Five Fountain Pen Rules You Can Take to the Bank


We’ve talked about some fountain pen “rules” that I think we can safely ignore. Here are some that, to the contrary, make a lot of sense to me. Feel free to chime in.

Rule Number 1. “Use a light touch.”

Your pens really will do better if you write with a light hand. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to get in the habit.

Rule Number 2. “It’s safer to try before you buy.”

If not, be prepared to cycle through some pens.

This isn’t something to bemoan, necessarily, but just something to recognize. Some people positively love cycling through pens. Others don’t, but we may live too far from fountain pen dealers to test everything in person. So we may end up with some unexpected disappointments.

It may help to think of buying before trying as my friend does, which is to analogize it to fly fishing. Some fish end up in the creel, and some you will catch and release.

Rule Number 3. “A nibmeister is worth the time and money.”

Very often the only difference between a pen that is just okay and a pen you love is the nib. Very often a good nibmeister can do something about that.

Rule Number 4. “It’s not just the pen, but also the ink and paper.”

This is part diagnosis, part treatment. If a pen isn’t writing as you like, try changing the ink. Pen writing too wet and wide for you? Try a dry ink. Pen balky? Try a wetter ink with good flow. And try a different paper, while you’re at it.

Sometimes a ink and pen are both great, but not together. Or maybe a pen and ink combination is perfect, except on one particular paper dry time is glacial.

You can have a great ink, a great pen and a great paper, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily bring out the best in each other.

Rule Number 5. “Remember to have fun.”

It’s not brain surgery. It’s not even driving. We can just have fun with pens and inks, right? We can wield our empty Sheaffer Snorkels as water guns against teenage daughters or other enemies. We can put blue ink in red pens. We can ignore the clearly worded warning from J. Herbin, and dare to mix two different inks. We can.


Photo by Alumnos de la UPC – Fotografía propia, GFDL, Link

5 thoughts on “Five Fountain Pen Rules You Can Take to the Bank

  1. I’d love to try a nibmeister! I don’t think there’s anyone where I live, though – is it the sort of thing you can do long-distance, or would that be too risky/complicated?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You can do it long-distance, but I think it’s riskier and more complicated for sure. There’s a guy in the UK, though. Or, maybe you could become a nibmeister!


  2. Sage advice alright. I wish I had known all this when I started out. I was not able to try pens before buying. The main thing is to have fun. If you aren’t having fun with it, you are doing something wrong. The enablers will be thrilled to help get you situated on the road to happiness. I have a firm grip now on paper. I have several inks I enjoy very much with a long wish list. I have several pens now, but have a short wish list for them. I am pretty set for pens, but wish I could try a few more. Ink samples keep it new and fun. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

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