Fountain Pen for Young Man?

Hey all,

I'm looking at getting a fountain pen for my very artistic 17-year-old step-son.

I know he's used Pilot Varsity disposable pens, but I'd like to get him a re-usable one. I'd like one that has the option of re-filling or using cartidges.

I don't have a lot to spend - around $20-30 would be my max.

What are your thoughts on the subject?


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How about Pilot Vortex ?


Comes with cartridges
Converter available
"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've heard lots of love given to Lamy pens, although they may be tricky to find cartridges for unless you go online. My (much younger) son is getting a FP made by Yafa from Office Depot. It was part of a set, but came in (just) under $20. It takes international cartridges, which includes the Waterman cartridges I can find just about anywhere. A 17-year-old may want something a little cooler, though, and I like the look of the Lamy, especially the Safari.

You can take a look here:

Fountain Pen

In your price range a logical choice would be a lower end Lamy such as the 'Safari'. They are powered by cartridges which click in and out. Functional and standard. Described by someone as "as close as you can get to a ballpoint in a fountain pen".

A really classy alternative might be an Esterbrook "J" pen, manufactured in the US during the 1940s through to the mid-1950s.They come in a range of amazing patterned colours and can be bought in very good condition on a number of online vintage pen dealer sites. Unless you are inclined to try fountain pen repair I would avoid the temptation of buying on the well known online auction site. Vintage pens bought there usually require a replacement of the internal ink "sac".Not too difficult but requires specialist tools and materials.

These pens are simple to operate "lever" fillers and have the great facility to swap nibs. For the artistically- minded different nibs of varying widths and degrees of flexibility may be screwed in and out at will

Second on the Lamy Safari

I use the Lamy Safaris with almost every notebook I have! You will want to purchase the converter separately and get the young guy a bottle of ink for the utmost experience! I use fine nibs and they are awesome!

Good luck!

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Depending on if you like the

Depending on if you like the style, the Waterman Phileas and Pilot Knight are both good entry-level pens. And while the Phileas medium nib may have a reputation of being a bit wide, I've found it didn't take too much practice to get it down to a pretty fine line, considering that my normal handwriting is tiny but really clear.

Second the Knight

I have a Knight and love it, but it was outside the $20 price range (almost twice that.) It's a fine, smooth writer. This was the early Christmas present to myself. :-D

Oh, yeah, I missed the price

Oh, yeah, I missed the price range. I was just thinkig of the low end in general.

The Waterman Phileas is a

The Waterman Phileas is a fine pen for the money, but it looks stodgy compared to the downright hip Lamy Safari. You can't go wrong with the Safari, and it's available in lots of cool colors (I have both yellow and orange). It is simultaneously hip, futuristic, and retro (being a fountain pen and all).

Pay the extra and get a converter so he can start playing with colored inks.

Another vote for the Safari

Or, for extra cool, get the clear model (the Vista). Same as the Safari, but see-through. I love the way mine looks, and it's a great writer.

And yes, get the converter. It's only $5 or so.

[ blog | photos ]

Lamy or Pelikan recommended

I have two Lamy pens so far. Vista - a clear version of the Safari and the Accent - a really nice pen that is slimmer and VERY solid - that thing is all metal. You definitely can't go wrong with anything Lamy puts out.

Another possibility - Pelikan. I've heard great things about them and my wife has one of the Pelikano Jr. pens they make and loves it. It is a pen meant for students - colorful, durable plastic, medium nib, and it takes cartridges or converters. If you don't mind spending a bit more money, Pelikan's pricier pens have the option of buying different nibs and changing them around.

Yet another option - flexible nib fountain pens. If you put a little pressure on the nibs, they flex, allowing you to get some really cool effects with varying line widths. I got to try one out at a pen show recently. Unfortunately I don't have any recommendations for a good one, or any idea how much they cost. You might want to take a trip over to the Fountain Pen Network site if you're interested.


Second to the Pelikan school

Second to the Pelikan school pens. There's the Pelikano Jr. which looks like an elementary school pen. It's big and has a contrasting-color rubber grip. It's actually a nice jeans-pocket pen because there's no pocket clip in the way. But it's also a big, fat pen.

I much prefer (and I think any self-respecting 17-year-old would as well) the Pelikano. It's a much thinner pen and has a nice metal cap with a pocket clip. I've modified my nib so it writes with a medium line (slightly stubbed) in the traditional manner, and in a very nice fine line when used upside down (and yes, it is quite smooth that way, too. Like Richard Binder's Italifine nibs, but mine's homemade). A fun, fun pen to play with, and cheap as chips: well under $20 as I recall.

The Pelikanos are round in contrast with the Lamy Safari's angularity. It's a different look, but no worse I think.

If you want thin, then I would recommend...

One of the Ohto pens from Japan. I have one of the Ohto Tasche Fountain Pens in my hPDA but the Ohto Fine Fountain Pen looks just as nice if a bit longer in the pocket.
"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)

lamy logo

I also think lamy has some good pens. apart from the safari, which I have in white and really love, i also have a lamy logo. Mine is brushed steel, but they also exist in shiny metal and in black. As fas as I can see, the nibs are the same as on the safari, but they are a bit more 'regular' in looks and are a bit heavier.

Lamy Studio

I have a black Lamy Studio that I adore. But it's outside of the desired price range in this thread, so I didn't mention it. Still. Can't go wrong with Lamy.

[ blog | photos ]


You will probably get lots of useful answers (and links to sources) if you ask this question over at Fountain Pen Network (dot com).

You may also want to look at, which has a list of pens organized by price.

I'm not sure what you can find that uses cartridges, but I recently picked up some inexpensive pens at and

Your magic words in this price range are "value pen" or "school pen" -- in some parts of the world, students do apparently still use fountain pens. (What's the going price for a Pelikano these days?)

Do you procrastinate?

How about a Sheaffer?

I know they don't sound very glamorous, but the inexpensive Sheaffer pens were usually well regarded for their reliability and smooth nibs. I don't see the Sheaffer No-Nonsense listed on their website anymore, except maybe as a calligraphy pen, but the Sheaffer Javelin might be worth considering. And, you can find Sheaffer cartridges just about anywhere. Converters are available too. has them in your price range.


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

I have one

I use a Schaeffer Javelin at work, and find it to be a smooth writer, but rather heavy for my taste.

It's in the $30 range, and serves the function of being in a potentially destructive environment quite well so far. (I take it in the lab - I'm a chemist).

Looks nice and impressive, too.

Decision Made

I got him the Lamy AL-Star silverblue with a fine nib, black ink cartidges and a converter.

A couple of days after Christmas, I'll take him to Sterling Art in Irvine and let him pick out a bottle of ink or two.

Now for my step-daughter, whose interests are not easily identifiable. ::sigh::

Is she artistic ?

A set of Pilot Petit1's in different colors would appeal to an artistic young lady
"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)

Not so much ...

She'll be turning 15 this month, and we've already filled a quota of fun bath/lotion/makeup items for her birthday.

We may end up going the gift certificate route with her ... we'll be spending a week in Palm Springs just after Christmas, so maybe I can take her on a shopping spree or something while the guys are golfing.


I forgot to say ...

"Thank You."

Truly, thank you very much all of you for your suggestions. I think Joel will be very pleased with his pen.


You're welcome!

We're always looking for a new vic... er, "convert" to share our passions. I hope he likes the pen and gets a lot of use out of it (starting with a thank-you note to the giver!)