The period before the 1930s is termed the golden period of pens. Many manufacturers were competing for the best quality pens with unique designs, but the Great Depression of 1929 saw the collapse of most of these manufacturers.
Soon ballpoint pens captured the world and fountain pens became a thing of the past. Today, fountain pens of 1965 or before are termed vintage pens due to their old-style metal bodies.
Modern fountain pens have improved nib technology with a vintage metal body design. They provide an amazing writing experience with the traditional look and design.
Through this buying guide, we will discuss how you can choose the best vintage fountain pen for yourself. We will also review 5 highly rated pens so that you can make an informed decision.
How to Find the Best Vintage Fountain Pens?
When you go out to buy a fountain pen, there are thousands of options available, so picking the best one may be overwhelming for newbies.
You can look at this guide to know the nitty-gritty of vintage pens.
Look and Design of the Pen
One of the most important concerns while buying a vintage pen is the look and design.
Design and overall appearance make the difference between one fountain pen and the others, with a classic retro look.
You can refer to the video to understand how the design of vintage pens has evolved.
Besides the looks, these are also excellent writing instruments. You can get variations in your writing style with these pens and that depends on a wide range of factors.
The thickness of the Nib
Vintage pens come with different nib thicknesses that determine how thick the pen writes.
Normally, you would get Extra Fine (EF/XF/X), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B) nib options. The Extra Fine nibs write thinnest and are used for drawing or writing in Japanese or Chinese.
Medium Nibs write around 0.6mm width and are similar in thickness to normal pens. This is also the most commonly found nib type. Broad nibs are the thickest of all and can be used for calligraphy.
If the nib is flexible, it can bring variation to your writing. You can draw thicker lines by applying more pressure while writing.
Check out this video to see how bent nib pens can be used to write and draw beautifully.
Material of the Nib
Steel and brass are the most common materials for nibs. They are sturdy and last long without bending.
Another common nib material is gold, which gets pricier but gives unmatched luxury and style.
Gold nibs are softer to write and mold over time as per your writing style, so they are the most preferred material in the premium range.
Refer to this article to learn more about nibs.
Ink Filling Systems
Vintage fountain pens are very durable and can last for decades, and it is very important to have convenient ink filling mechanisms. Most pens have their proprietary cartridges and come with an ink converter.
Ink cartridges are the simplest way to refill a fountain pen. You can simply insert a new pre-loaded cartridge when the old one wears out, press down the cartridge in its slot, and push till it’s punctured. These pens are highly portable and are perfect if you travel a lot.
It is best to leave the pen vertically for a while for the nib to get saturated with ink. You can also use a blunt-tipped syringe to refill the worn-out cartridge with bottled ink.
Some brands design their pens to be used with proprietary cartridges only. This increases the cost of refilling and also limits the color options as you cannot use bottled ink.
Ink converters are vacuum filler devices that help you use bottled ink. Some common types of converters are Lever filler, Piston filler, and Squeeze converters. An ink converter is installed in the pen just like the ink cartridges.
For Piston converters, twist the end knob to fully extend it. Dip in the ink bottle and then unscrew it to draw the ink into the pen.
Squeeze converters are even simpler. Dip the pen in the ink bottle and squeeze the converter to expel the air inside. Now, release the converter slowly to suck the ink into the pen. Wipe the extra ink off your pen with a paper towel.
Ink bottles are not easily portable but offer a cheaper alternative to ink cartridges. You can choose the type that suits you the best.
You can check out the different ways of ink refilling in this video.
Now that you understand all the important aspects of a fountain pen, let us review our top picks.
Best Vintage Fountain Pens
First on our list is the Majohn T1 piston fountain pen. It has a simple and elegant design and is available in different colors such as blue, red, gray, green, and vintage brass.
The pen has metal and acrylic parts beautifully joined together. The color part of the pen and the cap is made of brass whereas the transparent part is acrylic.
You can choose from Extra fine Nib, Fine Nib, Medium Nib, or Bent Nib options.
The Bent Nib can write from 0.6mm to 1.2mm with the pressure difference.
The stainless steel nib delivers a smooth ink flow, gives you a comfortable writing experience and amazing handwriting. The pen has a piston ink converter refiling system. You have to screw the piston, dip it in the ink bottle, and unscrew it to suck the ink up.
- The transparent body indicates the level of ink
- Iridium Nib and multiple nib thickness options
- Screw type pen cap
- The nib is replaceable
- No extra nib provided
- When the cap mounted on the back of the pen is twisted, the barrel opens.
Next in line, we have the vintage-style brass fountain pen from Lanxivi, a much cheaper option than the previous pen. It is small and made of raw brass with a screw cap. It also comes in a metal box and is pretty convenient for traveling.
The pen includes a stainless steel fine nib that provides precise ink flow and flawless handwriting. You get a converter in the pen if you want to use bottled ink. You can also use the 2.6mm cartridge with the pen.
The full metal body makes the pen heavy and solid, yet with even weight distribution. The nib writes fine to medium. Being on the cheaper side, it is a good value for money.
- Solid and heavy metal feel
- You can replace the nibs easily if the original ones get damaged
- Ink converter is included for easy refill
- You don’t get multiple nib option
- Flexible nib not available
- Available in only one color
Next, we have the Jinhao 5000 vintage metal fountain pen. It has a full metal body with a beautiful pattern carved on it.
The pen comes in the bent nib and fine nib variants and provides a unique and luxurious feel. The fine nib pen has moderate elasticity so you can create variations in your writing and can also use it for drawing.
This pen is neither very heavy nor lighter and is thus perfect to hold. Its stainless steel nib gives a smooth ink flow and amazing writing experience with no drag.
It has a push-type pen cap that can be mounted on the back of the pen while using it. It includes an ink converter but you can also use 2.6mm standard cartridges.
Jinhao brings the elaboration of oriental charm along with an amazing writing experience for you. The artwork on the pen is very intricate and detailed. The black ends and the golden trim enhance its beauty even further.
- Beautiful metal design and artwork
- Strong and brilliant ink color
- You don’t get ink with the pen
- The fine nib writes extra-fine as compared to other pens
Next, we have a premium vintage fountain pen from Roman. You will fall in love with this pen at first sight. The body is golden with beautiful and intricate designs carved on it.
These pens are crafted and decorated by experienced Japanese craftsmen using the ancient Japanese Maki-e technique. They are not mass-produced, but handcrafted, so each pen is unique in itself and gives a premium feel.
Overlapping gold leaves change shades and colors when viewed from different angles. They have a butterfly design carved on their body that signifies immortality in samurai culture.
The pen comes with a polished medium nib that provides an excellent writing experience.
- An intricate design carved on the body of the pen
- Bright and vibrant ink color
- An amazing hand feel and comfort
- The nib is not very flexible
- You won’t find an ink converter easily for the pen, but you can opt for Asian brands
- The nib cannot be replaced
Lastly, we have the vintage-style Quill pen set from Serounder. The pen set comes in beautiful packaging with an empty ink bottle and 3 different nibs of varied thickness.
These pens are made with selected feathers and have a classic retro look. They write just like a dip pen and the nibs are made of high-quality stainless steel. The flexible nibs give a smooth ink flow and comfortable writing.
The body of the pen is made of brass and has a vintage texture. The empty bottle can be used to keep the ink while writing or calligraphy.
The pen set can be an elegant and classic gift for your friends and family, as well as for a pen enthusiast or a professional calligrapher.
- The pen maintains a good balance and feel
- It has a beautiful retro design that makes it unique
- Free ink bottle and multiple nibs
- The nib is easily replaceable
- The ink bottle comes empty
You can now decide which pen suits you the best. If you are looking for a pen to gift to someone, you should consider both the looks and writing style.
As far as beauty is concerned, both Jinhao 5000 and Roman vintage are stunning. While the dark-colored Jinhao can be a good gift for men, Roman vintage is ideal for ladies. The Jinhao pen also offers fine nib and bent nib options which you don’t get with the Roman vintage.
If you want a vintage pen for yourself, you can go by your personal preferences. The Majohn T1 piston allows you to choose from different nib thickness ink converters. It has a vintage vibe while still looking modern.
If you want a pen with a retro look, the Lanxivi may be the best choice. While you can use standard cartridges with this pen, it only comes with a fine nib and without bent. If you want variability in your writing, you may not prefer it.
Serounder vintage quill pen comes with multiple nibs in the set and gives you a perfect retro look. It is a perfect gift material.
We hope this buying guide helps you choose the best vintage fountain pen.
You can check out this fountain pen forum where people are sharing their favorite models.