Saturday, June 12, 2010

First Fountain Pen: Platinum Preppy

For many months, I felt that I did not really belong in the pen and paper world - for the simple reason that I had never owned or used a fountain pen.  On nearly every pen blog that I could find, there were people raving about fountain pens and inks and I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. 

However, this is the case no longer.  I am now the proud owner of my very first fountain pen, even if it is simply a Platinum Preppy that only cost me $3 at JetPens.  I was absurdly excited about it when it first arrived, and couldn't wait to start writing with it.


This is not going to be a proper review, since I have not used any other fountain pens to compare this one to.  Rather, I would like to share with you my thoughts on using a fountain pen for the first time.

First, I received a minor shock when I realized that I had insert the cartridge myself before using it.  Being used to pens that are ready to write with as soon as you take them out of the package, I was at first a bit puzzled at what to do.  However, inserting the cartridge proved to be very simple to do, and I experienced no difficulties.

Second, it is going to take me some time to get used to holding the pen in only one position while writing.  I keep unconsciously rotating it in my hand as I normally do and then wondering why the pen has stopped writing.  The Preppy has a completely smooth plastic grip which does not make this easier, and to make things worse, the top and bottom sections of the pen occasionally start coming unscrewed (probably because of my unconscious rotating of the pen) and then the pen will begin rattling in an alarming way until I realize what has happened and screw it together again.  As I said, this will take me some time.

Third, the blue black ink is much lighter than I expected; I quite like this colour and it seems to be exactly the same shade as denim jeans.  When I write with it, portions of the line are darker and portions are lighter; I'm sure there is a technical term for this.  I like the effect - it gives depth to my writing.

Fourth, the feel of the pen while writing with it is very different from a ballpoint or gel pen or any other pen that I have ever used.  It is very hard to describe and probably only other people who have used a fountain pen will know what I'm talking about.

I'm sure that I still have many things to learn about fountain pens and inks before becoming a true fountain pen addict, if I even ever will be.  But at least I know now a little bit more about fountain pens, and finally feel as though I really belong in the world of pens and paper.

Related reviews: Pen and Design, No Pen Intended, The Pen Addict, Seize the Dave, Coffee-Stained Memos, Strikethru, Peninkcillin, Rhonda Eudaly, Informal Scribble, Gail Rhea.

25 comments:

  1. Welcome and congratulations but watch out it might be addictive!

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  2. Welcome aboard! You started in the right place. And Von was wrong - it IS addictive! When you get ready, you can explore converters and inks. Pear Tree Pens offers samples so you don't have to invest in entire bottles until you are ready. Goulet Pens is also a good place to learn from. Brian Goulet has videos on YouTube that you might find interesting. Whew! I could go on & on.

    Enjoy!

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  3. Here's some "link love" for you!
    http://daydreamerswelcome.blogspot.com/2010/06/insert-evil-laugh-here.html

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  4. Welcome to the dark side - and there is no "might" about it being addictive.

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  5. Thanks, everyone, for your comments. I suppose that I have now been officially warned about the addictive nature of fountain pens. I have already been looking at the ink samplers at Pear Tree Pens, but I don't think that I'm quite ready for that step yet. I'm sure that I have years of explorations still ahead of me.

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  6. The technical term for some portions of a stroke being darker and some being lighter is called "shading." Some inks and pens exhibit more shading than others; some fountain pen users find this characteristic more desirable than others. Moi, I love it... and welcome to the world of fountain pens!

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  7. I had a suspicion that this characteristic was called shading but I didn't want to say it unless I was wrong :) Anyway, whatever it is, I like it, too!

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  8. I love this post. Welcome to the world of fountain pens! I don't remember using my first one, I was 9 and I'd won it in a handwriting competition, but everyone else is right - it's addictive! Next on your list should be a Lamy Safari. Very well priced and so excellent to write with. Despite my ventures into more upmarket fountain pens, it's the Lamy Safari I love the most!

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  9. Welcome to a whole new awakening.

    To tempt you further or for answers to FP questions have a look into the Fountain Pen Network. A forum of fountain pen discussions of world wide users. (www.fountainpennetwork.com) free to join.

    Please report on your growth in this new world!

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  10. Thanks for the comments, Millie and GrannyKass. I do have the Lamy Safari on my list already, and hopefully it won't be too long before I get my hands on one. And I really do have to check out the Fountain Pen Network. Now that I actually own a fountain pen myself, there's no reason why I shouldn't do so.

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  11. The Preppy is a fantastic fountain pen. It is well balance, lightweight, yet substantial and durable enough to feel comfortable. I love the fact that the nibs are the same shade as the ink that comes with them; just a small thing but a nice touch nonetheless. I like that there is a range of shades of ink available AND that it comes with a choice of nib size. I prefer the fine one personally, but to be offered these choices in what is essentially a cheap pen is great. The design allows for them to be either disposable or reusable and I have 3 of them at the moment. The only issue I have is one that I have with some other manufacturers, in that they design their own cartridges in a size and style that only works in their pens. I know this provides an income from return customers (probably essential in a way for pens so good you won't want or need to throw away anytime soon!) but it does limit the choices. I'm a huge fan of Private Reserve and Herbin cartrides. They come in such a wide range of shades I always know I'll have what I want on hand to completely suit my mood. But with about 7 or 8 colour available in the Preppy range, they're not doing too badly. I'm glad you took the plunge and purchased your first fountain pen though. Always good to try out something new.

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  12. Preppy cartridges use, if I'm not mistaken, a tiny ball to seal the cartridge at the nib end. The ball is displaced into the cartridge when the barrel is tightened over it. Then it acts as an agitator ball, which may explain the occasional rattling you hear. That's my observation at least; I haven't heard anything authoritative from Platinum.

    Preppy converters are available. Writers' Bloc is one source, Fisher Pens another, if my memory's okay. Welcome aboard! Jack/ Youngstown

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  13. Thanks, Jack. I did notice the ball on the cartridge when I inserted it, and I have heard some rattling that is probably due to that ball. I was also unconsciously unscrewing the pen as I wrote which caused the two sections of the pen to rattle against each other as well. However, I am happy to report that I have grown more used to using this pen and I am no longer doing that.

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  14. Hi Heather,

    The ball helps to break the surface tension of the ink, allowing it to flow to the nib end. Other cartridges which don't have this sometimes have ink getting "stuck" in the top and interrupting ink flow. Save the used carts - you can rinse them out and refill them with a syringe.

    Love those Preppys. I've probably given more away than I've kept because they're such great starter pens. I keep one in my notebook/planner because it just works.

    BTW, which nib size did you get? The fine is 0.3 mm and the medium is 0.5 mm, which I prefer. Jetpens is one of the few that sell both sizes.

    Have fun.

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  15. Thanks for that information, DaMacGuy. I have been learning so many new things thanks to all of the comments I have been receiving here!

    I got the fine nib size, and I really like, but I will have to try the medium in the future.

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  16. If I can just offer a piece of advice if you are looking to expand your fountain pen use that I wish I had been given when I started, which is to focus on buying a wider range of cheap pens rather than a few of the more expensive ones. After being introduced to FPs I bought a Lamy Safari ($30), a Waterman Phileas ($50) and a Pelikan Pharo ($60) within a short space of time, having convinced myself that I knew what I wanted in a pen.

    While I'd be lying if I said that I regret purchasing them, I think it would have been much better to buy a larger number of pens from different brands and with as many different nibs / converters / grip sections and so forth before spending so much on pens that don't really suit me. There are a ton of pens out there that can be had for under or around $10, and the knowledge gained (coupled with the joy of experimenting) is well worth it - and the pens that you don't like can always be passed on or sold.

    Naturally, you don't have to do this, as the Preppy and Safari are very nice, reliable pens - I just though I'd pass on my thoughts.

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  17. I think that's great advice, David, mainly because my budget for pens is fairly small and the less expensive ones are probably going to be the only ones that I will be able to afford most of the time. I know that I would be very disappointed if I saved up and bought some fancy expensive pen and then ended up not liking it.

    I haven't decided what my next fountain pen will be - the Safari isn't too expensive at $30 or so and I've heard a lot of good things about it, but there's some even less expensive pens that I wouldn't mind trying out as well.

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  18. Hi Heather, Just a note to say welcome to the world of the budding FP affectionados! Please check out Hisnibs.com in your search for nice, inexpensive FPs, as Mr. Haase has a WIDE range of fountain pens of all price ranges, and gives excellent service on all his orders. I recently purchased a Hero 330 (around $15 US) from him, and it is SWEET!

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  19. Thanks, Phillip! I haven't decided what my next fountain pen will be yet, but when I finally do decide and purchase it, you can be sure I'll be blogging about it here. Stay tuned!

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  20. I just got this very pen, also as my first fountain pen, and am a bit hesitant to insert the ink cartridge. I don't want to break it before I even get to experience it! Did you just shove the cartridge into where it's supposed to be? (sorry for being cryptic)

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  21. Yes, Sapolica, just shove the cartridge into where it looks like it should go. It really is that simple! I didn't haven't any problems at all with mine.

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  22. I just ordered this pen from Goulet pens and am awaiting its arrival. I didn't have a good experience with fountain pens many years ago but want to try again. Thanks for your review on this pen--I ordered the exact same color, too! I love your blog!

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    1. The Platinum Preppy is a great pen, Else! I hope you won't be disappointed in it. I'm not a big fountain pen user either, but this was very easy to use and I had no problems with it. Thanks for the comment!

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  23. I'm quite the fan of fountain pens (although I've only ever owned 2), and am thinking if you'd like the Vector from Parker...

    I've owned my 'red'(actually pinky-red) Vector for about 2 years, and it has lasted - although there is now a teny tiny crack in the plastic, so durability.

    Personally i find it quite a smooth writer... until you hold it in an squiffy position, so then it doesn't write so smoothly.

    Also, the pen is (I think!)about 15cm long with lid, so it'll fit in a small pen case (like I've got) and a 15cm/6" ruler.

    But, the only criticism I have is of putting a new cartridge in - I worry that I'll damage the nib as I need to press on the table as it is a bit hard to push in, and I feel like I'll push it and break it while doing it.

    But, overall a great fountain pen and would advise any newcomers to fountain pens to get the model.

    From
    Eirian Tompkins
    Aged 11 3/4

    P.S.
    I'm only new to your blog, and am an avid reader. And, although I do not buy any of the pens you review, I find your articles extremely interesting to read

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that recommendation, Eirian! I don't yet know what my next fountain pen will be, but I certainly will take that one into consideration. I'm glad you have been enjoying my blog and I hope you will stop by again!

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