Here are the fountain pens roaming in my household in the order of my personal preference.
Visconti Van Gogh – Starry night (extra fine, Japanese fine)|
Visually stunning multifaceted pen with a steel nib. Other tricks include magnetic cap and incredibly smooth cartridge converter. It also fits standard international cartridge making it easy to find ink even if you don’t want to draw your own. While I did go through trouble to obtain an extra fine nib (not available by default), once I tried it with Japanese fine grind by Michael Masuyama I forgot about any other nib. Unfortunately this pen damages easily (e.g. breaks when dropped – tested :() so I rarely bring it with me.
Pilot Custom 74 (fine+BLS)|
This is actually the only gold nib pen I own and one I originally didn’t like at all. For a demonstrator, it definitely has too many parts you cannot dissemble to properly clean and nib was nothing to write home about. A treatment by Pendleton Brown did make a huge difference and, while this is not my favorite pen, it is quite enjoyable now.
TWSBI Diamond 580 (extra fine, fine, 1.1 stub)|
Nice looking demonstrator pen with a piston filler. It is definitely the most beautiful demonstrator I’ve seen in the sub-$100 range. And with it you get literally everything you need to keep pen going except the ink. If you select the wrong nib, have no fear, there is a choice of nib modules available and swapping them is a breeze. A 1.1 mm stub is a bit to wet for my taste though. I also own AL (rose red) version of this pen. All the same but with a nice red aluminium inserts.
Platinum Cool (fine, medium)|
This is actually a first fountain pen I fell into love with. With a benefit of hindsight I would go with Platinum Balance that shares everything with it except coming in non-transparent case. It is just a visual thing, but, considering you cannot remove cap insert and that it is not piston filler, I think that one would look nicer. A beautiful writer nonetheless.
Pilot Metropolitan (fine, medium, plumix stub)|
I own three of these with a variety of nibs (including a stub one from Pilot Plumix). Among a plastic pens this one stands out as it is brass made and it looks and feels more expensive then it actually is. And a stub nib that fits in it (stolen from Pilot Plumix) is a pure joy to write with.
Platinum Preppy (extra fine, fine, medium)|
At $5 this is a pen you want to use to understand how to modify your nibs. As fully enclosed plastic pen it also lends itself nicely to eye-dropper conversion and then it holds ridiculous amount of ink.
This pen came for free with Noodler’s Heart of Darkness. It is actually a nice looking eye-dropper holding a big quantities of ink. However, it also has a finicky nib/feed, it is prone to “burping”, and doesn’t handle well leaving unused for any amount of time. But when it works, it works nicely. A pen for tinkerer.
Jinhao X750 (medium)|
This is the cheapest pen I own and not necessarily price-wise (although it does come in $5 range). It looks nice from afar and it seems a steal but, as soon you come close, you will find build quality is awful. Starting from mismatched materials between fin and barrel to the such strong cap grip that you’ll spill ink just by capping and uncapping it. And nib is the worst I’ve ever seen – comparable to a pen I used 30 years ago in primary school. Having multitude of cheap pens is good but do yourself a favor and buy Platinum Preppy or Pilot Varsity instead.
PS: Note that I bought it of e-Bay and thus I might have got a bad deal.
Images courtesy of Goulet Pens.