Desiderata Pens is a modern American maker of inexpensive fountain pens. Breaking tradition with other modern makers, instead of a traditional fountain pen nib, they use a dip pen nib. A Japanese dip pen nib.
Specifically, they use a Zebra G nib, often used for manga.
Generally I hate modern steel fountain pen nibs. Why? They tend to be super hard and scratchy. I’ve famously hated on the Lamy Safari, as I find its nib worse than most in this regard.
Yes, you can tune modern steel nibs to be less scratchy. (But why should I have to?)
They can even be tuned to be a tidge less hard, but not enough for me without some real expert work. At that point, you might as well have bought a better nib from the start.
There is, so far, only one modern steel fountain pen nib I like: Pelikan’s 200-series nib. I think it’s brilliant. It has some give and a tidge of line variation.
Note: for dip pens, the pen is what fountain pen people call the nib, where the pen holder is what fountain pen people call the pen. Because a nib doesn’t provide the fountain part, the feed/ink reservoir does.
Famously, dip pen nibs have more line variation than all but the most prized vintage fountain pen nibs. However, they’re not intended to be used with any of the methods that fountain pens feed ink.
This is both an advantage: dip pens work well with inks that’d clog fountain pen feeds, e.g., India ink, white inks, and metallic inks.
It’s also a disadvantage: you’ve also got to work with an open bottle of ink.
I don’t know about you, but I do not lead an open bottle of ink kind of life. If you’ve ever seen my hands on the day I’ve refilled my fountain pens, you’d understand. I use Amodex Ink remover, but it’s not perfect. And neither am I.
If you do want to learn more about dip pen nibs, here’s a great post to start.
Now, granted: dip pen nibs tend to be scratchier than fountain pen nibs, and many are known for catching paper. When I’m writing with a fountain pen, I want the attention to be on the words in my head, not on the awareness of the nib’s interaction with the paper. Drawing, however, is different, so my standards are different.
Desiderata’s figured out a way to put a dip pen nib onto a fountain pen feed, add a sac at the back, and make a fountain pen. Most of their pens run $100-120, but their matte black delrin pens run $50 plus shipping.
I haven’t spent a lot of time playing with my Desiderata pen yet, but so far, so good. I am trying to learn how to draw, and the line variation I get, even with the bog standard Visconti fountain pen ink I have lying around here in droves, well, it’s incredible.
Here’s a very short one. You can hear the scratchy.
For dip pen people, this much longer video review may also be of interest.
I’m trying to learn how to draw, so this seemed the perfect accessory for the analog portion of that endeavor. I can carry it around. It’s a dip pen, except it’s not.
Desiderata’s least expensive model is $50 plus shipping.
Sounds like a great deal to me.
Just want a dip pen for manga-like drawing? JetPens to the rescue. Don’t forget the brush pens. (JetPens has an amazing variety of pens and stationery, many of those items from Japan.)
In 2008, a fountain pen enthusiast from Australia was visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, and Ethernautrix, ever the charismatic one, started and named the Pen Posse.
Initially, we were all on Fountain Pen Network, but as the field diversified into different boards, it got complicated coordinating meetings.
Eventually, I started a Facebook group for Pen Posse, which made it much easier for people to get notified of meetings. We don’t have a formal leadership, though AltecGreen (Ricky Chau) starts most of the meeting requests.
Some of us use fountain pens to write with. Some are more into drawing. Or calligraphy. Some just like them. Whatever. It doesn’t matter why you like them.
Some only use old pens. Some only use new pens.
Some only like off-brand cheapie vintage pens they can repair. Some like the uber slick expensive pens.
We welcome all.
Sometimes we do fun things like visit SF MOMA. Or go out to restaurants. Or visit wineries. Or do karaoke. Or comedy clubs.
We’ll still love you if you use a ballpoint most of the time. Or a rollerball.
You don’t even have to be on Facebook, but it’s much easier if you are.
Oh, and if you don’t live in the bay area, but you’re coming to visit? We’d love to meet you. We even meet conveniently close to SFO most of the time. Heck, I’ve gotten off a plane only to drive straight to Pen Posse. More than once.
Note: there’s also a local group that meets quarterly, the Pan Pacific Pen Club. Pen Posse meets far more frequently (and far more irregularly).
Sure, fountain pens are a bit fiddlier than your average ballpoint. But they do have their advantages.
I’ve seen fountain pens from $1 all the way up to “Oh my God!” levels, where that was seven figure to the left of the decimal point. Most expensive I’ve held in my hands was five figures. All of them can use the same inks.