The heat is on people! Now we’re getting really serious, at least in terms of the sums people will spend on a pen. This is the fourth post in this short series in which we quickly review the buying of fountain pens in particular price ranges. In this post we’re looking at the range between £75-£150 ($120-$240 approximately). many of us will never need and may never think of progressing to more expensive models than you would find in this range.
What marks pens in this bracket out from other, perhaps cheaper pens? Well I consider the following characteristics as important. These are: the style of the pen ,the quality of materials used, and the overall build and mechanics of the pen.
Style: If we’re honest the look or style of the pen is often the driver in terms of which pens we buy. So at this price range we should expect top quality, well thought out writing instruments from many of the world’s best manufacturer’s. Frankly pens in this bracket should have something of a wow factor, if not let’s give up and use a ballpoint! That doesn’t mean that cheaper pens can’t be as stylish, indeed they should be, in many cases I would argue that some of my favourite fountain pens are well under this range and yet are beautifully designed. Check out the TWSBI 580 and the Monteverde Prima as excellent examples of this in action.
Quality of materials: At this price range we are dealing with some pretty desirable pens. As well as being well made (every pen in this range should be durable and be able to last a lifetime or two) they should be beginning to show and use premium materials. So expect high quality resins, exotic finishes and trim and with what a friend of mine calls ‘serious nibbage’. We are beginning to see the transition from steel nibs to the more exotic golden variety with hushed tones surrounding them whispering of flexibility and beautiful line variation.
Build and Mechanics: At the top of this range we are seeing, in my view, the point at which we transition from the mechanics of the pen to the importance of the materials used. In other words above say £150 I think you are rarely going to be buying a pen that is better mechanically than another but rather one that is built from more expensive or exotic materials. Anywhere in this price range we should all expect to have pens where the mechanics work well. Pens at this price point will come with many different filling mechanisms from cartridge/converter pens to piston fillers and everything in between.
Something concrete: I guess it’s OK talking in generalities here but what good examples of the pen making art do I have that fit into this range? Well for me at present four in particular stand out (not saying I paid full price for any of these mind 🙂 ). First is my beloved Edison Hudson. This is a large, superbly put together and beautifully finished fountain pen. The one I have is a stunning emerald colour and scores highly in the style and quality categories for me. The nib is steel but is a wonderfully fine example of a great steel nib, which are sometimes just as good as their more exotic counterparts.
For my second example I would point out my Pilot Custom Heritage 91 – ‘Tsuki Yo’ edition as a great example of style, quality and function. Coming from Pilot that will be no surprise to many who love the fine writing instruments that this Japanese company produce. This is a recent addition for me but one that I have fallen in love with from the outset. It has a fine medium rhodium plated 14K gold nib and is a beauty! It’s a joy to use and has the smoothest of smooth writing nibs. Goes great with its counterpart Iroshizuku Tsuki Yo ink (obviously also from Pilot)
Third is my Kaweco ART sport. This might be a strange inclusion to some as the classic Sport is so great (and so much cheaper too), but I love this ‘Aksehir’ edition. The ART Sport is a luxury special edition Sport available in a choice of beautiful marbled resins. For me the individuality of these pens, as no two are exactly alike, as well as the iconic design and sheer writing pleasure they afford makes them a super pocket pen.
The question is, as ever, what do you think? What examples do you have? Or is this too much money to spend on a pen?
Let me know…