View Full Version : Advice for first fine fountain pen

01-17-2010, 12:15 PM
I recently began practicing law and I'd like to get a decent fountain pen to sign correspondence and other important documents. I don't want to go crazy, but I'm willing to spend $80-150 or so. Right now I'm leaning towards getting a Pelikan M215 or M205 with a medium nib. Any thoughts/advice? My requirements are:

fits a large hand
is reliable and won't leak on my shirts/suits
has a window to see the ink level
has a piston system to refill from bottled ink

Here's the M215 I'm leaning towards. I lean more towards the conservative/timeless design. Nothing too flashy or gaudy, please. I don't think it would be appreciated in the office setting. Any recommended retailers/vendors with good prices would also help. Thanks!


Edit: Other than the flashier appearance, is there a quality difference between the nib on an M215 or M205 and Pelikan's more expensive pens?

01-17-2010, 12:53 PM
Pelikan makes a fine pen. You won't be disappointed. The only place I'll buy my Pelikan's is from Richard's Pens (http://www.richardspens.com/).

01-17-2010, 01:34 PM
You may find the m215 a bit small, but it is an excellent choice. At your price point, a Parker 51 is an option, as well (but not a piston filler).

01-17-2010, 01:56 PM
That's a fantastic pen, and if you buy from www.RichardsPens.com, you know it'll write beautifully. However, I would prefer a fine nib to the medium, because today's documents are limited in the writing space they offer.

You may want to call Richard Binder and get his opinion, but I believe the 215 has a metal barrel, and therefore substantially heftier and elegant-feeling than the 205.

01-17-2010, 02:46 PM
The 200 series pens are a bit on the small side for a lot of folks - especially if you have larger hands.

As mentioned above, the 215 has a metal-lined barrel, so is a little heavier/more substantial.

The key difference between the 200 or the 215 and its pricier brothers is that the higher end pens have a gold nibs (not that the Pelikan steel nibs are bad - in fact they are quite good).

If you do go with a Pelikan, I second the recommendation for a fine nib, that's what I have and I wouldn't find anything larger as practical (I use my FPs extensively, not just for signing).

Another suggestion in terms of a great pen at a great price is the Lamy 2000 fountain pen - its almost austere in its appearance (Bauhaus design). Its a nicely sized FP (similar to the Pelikan 800) with a piston fill and, amazingly for the very reasonable price (PenGallery has them on sale for about $90, but if you want to order from a US vendor, the cost will be between $100 and $125) the pen has a platinum finished 14k gold nib that is a wonderful writer.

I've had my Lamy 2000 for ages and can attest to its excellent writing characteristics and durability.

Anyhow, just some more grist for the decision mill.

01-18-2010, 09:42 AM
Thanks for the excellent advice, gentlemen. Richard's website is great - the size comparison feature is very helpful.

Thanks for the heads up on the metal versus plastic barrel on the 205/215. I'm now down to only the M215 from Pelikan. What are your thoughts on the Aurora Ipsilon (and the Ipsilon Deluxe)?

Can you help me understand the importance of the gold nib? Is there a functional difference, or is it merely aesthetic? I notice that Richard Binder allows you to buy the pen and mix it with a different nib. Is there something else I should be considering mounted to the M215?

Thanks again for your help.

01-18-2010, 10:18 AM
I can't speak to any Auroras. Aurori? Aurorusses?? Whatever...

I believe that a gold nib is smoother on paper, and provides a less 'scratchy' feel - and the two tone nibs are beautiful.

However, I have a M two-tone, a F gold-plated, and an EF gold full flex, all from Richard. The EF flex is my favorite. I haven't written with a steel nib, but I hear from others that they write very nicely. You might inquire the man himself, Richard, and ask him...

01-18-2010, 03:12 PM
I sent Richard an email. After reading that his "tuned" nibs are a bit broader than stock, I think I'll go with the M215 with the fine tip.

Does anyone know of one vendor that sells Waterman, Diamine, and Noodler inks? I'd like to combine them to one order - and Richard doesn't seem to sell inks.

01-20-2010, 12:41 PM
I've got a Waterman Charleston filled with Noodler's bullet proof black, I love it! Great pen, it looks good and writes smooth. Medium nib puts out quite a bit of ink but I like that.

However, I haven't really found too many vendors that carry everything you want especially if you want a certain color of Noodler's, a lot of them only have certain colors. Depending on which pen you finally get, peartreepens.com has good prices and service.

01-20-2010, 12:45 PM
I sent Richard an email. After reading that his "tuned" nibs are a bit broader than stock, I think I'll go with the M215 with the fine tip.

Does anyone know of one vendor that sells Waterman, Diamine, and Noodler inks? I'd like to combine them to one order - and Richard doesn't seem to sell inks.

try peartreepens.com I believe they sell all three brands there. they also sell samples, you can get 5 different inks at a time.
All three inks are very good, Noodlers is the only one that makes waterproof fountain pen inks (though not all of them are).

01-20-2010, 01:14 PM
I have a waterman Expert II F in black and gold filled with noodler's bulletproof black that i use daily. They really are magnificent pens.

01-20-2010, 05:56 PM
I have a Pelikan M600 and a host of other modern fountain pens but I stopped buying pens after I got my first vintage Parker 51. Sooner or later everyone owns one, maybe you should start there.

01-21-2010, 09:15 AM
I own three different Cross fountain pens and a Pelikan M800. I like them all, but for quality of construction and writing quality, the Pelikan is my best!

01-21-2010, 02:18 PM
You've got a lot to consider. I'm a lawyer as well, and use my fountain pens in a variety of settings and for a variety of purposes. Some are very conservative in appearance, some less so (though none would be considered gaudy - I hope!).

You've gotten some good advice here already. Specifically, the M2XX series by Pelikan is an outstanding pen and a very good value. As others have pointed out, they are a little slimmer and, in my experience, a little uncomfortable for a larger hand. One issue that's not been brought up with this pen is the location of the threads - they're a little high for my taste and tend to irritate me when I write with it. Of course, everyone's hands and tolerances are different, and it may not be a concern to you at all.

Aurora pens are wonderful! I've been very happy with the Aurora 88s I've used, but I confess I have no experience with the Ipsilon series. Aurora is a respected brand, though, and I'd be confident in their quality. Their nibs tend to have a little "tooth" to them (but they're not scratchy). Some people prefer that; others want their nib to skate over the paper without the slightest hint of feedback. Again, YMMV.

In your stated price range of $80-$150, one of my favorite pens lately has been a Cross Affinity. It doesn't meet your piston-fill requirement, but it writes wonderfully, and has a classic look to it that would make it at home in any law office.

Many people love Lamy. I'm not among them. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike them, I just think there are a lot of better pens out there.

The ink-vue window does tend to limit your choices. Can I ask why you prefer a piston-fill pen? Is it because it is more classic? Is it capacity? Because you want to use bottled ink? Or is there another reason? If it's because you prefer to use bottled ink, most pens today can accept either ink cartridges, or a device called a converter, which permits the user to draw ink from a bottle. If it's capacity, there are definitely merits to the slightly smaller capacity of an ink converter, not the least of which is you get to flush your pen out more frequently, and you have an opportunity to experiment with more varieties of ink - if that's your pleasure.

Also, I noticed you've been getting many suggestions for a fine nib. I find that nib choice is greatly dependent upon the user's intended use for the pen. For example, a fine nib is perfect if you want a general purpose pen with which to take notes or write correspondence. But if you want a pen for to sign documents, a fine nib may be a bit anemic. Bold nibs (and italics, cursives, music and stub nibs) are very popular choices for signatures - and with good reason. Particularly the italic-style nibs referenced in my parenthetical create far more line variation, which gives your signature an unmistakable flair that distinguishes it from more ordinary "ball" shaped nibs. If that is appealing to you, you may want to check out pens by Sailor and Platinum. They may be a little higher priced, but their nibs tend to be extraordinary. A Platinum music nib is a real treat!

And never hesitate to ask a retailer to special order a pen for you! Odds are, if they don't have it in the store, they can get it for you. If they're not willing to do that, I'd take that as a hint about the quality of service you can expect in the future.

Hope that was helpful - and congratulations on joining the noble profession!

James Partridge

01-21-2010, 04:48 PM
James, it's good to see you back around B&B! Thanks for your help.

Uncle Erik
01-21-2010, 05:51 PM
Congrats on passing the Bar! I've been practicing for almost 12 years now.

I've used fountains continuously for the past 15 years. I don't think a Pelikan 200 would exactly fit your needs. They tend towards the small - I have medium-sized hands and find them a bit small to write with. A 600 is about right for me but you'd probablynprefer an 800 or 1000.

Like a few others have mentioned, I strongly recommend the Parker 51. I've carried one almost daily for years and have taken them halfway around the world with me. They're incredibly durable and reliable. I love the 51 and have picked up about a dozen of them over the years. If you are interested, look for an aerometric filler. Those are dead reliable and not as collectible as the vacuumatics.

Another pen worth considering is the Sheaffer Legacy. I think they're out of production, however, you can still find NOS ones for $100-$125 or so. They look almost like a PFM except they're made of brass and have a much heavier feel. I love the PFMs I have, but the Legacy has a much more solid feel and I prefer its 18k nib to the 14k PFM nib. It uses a reliable Touchdown filler and can also be used with cartridges.

Is there a pressing need for an ink window? They're alright but unnecessary. You'll get in the habit of refilling your pen and won't need to check ink levels that often. I fill up once or twice a week and haven't bothered to look at the ink level in years.

01-21-2010, 07:41 PM
James, it's good to see you back around B&B! Thanks for your help.

Glad to be back, Chad. I'm in the market for some new creams, as I'm running low on my Taylor's so I was poking around when I stumbled upon this thread. Too bad I didn't get back sooner - looks like I missed out on an opportunity to get the B & B shave brush!

01-22-2010, 08:34 PM
I've used fountains continuously for the past 15 years. I don't think a Pelikan 200 would exactly fit your needs. They tend towards the small - I have medium-sized hands and find them a bit small to write with. A 600 is about right for me but you'd probablynprefer an 800 or 1000.

Just to be clear, the 215 is different than the 200. It's 20% heavier than an M600 and exactly the same size, posted, at least according to Binder's Pelikan page.

01-23-2010, 09:23 AM
I also started my fountain pen acquisitions with an M215 from Richard, one with a cursive italic nib. I use it often. I would, however, go with a stub nib next time for improved smoothness when I write fast.
I know that you specified a lower price range, but I will go forward with my thoughts on this anyway:

My daily pen is the Pelikan M800 with an EF nib. Good size and weight, traditional classy looks.
The Aurora 88 is in the same league as the Pelikan, but with Italian feel rather than German. Their nibs feel very good to me(hard to describe---a feedback that is not scratchy), and I use both their stub and italics. I thought that the Ipsilon was too lightweight and thin-bodied, but that was tried after getting used to the 88.
Another great pen is the Sailor 1911---traditional looks and the feel of something "real". Be aware that once in awhile their converters will starve the nib. (I almost sold my pen because I couldn't get it to flow well until I bought another converter.) Their Fine nib is a great writer. Much finer line than the european width. I carry it second most often to the M800.
Though I just like a pen with a piston, I also use several with converters and cartridges. It is easy to keep several Lamy Safaris around with different inks and nib choices, but they are utilitarian rather than art. The 2000 is a wonderful pen if it fits your hand, with the art of simplicity of design to it.
The Parker is simply a different world altogether. You need to get your hands on one to know what people are talking about, at which point you will need one of those too.
Other sources for pens and for inks:
www.swisherpens.com, www.nibs.com, www.pendemonium.com.
And the forum: www.fountainpennetwork.com
Have fun!

01-23-2010, 12:54 PM
I have no idea about these pens , but I've heard that Cerutti and Parker make high quality writing instruments

Steve P
01-23-2010, 07:09 PM
Keep in mind that not all pens from the factory write well. Richard makes sure that your pen is a smooth writer. It's worth it to make a different order for ink.

Folks are right about a vintage Parker 51. It's not a piston filler, but fills from a bottle even more easily than a piston filler. I'd recommend an aerometric filler, but a vac filler will work well. It's also hard to find a Parker 51 that you buy elsewhere that won't be a good writer. They are in a class by themselves for being stylish, durable, and trouble-free.



01-23-2010, 07:15 PM
I started with a Pel 200 and a Pel 215. Sold both of them... Unscrewed in my pocket and were to small and light. I now have around 150 pens. Parker "51"s are hard to beat, but my favorites are Edison pens. a bit more then 150. but all hand made. I also find the steel write as well as gold nibs

01-23-2010, 08:28 PM
Well, I don't have the wide-ranging experience with fountain pens that some others here do, but I'll cast another vote for the Parker "51".

I tried a Lamy Safari and then bought a cheap "51" on ebay and got hooked.

I've gone through a few more and although some consider them overrated, I think there is a bit of a "cult" of Parker "51" fans for a reason: classic, very well made pens that WORK.

My go-to is an Aerometric 1951 dated "51" that I wouldn't be without. I have a couple back ups and had a sweet '45 dated pen that Richard Binder restored, but my '51 "51" is just the smoothest pen I've ever used.

Try one, I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you are, say the 51 fans, you just need try another one as the perfect one for you is out there. They made millions of them, thankfully. :thumbup1:

01-23-2010, 08:30 PM
I have about 60 "51"s... they all are my favorites... Check this out http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=129148

01-23-2010, 08:40 PM
......Check this out http://badgerandblade.com/vb/showthread.php?t=129148

+1, what he said.