Glenn’s Pens: Back to School Edition
by Glenn McAleer
Going back to school can be nerve-wracking. What helps break those jitters better than feeling prepared? Back to school shopping can provide this relief - like a sort of retail-therapy; but the pens, notepads, and binders you buy may lose their lustre faster than anticipated in the hustle and bustle of law school. So how do you stay excited every time you go to write? This columnist suggests taking a page out of the Musicophile’s book. There is something romantic about pulling a record from its sleeve and placing it on a record player, as opposed to opening Apple Music or Spotify. Whether you’re working on your screenplay on weekends, want to get excited about journaling again, or just want a tool to use while studying for finals, I recommend turning back the clocks and writing with a fountain pen. Those of us who have seen the light tout how smooth the pen feels while the nib glides across the paper, the slight feedback the pen provides as the ink flows from between the tines. True, fountain pens may require some speciality paper or at least an extra moment of time to dry, but the endless ink options, variety of nib sizes and unique selection of pen barrels allows the penman to truly customize their writing experience.
So, welcome to Glenn’s Pens. Over the next few publications, I hope to persuade some of my readers to put down the laptops, cellphones, and tablets to find pleasure and simplicity in good ol’ fashioned pen and paper writing.
A great place to start is, of course, to answer the question of where to start. If you are brand new to fountain pens there are some fantastic starter options you can try without breaking the bank. Today, I will spotlight 3 great fountain pens to kickstart your next year of law school.
The Disposable Pen: Platinum Preppy
Nib sizes: Extra fine, Fine, and Medium
The Platinum Preppy is the perfect pen for the person who wishes to dip their toe in the fountain pen world without taking the plunge. Retailing for right around $7 CAD, these pens come with a single cartridge and are as good as disposable. The pen can be reused with proprietary Platinum cartridges, or even filled from an ink bottle or ink well with Platinum’s Cartridge Converter – a refillable cartridge that can be used with bottled ink. However, Platinum’s proprietary converter is sold separately and normally runs for more than the cost of replacing the pen. This pen is more limited than the others when it comes to choice of nib-size (the “nib” is the metal tip of the pen that makes contact with the paper – a wider nib size allows for greater ink flow). This may bother more experienced pen-lovers who are partial to stub or 1.1 sized nibs. The feed of the pen is clear which allows one to see the ink flow towards the nib from the barrel. Like other Platinum brand pens, this pen comes with the patented “Slip & Seal” technology in the cap to prevent ink from drying when the pen is not in use, which keeps the pen from “hard starting” or drying out, even when unused for prolonged periods of time.
- Cheapest option
- Cartridge converter sold separately
- Limited nib sizes
The Beginner’s Ol’ Reliable: Pilot Metropolitan
Nib sizes: Fine, Medium, and Medium italic
Perhaps the best bang for your buck on this list, the Pilot Metropolitan is great for a first-time fountain pen user. The pen is designed to be used with Proprietary Pilot ink cartridges, but the pen acts as a pseudo starter-kit by including an ink cartridge and a cartridge-converter right out of the box. This allows the first-timer to start slow with replaceable cartridges and easily switch to bottled-ink down the line at no additional cost. The squeeze converter is quite small, so prepare for frequent refills if you go the converter route. The Pilot Metropolitan is a classic-looking fountain pen that looks elegant without breaking the bank. The pen has a brass metal body, a rarity at this price point that provides a slightly weighted feel in the hand. It looks great in black, but the pen also comes in silver and gold, and among the colour variations lie a seemingly never-ending selection of barrel-patterns such as floral, houndstooth, dotted and more. It is easy to find a design that speaks to you and makes the pen an easy-to-acquire collectable.
- Comes with a cartridge converter
- Sleek brass metal body
- Small cartridge converter
- Limited nib sizes available
The Budding Enthusiast: Twsbi Eco
Nib sizes: Extra fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, and 1.1
My very first fountain pen, the Twsbi Eco, is a wonderfully unique pen – though not when compared to other pens made by Twsbi. Many other Twisbis share the Eco’s clear-plastic styling, but compared to almost all other entry-level fountain pens this one is fantastic. The entire body of the pen is clear, serving as a “demonstrator.” This allows the user to always know how much ink is left in the pen. The two aforementioned pens are both designed to be used with a cartridge or cartridge-converter system. The Twsbi is unique in that it has a built-in piston-filler. Twisting the back of the pen with the nib submerged in ink will draw ink into the body of the pen. This prohibits the use of any cartridge in the pen(?), but enables the user to fill the pen with more ink than almost any other pen on the market. Once the pen is inked, the user can tip the pen over and watch the ink run from side to side – a lovely display when the pen is inked with a shimmering or glittering ink.
Of course, not being able to simply slide a cartridge in when the old one has dried up may be a turnoff for someone who is not interested in the added flair of a demonstrator pen. The Twsbi Eco forces the users hand in purchasing a bottle of ink. And where one bottle of ink is purchased, more are sure to come. Much like the Pilot Metropolitan, the Twsbi Eco comes in several colour variations and has a few special editions as well (I personally own the Smoke Rose-gold edition). While the pen is a bit more costly than the other two on our list, the budding enthusiast has something to get excited about.
- See ink levels depleting as you write
- Large ink barrel
- Higher price point
- No cartridges
All the pens I described in this article are great options for those interested in getting a fountain pen. Smooth, sleek, and yes, romantic! Fountain pens are a great way to look forward to writing and elevate your study experience.
“I’ll call for pen and ink, and write my mind.” William Shakespeare, Henry VI