5 Best Beginner Fountain Pens

If you're getting back into the old-fashioned way of writing by using a fountain pen, there is a core curriculum, a "required writing" of pens that every fountain pen enthusiast can start with to re-kindle the love of writing.

Lamy Safari
The Safari is like the marijuana of pens. It's the gateway for many, while others will swear by it and buy every color that comes out, including the new 2011 color, Aquamarine. You can search "Lamy Safari Review" and come up with hundreds of opinions, mostly ones that champion its value (costs under $30). It has a sturdy ABS plastic body, strong wire clip and a stainless steel nib that is interchangeable in a variety of point sizes including extra-fine, fine, medium, broad and calligraphic stub nibs.

Pilot Varsity
The uninitiated writer often fears the maintenance and upkeep of a fountain pen and will never attempt buying one due to the inconvenience. The Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen gives you the experience of writing with a fountain pen without the bother of upkeep. The multi-pack array (under $15) of colors also gives the writer a taste of what it would be like using a fountain pen and being able to change out the color with every fill.

Pelikan Pelikano
Thankfully, Europeans still carry a torch for teaching penmanship and writing with a fountain pen, especially when it comes to our younger generations. Pelikan (Germany) offers their Pelikano line specifically as a "beginner's" or "school-age" fountain pen. The molded grip design instruct the writer of proper finger positioning. The bright colors used for the plastic barrel and clip are nice for children, but also appealing to adults as well. The "A" nib is considered a beginner nib since it has a larger area at the tip that allows for a variety of hand positions while writing.

Waterman Phileas (discontinued)
Although Waterman has discontinued its famous Phileas pen, I thought it was still worth mentioning since we (Goldspot Pens) do have ample stock of the fountain pens and they happened to be one of the most popular pens in many collections. As you can see by its style, the Phileas is about more than utility, it provides an Art Deco appeal with writing comfort and smoothness. This is a fountain pen for a beginner who desires a classy look and a great, inexpensive writing experience.

Pelikan Tradition Series m205
Last, but not least, another offering from Pelikan that introduces the neo-fountain pen enthusiast to piston-filling, which is the internal, bottle filling system. The other pens mentioned above use cartridge or converter (except for the Varsity), which means you have the option to purchase disposable ink cartridges or use a converter that you can fill with bottled ink. Many people feel that to truly experience a fountain pen, you have to fill it using bottled ink. As we've discussed in a prior article, there are benefits to using bottled ink over cartridges, and the Pelikan m205, m200, m215 series are certainly the best value in the class of piston-filling fountain pens. Extremely smooth stainless steel nib available in an array of nib widths, large ink capacity, great size and weight with the cap posted and reliable piston mechanism make this pen an exceptional value (most models under $100).

When you talk to any one that likes using a fountain pen, they most likely have one of these in their collection. For the more advanced fountain pen user that has moved on to exploring other brands like Sailor, Aurora or Montegrappa, they will still fondly use the pens that started their addiction long ago. Personally, I can attest to having two of these pens on this list and I have one of them inked to write the outline of this post!

If any of these pens started your journey into the wonderful world of fountain pens, please share your experience and drop us a comment. If you have a beginner fountain pen that is not on this list that started your love of writing, please share!


  1. I have a set of 3 Varsity pens AND the exact model of the Phileas shown. I love and use them all!

  2. Awesome, Trece! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Truth be told, the Varsity helped re-ignite the passion for fountain pens I had suppressed since childhood.

  4. I have a set of 3 Varsity pens AND the exact model of the Phileas shown. I love and use them all!

  5. I'm looking at the Lamy Safari and wondering if I should get the fine or extra fine nib? In some old calligraphy pens I have lying around, I noticed that I tend to get that scratchy feeling with the smaller nibs. Is that an issue with the Safari nibs?

  6. That sometimes is an issue. Although, Lamy nibs run a bit thicker than usual and an EF tends to write more like a F point in most other pen brands.

  7. Illegible DoctorMay 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    After I ordered a ball point pen from Levenger's I got your catalog.  At the same time, I have been looking in to switching to a fountain pen.  I found your website through google and was surprised to find that the catalog and the website were the same people.  Great article, just what I needed to hear.  I just ordered a Lamy Safari in apple green, with adapter and an anfanger Pelikano for righties.  I have horrible hand writing and am about to start training myself to learn italic as presented in the book Write Now.  Thanks for helping to get me started.

  8. Thanks for the comment and the purchase! I hope, one day, to improve my handwriting as well and I've heard good things about that book. I may have to buy myself something other than a pen for once. Hope you enjoy the Safari!

  9. When I went to Germany for the first time, I bought a Lamy Vista (clear Safari) and a coffee-brown Lamy Al_Star. Both great pens, and still going strong two and a half years later!