View Full Version : WTB: Old fountain pens

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06-25-2013, 01:47 AM
If you want to see a really good piston-filled design, look up Visconti pens. They came up with a piston system that lets you use a very large portion of the barrel, holding a LOT more ink. And despite the fact that they're Italian, they don't leak in day-to-day use (never flew with mine, so I can't say how well they'd handle the changing air pressure). See what you can find about it online - their pens are modern and NOT cheap. Montblanc on the other hand, well, my 149 (the famous big fat pen that looks like a black lacquered cigar) leaks like a sieve even when stored upright, capped. Which is a shame as I found it in the used 1/2 price case at Bertram's Inkwell with a left-handed Italic nib. And I'm a lefty.

I'd look into making the nibs with the 3-D printer. They've evolved from quills to steel and gold for a reason - the steel lasts forever, but it is stiff and scratchy to write with. The gold is not only beautiful to look at but it has greater flexibility, yielding a smoother, more comfortable writing experience. You might be able to get a compromise between them from the right blend of plastic. Quills wear out too fast (I cut one before, and while it works, it wears down fast and you have to re-cut it often - thus the origin of the pen-knife). You could also try glass - lots of pen stores, stationery stores and art supply stores sell glass dipping pens from Murano in Venice. They work well enough as a dipping pen, but you'd have to see what you could do about making a nib with a feed, otherwise they'd be a godawful mess.

06-25-2013, 06:15 PM
Steel doesn't have to be scratchy. My steel Parker M nib is beautifully smooth and is my least catchy nib. Hard as a nail of course with no flex.

Jon Goodman
06-25-2013, 06:43 PM
By steel, you mean stainless steel, yes? Stainless is very easy to plate with gold, you know.

06-26-2013, 02:40 AM
I don't know that it is stainless steel - most of the steel nibs I've seen are blued and/or Rhodium plated.

Jon Goodman
06-26-2013, 06:29 AM
That's interesting. All the ones I have (which admittedly are not many) are anti-magnetic stainless.

06-26-2013, 10:49 AM
Now here's an interesting question: How many of us film users also write with fountain pens? I have several Parker 51s that I use in rotation.

06-26-2013, 02:24 PM
I've got the aforementioned Montblanc, a couple Viscontis (including a demonstrator), several Deltas, a Waterman or two, and my pride and joys, My Omas and Montegrappa pens ( I have a 1993 Vespucci, a 360 and a Paragon all with flex nibs, a Hong Kong commemorative in sterling, a Montegrappa Exta in white, a Montegrappa Gothica in sterling, and a Harmony in faux tortiseshell). Oh, and a Parker Duofold in the Pearl & Black. I want one of the yellow 125th anniversary pens...

Jon Goodman
06-26-2013, 11:18 PM
How many of us film users also write with fountain pens?

I would not be surprised to find several did. You need patience and dedication in order to do both correctly. They're deliberate things as opposed to convenient things, yes?

07-27-2013, 08:17 PM
If you're looking at fountain pen design, how about Lamy? I own a couple that I use daily.

07-28-2013, 10:18 PM
Tons of fountain pens here, everything from Hero 616s to a Mont Blanc 145. I like 'em a lot.

E. von Hoegh
07-29-2013, 10:57 AM
Now here's an interesting question: How many of us film users also write with fountain pens? I have several Parker 51s that I use in rotation.

This one.:) Parker 51, a few Montblancs, a Parker Centennial, a small 1920s leverfill Schaeffer "Lifetime", and a Pelikan that I use almost constantly.

Mustafa Umut Sarac
07-29-2013, 12:11 PM
I think, Luigi Colani should have a fountain pen design. You can learn lots of things from his designs. What about Gaudi , He designed Casa Calvet Door Handles set with squeezing his hands in to wet clay and than brass casting. There are structural design method , Organic design method or reverse an linear design method like art deco. You can make thin , thick or massive designs from them. Danish design school have lots of papers on deciding on a form for designers. But I liked your laser cut idea , its cheap , fast . All depends on the selling price and market .

07-31-2013, 04:35 AM
Perhaps others have noticed....this little contribution will be about # 32 in the list of replies on this thread - compared to an average of 3 to 5 replies to threads in the past 6 months. What does this tell us about APUGers ? Are we Luddites, or simply way ahead of our time, but in a different way.

It worried me, back in the previous century, when friends would raise eyebrows and comment "... John always was a bit different...":(. Which must be why I have sometimes thought about reloading the square glass inkwells in what was my grandfather's pen and ink desk set that sits at the back of my desk.

There are two; the right-hand one was for black ink - as the 100-year-old ink stains near it tell. It seems he was more careful with debits - the left-hand ink bottle has but a couple of tiny red dots near it.

Yes ! Why not ! I think I've seen ink in my local stationer.

07-31-2013, 04:53 AM
I think, Luigi Colani should have a fountain pen design.

Colani did design several models of a ball-pen. One most characteristic.

He also did at least one model of a fountain pen (very middle-of-the-road though):


Jon Goodman
09-12-2013, 06:24 PM
For an update on this, a few people have sent me some pens to study/use, and for that generosity I am very thankful. In addition to this I've bought some pens (both new and used), some different inks and at this point can tell you this:
1. if you want a very cheap but very nice fountain pen, there are a few I'd suggest: Preppy by Platinum. Nice ink cartridge, easily refillable with a syringe and should last for decades. Pen body is not bad, but is not designed for heavy duty, so don't abuse it. Pilot Varsity (or V-Pen)...these are disposable, but you can refill them with a bit of work. Pilot Petit1 (mini-pen). These can be bought for $4 or less each. They're all very pleasant to use. In fact, you can write with the Preppy and Varsity for hours on end with no fatigue. The Petit1 is a finer point.
2. if you want a nicer but still not expensive pen, you might want to look at the Noodler's Flex series. $14 to $20 will get you one, and it will be very nice to use. Added note: this pen will go dry sooner than the Preppy or the Varsity. It operates wetter and the top does not seem to seal nearly as well as the cheaper pens. It has a fairly aggressive feed.
3. I've learned the feeds are very different between various makers. There's much more variation here than I expected. Some have dual top slots, some have slots on the top and bottom, some use a vented central feed line and some use pretty imaginative feed schemes. Some pens I've received no longer worked due to failure of the feeds...clogged, inserted wrong, slipped out, etc. I'd say this is the weakest link in old pens.
4. Bamboo works ok as a nib, and it can be quite pleasant to use on a variety of papers. It is however fragile, shaping it is a slow process and I've not yet found an ideal feed scheme for it. It has the unique quality of absorption which means changing colors is not easy. Still of all the alternative materials I've tried so far, this is the most encouraging. It is in my opinion going to be best suited to use at a desk rather than carried around. But there are ways it may be improved. It is certainly eco-friendly.

Red Tractors
09-13-2013, 08:59 PM
For a "Cheap" pen an old stock Parker "45" from the 60's or 70's is hard to beat.

My favorite fountain is a 1945 Parker "51" I found at a tractor show for $10!

09-13-2013, 09:50 PM

You may want to look at Noodler's web site. He used to have instructions on how to adjust the in flow on his pens.

Also, I believe that the Preppy can be converted to an eye dropper fill with the addition of an O-Ring and a little silicone grease. Noodler's used to supply them this way with some of their larger sizes of ink bottles. The only problem I've had with the Preppy is that the pocket clip tends to break off after a while.

Doug B.

09-13-2013, 10:13 PM


I believe a clogged pen can be unclogged by putting the nib assembly in an ultrasonic cleaner with non-sudsy ammonia for extended periods of time; several days maybe. Often works.

And this contribution, circa 1972, from an OTR driver from Norcross, GA whose drawl was so thick I could barely understand him. (I'll just cut to the punchline):
2nd woman: 'Better tell your man that drinking all that Coca-Cola will dry the ink in his pen.'
1st woman: 'That's OK, he doesn't do all of my writing anyway.'

Good luck.

09-13-2013, 10:33 PM
Yes, something like a goose quill. But something that wouldn't make me a target for the PETA paint-slingers. That is unless I get to sling paint also. That would be fun.

If they won't let you sling paint, you can sling ink! Or just give them a goose. That would surprise them.

09-13-2013, 10:40 PM
Yep, it was fun when a pen leaked in your shirt pocket, wasn't it?

That's where the "fountain" part comes from.;)