Comparison Guide for Classic Pens And About Choosing the Best Fountain Pen

Choosing the best fountain pen for you

This is always a deliberate act and can be very gratifying for a long time if done well. The best fountain pen for you is something that will stay with you for many years and maybe for decades. You might even pass it on to your children. A fountain pen that is the best for you can be a very personal thing. High tech modern or nostalgic traditional, small and feminine or oversized status symbol, the pens people choose say a lot about how they see themselves.

The interactive chart of fountain pens below and the reviews that follow will help you. Many pens have their story, some own their fame to a famous owners and some brands are there since more 150 years and have their own amazing history. I choose 5 fountain pens to highlight but off course throughout the site there are more pens ranked by category.

The Heritage Chart below provides basic and historic information. I have another Technical Chart with more technical information here. I have concentrated on the most iconic ones, the classics, the evergreens. I steered clear from hype and the fashions. People will have personal preferences for the best fountain pen, and in most cases if they have little knowledge about what kind of fountain pen they would like, let alone what are the best ones and they will base it on looks and price. We will try to inform with history and stories about the best fountain pens out there and pass on our passion for these products.

Classic Fountain Pen Comparison.
Included in the matrix are 8 columns:

  • Fountain Pen pictures
  • Pen brand and name/model – (click to view more details or to purchase)
  • Production year – sometimes with a reference to the original model
  • Owners – famous people who owned these pens before
  • Nib type & material – the type or material used for the nib
  • Material – this is the material used for the body of the pen
  • Price & Rating – these are list prices. When available on Amazon they sells them very often at a reduced price. These change frequently based on availability, special promotions, and more. Price rating: $ = under $50, $$ = $50-150, $$$ = $150-300, $$$$ = $300+. If you live outside the US, then you will be directed to your closest Amazon store.

Click on any of the columns to sort the data to help make your decision easier. So many manufacturers and models exist that there is no way that I could have listed everything. However, many exceptional pens are included at every price range and from a wide variety of quality makers. The best fountain pen is out there.

Top 25 of the best fountain pens

picturebrandprod. year

owners


nib


material
price rating
Kaweco Sport1935Olympic
Games
EF, F, M, B, BB
steel + 22Kt overlay
plastic,
aluminium,
carbon fiber
27.95$
19.70€
16.28£
$
Cross Century II1980's
(or. 1930's)
naF, M, B
18 Kt solid gold, rhodium trim
lacquer,
chrome
or silver
80$
80€
50£
$$
`Sheaffer Sagaris1950'sWalt Disney14 grades
18 Kt solid gold
rhodium trim
resin, gold tone
or chrome plate
trim; chrome
or combi
85.00$
60.50€
50£
$$
Waterman Hemisphere1910's
and 1990's
Einstein13 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
resin and
steel
combinations
93.00$
82.28€
68£
$$
Conklin Glider Chase1910's
and 1990's
Mark Twain18 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
resins,
different colors
135.00$
133.10€
110£
$$
Pelikan M1501975na21 grades
18 Kt solid gold
rhodium trim
resin,
gold plated
trims
140.00$
99.22€
82£
$$
Lamy 20001960Neil Gaiman8 grades
14 Kt solid gold,
platinum coated
fiberglass or
brushed steel
199.00$
211.75€
175£
$$$
Sailor Kokutan1960'sna19 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
wood210.00$
179.08€
148£
$$$
Caran d'Ache Ecridor1947na11 grades
18 Kt solid gold
rhodium trim
solid brass,
silver and
rhodium coated
255.00$
192.39€
159£
$$$
Pilot Custom Heritage2010naEF, F, M, B
14Kt Gold
with rodium
transparant
resin
275.00$
130.68€
108£
$$$
Montegrappa Espressionere-ed. 2012Ernest
Hemingway
EF, F, M, B
18Kt Gold
mother of pearl
unfused resin,
sterling silver
trims
295.00$
217.80€
180£
$$$
Parker Sonnet Cisele1993
(or. 1960's)
naF, M
18 Kt solid
gold
925/1000
sterling silver
355.00$
320.65€
265£
$$$$
Omas Bologna2005naF, M
14 Kt solid gold
& platinum
resin, platinum
plated trim
395.00$
287€
236£
$$$$
Sheaffer Legacy1950's Walt DisneyInlaid 18Kt
gold
black resin or
22Kt gold, or
palladiam,
with gold or
pall. finish
395.00$
284.35€
235£
$$$$
Parker Duofold1921Arthur
Conan Doyle
16 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
black resin,
different
trimmings
450.00$
400€
330£
$$$$
Aurora 881950'sdesigner
Marcelo Nizzoli
EF, F, M
14 Kt solid gold
& platinum
resin, gold or
silver plated or
chrome finish
550.00$
338.80€
280£
$$$$
Onota Magna Classic1937Florence
Nightingale
15 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
high density
acrylic, gold plated
and silver finishings
559.00$
435.60€
360£
$$$$
Pelikan Souveran1937-1944
and 1950
Einstein10 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
resin,
gold plated
trims
575.00$
441.65€
365£
$$$$
Montegrappa Nero UnonaPaulo Coelho12 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
black resin,
yellow (or red)
gold trims
650.00$
447.70€
370£
$$$$
Montegrappa Lava2010Barack Obama20 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
volcanic lava,
and gold or
bronze
trimmings
650.00$
394.46€
326£
$$$$
Montblanc Meisterstuck(1924 use of name) 1948John F. Kennedy
& Mandela
17 grades
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
black resin665.00$
719.95€
595£
$$$$
Conway Stewart Wellington2008
(orig. 1920's)
Various Royalty
and statesmen
8 grades
18 Kt solid gold
marbled resin,
gold trims
669.00$
486.00€
405£
$$$$
Conway Stewart Churchill1940's modelChurchill
off course,
Putin and Chirac
F, M, B, It. M
and B
18 Kt solid gold
black resin740.00$
643.72€
532£
$$$$
Pelikan Toledo M7001931naF, M, B
18 Kt solid gold,
rhodium trim
resin and gold,
or silver and
goldplated
1,275.00$
1,306.80€
1080£
$$$$
Parker 51 special edition1939-1972
(2002)
Lazlo
Moholy-Nagy
& Gen.'s MacArthur
& Eisenhower
EF, F, M
18 Kt solid gold
& platinum
resin, and
sterling silver
1,375.00$
1000€
822£
$$$$

Want to See Even More Pens? Click here to see one of my other reviews.

Why buy a pen, and how to go for the best fountain pen?

Fountain pens are often seen today as luxury items and in some cases as status symbols. These pens may also very well serve as everyday writing instruments, like the regular ball pen. A good quality steel and even gold pens are easily available and can be inexpensive.

In Europe the use of fountain pens is well spread. Students in primary and secondary schools in France and Belgium are still required to write all exams in ink. To avoid mistakes special black and blue ink that can be made invisible by using an ink eraser.
Fountain pens are used for artistic expression. Some famous writers today use fountain pens for a whole manuscript, including Stephen King. Others use them for such as expressive handwriting, pen and ink art and professional design. Fountain pens can even be a unique piece of art. Ornate pens have precious metals and beautiful gems and other mineral stones. Some pens are designed with inlaid lacquer.

A fountain pen can be favored over other writing devices for many different reasons. It can be out of a desire of personalisation like other accessories like watches or handbags, it can be for pure elegance because some of these objects are truly beautiful, or for sentimentality because emotions and feelings will be reflected in your handwriting and computers and ballpoint pens simply can not provide this dimension. Finding your best fountain pen is a unique experience.

Fountain pens are back

You might think that email and ball point pens killed these great fountain pens. But the contrary seems true. These old contraptions have survived fashion and fads and have been back after a difficult period in the sixties when the ball point pen surged. The fountain pen has experienced the typical and very classic revival story. Once technology steps in, some objects have changed their status completely, and the pen is no different.

How To Find the Best Fountain Pen That Meets Your Needs

Above you will find an interactive comparison chart of a broad selection of fountain pens, some of the best and most are on the market today. Choosing one can be daunting, so do have a look at the different criteria in there. Every person has his own criteria of choosing. Your best fountain pen is a unique choice.  The options and criteria will help you make the appropriate buying decision. So, above you will find the Best Fountain Pen Comparison Guide to help you find the perfect pen for you.

The Top 5 – Best Fountain pen

I was hesitant in providing my Top 5 because these pens are so different and you are as well. So please see these very simply as only my favorites. Below you will find my top 5 picks for overall best fountain pen along with more a more detailed review of each.

Your Turn

Once you have seen the options and reviewed my top choices for the best fountain pen, it’s up to you to pick what meets your needs, is in your price range, and overall help you express your personality and complement your style. As you know, new fountain pens are being created all the time by new and old manufacturers. The comparison chart of these best fountain pens above will therefor be updated as new fountain pens need to be added to the list. Or simply when I find new material on older pens out there. Or if you feel like we missed a best fountain pen that needs to be included on the list, let me know in the comments below.

1. Lamy 2000

This pen is a true Classic. Although it has a very modern look. It has also a lot of recommendations on the web. It has been around since the sixties and this surely must be the best signs of success. I personally love this pen because it is a timeless statement of true German design and simplicity, it has a technical superior piston mechanism, a gold-nib but it is on top of it all, very inexpensive. Here is mine in brushed stainless steel.

lamy fountain pen

great fountain pen

C. Joseph Lamy, founder of the company, worked for Parker before founding his family business in Heidelberg in 1930. His company was not really noteworthy until his son, a true marketeer, Dr Manfred Lamy came on board in the sixties. The legitimate success of the company started when this pen came out in 1960. This authoritative pen changed the coarse of the company and it is still today the Lamy’s flagship pen. Out of the three big companies in Germany, Lamy, Mont Blanc and Pelikan, Lamy is the only company that is still independent family-owned firm, hence in German hands, actually based in the same town today.

The Lamy’s were true designer fans and they have a high design ethos. Since their origins are rooted in the thirties of Germany, it is of course no surprise that by good tradition the Lamy’s embody the Bauhaus principle of functional design: ‘form follows function’. Another reason why this pen is high on my list, because most of my friends can attest, I am a sincere Bauhaus fan. The Bauhaus principle can be seen in most of their ranges, but especially in the abc children’s pencil up to the dialog3. So when Lamy felt the need for a totally new design he brought in Gerd A. Muller for the design of the pen. Lamy uses often designers with some reputation. Their Persona pen was designed by Mario Bellini. Muller, raised in the Bauhaus school designed in that era an electrical razor, several kitchen supplies and other similar products so typical of the sixties and he did so with quite some success.

The Lamy 2000 was quite avant-garde and leading edge in those days because of its use of a unique fiberglass resin Makrolon, produced by Bayer, for the body of the pen. The pen also uses modern brushed stainless steel, for cap and front section. It is the only Lamy fountain pen that is a piston fill pen, and so for me this holds another advantage because it can use bottled ink which I love. The nib is a non-flexible 14 carat (with 58⅓% gold content) gold alloy nib. Although you can not see the gold because the nib is plated with platinum, and so it achieves a uniform color scheme to the pen.

Fiberglass is a polycarbonate and like all polycarbonates it scratches more easily then metal. Also do not clean or use acetone, or other paint thinners because these products will leave marks. On the other side this type of material can be polished even at home if you have the right tools, and can look brand new after a treatment. They are actually hand polished after assembly. No sir, this pen is not solely made by machines… which I find quite charming. One owner recommends sending the pen every 2 years to Germany for a refurbishment so the pen stays impeccable inside and outside. It will only cost you some transport costs.

best fountain pen review

(image from Vincent Ignace, Wikimedia Commons)

Obviously with such a name, a commemorative fountain pen version had to be produced for the new millennium and it was called the Edition 2000. Respectfully the main characteristic is the inversion of the original design, namely a body of stainless brushed steel with a ring and polished clip in this fiber glass resin, or Makrolon.

Quite a lovely range of nibs are available because as mentioned before this pen is not expensive : nib grades: extra fine (EF) / fine (F) / medium (M) / broad (B) / extra broad (BB) / oblique, medium (OM) / oblique, broad (OB) / oblique, extra broad (OBB).

The very cool and succesful writer Neil Gaiman wrote his book American Gods with his Lamy 2000. This alone makes it a candidate for the best fountain pen. Gaiman has written novels and comics, for theatre and for film.

best fountain pen guide

He cowrote the script for Robert Zemeckiss Beowulf with Roger Avary, a collaboration that has proven productive for both writers. Gaiman refers to it as his “novel writing pen”. He cowrote the script for Robert Zemeckiss Beowulf with Roger Avary, a collaboration that has proven productive for both writers. Gaiman refers to it as his “novel writing pen”. American Gods became one of Gaiman’s best-selling and multi-award winning novels upon its release in 2001.

Although he wrote the book with a pen, the man is not all that traditional with media. In February 2001, when Gaiman had completed writing American Gods, the publishing house created a website and Gaiman blogged and described the day-to-day process of revising, publishing, and eventually promoting the novel. The website evolved once the book was published in to his Official Website. (source Wikipedia) He really interacted a lot with his readers and one of his famous answers on why he writes (the blog) “because writing is, like death, a lonely business.” Quite true.

This iconic pen continues to be popular for half a century after being designed by Bauhaus designer Muller. It is the flagship pen of the house Lamy that has won more international design awards than any other writing instrument maker. The pen itself has earned countless design awards and has respectfully earned its permanent place in the MOMA (source Lamy’s website). For me an obvious first choice if this is your first pen and do not want to invest too much, but just as much an easy addition to a collection or the basic tool on your writing desk.

2. Kaweco Classic Sport

This sturdy little fellow is a true icon in the fountain pen history. It has been around since 1912 so this makes it a little over a century old. If you are into collecting then there is no reason not to include this inexpensive pen. For very little money you have bought yourself a classic. This pen has a highly unique design and to truly understand and appreciate its design, one has to understand the origins.

best modern fountain pen

best fountain pen site

The company that designed this pen is obviously even older. The Heidelberger Federhalterfabrik, originally a dip pen factory was founded in 1883 by two gentlemen Luce and Enßlen. The name Kaweco came up 6 years later, according to the directory of Heidelberg in Germany. Heidelberg, a university town, has some pretty great writing heritage because the first letterpress machine was built there in 1850!

Back to the fountain pen itself. In 1908 the first safety fountain pen was patented by Kaweco but it was in 1912 when the actual Sport model was founded. The first piston fountain pen of the Sport model came in 1935 . The octagonal body, now so famous and loved, saw the light. It was the design of this model that was reintroduced in 1995. You have to understand that by 1935 the company had been through a lot. The thirties were far better for this company than the twenties not only because it invented the pen that brought them good fortune but also because it actually filed for bankruptcy in 1929 during the Great Depression.

Luckily, a smaller pen factory from a nearby town, bought most of the inventory at low prices. The new Kaweco bought back old products from shops for destruction, forbade them to refurbish or repair. And so, in the thirties the company resurrected slowly and the publicity letters sent to all dealers brought back Kaweco to the top of the market. What a great time to put a pen on the market!

In the seventies, the Kaweco Sport became one of the greatest advertising symbols for companies producing writing instruments. This is an extra reason to rank it as the best fountain pen. They also launched a new ‘Sport’ with an Olympic pendant. The name Sport does make more sense knowing this.

And then finally, in 2012, Kaweco comes with the model Sport RAW, which established this pen as a trendsetter. The Classic Sport line is now -as it always was- the flagship product of the Kaweco company.

The pen is very compact and therefor very easy to carry everywhere. It is so small it is actually more of a pocket pen, but it is certainly not the smallest of the pocket pens. I love to use it as my traveling pen because it is actually very light, at least if you have a plastic version. The 8-faceted cap is of the screw on type. The cap can be posted on the barrel. For some it is even necessary to be able to hold the pen, but not for me. The posting of the cap is very comfortable and very deep so it feels safe. The cap is quite broad (14mm).

The nibs come between EF, F, M or B. They are 23k golden plated steel or silver with an iridium tip. The nib is quite dashing ; it has a filigree pattern and it is stamped ‘Germany’ and ‘ Since 1883’. The nib is on the other hand not very flexible and is actually quite broad, but the writing is easy and mine does not skip at all.

The octagonal form makes it recognizable and so iconic. There is a golden Kaweco logo at the tip and the gold does add some class to this elemental rather primitive pen. It can come with or without a clip but this needs to be specified. Short cartridges of the international type are needed. It does not have a model with a fancy piston or converter mechanism. A pity for fountain pen lovers like me and you, but there you go. The price can only buy you so much. It can be easily be converted to an eyedropper and instructions can be found on the web. But it defies a bit the purpose of this pen. Like I said the combination of heritage and price quite does it for me.

They come in 25 different styles and the price range for all these models is wide. The base model has 13 colors. They also have an aluminum and aluminum & carbon fiber model. It is a pity they do not make the original ebonite models any longer. Those need to be bought vintage. The transparent plastic looks a little bit cheap so I prefer the colors that exude its age and feels ebonite. Here is another one I received.

best fountain pen white kawecobest fountain pen kaweco

As I said it is very inexpensive, in Europe you can buy one for 14 euro and in the States around 14 dollars. But depending on the retailer 20€ give or take. So it is by far the highest quality ‘starters pen’. Since they are cheap, it is quite obvious that although the plastic is of high quality it does get scratches where capped. It comes in a box that is quite high-class ; the matte-black color and the golden swirls that make it so.

This time-honored fountain pen with its Bauhaus rooted form and origins in Heidelburg, a town where writing and ink have deep roots, simply has to be part of your fountain pen experience. Or simply, if you need something for your travels or are in need of a pen that can get lost of stolen without too much of a fuss, this is your pen.

3. Montegrappa, Nero Uno

Montegrappa is today a brand that stands for luxury and grand style. It was the first italian manufacturer of fountain pens and writing instruments. The brand itself is discreet and can be compared to a brand like Bottega Veneto, a more discrete fashion brand than Gucci and will not splash the first pages of every fashion magazines with advertisements but it is far more grand. The fountain pens themselves are quite the opposite of the brands. Some models can be truly opulent and even ostentatious. But the fountain pen I have selected is not, the Nero Uno Linea.

The Nero Uno Linea is simply sumptuous and because of its modernist, architectural look, it does not feel peacocky. But before I dive into the pen, this company is has a rich heritage and some great stories. You just have to know where the Nero Uno Linea comes from.

best italian fountain pen

The company was founded in 1912 (yes, it is a centennial old) along the river Brenta, in a town called Bassano Del Grappa, in North-Eastern Italy. They are still working in the same historical building today. In those days the craftsmanship and the artisans were the reason of their success. Montegrappa was called “Manifattura pennini d’oro e penne stilografiche”, the manufacturer of gold nibs and fountain pens. And the gold today still is very present.

Fountain pens come close to jewellery in this company. Off course the fine italian design, this supreme craftsmanship and the quality of their materials perspire through their fountain pens. No wonder their pens are « often to be found in the possession of Royalty, heads of state and celebrities of sport, stage and screen », as their website mentions correctly. Bassano Del Grappa held a strategic military position and many soldiers wrote letters home with Montegrappa (at the time called Elmo) fountain pens. Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, volunteer ambulance drivers at the front, and also acting as war correspondents wrote evocative communiqués with Montegrappa pens. Pictures of John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway below.

best fountain pen writer

(image from unknown photographer, Wikimedia Commons)

best fountain pen hemingway

Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, Cuba 1946

(image from unknown photographer, Wikimedia Commons)

Montegrappa pens have witnessed key moments in last century. That would be a reason to make it for you the best fountain pen. Off course the Italian leaders including Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini used Montegrappa pens. Russian leaders seem to have a bond with Montegrappa. Boris Yeltsin gave his Dragon pen to Vladimir Putin on 2nd January 2000, and with this pen he symbolically handed over his power to him. Russia’s president Dmitry Medvedev signs all official documents with the Montegrappa Extra 1930. Other leaders owning a Montegrappa are Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, His Holiness John Paul II, His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand and His Majesty Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei.

Montegrappa is quite known for their fondness of limited editions, and they actively commemorate events, locales and individuals. Some examples are the dashy town St Moritz, imposing America’s Cup, the majestic opera house La Fenice in Venice, Formula One Legend Ayrton Senna. An image of the town Saint Moritz…

best fountain pen history

(image from Bundesarchiv, 1931, Wikimedia Commons)

I believe there presence is a little bit more than a marketing stunt. Some pens are like some watches. Not all brands can pull it off. On top of that, they seem to hold some kind of gravitas. Great racing driver Jean Alessi and actor, writer and director Sylvester Stallone have even become shareholders and board members. If this all seems to stuffy or ritzy then know that the simple celebrities like Antonio Banderas, Al Pacino, Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson, Michael Schumacher, Jean Todt, Stirling Moss, Zinedine Zidane, Michel Platini, Naomi Campbell, Paulo Coelho all have either their special edition and are admirative owners of Montegrappa’s. Below a picture of violinist Yehudi Menuhin and author Paulo Coelho, captured at the Annual Meeting 1999 of the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland.

best fountain pen writers

Very recently, in 2000, Montegrappa was acquired by the Richemont Group, a holding of luxury goods. It seems to have been a short and turbulent period because between 2001-2005, the brand fell under Cartier management eventually being controlled by Montblanc. And then in 2009, the Aquila family reacquired Montegrappa. It is now back in Italian hands where it most certainly belongs. Friends and family know that Italy has a very special place in my heart, just like Italian brands and products…

best fountain pen example

(image from Michael da Silva, Wikimedia Commons: Montegrappa, Extra 1930 Black Bamboo and Turtle Brown Pens)

Now back to our pen.

best fountain pen examples

The Nero Una Linea is an 8 sided octagonal fountain pen and is etched with soft lines. The black is a magnificent dark matte resin. It comes with red gold or platinum. All finishes are superb like this end of the cap with the Montegrappa logo or the round 1912 medallion at the end of the barrel. The gold is 18 carat finish either in a red gold or a white gold, depending on the Nero Uno Linea version. The pen is a bit longer (141mm) than most, so it probably is handier for most to write without the cap.

The nib is 18 carat solid gold and is simply perfection. Wet and smooth, always functional from the very first time of writing. The nibs come in all classic formats, extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M) and broad (B), but all seem a bit fine and longer than a classic nib and makes it a bit sleek. It can write with cartridge and converter and the converter is supplied standard. The filling mechanism is ebonite. I love that. And for the more practical people amongst us, know it has a two year warranty.

A century of skilled craftsmanship all enrolled in a grand and very stylish black and gold specimen. This a beauty, true and distinctive.

4. Sheaffer Sagaris

Walt Disney himself was often seen in pictures with Sheaffer pens. A well-used Sheaffer Balance Fountain Pen was found in Walt Disney’s desk in 1970 when his office was being inventoried.

best fountain pen disney

(image from craiglea123, Flickr, Creative Commons)

best fountain pen disney walt

Walter Disney cropped from a NASA photograph, Wikimedia Commons

The stories of Walt Disney and Walter Sheaffer have more in common than their first name. They represent both the real American success stories: from rags to riches. Walt Disney, grandson of an Irish immigrant, needs to introduction but it is always good to remind that he had not an easy start. His initial dream of becoming newspaper artist drawing political caricatures and comic strips did not work out. He started up not less than 2 companies before he had some success within the company we know today. He also lost the rights of his first characters before he invented and secured Mickey Mouse. And it is only when he is in his end thirties that he will receive his first full length movie, Snow white and the Seven Dwarfs for which he receives an Oscar. Actually one full length Oscar and 7 little ones.

Walter A. Sheaffer (1867 – 1946) had a similar life. He was a drop-out of school and his first job as a young lad was a printer’s devil, then a grocery boy and in the summer he operated a peanut stand. He next worked at a jewelry store in Iowa and later at a store in Missouri. He later returned to Bloomfield, his native town when he was only 21 years old, to become a partner with his father in the family business. It was only when he reached the end of his thirties that he became financially more secure and that he purchased his own jewelry store in Fort Madison, Iowa. Inspired by the success of self-filling fountain pens, like the Conklins Sheaffer and leaving the eyedropper period behind he worked on his own self-filling mechanism. He patented the side-lever filler, had to wait 4 years before he start production but this filler system was to be widely used for the next 50 years production until 1912. The new business was incorporated two years after production started as the W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company. He was then 47 years old. Its success was rapid, and the jewelry store was soon sold. Within ten years, the company had joined the top rank of American pen manufacturers, and was advertising nationally

This was also a time where so many technological advances were made. Materials changed like rubber to celluloid and filing systems were innovated regularly. But most collectors will agree during the inter-war period some of the most notable fountain models were introduced and are still collectible. The Parker Duofold and Vacumatic, The Pelikan 100 and the Sheaffer Lifetime Balance Series are amongst the most famous.

Although the Sheaffer Balance can not be purchased new but the Sheaffer Sagaris has a remarkable resemblance. Here is a vintage Sheaffer Balance and a Sheaffer Sagaris.

best fountain pen image

vintage Sheaffer Balance

best fountain pen images

Sheaffer Sagaris

The Sheaffer Balance had a relaunch in the nineties, but today it is no longer part of today’s production. The Sagaris has the same gloss black, comes with Sheaffer ‘Shrip’ cartridges. The Skrip ink has been around since the 1920’s. But for the Sagaris, you will need the cartridges with the same name, Skrip.

The famous dot, added in 1924 is located on the exact place. This pen has all the class of his grandparent. Sheaffer would say it is somewhat inspired by the Sheaffer Triumpf. Makes it the best fountain pen for some of you out there. It is surprisingly light-weight and somewhat slimmer than what I originally thought. The nib comes in polished stainless steel or two-tone polished stainless steel with 22k gold plate highlights. It is available in Fine or Medium grade. The luxury gift box and its 3 year warranty add to the tick box, because this pen is sold at a very reasonable price and puts this great classic pen right at the bottom of the price range. It does surprise us since the company is now in the hands of the French group Bic. This little guy comes as American as it gets. You will hold true americana in your hands, and I have to admit for me adds to the charm. Click here for prices and reviews on Amazon

5. Montblanc Meisterstuck 149

Owning a Meisterstuck 149 of Montblanc is a statement of lifestyle or a way of being. Most people know this pen. If they do not know any other pen, they will know this one. If they see this pen in the hands of somebody at a meeting, they will know this person has a quality pen and has paid good money for it. It is definitely more part of your wardrobe than it is part of your office supply… It is the symbol of fountain pens and this one has had a revival in the eighties like no other pen had. But the story did not start in the eighties….

Two Germans, an engineer and a banker, joined hands and launched the ‘simplizissimus fullhalter’. The two men quickly sold the company to three other german gentlemen who founded the company ‘Simpl Filler Pen company’ (in german language). It was 1910 when they introduced the white top pens which became known as Montblanc and from there the famous logo evolved. Montblanc launched their first masterpiece pens (literally translated Meisterstuck) in 1924, also the year where the height of the mountain was engraved on the cap. Quite a story, because the forefather is the ‘master piece’ was named after ‘the most simple one’. In 1924 they also engrave it on the nib. They still do now. But the pen Meisterstuck 149 we know today was actually launched in 1952 after the Meisterstuck 139 but it is a bit more streamlined. So it has a bit over 60 years of life, now.

1980’s Montblanc revived the large Meisterstuck range. It became a cult status and ownership implied a certain position and rank.

best fountain pen montblanc

(image from unknown author, Wikimedia Commons)

Above you see a Montblanc 146 from ca. 1990 (top) and a Montblanc 149 from 2009 (bottom).

The 149 has an oversized body which is actually cigar shaped. The nib again is quite large (the 9 in 149 stands for the size of nib being 1 the smallest) or even over sized. It is 18k hand finished but a bit more rigid than one would think of such a prototypical piece of art. But that does not change the delicious writing experience. Yes, it is expensive. But it is a status symbol and those unfortunately can not be bought cheaply. It would defy the meaning.

Obviously all the right kind of people have owned this pen. To start with John F. Kennedy… yes, he would be the right kind of person to own such a archetypal fountain pen.

best fountain pen kennedy

(source image www.class.25)

He helped out the German chancellor Konrad Adenauer when he was in a difficult state and he offered him the use of his Meisterstuck 149 fountain pen. But Nelson Mandela has had one as well. They wrote very different things although they owned at one point the same pen. As I said, it was brought to market in 1952 and I believe both persons do personify the end of the fifties and the sixties.

During his convalescence of a back surgery in 1956 John F. Kennedy famously wrote Profiles in Courage, a book about US senators who risked their careers for their personal beliefs. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1957. We will off course never know it was written with the Meisterstuck but knowing he owned one made me investigate further. Maybe the Meisterstuck was around or even used in one of the events during his presidency including the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Space Race—by initiating Project Apollo (which would culminate in the moon landing) or somewhere during the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Kennedy also stands for his domestic program the “New Frontier” which increased federal funding for education, economic aid to rural regions, and government intervention to halt the recession. And then finally, Kennedy also promised an end to racial discrimination.

Which is leads us to Mandela who wrote very different things. He also wrote a book, his autobiography which he wrote in prison and for which he was punished by taking away all privileges for another five years. Obviously he did not write his autobiography with a Montblanc. But maybe the new constitution once he was president or his famous three hour speech when he was standing trial or one of the Acts, like the basic Conducts of Employment Act, or the Employment Equity Act or the Land Reform Act. I only understood and started to really appreciate this pen when I came to think about what it could have witnessed. Yes, this makes it the best fountain pen for quite some people.

best fountain pen overview

This pen is meticulously handcrafted of quality resins and trimmed with gold or platinum. The gold nib of each fountain pen is available in XF, F, M and B. An over sized (the large model) 149 pen fits nicely in the hand of a male adult, allowing for comfortable calligraphy. The cap is also made from resin with Montblanc white star inlay. The clip is gold-plated. As said before, it is the archetypal fountain pen, often passed on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

8 responses

  1. You have a wonderful site with tons of very very interesting information. Thank you for this great job!
    There is one thing I have to criticize though: Especially concerning the matter of writing and beauty… please make sure to correct several typing (?) mistakes which can be found in your text.

    • Thanks for the nice compliment on the site!
      And yes, I am sure there are mistakes. English is my third language ;-)) I am Belgian; my mother tongue is Dutch and I speak French with my husband and friends.
      So it is part of who I am. Kathryn

  2. excellent review and nostalgic associations
    Pelikan and sailor miss out though
    Have a great opinion about pelikan -its filling mechanism, non stop writing even after weeks of non usage and classic make

  3. I am in the market for a new pen and your advice is well received. I want something really beautiful but is obviously functional and reliable. I was thinking of a montegrappa.

  4. I’m brand new to this wonderful world of writing instruments… I just purchased my first fountain pen… the Lamy 2000… and I love it! Everything about it from the heft to the way you fill it with ink… I must admit, I was hesitant initially because its not exactly pretty… or is it? When I unpacked the Lamy it looks like its made of wood… like you can see the grain. The stainless steel has a brushed finish. Every thing about this pen was well thought out.

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