Moleskine Fountain Pen Test

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It seems as though I may have embarked into what may become a pretty
expensive indulgence. (As if I don’t already spend enough money on art
supplies) After seeing so many Flickrites using fountain pens, (most
commonly the Lamy Safari models because of their relative inexpensive
price and the ability to write like a much more expensive pen), I
decided to pick one up and give it a shot. I started with a medium nib,
and found it so easy to write with. Such a smooth and effortless way to
write – I found my self writing more and for longer periods of time.

My first choice of ink was the Noodler’s Bulletproof Black, recommended
on more than one occasion as being "safe" (no feathering or bleeding)
on the Moleskine paper. (Which can sometimes be persnickety towards
fountain pen ink.)

Then one Lamy Safari became three. An Extra-Fine, a Fine and the
Medium. I think there is a distinctive difference between the way each
one writes. The Medium is super smooth and very wet and if I’m in a
hurry, it can be hard to read back my own writing. The Fine nib is not
as smooth as the medium, but it’s still a nice glide, less wet and
probably my favorite of the three. The extra fine? Not as smooth,
(smaller nib, less ink to lubricate it against the paper) but the
cleanest, clearest, and driest of the three.

I’ve been having a difficult time trying to find a suitable blue ink
for the Moleskine. Waterman Blue Black is nice, but it occasionally
feathers. (And it’s not dark enough for me) Noodler’s Le Colour Royale
(not pictured) is a wonderful deep bluish purple that also occasionally
feathers. The Noodler’s Polar Blue is somewhat of a mess. Bleeds &
feather’s horribly. Not sure what I am going to do with it….

When I picked up my last Safari from isellpens.com, I decided to try
out some of their inexpensive Chinese fountain pens that seem to score
well with the Flickr crowd.

First was an older model Hero 329. ($9.99) It’s a hooded nib that
writes like the Fine Lamy. I like it, but I don’t love it. The hooded
nib makes me forget it’s a fountain pen and I keep forgetting to re-cap
it. It’s a copy of the old Parker 51′s.

Next is a $10 NOS celluloid Wing Sung. I’m having problems with it
leaking, but I’m not quite sure it’s not due to operator error while
filling the pen. For only $10, I have not been shy about taking it
completely apart to see how it works, and why it might be leaking. When
I can keep the ink off of my hands, it writes beautifully. It leaves a
smooth line that might be between the Lamy Medium and Fine nibs.

Anyone have any suggestions on what pen I should try next?

Stephanie

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36 Responses to Moleskine Fountain Pen Test

  1. ikd says:

    for me, it is either a pilot G2 or a Lamy. It is the only fountain pen I have tried that doesn’t bleed on the moleskine.

    I.

  2. Nice work, that’s helpful, thanks!

  3. Y.A. says:

    I find that Private Reserve ( American Blue is quite nice – http://www.privatereserveink.com) ink and Parker washable blue both have little to no bleeding or feathering.

    Enjoy

  4. ktl says:

    i recently bought a lamy cp1 (fine) and this one works quite nicely for me. it is black, sleek and not too obviously lamy-like. plus it works on either t10 cartridges or a converter.

  5. Rob says:

    The Pilot Knight would be a good one to try next.
    They come in medium, but it’s a Japanese nib, so it’s closer to a European fine…

  6. Jimmy says:

    I like the Pilot Vanishing Point. For ink the Noodler’s legal lapis works well on the moleskine paper. Good luck.

  7. Alquimista says:

    I suggest buying a relatively inexpensive fountain pen and then grinding your own nib (http://www.marcuslink.com/pens/nibs.html). I used this technique on an Ohto Tasche and it works beautifully. The lines are sharp and chiseled, no feathering, and their width varies like antique calligraphy pens.

  8. sergio says:

    i have been using:

    noodler’s old manhattan blackest black permanent..

    it works great on molekines with all my fountain pens..

    i think that ink is exclusive to fountain pen hospital. they have a few exclusive colors with city themes. next, i want to try the blue/black..

  9. Lohr says:

    I’ve always had good luck with an XF Rotring Core. The pen has been discontinued, but they’re readily found on the web. My F Waterman Phileas hasn’t been too bad, though some inks work better than others. I use J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune by preference, and I’ve had very good luck with it.

  10. Bill V. says:

    I personally like Noodler’s Indigo Bulletproof Ink. It does not tend to feather and dries quickly. I had problems with Noodler’s Polar Blue bleeding also.

  11. Stephen says:

    Instead of trying so many different pen and ink combinations, why not use higher quality paper?

  12. Charles Barilleaux says:

    I will first give a second to the Vanishing Point. It is a great pen, writes well, and a good price. Oh, and it is the only retractable fountain pen on the market. Seriously, it’s a great pen for the money, even if it didn’t retract.

    I would also go vintage. Get a Parker 51. Some of the Heroes are clones of the 51. Most collectors feel that it is the best fountain pen ever made (particularly as a writer). I would definitely try it.

  13. David Gray says:

    I love my Tasche FF-10t from Ohto. Try it and you’ll see why.

  14. Ben Morris says:

    I second the suggestion of a Pilot Knight, quite reasonably priced ($30 – $35) and so amazingly smooth. Pilot makes fantastic fountain pens.

  15. woofer says:

    I can use any fountain pen with any ink on a Clairefontaine notebook. If I want an elastic band, I add an elastic band. If I want a pocket, I stick part of an envelope on the back of the last page. It’s perfect! Why persist with Moleskine if they can’t figure out the right paper quality? Duh!

  16. sleepy_bohemian says:

    woofer : if I want advice on Clairefontaine notebooks, I go to a Clairefontaine related website.

  17. Garrett says:

    Personally, while these suggestions are at least interesting and at most useful, I’ve found that the Cross rollerball refill — in a Pilot G-2 pen no less — still works the best for me. Being left-handed means that I have problems with the fountain ink smearing, even when I write from the back of the book to the front.

    But that’s my .02 worth, and you might want some change back…..

  18. leegreen says:

    i’ve made the very unfortunate mistake of leaving my moleskine out in the rain before. you are probably more careful and so this may not be an issue…but, i discovered that all the writing that was done with a fountain pen or a gel writer pen washed away, but the less aesthetically pleasing ball point pen ink stayed ( i think it has to do with the thickness of the ink vehicle). since then i’ve written almost exclusively in ballpoint (which has saved money) and when i travel i put my moleskin in a ziplock bag.

  19. Fazal Majid says:

    I have a number of very expensive fountain pens (Montblanc, Waterman, Pelikan, S.T. Dupont, Caran d’Ache and so on), but the ones that perform best are: 1) My Montblanc Meisterstuck and 2) my $2 Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen (Medium nib). The Pilot writes ridiculously well for such an inexpensive pen, I highly recommend it (it is also available in a fine nib).

    That said, Moleskine paper is sub-par and unsuited for fountain pen use. Mode e Modo’s brilliant marketing notwhitstanding, there are better choices, such as Miquelrius or Clairefontaine. The reason why Clairefontaine does well with fountain pens is that in France, schoolkids are required to use fountain pens as ballpoints are deemed to stunt handwriting. Thus school supplies have to be compatible, and fountain pens are inexpensive and commonplace (you will find them at the local equicalent of Wal-Mart).

  20. Stephanie says:

    Thank you everyone for your comments!

    I’d like to address a few of the things people have said.

    I do not use Miguel Rius or Clairfontaine notebooks because I do not like writing on white paper. I like the cream of the Moleskine and I love that the book lies flat.

    I have a Pilot Varsity – it bleeds horribly on every writing surface I have ever tried.

    I have tried G2 pens. Too scratchy for me.

    I’m not interested in a Parker 51, as my Hero is a Parker knock off and I keep forgetting to re-cap it because it’s hooded and looks like a regular ballpoint.

    The Pilot Knight looks quite nice, but I’m not crazy about using an aluminum pen. I don’t like the way it feels in my hands.

    Private Reserve inks are not waterproof. I am now trying to find a waterproof blue that doesn’t bleed in the Mole.

  21. Walter says:

    Hello Stephanie,

    For my daily thoughts in my moleskine ruled notebook, I use an old Pelikan pen, black, with golden pen filled with “4001″ Pelikan ink, black. Black is beautiful ! But sometimes I change to my Parker pen, with Royal Blue Ink. Depens on my moods…
    By the way, I love your mandala’s.
    Walter.

  22. N.Puh says:

    I hac a Schaeffer Targa for years, a simple stainless steel pen i used for writing, drawing, doodling, everything. Switched to a Mont Blanc, which is nice, but i find even the F tip too broad for my liking. Recently, I got a black Schaeffer Prelude that i quickly fell in love with. The body is made of brass, making it feel comfortably heavy, and the M nib is actually thinner than the MB. It was sort of pricey, but worth it to me.

  23. Ruby says:

    Hi Stephanie! I’m going through the same angst! LOL. Any new suggestions for fountain pens? Yes, I know moleskines are not great for fountain pens, but since I’m so into fountain pens and inks right now, I don’t mind trying a not-too-expensive fountain pen and ink combination :D I’ve read the Pilot Prera writes very fine, finer than the Lamy XF. Has anyone used that?

  24. Aris says:

    I’ve tried some fountain pens on moleskine and the only one that writes like a dream with the smooth gliding of Lamy’s M nib but with better quality than the EF one, is a cheap Inoxcrom pen with ink cartridges of the same brand. Very common here in México, the Inoxcrom is made in Spain, to the very best of my knowledge, and the nib says Germany.

    Inoxcrom ink is only sold in cartridges here, but it’s the only one that does not bleed or feather in moleskine’s thin, bad quality paper. The black is a deep black and the writing in one side is almost neglectable in the other side, and we know how thin mole’s paper is.

  25. Debbie says:

    Hmmm. Interesting comments. I love Moleskine paper precisely because my fountain pens (two Pelikans that I spent waaay too much on) write so well on it. I, also, prefer cream to white paper. The other paper that I just love with my fountian pens is the cream paper in the Myndology Basic notebooks. I’ve recently gotten into disc-bound notebooks, and I infinitely prefer Myndology paper to the more popular Circa products because of feathering. I think that there is a huge difference in the quality of paper between the Moleskine hard-bound books and their cahiers soft notebooks. I’ve never had a bad batch of hard-cover-bound paper.

  26. paula lerner says:

    Hi,
    Have you any experience with the dropper fill pens?

    Noodler is giving one away free, but it has no brand on it and I cannot find it.

    So far it is the only one I have seen that you don’t have to convert yourself.

    I write a lot and I love a lot of ink.

    Any other info on this subject?

    And your all time favorite Pen?

    Thanks,

    blueheelercd

  27. bogiesan says:

    Just discovered fountain pens myself. Three ancient Sheaffers showed up in the bottom of an art supply cabinet in the studio. What a delight. Now I’m trying to find old unused Sheaffer pens because I have a huge supply of Sheaffer’s cartridges in delicious colors.

    Trying to avoid getting caught up in the need to have a few Lamys.

    david boise ID

  28. Stephen says:

    I’m currently using a fine nibbed Hero 329 with Noodler Eternal Luxury Blue (bulletproof) and it writes perfectly fine and you can more than use each side of the page. I’ve not been loving the paper in newer Moleskines compared to the ones they replace (they keep getting lighter grade each time I buy a new one! It’s not even like how Creme Eggs are smaller than when you were a kid (they are though) because you’re bigger- you’ve still got the old notebook to compare it) and when they start bleeding with the 329 I’ll jump ship but right now that’s not happening. I’m loving the fact it’s a book with a spine that actually lies flat so you can use it for speech notes and that’s a killer feature.

  29. Lucy Penwright says:

    hello, fellow moleskiners and fountain pen lovers,

    i live in south africa, and while we get molekines, fountain pens and inks, we don’t have nearly the selection you do in the us and uk. therefore, i’m limited to inks like mont blanc, cross, lamy, parker, etc.

    i love my moleskine, love my fountain pen but HATE the fact that often they don’t love each other. the feathering, the bleeding – it’s the verbal equivalent of an on-going argument between a married couple.

    anyway, i have finally hit on the PERFECT match, one made in heaven you might say.

    1) the only moleskine to use, in my opinion, are the hard-cover notebooks that come in red and black. although the cahiers and volants are funkier and come in really lovely colours, their paper is like toilet paper compared to the paper in hard-cover notebooks which is silk by comparison. don’t be fooled into thinking that the paper is the same in every type of moleskine – it isn’t. how do i know this? because i’ve written on every type of moleskin. trust me: hard-cover notebooks are the way to go. (debbie will agree with me.)

    2) the only pen and ink to use – again, in my opinion – is a fine-nibbed mont blanc 146 (expensive pen) or a medium-nibbed parker vector or jotter (cheap pen), and all with mont blanc ink (or shaeffer, if you prefer light coloured ink). i use this combination because (a) it works beautifully in a moleskine (h-c, naturally) and (b) we don’t get exotic ink like Noodlers.

    i wonder if the marketing and production gurus at moleskine read these blogs? if so, you’d think by now they’d have caught on that there is a problem with their paper vis-a-vis fountain pens, and started producing better quality paper.

    that said, i’m going to have a look at the clairefontaine website…

  30. Alex says:

    I have never understood the Moleskine/fountain pen issue. I have used a variety of pens (both modern and vintage) with a variety of inks (Noodler’s, Sheaffer, Parker, LAMY, Mont Blanc, Pelikan, Waterman)on regular Moleskines, Cahiers and Volants and have never had a problem.

    Maybe it’s my predilection for Fine nibs? But even my Medium Nib LAMY 2000 which writes broad and wet has done well (although I tend to like drier inks in this pen like LAMY Blue Black or Noodler’s Black).

  31. Zoe says:

    You might want to take a look at the Rotring 600s or 700s with a fine, or fine italic nib. I got one from the marketplace, 2nd hand. It is an unusual barrel shape and might not suit you, but it is as comfortable (to me) as the Lamy Safaris.

    Of the many pens I own, under $100.00 this pen appears to perform well on most paper, including the Moleskine I just got.

  32. Richard Paas (dutch) says:

    Well I read here for the first time what I allways experienced. I thought I was the only one with bleed-trough problems. I just bought a Montblanc Meisterstuck 146 (LeGrand) – fine point – with original blue/black Montblanc ink. This combination does not bleed a bit trough those beautifull creamy pages of the moleskine. It is great to write with!

    In my Parker Duofold (M-nib) I tried three kinds of ink (J. Herbin, Private Reserve, Diamine) they all bleed trough in this pen.

    I also have a Caran ‘d Ache Leman (fine-nib) – what a beauty!! – in wich I have at the moment J. Herbin Cacao Du Brasil (grey-brownish) this combination also does no bleed trough.

    I have a Parker Sonnet (fine-nib) filled with J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier (red) that one also bleeds trough the Moleskine-pages.

    I bought my daughter (12 years) a giftbox of all kinds of J. Herbin inks with two Lamy Safari’s (m-nib), and gave her a Moleskine of mine. All the colors bleed trough. So I am looking to buy here another great journal, that is more fountainpenfriendly.

  33. Anton Ninno says:

    The said truth is that Moleskine no longer uses paper that prevents bleed-through when using a fountain pen. Not sure they ever had paper that good, but they sure don’t now. Once you accept that fact, the only solution is to find another company that understands that many notebook users write with fountain pens, and cares enough about that market to use paper that works for them. Since this is a Moleskine blog, I won’t mention those companies by name, but most of you know who they are. In many quality stationery stores, those brands are right next to the Moleskine display. If the price you see is close to an equivalent Moleskine notebook, you’ve probably got a solution at hand. Just do it. It’s not easy to break a Moleskine obsession, but once you get over it, you’ll be happier. I sure am.

    Anton Rhodia Ninno
    Syracuse, NY

  34. Woodworker says:

    He guys, I just did my first review in my quest for foutainpen/ink combinations that work great on Moleskine paper. My first ink was Montblanc Blue Black. Just read the “review Montblanc Blue Black ink”. I already new the outcome, because I wrote alot lately with this ink.
    http://inkyjournal.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-quest-for-ultimate-inkpen.html

  35. MFed says:

    I use a Montblanc Meisterstueck 149 (currently filled with Montblanc ink — so shoot me for indulging myself). The ink tends to bleed & feather noticeably on the ordinary Moleskine paper (i.e. hardcover, softcover and cahiers). However, to my delight, the Folio range of notebooks (specifically, the Ruled A4 Notebook I own) are made from thicker (100gsm) paper and work perfectly with that pen/ink combo: no bleeding or feathering of any kind.

  36. Scott says:

    Does anyone know of a source for any of the following:

    1) A composition-sized (US) notebook with extra fine vellum paper (as in the Clairfontaine or the Rhodia notepads? The quality of the paper in the blank (unlined) composition notebooks I have beenusing for journals and work have reached a point of bleed-through with my fountain pens that I cannot deal with it any more.

    2)If not the above, does anyone know of a source in the US where I can order this quality of paper and I’ll figure out a way to make my own notebooks.

    I really don’t want to switch away from the composition sized notebook if I can help it. I made a leather cover that I would like to keep using….

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