Fountain Pens are an expensive hobby. They cost a bundle and inks and papers can easily outpace your cheaper pens. Once you come to grips with the money you spent on the bare necessities it can be daunting to think about spending another fortune on accessories.
The good news is there are loads of fountain accessories that cost less than $25. I’ve put together 10 of my favorites, and many cost a lot less than $25. But I don’t think of them as “cheap” or “budget” items. These are valuable tools I would want in my kit even if money was no object. The combination of value and low cost means they make great gifts too.
**For all of you nib tinkerers, don’t miss tip #10!
- Carrying Case – I love my fountain pens, but they make the worst toss-it-in-a-bag partners ever. I’m pretty bad at this, most pens ride in the bottom of my bag, but the expensive ones I carry in a sleeve or Carrying Case/pouch. This little guy looks just like your fancy sunglasses holder but with a fabric “shelf” sewn in to hold your baby inside. The easier it is to use the more likely I am to use it, and you can’t get easier if you carry 1-6 fountain pens at a time.
- Pen Loop [The image link is for thin pens around the size of a Bic, this is a tight loop! The text link to the right of the photo is for wider fountain pens] Okay this is another ease-of-use item I love. This is a self-adhesive loop that sticks into the back cover of any journal or notebook you want. This way you can attach your favorite fountain pen right to it and even slide it down to push the clip over it. They come in different sizes, the large fits my fountain pens, I love big pens. I’m sure the medium would fit thinner pens. I wouldn’t carry a super expensive fountain pen this way, for fear of beating it up or dropping it… but it’s great for less expensive pen travel or even my most expensive pen attached to my journal when it stays at home. Love this.
- Ink Cartridges in Assorted Colors Who doesn’t want to experiment with different color inks for your new fountain pen? This cheap pack of 30 has five colors if you’d like to try out something other than black. These aren’t the fanciest colors on the market, you’ll have to bottle fill for the most fun, but these are a great introduction. If a standard international short will fit your pen, then you should be able to use these.
- Universal Ink Converter If you have a pen that takes universal cartridges, has about 2.75″ worth of length inside the barrel, but haven’t tried a converter yet, you’re missing out! Bottled inks have the widest variety of colors available and converters work well and are easier to clean than syringe filling old cartridges (although I syringe fill, because it’s fun!) This converter is a universal size, so if your pen takes universal cartridges, this will fit.
Clairefontaine Cloth Notebook Ah, Clairefontaine… my original paper love. Rhodia is great too, but I gravitate to Clairefontaine, buttery soft and smooth and absorbs ink so well. Showcases it across the page like a great backup dancer, it won’t take the focus off of your first love, the feel of the pen gliding across the page. The ink sinking into this luscious paper will make your heart skip a beat. You just have to experience it.
18G, 3 mL Syringes I know it seems creepy buying syringes unless you’re a diabetic. But Amazon will deliver ANYTHING to your door in a plain cardboard box so I can get my fix of cartridge refilling. I looked up what size my needles are and this is the link to the exact needles I’ve owned for three years. This is a 10-pack for under $5 and I’ve only used 3 in three years (one because I lost the plunger). I’ve used them not only to refill my cartridges, but also to force water through the section by applying the blunt tip right at the inlet for ink and pushing water through there. Makes cleaning fountain pens so much faster! LOVE THESE!
- Lighted Jeweler’s Loupe I didn’t think I’d use this much, but what an awesome product when you’ve got a scratchy nib! The lighting really does work! This one magnifies 10X, but you can buy them 30X, whatever your heart desires. I really like to be able to see the nib and tines clearly and well-lit when there’s a problem. And sometimes when there’s not, just because it’s cool. 🙂
- Leather Rollup Pen Holder I don’t own this yet, but it’s coming soon! I LOVE the look of this and that it holds five pens in that buttery leather. Can’t decide which pen to take? It’s so easy to store five of them rolled up and you can fill each one with a different color of ink. This is one sexy beast and I’m all over it.
- Single Pen Case If you have one favorite fountain pen, and want a more luxurious looking case than the nylon one above, this is the way to go. I never believed in these because I thought they’d slow me down…(the flap and the fact that it’s in a case,) but when you start rocking $500+ pens in your bag, you don’t want anything to scratch the finish. This is the way to go to protect your investment and it’s attractive on its own.
- 2000 Grit Sandpaper and Micro-Mesh Pen Sanding Kit If you do nothing else when smoothing your nibs, READ THIS EBOOK by Richard Binder. He’s since retired from repairing fountain pens, but he’s well known in the industry. In the free ebook linked in the last sentence, he recommends 2000 grit sandpaper then 4000 to 12000 micro-mesh in that order. Ironically the “pen sanding kit” is intended for sanding wood and acrylic pen blanks when turning a fountain pen out of a block of material on a lathe, but you can also use them for nib smoothing as shown in Richard’s detailed how-to article.