Fountain pens are classy and enjoyable to write with. Often times the pens that get the most attention are really expensive, but that doesn’t mean you need to drop a large portion of your paycheck to enjoy using one. While there is a lot that comes with pens in the hundreds of dollars you can still get a quality fountain pen under $50. Here is some of what to expect and some suggestions of good pens.
We are mainly looking at pens that are solid entry level or pens for enthusiasts that are nice enough to use but not too nice to lose. This means that most of the workings are plastic and stainless steel.
All of the nibs are steel without any gold or rhodium plating that you would see on higher end models. While the more precious metals are more chemically resistant modern inks are not so corrosive that you really need to worry about it. The steel nibs will generally be a little stiffer than nibs made with precious metals. If you are looking for more flair in your lettering you can usually change out the nib for a wider calligraphy nib.
With these pens you may get the occasional hard start, especially if you haven’t used them in a while. As long as you make a few lines to warm up this is rarely an issue. Regular use will keep the ink flowing smoothly.
They are machine made and don’t usually go through a manual tuning process at the factory. This means there can be some variation in the quality but most of these you will have very few problems with. Also it’s easier to learn to make adjustments to a pen without worrying about breaking one that is really expensive.
All of the pens here either have a piston filler or can be fitted with a piston fill converter. If the pen uses cartridges and doesn’t come with a converter it is worth spending the extra few dollars to get one. You don’t need a really expensive pen to play with nicer inks. They can really enhance the feel and look of you writing.
A good fountain pen is a joy to write with. As the ink flows so do your thoughts.
Home Office Genius Pick For Best Fountain Pen Under $50
The Parker Urban has a fairly unique almost hourglass shape to the body. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing it also contours nicely to your hand.
The body of the pen swells slightly to give a comfortable finger rest. The ink flow isn’t exposed so there is very little chance of getting ink on your fingers unless you slide all the way to the nib.
The cap of the Urban is heavier than you might first expect. This is part of what gives the pen a solid feel. It clicks on securely when the pen is closed. It also sits very low when posted on the back. This makes the balance for writing very enjoyable and doesn’t feel as heave on the end of the pen.
This is a cartridge pen, which is fine for many people. If you do a lot of writing or like to change up colors for creative projects it’s worth getting a piston converter. It doesn’t come with the pen but for a small price it’s a big upgrade.
The nib on this pen writes very wet. Take this into consideration when choosing whether to get the fine or the medium. While you can control the flow to some degree by choice of inks, if you have tight handwriting you will definitely want to go with the fine nib.
This is a good everyday fountain pen. It writes well, has a unique shape and still has the class of a Parker pen.
The Sailor Young Profit is a slim little pen that feels delicate in the hand. This is a bit of a contrast from so many pens that work to feel substantial. If you find other fountain pens to feel big and clunky this is a good option.
The sleek design is minimalist and looks classic with the metal accents. The nib has an elegant flourish with the Sailor anchor logo on it. These more elaborate designs are often saved for pen maker’s more expensive lines.
If you are looking for a wet nib that throws ink on the page this probably isn’t what you are looking for. The lines from the Young Profit run very fine. This is normal for a Japanese pen with the detail required to write Asian characters. It also lends itself to those of us who favor a compact writing style. You might error on the side of a slightly bigger nib choice if you are not used to a very fine nib.
This pen doesn’t come with piston converter but I would definitely suggest getting one. You can stick with Sailor cartridges at the beginning. Still it’s a worthwhile investment to be able to have more choice of inks and even with a converter you are still looking at less than a $50 investment.
The Sailor Young Profit is an excellent choice for writers with a compact style or who often need precise line work. It gives you really fine control.
This is definitely a pen for throwing ink on a page. It has the big almost cartoon feel and really lets you play with your writing style. In some ways this feels designed after some of the cliché ideas of old fountain pens but it works.
When the pen is new it probably needs to be broken in in two ways. From the manufacturing process it can have bit of an industrial smell that will fade away. Also the nib will start out a little stiff but will become more flexible with use.
One of the best things about the Ahab is that you can make most of the adjustments yourself. While other pens often require more training to modify this one you can do with a simple tutorial. The ability to customize the flow really adds to how much you can play with the Noodler.
The plunger filling system is simple and effective. It doesn’t have the precision of a piston filler but it holds a lot of ink. The plunger can be depressed to drip ink back on the page, which creates a cool effect for some artistic projects.
The nib is meant to flex and loosens up over time. This allows you to add more character to your lettering. As long as it’s adjusted correctly the ink flow will keep up even as you make some wide strokes. The line variation gives it more of a calligrapher’s feel.
This is a great pen for artistic work. It works for flourishes on greetings and thank you cards. The flexibility really lets you get in touch with your creative side.
The Logo is smooth, utilitarian and minimalist. Its stainless steel body foregoes most of the accents of classic fountain pens for a sleeker aesthetic. It feels like it belongs on an organized, nearly empty desk next to a pad of high quality paper.
The body of the pen is narrow and mostly smooth. There isn’t a specific grip point and the pen is fairly light. This gives it a delicate feel, not as in fragile but it can help bring precision to your writing.
The cap clicks over the nib rather than screwing down. When posted it only covers a small part of the back of the pen and doesn’t feel really secure. This makes the posted pen rather long but the cap is so light it doesn’t throw the balance off for the pen. There is only a minimal difference in the feel of writing with the cap posted versus not having it on at all.
The steel nib is stiff and has good flow. This is good for consistent lettering. With most inks the fine will write fine and the medium will give a solid but not overly thick line. The nibs don’t really flex to give your writing flair. If you are looking for more variation Lamy sells a variety of nibs. They are easy to change out if you want a different style and you can always change it back out.
The piston converter is sold separately. It doesn’t hold as much as the cartridges but it adds a lot of utility to the pen. It’s a worthwhile purchase and will still be under $50 for the whole set up.
The Lamy Logo is a simple and elegant fountain pen. Its form follows function with no extra ornamentation. It’s everything you want for smooth consistent writing.
The TWSBI Eco has no secrets. You can see the complete inner workings of the fountain pen through the clear body. This gives the pen a very modern feel and makes it so that if there is ever a problem you can see where it is. The body of the pen acts as the ink window, which also lets you decide the color you want the pen to be based on the ink you are using.
The Eco has a built in piston filling system that is similar much more expensive fountain pens. Since it doesn’t have the double walls of a converter it is able to hold a larger volume of ink. The piston action is smooth and easy to fill.
The Eco is a little on the thick side but not so much that it is uncomfortable or unwieldy. The mainly plastic construction makes the pen quite light. The cap posts on the back of the pen. Still the balance without the cap posted is really good so you can leave it off without the pen feeling too small.
The steel nib is stiff but has good flow. It leaves a more generous line than you might expect from a fine nib.
Still there isn’t much variation with pressure, as the nib doesn’t flex. TWSBI offers several different nibs including a stub nib for calligraphy. The nibs are easy to change out for different projects.
This is a great pen with smooth flow. Not only is it a pen you can adjust for yourself, you can really see what’s going on. It’s a solid choice for a novice or expert pen enthusiast.