Advanced search

Fountain pen for a gift

(46 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 05:53:45

After a year of job hunting and literally thousands of job applications dh has finally landed an amazing new job. It’s been a stressful year and I want to get him a gift for his nw job.

He loves writing with fountain pens- my budget isn’t massive though (were pretty skint) so was wondering to buy one new or try to get a second hand from eBay. I can spend up to £50. Which Parker is better? Could I try for a second hand Mont Blanc? I don’t know anything about pens!!

TheRabbitOfNegativeEuphoria Wed 10-Jan-18 07:51:04

I have had a Cross fountain pen for years and I love it. You can get nice ones for £40 - £60 from their website and I've seen some cheaper on Amazon.

HermionesRightHook Wed 10-Jan-18 08:42:03

I don't really like Parker personally, they're a bit basic, and there's lots of other nice brands out there. Cult Pens is a good place to see all the different brands. - the pocket pens are a good price and handy. I love my kaweco.

EastMidsGPs Wed 10-Jan-18 08:48:02

What a lovely idea OP.
I went back to using fountain pens 2 years ago and find any excuse to leave a note find my handwriting is far more readable.

DH could do with using one, reading his handwriting is pure guess work.

IJoinedJustToPostThis Wed 10-Jan-18 08:50:24

Germany is where it's at for stationery.

A Lamy Studio fountain pen is about your budget - very slick design and decent reviews. It comes with a converter though - is your DH a bottled ink or a cartridge man?

I have a Parker Urban which I love (it has sentimental value anyway, but also, I've had it a few years now and it writes like a dream).

sashh Wed 10-Jan-18 09:10:56

I have Lammy and Cross, love the cross and I think it is a nicer pen. You can get one for about £40-£50 or cheaper from ebay for second hand.

Pedallleur Wed 10-Jan-18 09:40:09

Parker 5th Generation are interesting - it looks like a fountain pen but isnt. The Pen Shop has some deals on and Cult Pens always good. Mont Blanc are v overpriced for what they are - you are paying for the branding. Lamy/Cross make great pens

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 19:02:30

Thanks all for the advice. For some reason I assumed I’d get no responses for this.

Lots of ideas. I’m thinking about this one:

Any thoughts? He does like antique items so wasn’t sure whether to go down that route. Although I don’t want to land up with something that doesn’t work. And this one is all nicely boxed too!

I assume he has cartridges? I’m not really sure!!

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 19:03:54

And is engraving naff? I was thinking of just his initials?

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 19:12:53

What are thoughts on this? The price seems great and I like the look but does it seem a bit slim?

IJoinedJustToPostThis Wed 10-Jan-18 19:22:02

I looked at reviews (yep, there are people who review pens grin) for the Cross Calais - not great, some issue with the colour flaking off the barrel, when a decent pen, well looked after, should outlast its owner.

Cartridges is a good point too - a lot of pen brands only fit their own cartridges, so it's worth checking that the brand you'll need is widely available. Another (pen geeky) option is to buy a converter (for a few pounds) that fits into the pen where the cartridge would go, and can be filled with bottled ink. Some fountain pens come with converters already, check all website info carefully.

I think you'll struggle to get a working antique pen within budget, but there are plenty of awesome, more modern designs available. I would have a look at Cult Pens or Goulet Pens or Hamilton Pens, scroll through till you find a couple you like the look of, then google search for reviews of that make and model. Often people review a pen they've had for weeks or months, so you get a good idea whether they're value for money.

You can expect any fountain pen you buy new at £50 to come nicely boxed smile

IJoinedJustToPostThis Wed 10-Jan-18 19:26:12

If you do go with the Calais, it's £36 at the Pen Company.

Mormont Wed 10-Jan-18 19:36:36

Does he like to write with a fat pen or a thin pen? I would check that. I've got slim hands and long fingers and I think people would assume I'd like a slim pen and buy that but I actually prefer a fat pen.

MikeUniformMike Wed 10-Jan-18 19:39:34

I wouldn't get a fountain pen. Been given some over the years and I've not used them. I'd get a smart rollerball in a make that you know he likes. I'm very fussy with a pen and the wrong nib won't cut it.

GinisLife Wed 10-Jan-18 20:28:58

Have a look at A bit more than your budget but very individual. Every one is different and is hand made.

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 20:38:32

Thanks for all the advice.

I know nothing about pens (can you tell?!) and I don’t know what nib he likes or thickness of pen or whether he likes cartridge or a cartridge converter... I wanted it to be a surprise but I’m wondering whether I should ask him. We never get each other spontaneous gifts though so it would have been nice to surprise him. Maybe when he’s out of the house tomorrow I can try to find the pens he has for inspiration!

zippyswife Wed 10-Jan-18 20:39:17

I do know he likes a fountain pen though- rather than a roller ball.

UterusUterusGhali Wed 10-Jan-18 20:42:11

I think I want a naice pen.

What colour ink does he use? Out of interest.

Doyouthinktheysaurus Wed 10-Jan-18 20:44:05

This is a fabulous pen for the money. I have several different types and if you like a weighty fountain pen, they are perfect.

Canyousewcushions Wed 10-Jan-18 20:44:44

Have a look an Amazon for cross pens- the one you linked to is cheaper on there. Also worth checking the cross website sale section- they have some good deals on there.

Pens can be quite personal things though - I love using foubtain pens but prefer a faily heavy one- I got a beautiful one for Christmas but it's much lighter and just doesnt feel as good to write with. My dad, on the other hand, picked up my favourite one and declared it unbearably weighty.

Pens often come with one or two cartridges but he'll need more of the right brand in the long run. If he prefers ink from a bottle then he'll need a converter as an extra.

I like Cross, and many of their pens have a good warranty too (and it works, they recently repaired mine with no quibbles). But worth shopping about and checking prices as there are some good deals out there.

Maelstrop Wed 10-Jan-18 20:45:36

You need to find out if he prefers thin, thick nib, sim, fat barrel. I’m ridiculously fussy so I’d be grateful but secretly wishing I’d chosen it. Could you get him a voucher/gift card for the relevant shop?

I like a broad nib Schaefer, just to add to the confusion.

Swissgemma Wed 10-Jan-18 20:46:55

I am a fountain pen lover (actually a pen lover!) I love mont blanc but I would be wary of one in your budget. I also have a Parker Frontier fountain pen (and biro too) which i love plus the ink is relatively cheap. I hate roller balls! I also love the lamy fountain pens I have a couple of Vistas (with turquoise and violet ink). Generally cartridges are easier (I have an ink slurping mont blanc and to be honest rarely use it and tend to use the cartridge one as I can more easily carry ink!)... but look at the pens he has (I have a preference for fat pens and medium nibs!)

ShiftyMcGifty Wed 10-Jan-18 20:48:10

I have a £400 fountain pen but I carry (and mostly use) my £12 Lamy fountain pen. Love Lamy!

MikeUniformMike Wed 10-Jan-18 20:52:52

Does he have any pens or pencils he tends to write with?
The Cross ones vary - I have a plastic ballpoint one and a heavier promo ballpoint. The plastic one feels nice weightwise but the promotional one is too heavy.

You should be able to get the nib part replaced - the paper insert in the box or website will probably tell you. The pen should include a 'reservoir' (converter) that you can use or remove to use cartridges.
Some nice (cartridge) writing paper to practice or a notebook would be a nice idea.

I would buy one that is expensive enough to be a luxury but not so expensive that he'd be scared to use it. Don't bother getting a matching ballpoint.

MikeUniformMike Wed 10-Jan-18 20:55:10

Don't forget to get the cartridges.
Many congrats to zippy and good luck in his new job.
You sound a real sweetie zippyswife.

ShiftyMcGifty Wed 10-Jan-18 20:56:06

Try calling up this place and ask for their advice

They also have a huge selection of very fancy inks.

WheresTheHooferDoofer Wed 10-Jan-18 20:56:39

I have a Schaeffer Prelude I got for 1/3 of the original price in a sale, writes beautifully, have had it for about 10 years. Also have a Cross Bailey, got it about a year ago. And finally a Manuscript Trio. This is marketed as an everyday italic pen, writes nicely and only cost £10.

For all 3, I use bottled ink (the Trio doesn't take a converter, I use one of my dad's syringes to refill a standard cartridge with my chosen ink).

I have bought pens from different sites, such as Cult Pens, Pen Heaven, etc.

If you're thinking about bottled ink, Diamine inks are lovely, they have over 80 different colours, including ones with a shimmer. I have found it easier to check colours on Diamine's own site, but then cheaper to buy that colour from Cult Pens grin

OP, there are a number of us on MN who can write lovingly about pens and other stationery for ages grin

Sillybilly1234 Wed 10-Jan-18 21:03:09

Cross fountain pens are really nice and are guaranteed for life. If you have a problem send it back and they repair or replace it for free. Unless you have intentionally break it.

With some ranges you can also get matching propelling pencils and ball point pens etc, so he can build up the set. Good Christmas or birthday gift idea.

Hawkmoth Wed 10-Jan-18 21:08:42

I love my Lamy!

Maelstrop Wed 10-Jan-18 21:34:20

For all 3, I use bottled ink (the Trio doesn't take a converter, I use one of my dad's syringes to refill a standard cartridge with my chosen ink).

Now that is inspired! I’m guessing you need a syringe with a needle attached? I just happen to have lots that I forgot to give back to the vet once I’d used them all.

Bugger, I’ve finished buying clothes in the sale, think I’m going to have a look for a pen now unless I can wait til my birthday in a few months.

BeachysFlipFlops Wed 10-Jan-18 21:38:14

If you can get a Parker 51 for that price, I would do that..... it's a classic

witchmountain Wed 10-Jan-18 21:50:19

I'd second the suggestion of Cult Pens and there is some good advice for lower budgets on this page: and you can filter for your price range. You should be safe with a medium nib.

Less useful for the OP, but for others, I also refill cartridges with a syringe because they hold more than the converter in my pen and it's easier. You can get a blunt needle syringe from these people:

And I have finally discovered a fountain pen that feels usable in everyday life - the Pilot Capless (or Vanishing Point in the US). It has a retractable nib and it's AMAZING! It's just somehow less faffy. There's a link to them from that Cult Pens page above.

Jeanvaljean27 Wed 10-Jan-18 22:00:34

Ok, a few words of advice:

1) avoid eBay. You don't want to be buying a vintage fountain pen, because they often need work doing to the mechanism or the nib - stick to buying a factory-new pen.

2) no montblancs. Even vintage ones will be out of your budget, and new ones are several times what your budget is.

3) parkers are popular, but the decent ones start at the level of the sonnet which is again out of your budget, and nothing particularly special. So don't go there.

4) Cross pens seem to be popular in the suggestions above but not particularly so amongst FP collectors. Mainly because there's much better to be had for the money.

5) the best new pens to be had in terms of sheer quality of workmanship and value for money are german pens (pelikan, lamy) and the Japanese trio (pilot, platinum/nakaya and sailor). They have the best out-of-the-box nibs, and offer unrivalled vfm. The starter models for those makes however would be in the £70-80 range which is just above what you're willing to pay. If you could push the envelope, the models to look at would be pelikan m200, platinum 3776, sailor 1911 and pilot custom 74.

6) for your budget of £50 I'd stick with an English made pen called the parson's essential. £42 for the pen and you can get it engraved for £3 more. Nib is made by bock who make pelikan's nibs, a wonderful pen for the money. I've spent 10 years collecting vintage and new pens, and I'd say it provides better vfm than anything else out there south of £50. Just order a standard medium nib rather than one of their other funky nib options.

RB68 Wed 10-Jan-18 22:06:08

Don't get a secondhand one unless you get a new nib as they mould to your writing style over time

WheresTheHooferDoofer Thu 11-Jan-18 00:06:48

Maelstrop It's just a standard medical syringe, my dad's a diabetic and has a lot of them. Needle attached, and covered with the plastic whatsit (along with a cap for the plunger) when not in use. I keep it securely wrapped in my office drawer. It works really well.

WheresTheHooferDoofer Thu 11-Jan-18 00:08:36

Jeanvaljean27 Your advice is interesting, and I'll keep it in mind when I get another pen (assuming I have any funds to do so).

Bumbledumb Thu 11-Jan-18 00:21:17

Jeanvaljean27 I was also going to suggest the Parson's Essential from MrPen. It is not English made however. Mr Ford imports them from Asia I believe and they are finished here.

Another brand which comes in on budget is Twisbi. This one is good: 580.

zippyswife Thu 11-Jan-18 11:32:41

Thanks for all the information. I’m going to have a proper read through when youngest ds goes for a nap. I’ll try to find some of his pens too (not sure if he keeps them at work) to get an idea of what he likes.

Jeanvaljean27 Thu 11-Jan-18 18:33:59

Bumbledumb you're right, he gets it made in Asia and then tunes the nib and feed himself. It's how he keeps the cost down I guess.

I've used his other main pen the churchman's prescriptor too which is a lot bulkier but again with a lovely buttery smooth nib.

He says on his website the pens would cost double if they were made by a big name and he's not far wrong.

zippyswife Mon 15-Jan-18 10:43:48

Thank you all for taking th time to give me such a lot of advice. I’m going to go with the parsons essential. Should I assume this will come boxed?

zippyswife Mon 15-Jan-18 10:58:02

Sorry- just a final question- was just about to order the parsons essential from mr pen then I saw the cross apogee for £49.99 on me pen which appears to be a massive saving and would normally be well out of my price range. Which should I go for?

LouMumsnet (MNHQ) Sat 31-Mar-18 22:08:04

Evening all. We hope you don't mind us nipping on here to tell you that we're moving this thread over to our new topic, The Stationery Cupboard.

Enjoy! smile

MulticolourMophead Wed 05-Sep-18 15:12:52

I know this is an older thread, but what would the knowledgeable posters recommend up to £100? I like the look of the parson's essential, what would be good in the next price bracket, say


Happycow Thu 06-Sep-18 20:33:45

@Mophead I have a schaeffer prelude which I love. There are different finishes for different prices, I think the most is about £80.

The pen is nicely balanced, not too heavy and the nib is smooth.

I've also heard very good things about the faber castell pens at that £80-£100 Mark- have a look at the cult pens website for options. Goulet pens does some little video demos of fountain pens which are useful.

MulticolourMophead Thu 06-Sep-18 21:19:15

@Happycow I have a Prelude, got that one several years ago (for £20 grin)

I'm looking for something to remember my mum by, really. She's not got long left, I'm hoping she makes it to next year. But I have a birthday coming up in a couple of months, and I know she'll ask me to suggest something from her. A pen that I use every day just seems to me to be that something to remember her with, especially as we both like fountain pens. So I'm looking for a good pen within the budget I'm guessing she'll set me.

newtb Sun 04-Aug-19 15:50:58

I've got a Lamy Safari and love it. It's the best left-handed pen I've ever had. Cheap, too.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »