One: Before purchasing a fountain pen insist that the retail assistant dip the fountain pen nib into a bottle of ink, wipe off with tissue and allow you to test on paper. There should be no scratchiness. Fountain pens should write smoothly. That’s their major appeal. Should the nib be scratchy it means the two front sections, called tines, that come together in a tip are misaligned. This means the quality control at the factory of origin is not up to standard. Ask for another pen or change brands if the second pen fails to perform smoothly. Bear in mind, if you select a fine or extra fine tip and press too hard this may cause scratchy writing and a damaged tip.
Two: If you have large expressive writing, select a medium or broad nib. If you have small writing, select a fine or extra fine tip.
Three: Never leave ink in a fountain pen for longer than a week or two as it begins to evaporate and may clog up the front section which feeds the nib causing blocked ink flow. If you are not going to use your pen, dispose of the ink cartridge and rinse the nib under cool tap water until it runs clear. If you have used a convertor, remove from pen and squeeze out excess ink and then squeeze and release the convertor under a cool running tap to allow water in and then out until it runs clear. When done shake out the nib and then the convertor in paper towel and air dry overnight. Reassemble the pen the next day and store. This process prevents your pen from clogging up.
Four: Fountain pen nibs are available in gold or stainless steel depending on the brand and price point. Gold and stainless steel are resistant to the corrosive action of inks. The tips are always a combination of hard metal alloys so that they are resistant to wear. As long as the two sections (tines) meeting at the point are well aligned the writing experience will be smooth irrespective of whether the nib is gold or stainless steel. An expensive pen may not necessarily write better than an inexpensive well made pen. The Pilot MR series fountain pen is a high quality inexpensive fountain pen.
Five: Select inks that suit your environment. Most fountain pen inks lack water resistance and if not exposed to liquids or light should remain clear and legible for years. Should you write in an environment that may expose the paper to water or liquids select water proof and light resistant inks like the Rohrer and Klingner Dokumentus inks that are ISO approved for fade and water resistance. Spills won’t mean spoilt writing. Two other inks in the Rohrer and Klingner range that are water resistant include the Scabiosa (burgundy-black) and Salix (blue-black). These contain iron gall, which is resistant to the action of water and light.
Six: The paper you select will make a difference to the feel and handling of the fountain pen. Textured surfaces will provide a less smooth experience whilst smooth papers will be comfortable to write on, but may feel a little slippery. Our French Correspandances notebooks are fountain pen friendly. The ink does not bleed through, The paper provides a little feedback so it is easy to control the fountain pen.
Seven: A fountain pen should be comfortable to hold, not too top heavy, not too thick or thin. It should feel comfortable over long writing distances. You may write with the pen cap posted on the barrel or you may choose not to post the cap. This is your preference.