I have always enjoyed the elegance of a fountain pen; the intriguing nature of writing by the controlled diffusion of ink to paper. Rollerballs, ballpoints, and gel pens have not captured my imagination the same way - though I am fond of a good very fine point regular pen such as a Pilot Precise series in a pinch.
Years ago, I purchased a couple of Jinhao fountain pens and played with them for a little while - but the quality was definitely lacking, as was my understanding of the pen brands, nib options, and so forth. Finding excellent pens at <$20 prices was also very difficult at that time.
Today things are quite a bit different, and there are many excellent pens that can be had for as low as a three or four dollars. In particular, the Japanese Platinum Preppy series is an excellent introduction and low cost option for those interested in fountain pens.
I’ve owned a few Preppys - and Platinum has iterated their design each time I go to buy another. The latest ones, available at Goulet Pens, are essentially a completely clear plastic body, with just the name of the pen printed on the side. This I find very ideal: I use these pens to hold colored inks for marking documents or writing out my schedule in my bullet journal. To have the ink sloshing around in there makes for a colorful and fun set of pens!
I had originally started with Preppy pens using the extra fine nib - but honestly that was much too fine for my taste. The nib tended to scratch, and when using lighter inks the lines were not all that noticeable. I’ve settled on their fine nib, and am very happy with that - though my red pen is a medium nib, which puts down a nice, solid line and feels good on the page.
As you can see, I choose to eyedropper fill the Platinum Preppy pens. They hold a LOT of ink, and it is worth setting them up with the O-ring and silicone grease to have unlimited ink choices. No modification to the pen is needed, other than slipping on the O-ring and greasing the body screw threads.
The last pen I use is my Conklin Nozac Israel 70 Limited Edition. What a mouthful. It’s a standard Conklin Nozac, but fitted out with the colors of the nation of Israel in honor of the 70th anniversary of its re-birth. The cap is magnetic, which I love, and the pen overall has a very sharp look to it.
This is a piston fill pen - all you do is turn the silver knob at the end of the pen to run the piston inside. Conklin likens it to winding a watch, and indeed it really does feel that simple. The only caveat is that without an ink window, it is very hard to figure out where you stand.
I originally picked this pen up with a Conklin Omniflex nib; but after some issues with dryness and then over-wetness with the ink, I switched it to an extra fine nib. The Conklin extra fine nib is more akin to the Platnium fine nib, and rides very smoothly on the page. Long writing sessions are a joy with the Nozac - the feel and weight of it in the hand eliminate the possibility of strain on my hand. With the Preppy pens, the narrower body is just enough to give me hand strain after awhile, so I use them in a secondary fashion. All of these pens post well, though I prefer the balance of the Nozac without the cap posted.
Here’s an example of the inks I use:
I really enjoy the vibrant Diamine inks - but they do tend to be a wet ink. Being a lefty, I can easily smudge if as I write if I’m not careful - but this isn’t usually a problem except with a broader nib. The color range more than makes up for it, and I really enjoy the opportunity for some creative fun with my fountain pens!