For a time, it seemed to my husband that cartridge-fill pens were the only option and he bought a cheap Waterman with this filling system. It did the job quite badly, but he persevered with it. What made it so frustrating was that the junk-shops had excellent gold-nibbed pens for sale for mere pennies: Conway Stewarts, Swans, Onotos, Sheaffers, Parkers. All were in need of basic repair and he could source neither a repairer nor the parts that would enable him to do the job himself. He bought several of those old pens, though. Looking back now, it would have been better if he’d bought a whole lot more. To cut a long story short, he did eventually find some sacs and was back to writing with decent pens. The plated-nib Waterman was relegated to the drawer and never used again.
Now that he’s retired he has become less narrow in his estimate of what makes a good pen, and will write with cartridge pens and even those steel-nibbed, round-tip pens that he detested before for their characterlessness (is it a word? It is now.) and emulation of the ballpoint. He says it’s a challenge to write well with pens like that. However, back when he was working, a good pen with some flex and character like a Swan or an Onoto was essential so that he could write fast and legibly.
There has never been a better time for the fountain pen user than now. For those who are dedicated to the ballpoint style of writing, there is a horde of new pens at all prices, while for the more traditional fountain pen user, all the old pens are back as good as new. That’s a fantastic range of choice.