What's up at Ravens March.

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(Yet Another) Top Ten List

Posted by Dirck on 28 March, 2011

Recently, my attention was directed to an article in The Independent, a “news” source in England, which purported to lay out the ten best fountain pens.  No sign of criteria regarding either “best” nor indeed “fountain” (a couple of the inclusions could only be considered fountain pens by the greatest extension of the term to include any pen with an internal source of ink, as opposed to brushes and dip pens), although a couple of them are known to be pretty good pens (hint– they’re German and don’t cost a mint).  This put a bit of a bug in my ear about doing up something similar, and since if I arrange it properly it gives me a week of posts without raking my brain for topics, I am presenting my own list here.

These are not the best pens I know of nor even that I own.  They are what I would call the best bets for someone who has been looking at pens from afar but hasn’t made the jump for fear of expense (like The Independent’s Caran d’Ache Perles, a mere £2,950) or unreliability (various, numerous pop-culture references over the past 70 years).  I’ve restricted myself to pens I actually own, too, and unlike that “journalistic” “article”, I have all the names right.  The are also in no particular order beyond alphabetic, although you will find that the quality tends upwards towards the end.  When I have yet to work up my own review, I offer the work of the talented collective at the Fountain Pen Network.

Are we all sitting comforably?  Then I’ll begin:

Ten Pens You Can (probably) Afford And Might Not Hate

1:  The Dollar 717i.  I have the Demonstrator version of this pen, which is technically a different model but the difference lies only in the see-through-ness.

Why you’ll like it:  It writes well, and it’s cheap as can be.  I paid $10 for mine, shipping included, and that’s high-average.  It’s got a built-in filler of good capacity.

Why you won’t like it: It has a pretty unsophisticated feed, and this can lead to it acting rather like an eyedropper when the ambient air temperature is cooler than the human hand (it’s from a part of the world where that’s not often an issue).  Keep an eye out for dribbles.  The plastic is also rather low-grade and doesn’t give the impression of lasting for many years.

2: The Hero 616.  I could probably stuff this list with various Heros, and I should probably be suggesting a different one entirely, but I’m intent on offering the lowest-price options I can.

Why you’ll like it:  Slip-on cap, which is very convenient, and it’s one of the cheapest pens you can find– I paid just over $10 for a package containing ten pens.  Including shipping.  Once again, a built-in filler.

Why you won’t like it:  Not every pen in the package works particularly well.  This isn’t a big deal for me, as I can take ’em apart and fiddle with ’em, but not everyone can or is willing to do so.  The filler is a bit of a joke, too, and the “press-bar” cage is best done away with.  Not a huge capacity for ink, even when you do get rid of the useless cage.

Tomorrow– a complete change of continent and a dramatic change in both prices and durability.

Today’s pen:  Waterman Press-O-Matic Taperite Thingummy (I have yet to actually identify it after a year and a half, and I’m sick of letting that fact keep me from using it).
Today’s ink: Noodler’s Walnut

3 Responses to “(Yet Another) Top Ten List”

  1. Hello mein dicky old chum,

    Your blog has definitely rekindled my interest in writing instruments. Now that I’m gainfully employed again and can actually think about things other than rent, food and tuition, I was thinking now is the time to replace my old Waterman which tragically cracked and was rendered inoperative. I recall at some point an entry where you described a fountain pen you found for your Dad’s birthday(?) and this one struck me as just the thing to get back into the groove with. So the questions are, what was it and where would be a recommended outlet for a fellow in my location to procure one? Oh, and an ink recommendation would be nice too!

    Bis später

    • I’m too indulgent: http://myworld.ebay.com/twsbipen/?_trksid=p4340.l2559
      I really should have made you type your own search on the eBay, which is at the moment really the only place for a North American anglophone to get it. I’d recommend an EF point for your fiddly engineering calculations, but I notice that they’re now selling separate point units so you might indulge an urge for another size as well.

      edit– Looking down the page, I see they’re still selling some of the early cartridge fillers; you want the Diamond 530, although choice of colour I can’t guess at.

  2. […] to follow?  Not at all, no more than one must use an orange crayon after a red.  I always suggest a good but inexpensive pen to start with, but once one has a grip on notion of fountain pen, the next pen can be anything; old or new, cheap […]

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