The pleasure of writing with a fountain pen is one of the best things in life. At least it is for me, which considering my stationery addiction is not surprising. Writing notes on paper helps your brain process the information and memorise it better. Doing it with a fountain pen that smoothly flows over the paper leaving an elegant trail of ink, that’s priceless. But since budgets exist and it’s worth sticking to them (and writing on your notebook with your brand new fountain pen), I have found here my selection of the best fountain pens under 100. Perfect to treat yourself or a loved one, and a million miles above the cheap plastic disposable ones.
What To Look For When Choosing The Best Fountain Pens Under $100
Fountain pens are perfect for writing cursive, and they have the side-effect of training your hand into not pushing the pen strongly against the paper and writing with a constant pressure. If you are into calligraphy, you’ll probably love fountain pens as well. But not all ink pens are the same, and there are a few things to keep in mind when buying the best one for your needs and budget.
There are usually two types of fountain pens:
- Replacement cartridges
- Refillable ink
The ones with replacement cartridges are the easiest to use: the ink is inside a plastic cartridge that lives inside the pen. When you run out of ink, you unscrew the pen, remove the cartridge and get a new one in. This also means changing ink color is quite easy, though you’ll get a bit of color mix at the beginning of your new cartridge as the old ink is still in the pen’s tip. Changing ink takes 30 seconds and is not messy at all. In fact, you can carry an extra ink cartridge with you, in case you run out of ink on the go.
Refillable ink pens actually use a fixed ink deposit with needs to be refilled. There is a mechanism that is used to dip into a bottle of ink and absorbs ink up to the deposit, refilling it. In some cases, a piston is used (similarly to a syringe) to make this process quicker. This is not difficult to do, but with younger writers it can often lead to ink spills which are remarkably annoying to clean. It also means having to carry a bottle of ink around with you, or remembering to refill your pen regularly. However, some people prefer refillable ink fountain pens as they are more cost effective and eco-friendly than plastic cartridges.
The nib is the bit of the pen where the ink flows to the paper. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes which are used to accomplish different calligraphic styles. The best fountain pens under 100 come in a large variety of them, but some can be more difficult to find than others.
There are 5 grades that define the nib size, and so how wide the pen lines will be: extra fine, fine, medium, broad and double broad. It is important to keep in mind that extra fine nibs can be pretty delicate and if you like thicker lines in your handwriting you may end up pressing the tip too much. They work great for detail work or if you have very small handwriting. On the other end of the spectrum, double broad fountain pen nibs can be so wide that they become messy with some handwriting types.
But this is not all that matters when choosing a nib! You also get them in different shapes:
- Round nibs create a uniform looking line width in any directions, much like your regular rollerball pen. They are all around good for day to day writing
- Stub and italic nibs have a different line width depending on which stroke direction you use, and are used in calligraphy. They come in different widths and some fonts (for example Gothic calligraphy) require specific ones.
For your day to day, you’ll probably want to buy a round nib in a medium or fine size. But feel free to explore which type works best with your particular style of handwriting!
Fountain pens come in a variety of sizes and materials. At this price range, you’ll find both plastic and metal fountain pens under 100 dollars that are both durable and comfortable to use. You can also find some steel and brass ones at this price-point but they are noticeably heavier. Some people like heavy fountain pens but if you are using it for long periods it will be more tiring than a lighter one. Choose a pen that fits your hand, you don’t want to have to grip too hard or hold a pen that feels like it’s trying to escape after writing a few lines.
There are ergonomic fountain pens that are made to be tip-heavy in order to keep the tip gently downwards and reduce the need for the fingers to grip as firmly. It is generally advised to choose a pen that you can hold on a firm but gentle grip, particularly if you’ll be using it for long periods. When using fountain pens for calligraphy you want your hand to be relaxed and guiding the pen over the paper, not having to grab with your fingers to keep balance.
Our Picks For Best Fountain Pens Under $100
At the time of writing this review, our picks for best fountain pens under $100 have been chosen as general purpose pens that can be used for writing, taking notes or even some calligraphic work. We rate pens which have a solid, quality feeling and can be offered as a gift without being inadequate and which will last for a long time with minimal care. However, the writing feeling is also important! A good fountain pen, no matter the budget, should be pleasant to use and shouldn’t cause tiredness or aching fingers. One of the benefits of using a fountain pen vs your usual rollerball is precisely that: the ink flows nicely and no pressure is needed, so you don’t get fatigued even after extended use.
- Genuine Parker Writing Instrument
- Stainless Steel Nib.
- Delivered in the Original Parker Box.
- Converter for Ink in Bottle not Included
- ✔ QUALITY DESIGN: [SEE COLOR VARIATION FOR SILVER] Your ZenBoo classy fountain pen with the top-notch PU leather case exude both style and elegance and demonstrates professional and sleek appearance; the nib made of precision machined metal provides optimal line thickness and ink flow; the cap’s silicone lining ensures air tight snap seal to prevent ink loss; the body made of polished and smooth high quality shiny chrome is designed for comfort and durability
- ✔ ERGONOMICAL DESIGN & SMOOTH UNINTERRUPTED INK FLOW: carefully crafted with an optimal weight-comfort ratio for perfect writing experience and suits both left- and right- handed writers; Your ZenBoo fountain pen’s standard medium nib allows ink to flow smoothly with a gentle touch to glide across the paper; Gracefully record your thought at ease and sign your signature with authority [Please Note: Your ZenBoo pen set does NOT come with ink cartridges]
- ✔ ELEGANT, STYLISH, LUXURY, MEMORABLE Gift: Your ZenBoo collection embodies professionalism, elegance, and simplicity; Your ZenBoo fountain pen presented in the top-notch PU leather stitched case with high quality velvet inside is a perfect gift for a wide spectrum of people (both men and women) such as pen enthusiasts, co-workers, calligraphers, business professionals, writers, friends, and lovers; Click “Add to Cart” now to elevate you and your friends!
- ✔ INK FILLING MECHANISMS AND USAGE INSTRUCTION: Your ZenBoo fountain pen comes with modern refillable ink converter (simply draws ink directly from the ink bottle of your choice) and also fits any types of generic [International Standard Size] ink cartridges [Please Note: Your ZenBoo pen set does NOT come with ink cartridges for safety purposes and avoid ink from leaking to your collection]; basic fountain pen instruction provided
- ✔ 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE: As we spend a lot of effort on designing this pen, we hope this will elevate you or bring indelible memory to your gift receivers; If you decide this product is not right for you for whatever reasons (or no reason at all), we will either send you a replacement or full refund; After all, your satisfaction is what matters most to us
- Sleek hourglass curves offer a bold, modern look designed to pair with your personal style
- Shimmering dark blue anodized aluminum barrel and sandblast light blue shell are complemented by chrome trim and the signature PARKER arrow clip
- Durable engraved stainless steel nib delivers a dependable and personal writing experience
- Ergonomic shape conforms to your natural grasp, providing the perfect weight and balance
- Sophisticated gifting for all occasions, the fountain pen is presented in a PARKER gift box with a long blue QUINK ink cartridge
- Glossy black lacquer barrel
- Gold finished trim
- Stainless steel fine nib with an 18K solid gold finish
- Capped; gold clip with iconic arrowhead design
- Fountain pen with black ink
- Generous silhouette for premium, executive styling and supreme comfort when writing
- Sophisticated gloss black lacquered body, gleaming 23 karat golden trim and clip, and broad ring embellished with the brand name
- Smooth, consistent, skillfully constructed stainless steel and 23 karat gold nib engraved with the iconic Water man emblem
- Meticulously crafted in France to enhance your signature style
- Presented in a premium dark blue Waterman gift box; ideal for celebrating graduations, promotions and new jobs
- Striking clean design and noble materials come together with a new focus on streamlined simplicity to redefine elegance.
- Comfortable and brilliantly designed, the expertly engraved nib is unmistakable in its writing experience.
- Indulge in exquisite refinement and effortless sophistication with the refined, rippled strokes of this iconic palladium-plated chiseled wave design.
- Skilfully made in France, every WATERMAN pen echoes the genius of founder Lewis Edson WATERMAN, inventor of the first reliable fountain pen in 1883.
- Comes with a 3-year international warranty, which may be extended to 5 years with registration(the barrel and cap are made of brass and lacquered with inside a plastic liner)
Parker and Waterman are two very popular brands of both refillable and replacement cartridges fountain pen, and while they do have some luxury ranges they also have very nice budget options. While a fountain pen under $100 is unlikely to become a heirloom, it should give you many years of happy use.