Jinhao 599

This was my first Chinese pen (and given the $1.58 USD price), I ordered two of them, you know just in case.

It's a straightforward pen, with a clear body and a medium nib.

I found I had to use quite a lot of force to remove the cap, but compared to my Medium Safari it did write relatively smoothly, and was using it for my heading/highlight colour of choice. Sadly after only a few weeks of light use the pen broke aparty just after where the thread of the body screws in to the part that holds the nib, which also trapped the cartridge conveter inside the pen.

Short review with a short recomendation: give this one a miss

Pilot MR2

One of the staple fountain pens for newbies, I ordered one to see why people suggest it. Known online as the Pilot Metropolitan, it is sold in Australia as the Pilot MR/MR2.

It was my first order from The Desk Bandit, which came very nicely presented, to the point that I now regret not taking some photos (I will next time, and I'm sure there will be a next time). Also included was a mini Tim Tam. It didn't last long. The pen comes in a fairly nice display box, and with a cartridge converter, which is great for trying out inks not available in cartridges, and means you don't need to also buy a cartridge converter.

I've been using it for about two months as my "personal" writing pen (as opposed to the pen I use for work stuff), and therefore mainly writing cursive with it. I've had issues from the start with ink being on the top of the nib, away from the feed which early on often seemed to transfer to the inside of the cap, and then on to the grip, which made more of an ink stained hand than intended.

Writing with it, I find I often have it skip as I drift off of it's sweet spot, which doesn't feel very wide for a Medium nib, to the point where I feel I need to switch to a different pen for writing, but it's got my current personal favourite ink in it (Rohrer & Klingner Solferino), and I like doing my personal writing on a less boring ink.

My other frustration is the bulb converter is opaque, and therefore I have absolutely no idea how much ink is left, and just have to refill based on assumption that it's running low. There is the CON-40 piston converter available which is transparent, but haven't yet tried it.

Lamy Safari

If you were to point to an event and say "hmm, this is where it started going wrong", then this is precisely that point.

I walked into Milligram's Melbourne Central store, to buy my first fountain pen, but still not knowing if I'd go for the Lamy Safari, a Pilot Metropolitan or something else. After a good experiment with a demo Safari which they had in multiple nib sizes, I decided to get the medium. I couldn't decide on colours, but the very helpful person serving me suggested charcoal was a pretty good place to start, and in hindsight, I agree.

Released in 1980 at the Frankfurt Fair, and targeted at 10-15 year old students, it has become a popular introductory fountain pen. It is made out of ABS plastic, and has a very handy triangular grip that means that holding it comfortably you keep yourself in the pen's sweet spot. It has a very handy ink window to check supplies, which also led me to check the ink levels way too often. The clip I'd describe as heavy duty, but very functional, and no nonsense with it when I slip it in to my jeans pocket when the clip facing out.

To avoid the impending ink dilemma I purposely purchased no ink, as the Safari comes with a single cartridge of Lamy's Blue ink, along with the fountain pen friendly Rhodia A5 dotpad, and went on my way.

The medium nib writes relatively smoothly, and leaves enough ink on the page to leave some shimmer. I also purchased an extra fine nib at the same time so I could see how much of a difference nib width makes to the line size. For when I need to write in small spaces (between the 5mm dots on the dotpad for example), it works very well but does feel scratchy

Overall, I'm very happy with this Pen and can see why it's recommended so often as a starter pen

In the beginning

I’ve never been one to use the cheapest of cheap ten cent ballpoint pens, as they feel crummy and I’ve always mentally associated them with hand pain from my high school days, and have fallen in to using the 0.5mm Uni-Ball Eye Micro which seems alright, but left me having for a long time with “is this it?!”

Last year, I started some substantial study for some skills that are part of my job, and realised that for the first time since the nineties I’d need to “actually study”. I'd read some research suggesting pen & paper could be better, so I bought myself another Uni-Ball Eye Micro that was just for studying, and a Red lined Moleskine and started taking notes.

Very quickly, I noticed a very irritating feature of the Moleskine… it wouldn’t stay open to the page I’m at, and I resorted to using an improvised paperweight. That was far from ideal, even leading my wife to ask why I had my improvised paperweight on my desk (the paperweight in question was a medium sized D shackle I had laying around for unknown reasons)

On the plus side, the whole writing things down in a nicer paper journal was making me feel good about the studying, and it felt like it was helping me retain what I was learning, and was enjoying it. From here I started expanding out to some of the other times I’d been scribbling/sketching ideas to help me think through something. This along with some advice given to me that when using a phone to take notes, it's hard to tell if someone is using it for notes, or is off stuffing around on social media.

So, that was whole Moleskine number two happened, this time I went for completely blank pages and was working well, even more so for sketching as I could go full freeform, but then a new problem set it with older stuff... I couldn’t find it. I struggled on a bit but was really trying to figure out what on earth people did to solve this.

A little later I randomly read about Bullet Journaling and spent some time looking in to what it was, and how it worked, and in the process went on a massive YouTube detour (which is surprising, I much prefer reading than watching videos), and in the process noticed people kept talking about the pens they were using, mainly the Pilot G2, or fountain pens.. what?

Fountain Pens were something my mum talked about using back when she was in school, and I just remember stories about leaks and such (I was also young, and not paying much attention). I went further down the rabbit hole, and went and found that there where some handy local resources, such as the Fountain Pens Australia Facebook group, and through that found out Milligram had a shop that was a lunchtime’s walk distance from work, which after deliberation I purchased my first Lamy Safari

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