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Inspired by the answer on this question about penmanship, I'm considering again the fountain pen way. I always give it up either 'cause I think it will make a mess and be impractical or just not easy to find in local stores.

  • Are there factual aspects that allow your handwriting to be better and less strained with a fountain pen?
  • I always have a pen with me at all times in my pocket. Could a fountain pen fill this role? Would it not make a mess?
  • What kind of places to go looking for fountain pen supplies?
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I can mention my personal experience regarding the second part of the question. A few months ago, I decided to improve my handwriting, using Getty & Dubay's book: Write Now. During this process, I got used to writing everything with a fountain pen. Currently, I always carry a fountain pen on my pocket, and didn't have any problems (leaking,...).

Regarding first part of the question, again just from a personal experience, there definitely is a "feeling of lightness" from writing with a fountain pen (once you get used to it, and consciously practice a strainless hold) compared to a ball-pen. However, I found this depends a lot on the specific pen, and more specifically, pens destinded to people learning how to use one (i.e. for schoolchildren) tend to require more pressure and therefore minimize the gain.

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So you just carry it in your pocket without any case, and you don't get even minor stains from leftover ink? I suppose you wipe it out before then, or is even that not necessary in your experience? I'm sure I'd forget all the time! – Vic Goldfeld Nov 21 '11 at 20:09
@VicSzpilman Exactly. Typically I carry one in a shirt pocket. Wiping wasn't needed for fountain pens, contrary to the case of dip pens, which do need wiping everytime. I don't carry those in a pocket, though! – Dalker Nov 21 '11 at 21:44

My grandfather absolutely loves his fountain pens and has for years, most of his are old so they leak everywhere. His new fountain pens though don't leak at all, they are almost like ball points, he just caps them and puts them away, no leaking or wiping required. Simple as that.

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My personal experience is that there's a great feeling of lightness writing with a fountain pen.

After reading some blogs about fountain pens I bought a LAMY Safari. This pen have a nice clip on the cap that helps carry it arround.

At the beginning the feeling of writing with a pen that does not require pressure on the paper is strange, but as the time passes you will start notice the benefits of writing with one of those and get more comfortable using these pens.

I also recomend this store on UK (they have online sales and ships very quickly): Colnart website - Ebay Store

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I would like to strongly second the LAMY Safari - it's a great pen, I've had one for >1 year now and it's still good as new. I sourced it from Amazon - they offered the best price I could find, free shipping too with prime. – Drew Christianson Apr 16 '12 at 13:34

There are brands of fountain pens - such as my favorite, the Namiki/Pilot Vanishing Point - that are designed to go into the pocket nib up. Some don't like this, because they feel it puts the pocket clip in the way of holding the pen, but it does go a long way towards cutting down on leakage.

For finding supplies, you can try stationary stores, either locally owned or a chain like Paradise Pens. Also, if you live near a large college or university, check out the bookstore there, some of them have pretty nice selections of writing supplies (though sometimes buried within the art section).

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I like the idea of storing nib up, thanks for the brand suggestion. – Vic Goldfeld Nov 12 '12 at 2:26
Just about every fountain pen goes into the pocket nib up. What distinguishes the Vanishing Point is that there is no cap; the nib extends. As a consequence of that, to get the nib up in the pocket, the clip is on the end of the pen that you hold while writing. Some hate it, some are fine with it and love the quick click to start / no cap to post or lose feature. – vanden Mar 19 at 19:23

(Generally) You cannot apply the same pressure to a fountain pen that you can apply to a ballpoint pen - the tip would break (or bend away from the base that feeds the ink in). That's the 'lightness' people are refering to in other answers.

This means you will start to write 'less strained' automatically, with two potential benefits:

  • You will have more time to think about what/how you write
  • You can take more time to write neatly

So for creative writing a fountain pen would be an option, for jotting down quick notes during a meeting it may be less appropriate.
(Your question title says scribbling, but I'm answering for writing as well).

A good fountain pen will not leak, buy one at an office/book/stationary store where they actually let you try them. You want to feel the weight, balance, thickness, writing resistance, to determine which pen is for you. Since you don't mention where you are, it's hard to give specific (brand) recommendations.
And keep buying your supplies from the same store afterwards: a store that gives you this kind of service should stay in business.

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Compared to writing with a ballpoint, you have to exert almost no downward pressure when using a fountain pen. Indeed, many pens will write with only the pressure that the mass of the pen itself creates. This dramatically reduces hand strain.

I have quite a few fountain pens; there isn't a one that I would worry about keeping in my shirt pocket from the standpoint of ink leaking. (Air travel is a different issue; I've never had a pen leak on a plane, but I am more cautious anyway.) I've never seen a fountain pen that had a clip where the clip wasn't oriented to stay tip up when the pen is clipped.

These days, the standard first pen suggestions are either the Lamy Safari that others suggested or the cheaper Pilot Metropolitan. (The Metropolitan is available in North America; the Pilot MR is a very similar pen available in the UK and Europe, I believe, differing in using international cartridges and converters, rather than Pilot's proprietary ones used on the Metropolitan.)

Serious brick and mortar pen stores are a dying thing. If you have one near you, you are lucky. Amazon, Jet Pens, and Goulet Pens are the three online vendors where I've done most of my pen shopping. Jet Pens focuses on things Japanese; Goulet Pens has focused on high levels of service directed at those new to fountain pens.

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