What is a fountain pen actually?

by Jun 20, 2022Blog0 comments

Yes, what is it actually? Isn’t it that odd looking pen that I cannot comprehend how to use? 

Well, before we start, let’s understand first what it is. A fountain pen is a writing instrument with a metal nib that uses an internal reservoir to store inks in order to apply it onto paper. Before the fountain pen existed, the first historical pen was used by Egyptian scribes back in 2000 BC, where they used reed pens made of a single piece of reed, cut an angle then split at its point, where the ink will retain.


Now, let us delve deeper into the anatomy of a fountain pen to gain a better understanding of how it works.

Anatomy of Fountain Pen

anatomy of fountain pen

As you can see, a fountain pen consists of a cap, nib, feed, section, converter & barrel. The nib itself can be made of stainless steel or solid gold and it comes in many sizes, such as Extra Fine, Fine, Medium & Bold. The converter is used to store ink inside the body of a fountain pen & can be used to try as many inks as possible that are available in the market. There is an option of using a cartridge, which usually comes at affordable prices. The feed itself is usually placed together at the back of the nib to aid in delivering ink from the converter to the nib. As for the cap, section & barrel, it can come in various materials, such as ABS Plastic, resin, aluminum, or basaltic lava.

How does a fountain pen work?

It works by letting a small amount of ink out at a time, known as “controlled leak.” A process known as capillary action (liquid flows in small spaces without gravity), occurs due to water molecules sticking together. This causes surface tension in water or water-based products, including the ink of a fountain pen.

Usually, ink is stored in the reservoir of fountain pens. When using a fountain pen, it’s tipped to face downward with the nib touching the paper.

Ink is pulled down by gravity, filtered into the feed and collector. The ink then travels through the slit of the nib and can now be used to begin writing.

Fountain pen nibs and feeds are designed to ensure proper air regulation to avoid the forming of air bubbles, which translates to leaks and splatters prevention when using the pen.

Air regulation, too, works by ensuring the ink that is used gets replaced by pulling the ink towards the end of the reservoir. This essentially makes the nib self-filling since everything keeps flowing.

So, why should I write with a fountain pen?

Since fountain pens have better ink flow due to how it works, you don’t have to exert so much strength when writing with them. Hence, your hands will feel less cramped and relaxed. You can write for a long period of time compared to writing with ballpoints. Moreover, when your hands are relaxed, it can affect your handwriting in a positive way such as improvement in your handwriting.

If you are into calligraphy, you can try writing with LAMY Joy that is especially designed for those who want to venture into the world of calligraphy.

Read more: Why Writing With a Fountain Pen is Good For You?

How to choose you first fountain pen

When choosing your first fountain pen, I would recommend either Lamy Safari or Pilot Kakuno because they come in affordable prices and many colours, especially the Lamy Safari since the company routinely launches limited edition colours every year. 

If you are confused as to which one you would like to buy, the best way is to go to the store to test them. If you are in Indonesia, you can go to a large Gramedia store where they have a LAMY stand inside or if you prefer to buy online, you can buy it from their official store at Tokopedia.

As for Pilot Kakuno, I bought it online since I cannot find a physical store yet that carries Pilot fountain pens. 

And the next question is, which one should I choose: cartridge or converter? 

Get a cartridge if you don’t wanna smudge your fingers when refilling the ink and are cost conscious. Nowadays, ink cartridges come in many colours too.

On the other hand, get a converter if you want to explore ink colours and ink types from various brands such as Pilot Iroshizuku, Diamine, COLORVERSE, Robert Oster or Monteverde.

Fountain pen inks come in many types, but the most common of all is dye-based ink, which is made from water and small-water soluble particles that give them the colour. This is the best type of ink for those who are starting to use fountain pens.

Hopefully this article helps to clarify any questions that you have regarding fountain pens. Stay tuned for the next article!