Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook Review

So, what is the best paper for fountain pens? When it comes to writing with a fountain pen, you will find that writing with the right paper will make it even more enjoyable.  Sure you use regular paper but most paper can’t handle the fountain pen ink.  Regular papers can bleed and feather and it’s just not great to use with your fountain pens.  You will want a notebook that is smooth to write on.

One of the best fountain pen notebooks that I have been using is the Clairefontaine Basic Large Clothbound Notebook.   The paper is smooth and does not bleed through allowing you to write on the back as well.  I found that when using a medium nib it does take a while for the ink to dry though.

The notebook is made in France.  It measures 6 inches by 8.25 inches and contains 192 pages (96 sheets) of lined paper.  You can choose from four colors – tan, red, black, and blue.  The cover and binding is nice and sturdy.  The cloth spine allows it to lay flat so you can write on the back pages.  There is an elastic band that helps keep the notebook shut.

If you are just starting to try out fountain pen notebooks, the Clairefontaine notebook is one of my fountain pen paper recommendations.  At around $10, it’s relatively less expensive that other notebooks. Happy writing!



Best Budget Fountain Pen?


In the quest for the best fountain pen for a beginner, I recently got my hands on the King Nib fountain pen set.  Currently the price is under $20 and it’s really one of the best budget fountain pens out there.  You really get a lot for 20 bucks including:

  • Fountain pen
  • Two nibs (broad and calligraphy)
  • Two 30ml ink bottles in black and blue
  • Extra converter
  • Cloth wipe
  • Birthday card
  • Wooden gift box in a shape if a nib


The fountain pen set comes nicely packaged in a box.  The fountain pen has a nice elegant metal finish although this makes the pen on the heavier side. It’s too heavy for me to use the fountain pen capped. So the question is how does it write? Actually the King Nib has good ink flow and is pretty smooth.  Swapping out nibs is also easy if you want to swap from the regular nib and the calligraphy nib.

If you are a beginner, consider getting the King Nib fountain pen set.  For a good price, it has everything you need to get started. Also here is a quick guide on how to use a fountain pen.  Read this if you want to know how to start a fountain pen. If this starter set is too basic for you, consider trying out other inks and paper.

Note that King Nib sent me a complimentary set to review and my review remains objective.

J Herbin Caroube de Chypre Ink Review

The J Herbin Caroube de Chypre is definitely one of the most unique ink colors that I’ve seen.  I wouldn’t ever think about writing with this ink but the fine folks over at Pen Chalet had sent me a sample to review and I’m sure glad they did.  Note that my review remains objective.

The newest J. Herbin 1670 ink, Caroube de Chypre, comes in a nice elegant glass bottle and a white box with a simple design. The square bottle has a nice clean look allowing you to see the ink inside. There’s even a wax seal on the bottle adding to the nice design.

J Herbin Caroube de Chypre

J Herbin Caroube de Chypre

After unboxing the J Herbin Caroube de Chypre, I filled up my Lamy Safari  and gave it a test drive. The nice neutral brown color is quite nice.  It is definitely not your basic black or blue fountain pen ink.  The brown chocolaty color has a rich and clean shading making it look very elegant and sophisticated.  I really like the way the ink quietly pops on paper.  The ink flows nicely and enjoyable to write and not overly wet.


If you are looking for a ink with a classical shading, I would recommend the J Herbin Caroube de Chypre.


Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen Review

One of the most unique pens available is the Kaweco Sport fountain pen. The Kaweco pen is made from Germany and is compact making it easy to carry in your pocket.  Since it is small, you’ll find that you want to post the pen when writing unless you have really small hands. The Kaweco Sport fountain pen is not one of the expensive pens out there.  Currently you can get one for under $30.

art of fountain pens kaweco sport

The body has a unique design that is made of sturdy plastic and feels comfortable in your hands.  The design also keeps the pen from rolling around on your desk when capped. It comes with a gold plated stainless steel nib and uses a standard international mini ink cartridge which was included with my pen.  The mini ink cartridge is small so it only holds a small amount of ink.  I may convert this pen to an eyedropper once the initial cartridge runs out.  The cap is the screw on type which is nice to protect your pocket.

art of fountain pens kaweco sport

art of fountain pens kaweco sport

Given that the Kaweco Sport is not one of the luxury pens out there, I wouldn’t expect it to perform like one but my initial experience with it isn’t great. Maybe I need to break it in a bit more but currently it is a bit frustrating to use. The pen doesn’t start right away and needs a little more pressure than any of the my other fountain pens. I got the fine nib on my blue pen and the ink doesn’t seem to flow smoothly even after cleaning the pen.  Skipping is also an issue even after several days of continuous writing.

With my current Kaweco Sport fountain pen, my review is that it is not one of the best fountain pens out there.  Maybe I got a bad one or maybe it needs more time to break in. The price, design, portability, and good reviews is why I bought this one although it may be my last purchase.



Jinhao 599 Fountain Pen Review


After looking at some Chinese fountain pens, I finally took the plunge and bought a couple of Jinhao 599 pens. I was skeptical buying cheap fountain pens as there are many online reviews saying it’s a hit and miss with quality control with Chinese products.

After receiving the pens, the first thing I noticed is that the Jinhao 599 looks very similar to the Lamy Safari fountain pen. As far as I can tell, there are only minor differences between the two pens. The body is very similar to the Safari.  However the plastic feels a little cheaper and lighter in weight.

The nib on the Jinhao 599 has a imprint of 18k GP which seems unreal for such a cheap pen. So you can discount that right away. The pen does come with a nice converter similar to the Safari Z24 cartridge converter. It is one of the lightest pens that I’ve came across and despite the weight, the pen actually feels good in my hands post or unposted.

I honestly didn’t expect much when purchasing this pen. But after inking up with my Lamy ink and priming it, the Jinhao 599 wrote right out of the box (note that it didn’t come with a box) without any skipping.  The ink flowed smoothly. The steel nib is a little stiff and scratchy but was pleasantly surprised how well it wrote.  The nib size seems to be somewhere between a fine and medium.  In fact I didn’t have any issues with any of the pens except for the ink leak in the middle of the barrel. This doesn’t affect the writing in any way though. jinhao 599 chinese fountain pens jinhao 599 chinese fountain pens jinhao 599 chinese fountain pens jinhao 599 chinese fountain pens

While certainly the Jinhao fountain pens are not the best fountain pen, it is a good cheap fountain pen for beginners or someone looking to try out using a fountain pen. Currently you can get one for under $5.



How to prime a fountain pen

Before using your new fountain pen, you will need to prime your fountain pen with proper fountain pen ink.  In order for the fountain pen to write properly and continuously, the ink must be fed into the grove, wings, and the nib. You can prime your fountain pen either with a cartridge or with a converter pump.

Priming a Fountain Pen with a Cartridge

  1. Insert the cartridge into the  pen.
  2. Squeeze cartridge gently so the ink flows out of the tip of nib.  You should get 1-2 drops.
  3. Use a soft towel or tissue to wipe the nib clean.
  4. Your fountain pen is now primed and ready to write.



  1. Insert the converter pump into the fountain pen.
  2. Turn the handle counter clockwise until the piston is at the bottom of the pump.
  3. Dip the nib into your favorite ink bottle and turn the piston handle clockwise.  This will draw the ink into the pump.
  4. Use a soft towel or tissue to wipe the nib clean
  5. Your fountain pen is now primed and ready to write.

Fountain Pen Day

fountain pen day best fountain pen

Did you know that there is a Fountain Pen Day?  Well there is one and it occurs the first Friday in November of each year.  This year (2015) it’ll be on November 6th so mark your calendars and join other fountain pen enthusiasts around the world in this celebration. You can find out more info and join the countdown on the Fountain Pen Day site.

What will you be doing to celebrate? Write more? Buy a fountain pen for someone? Buy more ink? Please post your comments.

Happy writing and happy upcoming Fountain Pen Day!


What’s the best fountain pen?

So what’s considered the best fountain pen? Today you have many choices with factors such as color, price, length, weight, etc. If you are new to fountain pens, you may have some questions and some things to consider to narrow down your choice for the best fountain pen:


  • What will you be using it for?
  • How much do you have to spend?
  • What nibs size should I use?
  • What ink should I use?
  • What type of paper is good to use?
  • How do I take care of the pen?
  • How much should I spend?

Fountain pens are often considered fine writing instruments that can be very personal. It’s not uncommon for fountain pens to be associated with elegance and sophistication. The high end fountain pens are often treated as luxury goods.


Bottomline is that fountain pens can be very personal and subjective.  Buy what you can afford.  Buy what looks good to you. Keep the ones that ergonomically feels good in your hands and makes you keep on using it everyday and you’ll enjoy the fine penmanship and pleasure that a fountain pen will bring you. Fountain pens aren’t just regular pens. The best fountain pen for you is the one that you will keep for years and perhaps pass it along to your kids. Level up your writing experience. Try one and your hands will be very happy.


If you are a novice to fountain pens, don’t be intimidated. We’ve created a mini selection guide to help you choose the best fountain pen for you. We’ll be updating this in the future.


Pilot Metropolitan$
Platinum Preppy $
Lamy Safari$
Nemosine Singularity$
Hero 616$
Lamy 2000$$
Pilot Vanishing Point$$
Pelikan M200 $$
Sailor 1911$$
Waterman Hemisphere$$
Pilot Custom 823$$$
Montblanc Meisterstuck 149$$$
Platinum President$$$
Pelikan M1000$$$
Nakaya Neo Standard Aka-tamenuri$$$


Pilot Metropolitan


The Pilot Metropolitan is one of the best fountain pens on the market today.  It is an affordable entry-level fountain pen which you can pick up for around $15. The body of the Pilot Metropolitan is constructed of a slick brass with a slim body. The brass barrel gives it a nice weight giving a feel of a much more expensive pen.


The Pilot Metropolitan comes in three colors: black, gold, or silver. The length of the pen is about 5 ½ inches capped and about 5 inches uncapped and weighs in at about 0.3 ounces. The cap slips on and snaps to close. The pen comes in a nice box with one black ink cartridge, and an aerometric converter, i.e. squeeze converter.


The Metropolitan seems well-balanced and writes well requiring very little pressure. It feels comfortable even though the glossy section feels a bit slippery. You can get the nibs in fine or medium. The nib is smooth with a nice even ink flow. The writing is not scratchy even on normal paper. Of course gold nibs are smoother. One bonus is that the nib is interchangeable with other Pilot fountain pen models like the 78G, Penmanship, Plumix, and Prera.


The Pilot Metropolitan is one of the best starter fountain pens out there.  It is very stylish, has good balance, and a decent nib in the price range.


Lamy Safari

Another exceptional fountain pen in the starter category is the the Lamy Safari. You can get one for around $40. The body has an industrial design and made up of sturdy ABS plastic which is similar to Lego pieces. It comes with a clip that can be used to clip onto things like backpacks or purses.


You can get the Lamy Safari in wide array of color choices like blue, charcoal, green, neon coral, neon yellow, pink, shiny black, white, and yellow. The length of the pen is about 5 1/4 inches capped and weighs in at about 0.6 ounces.  The pen comes in a nice slim box and one cartridge so you can start writing. You can use a cartridge or get a Z24 cartridge converter sold separately at around $5. Along the side of the pen is an ink window so you can see the level of the ink inside the pen. An interesting design is that the grip is cutout so that beginners can learn how to hold the fountain pen properly.


The Safari is well-balanced and lightweight.  The steel nib wasn’t scratchy and glides on paper well.  You can easily swap out different size nibs like broad, extra fine, fine, and medium.


The Lamy Safari has a nice combination of sturdy design and writing pleasure. If you are considering trying out fountain pens for the first time, this is a good pen to try out.


Lamy 2000

The Lamy 2000 is considered a truly iconic fountain pen. In fact, it has a permanent place in the Museum of Modern Art.  This German-designed pen has changed very little in over 40 years since the introduction in the 1960s. Why change a good thing, right? For around $200, the Lamy 2000 is nearly the perfect fountain pen and is often one of the most recommended pens in the forums.  The body is made of brushed Makrolon (polycarbonate) with a spring-loaded clip. The body has a very faint ink window allowing you to see the ink level. The body also has two tiny metal tabs in the barrel that holds the cap.


The Lamy 2000 comes in black. The length is about 5 ½ inches closed and about 6 inches when posted.  The pen weighs in at about 1 ounce and is nicely weighted and balanced. This is a bottle ink only pen and does not come with ink.  The pen is piston filled and can be filled through a small hole on the underside of the pen which has to be submerged in the ink. The smooth writing is made possible by a platinum coated 14k gold hooded nib. Nib sizes range from broad, extra fine, fine, and medium.


The Lamy 2000 is a beautifully minimalist designed pen. The looks is modern over 40 years ago and continues that today. Oh yeah it performs well too with the superb nib.


Pelikan M200

In the mid range of fountain pens, one of the best fountain pens is the Pelikan M200. The pen is easily recognizable with the Pelikan logo crowning on the top of the cap and its distinctive design.  You can pick one up for around $100.


The Pelikan M200 is made of high quality black and green resin. The resin body has a nice shiny classic green marbled look complemented by the black resin and gold trim. There is an ink window so you can view the ink level.  The M200 is a smaller pen measuring in at about 5 inches and 0.5 ounces. The pen uses a piston filling mechanism giving it a large capacity. The M200 is equipped with a removable steel gold plated nib. Nib sizes range from broad, extra fine, fine, and medium. The pen doesn’t skip and starts writing right away with good ink flow.


If you are looking for a small and light weight fountain pen, then the Pelikan M200 is a great pen. The design of the M200 is classic with the black with gold trim seen in many pens.


Platinum President

At the higher end of the spectrum is Platinum’s flagship fountain pen – the Platinum President. At around $250, you’ll get a great pen that comes in a nice box with a cartridge, converter, and an adapter to fit international sized cartridges. The body is made of high quality resin with a screw on cap.


The President comes in black, blue, red, or yellow. The pen has a real solid feel to it weighing in at 0.75 ounces and about 5 ⅝ inches capped. Writing with the President is enjoyable with the 18k gold filled nib producing a consistent ink flow. The removable nib is a thing of beauty. The pen can be used with a cartridge or converter.


The Platinum President is a great fountain pen for those looking to level up. The combination of the sleek look and smooth writing with the beautiful nib makes this a great pen at this price range.


Montblanc Meisterstuck 149

Commonly considered the king of fountain pens, the Montblanc Meisterstruck 149 is probably the most recognizable pens in the world. For about $700, you can own this quality pen (comes with a nice black bottle of ink too) and make a statement. The classic and elegant design hasn’t changed much since its introduction in the 1950s. The MB 149 has a oversized cigar shaped body with a screw on cap that has the signature white star logo. There is a also a serial number engraved on the ring of the cap.


The solid body of the MB 149 weighs in at one pound and is about 6 inches capped. The pen comes with a very big gold nib that is available in broad, extra fine, fine, and medium. The converter seems to hold a lot ink.  It is a big pen that holds a lot of ink. One nice thing about the pen is that it takes very little pressure to write with it.


If you are willing the spend the money, you’ll own one of the most exclusive brands for fountain pens. This is a quality pen that is very distinguished and can be passed on from one generation to the next.

What’s the best paper for fountain pens?

Just like with fountain pen ink, pairing up some nice paper with your fountain pen will just make your writing experience even more enjoyable. Of course, you can use your fountain pen on just about any paper and it’s often fine. But if you really want to add that third dimension to both the fountain pen and ink, finding the right paper that fits your writing style, budget, and personal preference is that last missing piece to the ultimate combination.


Fountain pens uses ink that is made up of mostly water. As a result, absorbent papers can have some undesirable characteristics such as bleeding through to the other side, feathering where the ink spreads after writing leaving marks around each letter, and ghosting where you can see the ink on the back of the paper.


More premium paper are less absorbent thus will have the problems described above and will provide a better writing experience.  There’s a variety of great paper and notebooks that you can buy. Try a variety and see what looks good to you. Some of the recommended brands online are Clairefontaine, Field Notes, Leuchtturm, Levenger, Moleskine, and Rhodia paper and notebooks.

Fountain pen inks

A part of the fountain pen writing experience is the type of ink that goes into the pen. Just like gasoline for your car, the better the ink the smoother the pen will perform. You’ll get out of the pen what you fill it up with.


A basic rule of thumb is that only things you should put in your fountain pen is fountain pen ink or water to clean it. That is about the only thing you need to remember. Putting other types of ink like Indian ink, Chinese ink, powdered ink, or any other types of inks or liquids will ruin your pen.


Fountain pen ink is made of mostly of water along with the color pigments for the various colors. You can pretty much buy inks anywhere from local pen shops, craft stores, office supply store, or online. These stores will carry plenty of brands and colors. Many in the fountain pen forums prefer Noodler’s Bulletproof Eel on the less expensive side and the higher price Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki .  But there are other brands from Lamy, Waterman, Montblanc, Parker, and others to choose from depending on your preference in color, shading, saturation, time to dry, and budget. You don’t necessarily have to pair up the pen manufacturer with its ink, i.e. Lamy ink in a Lamy pen. Lamy Ink

Lamy Ink


When changing different ink types in your pen or after refilling 2 to 3 times, you should clean it out first. See this post on how to do this.


You should properly store bottle ink in a cool and dark place. Don’t open too many bottles up as you’ll want to use the open bottles as soon as possible.


Experiment and try the different inks and color. Find the combinations of pen and the best fountain pen ink that makes your writing experience enjoyable.