint, rolling-(non) writers, and so forth with their unvarying line width. Just look at a book containing photos of late 19th-century manuscripts for examples of what a truly flexible nib can do. There's controversy over whether a single truly flexible nib, outside of music pens (a special breed) is even manufactured today. There are lots of springy ones, though! My Parker Sonnet is a fine example of an ultra-springy, 18-carat gold nib. It's fun to write with sometimes but becomes a bit tiresome. Actually you can end up battling that springiness.

If bleeding through the Moleskine paper is a problem, the ink flow in almost any fountain pen can be adjusted down. But this is not a job for a pen owner without experience in doing it. It's very easy to ruin the nib. If a pen user is willing to experiment on some cheap pens for a while, the skill can be learned. I routinely adjust all my pens to write with the flow I want them to have. But it's taken me a long time to learn to do it, and several pens have met their demise in the process.


I just wanted to thank everyone for their input. You have given me a lot to think about and have given me a lot of good advise. I am very much enjoying writing with my new fountain pen! If only it could transfer directly to the computer - maybe one day!

Pens and computers

"If only it could transfer directly to the computer - maybe one day!" --bakerman06.

That's my dilemma. For years I kept my journal longhand. Then I got my first computer and began keeping the journal on computer but printing it out. I have umpteen enormous volumes of printout ranging over several years.

Then I got tired of printing and kept it only on the computer.

Then I got tired of that and went back to longhand, which I enjoy generally more than keyboard writing. I like to see my handwriting and I like using my various pens. And I like writing in the blank books that I make for myself (and for friends).

But that presents the problem of no backup, and no search facility unless I make a longhand (or computerized) "keyword" kind of index of what I write. Something in me rebels against that idea. As for backup, I could photograph each page and keep the images on CD-ROM; it works, I've tried it. But what a nuisance.

I feel uneasy without a backup. I feel kinda lost without a search facility. I feel reluctant to return to computer writing from the more enjoyable (and more portable, since I no longer have a functional notebook computer) pen-and-paper mode.

It may simply be an insoluble problem. I have noticed in the course of my 65 years on the planet that such things do exist.

Partial Solution

I have recently started scanning my completed planner pages into PDFs, a month at a time. It doesn't give you a search capability, but it does allow you to back up your handwritten work and gives you easy access to it from your computer. Most apps that scan into PDF also allow you to add annotations that you could search on. I don't use it for my journals though, because I would have to cut them out of their bindings or scan them a page at a time (too lazy).

Thomas -

"It may simply be an

"It may simply be an insoluble problem. I have noticed in the course of my 65 years on the planet that such things do exist."

One of the wisest things I've read in a while.