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I know nothing about pens, but if I wanted to buy the one fountain pen I will ever need what would I get that is <$500?
 

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Pilot Custom Heritage 92. If you want something more restrained, the transparent black would likely be best.

--piston filler...means bottled ink but bottle's a better value than cartridges. And lets you consider practically any fountain pen ink. (India and drawing inks...no.)
--cap seals quite well, so the nib doesn't dry out
--very good nib and feed...consistent performers for me.
--reasonable price, and it's all where it counts...the piston, the nib, the feed. Jet Pens has them for about $150 all told.

This is a midsize pen...about 5 1/2" inches long. If you like a larger pen, there's the Custom 912. They're opaque black only...nicely formal. Larger grip area, but still an acrylic body so not heavy. Bigger nib too. Cartridge or converter...I prefer piston but Pilot's converters are better than many. The biggest advantage of a 912 is there are far more nib options, but that's probably not something you should worry about too much.

Nib size...Japanese nibs commonly run slightly smaller than European. If you use broad RB/BPs, probably go medium. I liked very fine Uni-balls...and wrote a fair bit on college ruled paper. I prefer a fine.

Ink...for one pen only, most would say blue-black (generally a dark gray with blue overtones) or black. You might also consider blue. Check on the web; there are several sites that have color swatches. There's sites like Fountain Pen Network that have lots of ink reviews, with writing samples.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Pilot Custom Heritage 92. If you want something more restrained, the transparent black would likely be best.

--piston filler...means bottled ink but bottle's a better value than cartridges. And lets you consider practically any fountain pen ink. (India and drawing inks...no.)
--cap seals quite well, so the nib doesn't dry out
--very good nib and feed...consistent performers for me.
--reasonable price, and it's all where it counts...the piston, the nib, the feed. Jet Pens has them for about $150 all told.

This is a midsize pen...about 5 1/2" inches long. If you like a larger pen, there's the Custom 912. They're opaque black only...nicely formal. Larger grip area, but still an acrylic body so not heavy. Bigger nib too. Cartridge or converter...I prefer piston but Pilot's converters are better than many. The biggest advantage of a 912 is there are far more nib options, but that's probably not something you should worry about too much.

Nib size...Japanese nibs commonly run slightly smaller than European. If you use broad RB/BPs, probably go medium. I liked very fine Uni-balls...and wrote a fair bit on college ruled paper. I prefer a fine.

Ink...for one pen only, most would say blue-black (generally a dark gray with blue overtones) or black. You might also consider blue. Check on the web; there are several sites that have color swatches. There's sites like Fountain Pen Network that have lots of ink reviews, with writing samples.
Thanks, I will look into this one!
 

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Rewrite your question with 'fountain pen' replaced by 'car' and '500' replaced by 60000. Then, you'll see how difficult and subjective this question is.
 

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Rewrite your question with 'fountain pen' replaced by 'car' and '500' replaced by 60000. Then, you'll see how difficult and subjective this question is.
Exactly what I was afraid of. I was hoping there was some consensus as to a good single fountain pen to own without me having to go deep and become obsessed with a new hobby. Oh well.
 

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A lot depends on how you are going to use it. Pilot capless pens retract like a ballpoint. That can be incredibly useful if you're out and about and might drop or lose a cap.

Otherwise, my experience is that anything from the Japanese "Big Three" (Pilot, Platinum and Sailor) will be extremely well-made, write beautifully and give you years of use. Just make sure you pick something that fits your hand. I have average sized hands but prefer shorter pens. Don't just buy at the top of your price range, because you might buy something which is physically too big.

Pelikan make very good pens.

I know this is way off what you've asked, but have a think about a vintage Wahl Eversharp Skyline. You can pick them up for under $100. Vintage pens can be a bit tricky and I wouldn't carry one in an inside pocket for any length of time, but the writing experience is outstanding.
 

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I have a Pelikan M800 as my "one pen", although I also have a cheap Lamy Safari that I use as well. I think the combo I have is perfect.
 

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I know nothing about pens, but if I wanted to buy the one fountain pen I will ever need what would I get that is <$500?
Have you ever owned a fountain pen?
 

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Pilot Vanishing Point (Capless), although some people can't deal with the position of the clip. I've tried other capless fountain pens that twist, but the clicker is so much handier.

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I could not possible own one fountain pen.

The suggestions thus far are very solid, and I own all of these pens with the exception of the vanishing point (written with one though, and it’s quite nice).

Here are a few more suggestions if you are just starting out:

Paper: Claire Fontaine, Rhodia, and Tomoe River

Ink: Noodlers or Pilot Iroshizuku

Nibmeister: I get all of my pens ground and tuned by a nibmesiter...you cannot go wrong with Pendleton Brown or Mike Masuyama!

Fountain pens are incredible...enjoy the journey!

Vr

Matt
 

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I have a Pelikan M800 as my "one pen", although I also have a cheap Lamy Safari that I use as well. I think the combo I have is perfect.
I have a Montblanc 146, Waterman Le Man 200, Waterman Carene, two Waterman Experts, three Namiki/Pilot Vanishing Points, and a few Lamy Safaris.

I recently purchased a Pelican M150 while visiting KaDeWe for about 50 Euros, and was very pleasantly surprised by the piston filled pen, and how it’s able to write well even after leaving it unused for weeks. I’m now looking to purchase a M800 at some point. There used to be some great deals on Amazon.uk, but they seem to have dried up.
 
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Lamy 2000 is a great choice. I use my vanishing point daily. Pilot custom 823 is a great pen with a very good ink capacity.
 

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Pilot Vanishing Point and Lamy 2000.


The great John Holmes wears a digital watch.
Those are my two prized pens. I also have a Faber Castell Basic and a Waterman Phileas.
I lost my Waterman Laureate II and gave away my Lamy CP.
I HATE My Noodler. Smells bad.
 

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It really depends on what you want out if the pen. I sadly thought I would have one FP ages ago and now its actually worse than the watches. You even find yourself owning multiple pens of the same model but with different nibs and/or colors. Its not a drug that will let you stop at one.

But, if you dont get bitten by the bug and can stop at one... i think any one of these would do:

Western made pens:

The Montegrappa fortuna line I like. They have steel nibs though which means no line variation at all while writing. You should try one out. Many color/looks to choose from. 250-350 or so is what you would pay.

The montblanc 156 is a good option. It retails above 500 but you may be able to find one in and around 500 online. Its a piston filler and a good large sized pen. Mine is a fine nib and I write with you a few times a week and its great.

Parker premier and parker duofold are absolutely amazing pens. I dont know why often times parker is overlooked but their nibs (especially the medium) is buttery smooth. Truthfully my favorite penda to write with along with my Sailors. You can pick one up for 250-500 depending on model.

ST Dupont makes very nice FOs (and penda in general and are worth a look. Well worth the price imo but I still prefer the parkers and sailors for writing though. Lovely colors and lacquer combos. You can find the Atelier for around 400- 500 online especially older models. The aggplant (purple) is very very nice.

Eastern made pens:

Sailor 1911 Large. My favorite pen to write with. Available in many nib sizes (their fine is VERY fine so be careful, I would auggest their medium) and many colors. Some of the colors of special editions and very unique. Gold nibs of course and good wetness. I assume their King of Pen might be even better but that is a 700+ dollar pen. A 1911 large will go from about 250 to 400.

Platinum 3776. This is a slightly smaller pen than the sailor 1911 large but its medium nib is, to me, excellent. It also comes in many materials and finishes and so can cost anything from about 180 to 1000 really if you go for intricate or fancy designs. I have a few and one of them is the gold leaf/tiger and its nice.

There is just so much out there and I would suggest taking some time to watch some videos from nibs.com, goulet pens and others.

Good luck. Let us know what you end up getting.


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I have often been asked this question and my answer hasn't changed in many years collecting:
Pelikan M800
 
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