Back to School Buying Guide: Our 8 Favorite Pens for Students


Back to School Tools

Autumn is nearly upon us once again! Students and teachers are, without a doubt, the people who put their writing tools to the most rigorous and determined use. Fountain pens are perfectly suited for these serious writers — because of their durability, their reliability, their ergonomic comfort, their benefit to the environment, and most of all, their individual beauty and character.

Whether you're beginning a new year in high school, or working on an associate's, or going to college, or tackling a master's degree, or muscling your way through medical school or a Ph.D.— or if you're responsible for teaching any subject, at any level— then we have just the pen for you!

Check out our favorite recommended gold-nibbed fountain pens for students and teachers below. 

$100 — $150+


Pilot Decimo Fountain Pens

1. The Pilot Decimo (along with its larger and heftier sibling, the Pilot Vanishing Point) is the pinnacle of what a pocket pen should be: portable, durable, and quick to deploy. The range of jewel-toned color choices and the sleek and streamlined design are just icing on this cake. We honestly think everyone should own one of these pens— the only caveat we want to note is that some users, particularly those with unorthodox grips, may find the clip placement awkward for longer writing sessions. But the satisfying and lightning-fast click-on click-off mechanism, combined with Pilot's plush and responsive 14k gold nib, makes the Decimo and the Vanishing Point a writing experience like no other. 

Platinum Maki-E Fountain Pens

2. The Platinum Maki-e numbered series is a unique and superlative choice for a number of reasons. The first is Platinum's solid gold nibs, which are renowned for their fineness, their precision, and their distinctively toothsome, pencil-like feedback. The second reason is their beautiful and classically Japanese aesthetic, with slim, glossy black barrels accented with gold trim and traditional enameled Maki-e art motifs. Starting at only $144, this series is an incredible bargain for the pen afficionado on a budget! These pens will draw eyes and spark conversations — and their writing performance is more than equal to their looks.


$150 — $180+


Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pens

3. The Pilot Custom 74 may be the "entry level" fountain pen in Pilot's excellent and classically styled Custom number series — but don't be fooled by its price point. The engineering, ergonomics, and writing performance of this pen are all superb. The durable translucent resin body comes in a range of great colors, and lets you easily see the ink level remaining inside, ensuring you won't be surprised by a pen running dry in the middle of an exam. The CON-70 converter is another standout feature of this pen: a high-capacity push-button model, it is our absolute favorite for its ease of use and reliability. The 14k gold nib, like all of Pilot's offerings, is buttery smooth and a pleasure to write with.

Kaweco Sport Fountain Pens

4. The Kaweco Sport— How could we leave this one off the list? This little pocket pen, well-known and loved by so many, exemplifies the best of German design principles. Form meets function in a sporty, colorful, durable, and elegantly compact package— one that even comes with its own carrying case. We are specially authorized to provide these pens with a 14k solid gold Bock nib, which writes wonderfully on its own, but also makes an excellent launching point for our specialty nib customizations. With the range of colors, clips, nibs, and nib options available, these pens can become a uniquely personal writing instrument, custom-fit to your preferences in every way— and at a bargain price for the quality.


$180 — $220+

Sailor Pro Gear Slim and 1911 Mid-Size Fountain Pens

5. The Sailor Pro Gear Slim and the Sailor 1911 Mid-Size are two excellent versions of the same underlying pen design, and the choice between them comes down to personal taste. The Pro Gear Slim sports a sleek flat-topped look, and the 1911 Mid-Size has the classic rounded cigar shape we all know and love. Both pens come in a variety of colors that range from eye-catching to understated, and— most crucially— both pens sport the absolutely top-tier, world-class writing experience provided by Sailor nibs. Sitting at the sweet spot in between Pilot's softness and Platinum's toothiness, Sailor nibs just feel... great. It's hard to explain in words how a pen can make you smile just by writing with it! The third company of the Japanese "Big Three" has leagues of fans worldwide, and this is why. And if you're already familiar with the standard Sailor writing experience, it's the perfect excuse to try out one of our nib customizations on your next favorite pen.


Pilot Custom 823 Fountain Pen in Smoke and Amber

6. The Pilot Custom 823 is well-known as the weapon of choice for serious writers. Author Neil Gaiman cites his Custom 823 as his most trusted companion on book signing tours. A consummately reliable workhorse, with a large and responsive gold nib, a huge vacuum-fill ink capacity, and an airplane-friendly shutoff valve, this pen is one that will last a lifetime with proper care, and serve you faithfully and well through however many novels (or pages of legal notes, or chemistry diagrams, or medical records, or business plans, or...) you may write. We can't say enough good things about it. John Mottishaw has one for himself here at our office and workshop, and it sees daily use. A perfect full-sized pen for just about anyone... except perhaps those who like to change their ink color on a daily basis. It takes a lot of writing to exhaust this pen's 1.3ml reservoir!


Pelikan M805 Demonstrator Fountain Pens

7. The Pelikan Souverän M805 Demonstrator is a special entry on this list. We love Pelikan pens for their beauty, durability, ink capacity, and reliably excellent performance, but at their typical price point, it's hard to recommend them to people looking for the best pen they can get on a tight budget. This particular M805 model is a departure, as we've been specially authorized to sell it at more than 50% off the MSRP, while supplies last— a tremendous bargain for a full-sized pen of this build quality, with its solid brass piston-fill mechanism, solid 18k gold rhodium-plated nib, and durable crystal-clear resin body. Pelikan nibs are known for their glassy smoothness on the page, which makes writing with them a fluid and free-flowing experience like none other. If you haven't tried one yet, this pen at this price point is a better-than-perfect opportunity.


Nakaya Naka-Ai Fountain Pens

8. The Nakaya Naka-Ai Writer is our top choice for a truly beautiful, personal, and responsive writing instrument that can also stand up to the challenge of being an everyday worker. Ebonite and Japanese urushi lacquer, both centuries old, have both withstood the test of time for a reason: they are strong, durable, hard-working natural materials, which only deepen in character with age. Nakaya pens, despite their delicate looks, can be thrown in a bag or a briefcase or a purse or a pocket and carried from home to classroom to workplace to laboratory and back again without breaking a sweat.

The Naka-Ai Writer combines our favorite shape— an elegant tapered form reminiscent of a classic desk pen, but much more portable— with a highly functional clip that can secure the pen to a pocket or notebook as needed, and which also acts as a roll stopper on your desk. Nakaya's nib performance and selection is also world-class: they write with a touch of toothiness on the page, similar to Platinum nibs, and have a wonderful sensitivity and bounciness. And compared to other hand-crafted ebonite and urushi lacquer pens of this caliber, the price point is a bargain. The only way you can go wrong with this kind of pen is by losing it— so make sure to get one in your favorite color, and keep it close at hand.

Thank you very much for reading! We here at wish you, and everyone close to you, the best of luck during the new school year.

If you have any questions about writing instruments or need help making a decision, please reach out to us and we'll be happy to talk with you. You can email us anytime at, or call us between 8:00am and 4:30pm Pacific Time, Monday through Friday, at 323-655-2641

Happy writing!

Publish Date: 
Friday, August 16, 2019

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