Pens, pencils, paper and ink - 2 (HPR Show 3092)

Looking at more writing equipment

Dave Morriss

Table of Contents


This is the second in a short series about pens, pencils, writing paper and ink. In this episode we will look at three more fountain pens (two lower-priced and one around £50), a mechanical pencil and some paper.

Kaweco Sport

This is a pen which is quite small when closed but which becomes a more normal size when open, and the oversized cap posted. I bought the black one with a fine nib. It takes a small international standard sized cartridge and there is a piston converter available for it too – which I have but haven’t started using yet. A pocket clip is available but doesn’t come as standard – I didn’t buy one of these since I tend to use a pen case.

At under £20 this is a good value pen that’s easy to keep in a pocket or other small container. The converter is around £5, and the basic clip under £2.50.

There are versions of this pen made of steel, aluminium and brass which I must say I would like to own. The brass one seems highly desirable to me, but I am holding off spending over £65 on such a thing!

Kaweco Classic Sport capped
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport with its cap on

Kaweco Classic Sport uncapped
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport with its cap off

Kaweco Classic Sport disassembled
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport disassembled

Kaweco Classic Sport nib close-up
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport nib close-up

Kaweco Classic Sport size comparison
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport compared to a LAMY vista

Kaweco Classic Sport writing sample
Picture: The Kaweco Classic Sport writing sample

This is a pleasant pen to use. It’s small as mentioned, but the size seems normal when the cap is posted. The fine nib is a little “dry” for me, though it’s settling down as I use it. The meaning of “dry” in this context is that the ink doesn’t flow as well as it could. This can happen when a fountain pen is running out of ink, or has been left to dry out for a while (perhaps there’s dry ink in the feed and it needs to be cleaned out). This pen is relatively new, so it’s got plenty of ink and hasn’t dried out. The cap screws onto the barrel, so this should help reduce the likelihood of drying out.

Another reason for “dryness” is that the nib is not allowing ink to flow through it as it should. I bought a second-hand pen on eBay a few years ago where this was a serious problem. I learnt how to correct this problem by making the two “tines” of the nib move apart fractionally. I have the tools to deal with this as a consequence.

For the moment I shall continue using the Kaweco to see if the nib settles down of its own accord, and will report back in the next episode. If I feel it needs some maintenance I’ll describe what I did in that show.

Platinum Prefounte

This pen is standard size, and is fairly basic. I bought it to try it out, and the fact that it costs under £10 made such an experiment attractive. It’s a refillable cartridge pen, though I haven’t yet found a converter for it. I find it very good for the price. I bought a green model with the fine nib (0.3mm) as well as some green ink cartridges, and I am enjoying using it.

Platinum Prefounte capped
Picture: The Platinum Prefounte with its cap on

Platinum Prefounte uncapped
Picture: The Platinum Prefounte with its cap off

Platinum Prefounte nib close-up
Picture: The Platinum Prefounte nib close-up

Platinum Prefounte writing sample
Picture: The Platinum Prefounte writing sample

The Prefounte is similar to another Platinum pen, the Preppy, which I mentioned in the first episode of this series as a good first pen to try out. They seem to use the same nib though they differ in the shape of the barrel, cap and clip. The Prefounte has a metal clip.

One of the selling points of the Prefounte is that the push-on cap seals very well, so much so that the pen does not dry out after being left unused for a year. I think the Preppy is similar in this respect, since mine hasn’t dried out, but it’s not used as one of the selling points like it is with the Prefounte.

I like the Prefounte (and the Preppy) and would recommend either as a first entry into fountain pens.

Italix Parson’s Essential

Years ago, when I was in my final years of High School, I wanted to learn to write in the Italic style. I bought a fountain pen with an italic nib, and wrote everything in this script, though I was never particularly good at it. I kept it up for a few years but couldn’t really use it to take notes in lectures once I got to university, so gradually I did less and less. My handwriting did become influenced by this style, but I haven’t tried to write in the formal italic style for ages.

When I saw this pen, which is part of a range available with italic nibs, I decided to buy one to try and get back to italic script again.

The Parson’s Essential is a very solid, old-fashioned style of pen made of what feels like brass with a thick lacquer finish – black in this case. The Italix brand offers a variety of pens like this one, with the choice of many italic nib styles. I think the one I have is fitted with a straight medium italic nib.

This one came with a piston-type converter and could take standard European cartridges instead, though I haven’t tried using any.

The Italix brand is available from MrPen Limited in the UK. The current price for this pen is under £50.

Italix Parson’s Essential capped
Picture: The Parson’s Essential with its cap on

Italix Parson’s Essential uncapped
Picture: The Parson’s Essential with its cap off

Italix Parson’s Essential close-up
Picture: The Parson’s Essential nib close-up

Italix Parson’s Essential disassembled
Picture: The Parson’s Essential disassembled

Italix Parson’s Essential writing sample
Picture: The Parson’s Essential writing sample

Mechanical Pencils

I have always liked using mechanical pencils of various sorts, and am easily tempted to buy into the novel features they can offer!

uni-ball Kuru Toga

My son saw this pencil during a visit to Japan in 2017 and told me about it. I checked the UK dealers and found they stocked a version of it, and ordered one. It is pleasant to use, and the lead rotates as you write with it to make sure it wears evenly.

Kuru Toga pencil
Picture: Kuru Toga pencil

Kuru Toga pencil close up of tip
Picture: Kuru Toga pencil close-up of tip

Kuru Toga pencil close up of eraser
Picture: Kuru Toga pencil close-up of eraser

There is now a broad range of pencils with this name. Not very many seem to be sold in the UK, but the various online sellers seem to have a number of them. I’m sure that many more are available in Japan!

Fountain Pen friendly paper

Finding a good quality paper that’s not too expensive, but allows the use of fountain pens without unwanted behaviour was a bit of a challenge. In the past decade or so, more paper types have become available. The various stationers and pen shops sell a variety of paper brands that work well with fountain pens.

This time I’m putting forward one brand: Rhodia

Rhodia paper

The paper sold by Rhodia is very smooth and quite heavy. The weight is usually 80gsm (grams per square metre) or greater. A fountain pen glides well over such paper and the ink from writing does not pass through the paper to the other side. Neither does it show feathering where the writing strokes develop rough edges because the ink has soaked into the fibres of the paper.1

Other unpleasant effects such as bleeding and ghosting are reduced by good paper. Bleeding is where the ink passes through the paper and can even mark the next page or the surface under the paper. Ghosting is related and is where the writing can be seen from the back of the paper.

See this article for details of these effects: What’s the Difference Between Ink Feathering, Bleeding and Ghosting?.

Rhodia paper
Picture: Rhodia paper - A5 lined pad, closed

Rhodia paper
Picture: Rhodia paper - A5 lined pad, open

Rhodia is a French company, established in 1934. They make a wide range of paper products, as well as some writing implements such as mechanical pencils.

Living as I do in a city with six universities, there are a number of stationery shops that cater to students. They stock Rhodia notebooks and pads and often their prices are quite reasonable. It’s a brand I tend to collect when I get the chance! I like the grid and dot papers. Many of my writing samples in these notes have used Rhodia grid paper.

  1. There is some feathering in the Parson’s Essential writing sample (though it might not be very visible in the picture). For this I used a Pukka Pad, with 80gsm gridded paper. This paper does not deal well with some fountain pens and/or inks, unlike the Rhodia paper, but it’s cheaper!