What should I know before buying my first pen?
The most important thing to know is that a fountain pen is not a rollerball or ballpoint. Each of those instruments has a round ball at the end which revolves within its housing, creating a smooth feel across the paper. No particular writing characteristics or specifications are needed to make a rollerball or ballpoint write smoothly.
When ink dries on the surface of the rollerball, or ballpoint, most users bear down heavily to get it to write again. The ball can usually withstand this kind of pressure. The tines of many fountain pens cannot. The tines are very sensitive to pressure and bearing down on them can create an unsatisfactory fountain pen experience.
A fountain pen requires routine maintenance (more maintenance if thick, or permanent/waterproof ink, is used) no matter what ink is chosen. For maintenance tips, please see the Pen Maintenance Page of our web site. As we say elsewhere on our web site, and in these FAQ pages, not all fountain pens will write well with the same ink; you may need to experiment until you find one that both you and your pen like. Just please be sure to clean the pen thoroughly between changes.
If you are neither able, nor willing, to put up with slight inconveniences such as minor leaks, or having to clean and maintain the instrument in order to keep it functioning well, you should probably stick with a rollerball or ballpoint pen.