I just discovered d*i*y planner. It's a great site devoted to organization, writ large, and more particularly to organizational tools...day planners, notebooks, books and such. It's got me all excited planning out the perfect 2010 organizer. Which, naturally, had me fiddling around with all of my fountain pens and fountain pen ink.
My favorite source for fountain pen info, which pens are good/popular and where to buy them, is the Fountain Pen Network.
My favorite fountain pen is my Pelikan m150:
It's not a very expensive pen - about $50 - and it writes beautifully. Which is to say: it starts writing the second I put the nib to paper, the line it produces is even and fine, I can write for a month or more on a single fill of ink, it doesn't skip or bleed.
It's the kind of pen that will convince you that fountain pens are not only prettier but more practical than disposable pens.
The only "bad" think about the Pelikan m150 is that it only takes bottled ink - no cartridges. The more I use fountain pens, the clearer it is to me that this is the way to go (because you have to draw the ink up through the nib, it's not dry when you start writing; there's more volume in the barrel for ink than in a cartridge, so fewer refills), but when I was starting out I preferred cartridges.
My favorite pen that takes cartridges? The Namiki Vanishing Point:
It's got a retractable point, it produces a very fine and precise line, it's reliable and attractive. It only takes Namiki cartridges, which aren't hard to find, but does restrict the colors of ink available.
The best part about using a fountain pen is the incredible variety of inks. I like to use unusual colors - J. Herbin's Poussiere de Lune is one of my favorites - the delicacy of the color is impossible to find in any disposable pen, anywhere, let alone the wonderful shading.
But since most people tend to black and blue for professional writing, there are literally hundreds of different shades of black and blue ink. This review of Diamine inks - just one brand, and a very good one - samples fourteen blues and three blacks. The color might be lighter or darker, more or less solid.
Noodler's, one of the best ink companies out there, makes "bulletproof" inks - inks that are not only waterproof but resist UV light, UV light wands, bleaches, alcohols, solvents, petrochemicals, oven cleaners, carpet cleaners, and carpet stain lifters. They've just come out with a new line of forgery-proof inks, whatever that means.
And there are great in-between choices for people who want to write in a color that's dark and serious, but not necessarily black or blue - like Private Reserve Avacado [sic], pictured to the right, or Black Cherry.
If you write often, and get hand cramps, fountain pens are the way to go. Unlike with ball point pens, you don't have to press the nib into paper to make the ink flow. It's a lighter and less muscular way to write.
The truth is, anything you can do with regular pens you can do better with fountain pens. And while it's an expensive hobby if you want to buy lots of fancy pens, it can be very economical too. If you settle on a single low-to-mid range pen ($5-$50), and bottled Noodler's, fountain pens are cheaper than gel pens, and competitive with ball points. Of course, it takes a fair bit of willpower not to be seduced by the lure of pretty pens.