5 Things I Wish I Knew as a Fountain Pen Newbie

Welcome to the Fountain Pen hobby! So many pens! So many inks! So much to take in! Where to even begin?

 

#1 Consider the size of your handwriting when choosing your nib size.

It can be tempting to think it would be nice to have an even spread of nib widths among all your pens — an Extra Fine there, a Fine here, a Double Broad there, etcetera. And maybe you’ve already found yourself in such a situation. But have you taken a moment to consider which pens you reach for? Is it the weight? The balance? The peculiar colorway of the barrel?

If writing is something that you do often — be it for work or personal things — you’ll find that you’ll only reach for pens you’re comfortable using. Which means, you’ll reach for nibs that aren’t too thick or too thin for your handwriting. Consider how big (or small) your handwriting is. If you find that you prefer writing on a big surface, with big, bold letters, consider getting mostly Broad nibs on your pens. If you find that you like small notebooks, and have teeny-tiny handwriting, then Fine or thinner may be for you.

 

#2 You don’t need to have the fountain pen everyone else wants.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you bought a pen, but realized only after that you didn’t really want it? It’s easy to get caught up in the newest trend, especially if other people are raving about a certain pen and buying it in droves. This is okay at the beginning, especially when you haven’t yet figured out what kind of pen you truly prefer. But when you’ve finally found your #pendentity, don’t give in to the pressure of getting that pen your friends want. Look at your collection, and think about this pen. Is it worth it? Will you like it? Will you write with it?

 

#3 Catch and release is okay.

On that note, don’t feel guilty if reselling or rehoming it crosses your mind. In the process of collecting fountain pens, our real preferences are often something we discover along the way. Spend some time with your new acquisition. Write with it, change your inks, change your paper, and do try to find a combination that works best for you. But if after giving it a shot, and it still isn’t making you happy, it’s perfectly alright to find your pen a suitable new owner.

 

#4 There is such a thing as ‘Pen Etiquette’.

During pen meets, you may become a little overwhelmed. So many new faces! So many pens, inks, and papers to try! Where to begin? Well, first things first, you have to keep in mind that the sharing and handling of other people’s pens is both a privilege and a responsibility.

If you ordered food, make sure your hands are free of any oils, crumbs, and other unwanted food debris. Always ask permission before handling a pen, and always return it to its rightful owner. Be gentle with the pen that has been lent to you. Write with a light hand. If a pen hard starts or refuses to lay down ink, inform the owner and give the pen back. It is better for the owner of the pen to resolve the issue themselves. Also, never post the cap onto the end of the pen’s barrel unless the owner has specifically stated that it is allowed — some pens are not designed for posting, and we do not want to cause any scratches or damages to the pen.

Finally, whether you are new to the hobby or have been in the #RabbitHole for quite some time, remember that there is always more to learn. Keep an open mind, be warm, and enjoy meeting not only new pens but new people too.

 

#5 Be part of a community.

For sure, there are online fountain pen communities that you can be part of (e.g. The Fountain Pen Network). Most of them can be found on Facebook, Reddit, or Instagram. Don’t feel pressured to upload photos or contribute. It’s perfectly okay to be a “lurker” for some time. But the global fountain pen community has also proven to be quite a generous and welcoming bunch! So, eventually — when you’re ready — engage, share, and make friends! The community is there to celebrate your #HappyNewPenDay, tip you off to any good deals, leads, and special editions, penable you and organize group buys, and also answer the questions that Google can’t.

We hope this article has eased some of those FP woes. Enjoy the journey! And if you have any concerns or just want to chat, drop us a line!

 

By Some Folks at EndlessPens

3 comments

Bryan

An addition to #4: always ask how to remove the pen’s cap. Saw a Visconti Homo Sapiens cap wrenched off, shedding chunks of previous basaltic resin, at a pen show. And lots of people have tried to yank off the caps of my screw cap pens. Bad feelings ensue.

Robb

As a collector for over 40 years, I confess to having committed most of these along the way. I’d add that it’s important to decide whether you are buying a pen, particularly a vintage or rare item, for collecting and preserving or for use as a writer. Also, as you settle into your preference, you will have to address the nib flexibility question in your selection. Great pointed and article. Thanks.

Debra

I do not as yet belong to a pen community and do want to give a few lovelies new homes. Is FPN the best place to start? Do you recommend any other specific places to begin? Thank you. This was helpful.

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