Fountain pens are ergonomic and historical pens that allow for smoother, more customizable writing. Some of these pens are uniquely designed and can cost thousands of dollars. Luckily for the majority of us, you can find some really great fountain pens for less than $50.
The History of the Fountain Pen
Fountain pens were an upgrade to the traditional quill and dip pens. By holding the ink in its interior, fountain pens eliminated the mess and hassle of repeatedly dipping your pen before writing. Nonetheless, fountain pens provide a metal nib onto which the ink flows smoothly, leaving you with clean and clear writing potential.
The origin of the fountain pen is traced back to Arab Egypt, but significant evidence also points to Leonardo da Vinci as one of the first creators of the fountain pen. As far as patents are concerned, the fountain pen was officially registered by Romanian inventor Petrache Poenaru in 1827, although some prior patents had a similar design.
Being further refined year by year, the fountain pen soon became used around the world. By the 1960’s it was outsold by ballpoint pens, but the prestige and efficiency of fountain pens have yet to be beaten.
Parts of a Fountain Pen
The found pen has a feed, nib, cartridge, and filling method. Each part is vital in creating the smooth lettering of a fountain pen, and many have variations that can be chosen depending on your preferences.
Let’s break down what each of these parts is and why they’re important.
The feed of a fountain pen “feeds” the ink from the cartridge to the nib. Feeds contain narrow channels to control the flow of the ink.
Nibs are the pointed end of a pen that disperses the ink. Fountain pens have nibs that are usually made of stainless steel or gold alloys. They can be plated or only tipped in gold. Gold is one of the best materials for nibs as it’s resistant to corrosion and reduces surface tension, resulting in smoother writing.
Fountain pen nibs are usually sold in extra-fine, fine, medium (“normal”), and thick sizes. You can select the nib depending on the type of writing you want to do. Finer nibs are better for precise marks and intricate corrections, whereas thicker nibs are preferable for shading.
Over time, nibs tend to wear at an angle unique to your writing, personalizing your fountain pen to your writing style.
Most fountain pens were originally filled with an eyedropper. This tedious act was soon replaced by the modern capillary filling system. Modern-day fountain pens use a piston filler or cartridge to allow ink flow.
Modern fountain pens come with refillable or replaceable cartridges. These cartridges can be easily inserted into the pen by the user.
Benefits of Fountain Pens
Fountain pens are an ergonomic, customizable, and respectable choice for your professional writing needs.
Fountain Pens Are Ergonomic
Ergonomic items focus on efficiency and comfort in a working environment. Fountain pens have thicker bases than typical ballpoint pens, resulting in a better grip for your hand. The weight of the pen also works with gravity to allow you to write with less pressure.
For those who are writing or signing multiple documents daily, switching to a fountain pen will lessen hand fatigue, strain, and cramps.
Fountain Pens Are Customizable
You can play with the ink flow, various nib sizes, and plating to create a writing form that is unique to you. Many fountain pens also accept cartridges from varying brands, allowing you to switch out your ink for one that suits you best.
For those interested in joining the fountain pen community, you’ll even find some fountain pens that can be custom-built for you and your needs.
Fountain Pens are Professional
You can order various designs of fountain pens, but all of them have one thing in common – they’re much more elegant than the daily ballpoint alternative. For those in a professional environment, a fountain pen is a must.
Not only do they have a sleek look, but fountain pens can even improve your handwriting. The ink flow in fountain pens produces a characteristic line that differentiates its written work from that of other pens. It also provides a smoother tip for all sorts of writing paper compared to the ballpoint pen, which has a delicate ballpoint that can be easily snagged or damaged.
The paper you write on is just as important as the pen. Be sure to check out our other post for the best paper for your fountain pens.
What to Look for in a Fountain Pen
Choosing your fountain pen is a personal endeavor. You’ll need to decide on the type of nib, pen size and weight, price range, and personal design you’re looking for.
Choosing Your Nib
We’ve mentioned the uses of finer versus thicker nibs, but there are even more nibs to choose from. Italic or cursive nibs are best for calligraphy, stub nibs for mild italics and everyday use, and flex nibs for line variation.
You’ll also need to decide between a steel nib or a gold nib. Gold nibs are of higher quality, but steel nibs also offer dependable writing at a lower cost.
Pen Size and Weight
If you have bigger hands, you’ll want to choose a larger-sized fountain pen for comfort. The opposite is true if your hands are petite.
If you’re writing for long periods without breaks, you can opt for a lighter fountain pen. Heavier fountain pens are optimal for signatures and checking off important documents.
Price Range and Design
The price range and design you’re looking for are a personal choice. Luckily, today we will see many affordable options when it comes to beautifully designed fountain pens.
The Best Fountain Pens Under $50
We’ve taken a look at the fountain pens on the market for less than $50. We then honed in on the pens that were rated a minimum of 4.5 stars with a substantial amount of positive customer reviews. Out of this group, we chose the top 10 pens based on their affordability, inclusions, ink type, design, and company customer service.
Without further ado, let’s dive in!
#1 PILOT Metropolitan Collection Fountain Pen – Best Overall
The PILOT Metropolitan Collection has combined beauty with efficiency in their new fountain pen. This pen has a vanishing, retractable point that hides the nib in the barrel when not in use.
The black-barreled pen holds black ink within a medium nib surrounded by a brass base. The ink is Iroshizuku, which comes from the Japanese words meaning high standards and color variation. It is 5.8 x 0.5 x 0.5 inches and weighs 3.52 ounces.
Rated 4.6 stars with almost 3,000 reviews, you can find this popular fountain pen online and on sale for usually under $20.
#2 Amazon Basics Refillable Fountain Pen – Best Budget
For those just starting their fountain pen journey, the Amazon Basics pen is all you need. Priced at $8.75, this pen is great for anyone on a budget. This fountain pen comes with one black ink cartridge and two refills. The dye is water-based, making it easier to remove from surfaces and fabrics.
The brass-metal frame is 5.5 x 0.65 x 0.005 inches. It holds a fine nib which is great for creating neat and narrow lines for clear writing. Amazon wants customers to satisfied with their purchase, so this fountain pen is backed by Amazon Basics’ 1-year limited warranty.
#3 Scriveiner Luxury Fountain Pen – Best Luxury
If you’re looking for class, the Scriveiner British brand delivers. Their executive fountain pen comes in a 24K gold finish and is perfect for professional use in an office or on the go.
The Schmidt medium nib is gilded in 18K gold, giving the pen a softer feel while writing. It also comes with a Schmidt converter, plus spare cartridges in both black and blue.
Scriveiner offers top-notch customer service and a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with their luxury fountain pen. Although with a 4.7-star rating and over 1,700 reviews, that shouldn’t be a problem. You can purchase this luxury pen with an extra-fine, fine, or medium nib for around $50.
If you are interested we did a whole review about the Scriveiner fountain pen, which you can read here.
#4 PILOT Varsity Disposable Fountain Pens– Best Disposable Fountain Pen Pack
PILOT has created a 7-pack of prefilled and easy-to-use fountain pens. These plastic pens can be recycled at the end of their life and require no maintenance. The ink is visible through the base, allowing you to see how much is left.
These pens are smaller than traditional fountain pens, making them easier to take on the go. Their dimensions are 3.75 x 0.3 x 5.5 inches. The medium nib offers black, blue, green, red, purple, pink, and turquoise ink which are great for differentiating notes or even drawing. You can buy the 4.7-star rated fountain pen pack for less than $15.
#5 Asvine Matte Black Forest Fountain Pen – Best Sleek Pen
The Asvine black forest fountain pen is built for modern writers who prefer a sleek, minimalist design. The matte color is elegant and refined, just like its extra-fine point that is hidden under a snap-shut top. It comes with a converter for bottled ink.
If you prefer color, you can also find this pen in blue, dark blue, dark green, mustard, pink, purple, silver, and even rainbow. You also have a choice between an extra-fine, fine, or bent point. It is rated 4.5 stars with a whopping 15,900 customer reviews.
#6 BEILUNER Silver Fountain Pen
The BEILUNAR brand provides elegance at an affordable price. Their silver stainless steel fountain pen uses a medium nib coated in 24K gold for a smooth writing experience. The Schmidt ink feeding system holds 0.85ml of ink, facilitating easy ink flow while also allowing you to write for longer before needing a cartridge replacement.
The BEILUNER silver fountain comes with 6 ink cartridges and an ink refill converter with a unisex gift case.
#7 Dryden Designs Fountain Pen
Dryden Designs is a family-owned business founded by master calligraphy artist Michael Dryden. The Dryden fountain pen is great for calligraphy or your daily writing needs, allowing the ink to flow from the cartridge no matter what angle you’re writing at.
This fountain pen comes with 24 ink cartridges in both black and blue, plus a piston ink refill converter. The pen itself comes in blue, deep blue, green, intense black, luscious pink, metallic silver, pearl white, or royal red. Depending on the color, you can purchase this fountain pen for usually below $30.
Read our full review of the Dryden Designs Fountain Pen by clicking here.
#8 MUJI Aluminum Fountain Pen
The MUJI aluminum fountain pen comes from Japan with jet-black ink. It measures 1.02 x 5.83 x 4.14 inches and weighs a mere 0.32 ounces with its aluminum finish. Such a light pen is great for fine strokes and fast signatures.
For those who need an ink converter, look for a standard international converter with a slanted front. The MUJI pen’s nib sits between a fine and medium point and includes one ink cartridge. It’s rated 4.6 stars with over 1,300 reviews and can be purchased for under $20.
#9 JinHao 450 Normal Nib Fountain Pen
The JinHaio 450 fountain pen is affordable, colorful, and of good quality. It comes with 10 ink cartridges: 2 brown, 2 green, 2 blue, 2 red, and 2 purple. Ink cartridges fit Jinhao, Gullor, and Baoer brands. The ink is fast-drying to prevent smudging,
This pen measures 5.55 x 0.55 x 0.55 inches and has a contoured grip for more comfortable writing. All pens have a gold finish, and you can purchase them in black, dark blue, dark red, gold, or black with a white line design. The JinHao fountain pen is priced at only $7.99.
#10 PILOT Varsity Disposable Fountain Pen Pack
This 6-pack of disposable fountain pens from Pilot comes in blue (3) and black (3). The modern day-to-day design resembles that of high-end ballpoint pens, encompassing comfort and versatility. This pack also has a visible ink supply allowing you to monitor how much ink is left.
The PILOT Varsity pack has a standard, medium nib. Avoid refilling your pens by switching to the next disposable fountain pen in this pack. This product is rated 4.6 stars with over 4,000 global reviews and is affordably priced.
Read our full review of the Pilot Varsity by clicking here.