A Detailed Guide to Different Types of Fountain Pens

by Skyblue

It is difficult not to fall in love with fountain pens. The gorgeous pen is the perfect blend of form and functionality. With their smooth ink flow, glorious strokes, and potential for customization, fountain pens elevate the writing experience.

No other writing instruments enable a better personal expression than a fountain pen. No wonder they are the leading choice among world leaders to sign bills and treaties.

What Are Fountain Pens?

Fountain Pen Nibs

Fountain pens are pens equipped with metal nibs that apply ink on paper. Mr. Lewis Edison Waterman invented them in 1883. Unlike the previous dip pens, fountain pens carried an internal reservoir to hold ink for uninterrupted writing. Their portability and ease of use made them a popular choice then.

Even after decades today, fountain pens have still not lost their allure. From regular writing to creating beautiful calligraphy, fountain pens remain the primary choice for students, professionals, and artists alike. For anyone who prefers the pen to the keyboard, the pleasure of gliding a fountain pen on creamy white paper is unparalleled.

What are the Different Types of Fountain Pens?

How to refill a fountain pen

Fountain pens come in various styles and designs suitable for different purposes. Here’s a look at some common types of fountain pens to consider:

1. Cartridge Fountain Pens

Cartridge fountain pens are arguably the most convenient of all fountain pens. They come with a pre-filled ink cartridge that you can insert into the back of your pen, dismissing the need for an ink pot. The only disadvantage is that you may not have as many selections of ink as you would like.

2. Eyedropper Fountain Pens

The specialty of an eyedropper fountain pen is its ability to hold a relatively large amount of ink. You will also get a more extensive selection of fountain pen inks to choose from. However, the pens may be more prone to leakage than cartridge pens. Also, you will need a separate eyedropper to refill the ink.

3. Crescent Fountain Pens

The Crescent pen got its name from the half circle protruding from its body used as the ink-filling mechanism. This fountain pen can hold a good amount of ink in its bladder. The pen has been around for hundreds of years and can be an exciting addition to your vintage collection.

4. Converter Fountain Pens

The converter is a device on the fountain pen that allows it to refill ink. Unlike cartridge pens, converter pens will enable you to use bottle ink to refill the pen. Some converter fountain pens have a twist-fill plunger mechanism, while others have a squeeze-fill mechanism.

5. Piston Fountain Pens

Piston-style fountain pens come with a barrel within, using which you can quickly draw ink using the piston mechanism. They are:

  • Easy to use
  • Clean
  • Hold a larger volume of ink

Parts of a Fountain Pen

Fountain Pen Parts

One must understand the parts that make a complete pen to better judge a fountain pen. So here’s the basic anatomy of a fountain pen:

  • Base Material and Barrel

    The barrel is the long slender body of the pen that houses and protects the ink reservoir. Barrels made of plastic, resins, or lightweight aluminum are lighter and more suitable for beginners. However, pen collectors may also prefer fountain pens made of precious metals and lacquer designs.

  • Cap

    Cap is that part of the fountain pen that covers the nib and prevents the ink from drying. Fountain pens usually have a snap fit or a screw-on cap.

  • Fountain Pen Nib and Nib Sizes

    The nib is undoubtedly an essential part of the pen, considering it is the part that makes contact with the page. It can be made of several materials, including stainless steel, gold, palladium, or ruthenium.

    The nib is also the most customizable part of your fountain pen. You can choose from several sizes- extra fine (ef), fine (f), medium (m), and broad (b) - depending upon how broad you want your stroke to be.

    The pen nib types also vary from rounded to shaped. A rounded nib produces a symmetrical stroke. With a shaped nib, you can alter the stroke width by changing the direction of the nib.

  • Fountain Pen Inks

    Much of the impact of writing with a fountain pen comes from the quality of its ink. You can mainly use two types of ink: dye-based and pigment-based.

    Dye-based inks are water soluble and come in a wide range of vibrant colors. On the other hand, pigment-based inks are waterproof and provide permanency to your writing. However, they also require higher maintenance as the solid particles can clog the pen feed and obstruct ink flow.

  • Fountain Pen Mechanism

    Fountain pens work on the principle of gravity and capillary action. But for the mechanism to work, the ink should be free-flowing and sediment-free. One way to ensure this is to use the same brand of ink as the pen. Also, different pens have different ink-filling mechanisms, which we will discuss below.

Factors to Consider When Picking Out Your Fountain Pen Ink

Fountain pen inks

Ink is the tonic that brings your fountain pen to life. Bad quality ink can ruin the experience of writing with a fountain pen, no matter how sophisticated your pen is. Therefore, it’s essential that you consider the following factors while picking out the fountain pen ink:

  • Drying Time

    Look for ink with the ability to dry within 20 seconds. A drying time longer than that increases the chances of smearing and messing up your writing.

  • Is the Ink Waterproof

    For regular fountain pen users, this is a crucial consideration. Most inks have some degree of waterproofness. So your notes might still be legible if you accidentally smear them. But if you want a high degree of permanence, go for completely waterproof inks.

  • Color Saturation of the Ink

    Concentrated ink produces darker, vibrant writing that pops out from the paper. On the other hand, diluted inks give a faded look to your writing. So check out for color saturation before you buy the ink bottle.

  • The Wetness of the Ink

    Wet ink flows quickly through the pen and is suitable for individuals with big handwriting. But if you write with tight characters, better go for dry ink to avoid smear.

  • Bottled Ink or Cartridge

    While pen cartridges are convenient to refill, they may not be available in all colors. Further, some pen brands allow you to use their in-house cartridges only. So a choice between the two would depend on your personal preference.

Buy Fountain Pens from Skyblue Stationery Mart

With all the fantastic qualities that fountain pens have, there is no reason why you shouldn’t get one already. You can now buy fountain pens online from Skyblue Stationery Mart and get them delivered right to your doorstep. Skyblue houses both regular and premium fountain pens from reputable brands like Platinum, Parker, Hugo Boss, Pilot, etc. These pens are also a great gift option for your kids, friends, and colleagues. Check them out!

Wrapping up

Fountains pens are excellent writing tools and a treasure for pen lovers. However, buying the right pen can be challenging with so many options. Choose the best pen, nib, and ink according to your need, experience, and purpose.


1. What is the smoothest fountain pen?

While the experiences differ from user to user, Parker, Sheaffer, and Lamy fountain pens are considered the smoothest ones.

2. Should you shake fountain pen ink?

You can shake the ink if you feel that the color has separated. However, do it gently so as not to splatter the ink around.

3. How often should I clean a fountain pen?

A good practice is to clean your pen every month, especially if you put it to regular use.

4. Which pen is the best fountain pen for a beginner?

Beginners should go for a medium nib pen like the platinum peppy red medium nib fountain pen. They are easy to use, durable, and have affordable price tags.

5. What is the difference between a fountain pen and a calligraphy pen?

The main difference between a fountain and a calligraphy pen lies in the nib. Calligraphy pens usually have broad nibs suitable for stylized writing.

6. Do fountain pens dry out?

Fountain pens can dry out if unused for a long time. You can prevent this by storing the pen horizontally or cap down.

7. At what Angle do you hold a fountain pen?

The ideal angle to hold your fountain pen is 45 to 55 degrees. Ink flows easily at this range, giving you smooth writing.

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