So after a few month of getting used to the Pilot Varsity I felt ready to make what I then considered a “big investment for a single pen” of around $15, give or take a few bucks depending on model (there’s many models but the difference between them is purely cosmetic) what site you purchase it from, and what you pay for shipping. You’ll also have to buy ink to go with this and I don’t even bother with cartridges so we’ll ONLY be talking about bottled ink. And you’ll need paper. I’ll give you a shopping list and two sites to go to, depending on your preferences, so you can get started with a Met. today with no homework on your own.
Here’s the good news: not only is the Met one of the least expensive “trusted name” Starter pens available for purchase, but it comes with a “converter”. The converter is what makes your pen able to use bottled ink (which you want to use because you’ll have a FAR greater variety to chose from and you’ll get far more bang for your buck over time). Many pens do not come with a converter but need one for bottled ink so ALWAYS read descriptions carefully and order the converter when you need to. My favorite site, Gouletpens.com will offer you the option of buying a converter but it will offer it regardless of if the pen comes with one, so you still need to read up.
The bad news: Pilot Metropolitan, like all the Starter pens I’ve seen, only comes in non-flex basic Fine and Medium nibs. And, being of Japanese manufacture, Medium is pretty narrow. Now some people prefer a more narrow nib, but I had grow to like the wider nib on the Varsity and six months and many pens later, STILL prefer a nice statement-making broad nib.
My experience, I found that even on the best of paper (in my opinion) with excellent quality ink, the Metropolitan is a tad bit scratchy. Don’t get me wrong, it has that iconic fountain pen flow, but compared to other pens I’ve used since it has what I’m assuming all the big-kid sites mean by “feedback”. It’s a great starter pen; I bought four before I was willing to move on, but you will move on if you end up being a Many Pen person like myself.
And why four of the same you ask? Wel I was chicken to buy the next most recommended starter pen because it was about 5-10 bucks more (I’m talking about the Lamy Safari, which I eventually came to love with a Broad nib) but I wanted to have several inks already filled up into pens and ready to use at a whim, so our pens it was. Of course, I still clean my pens regularly, but some of my favorite colors are always ready to go with the Multi pen approach!
Now to use this pen you’ll also need ink and paper. I suggest you skip the “starter papers” and go right to the gold standard to really get an appreciation for how your pens can feel to write with and what your inks can look like. After trying a few recommended-for-fountain-pens brands, I now buy ONLY the Japenese import called “TOMOE RIVER” in 100 sheet packages. I get both the White (for when I want a color to POP with all it’s brilliance) and Cream (for when I want a letter to look a little more subdued or mature); some inks actually look nicer with the cream, though never so brilliant as they do on white. If you must chose only one, I recommend starting with white so you can really enjoy the next thing you’ll be purchasing today which is INK.
You’ll be hearing the words “well behaved” and the opposite in most ink reviews, that basically means, I’ve surmised from usage of the term, that the ink doesn’t run, dribble, dry on the nib too quickly and so on. Two brands that I have found behave well and also offer wonderful color selections are Diamine and Pilot’s iroshizuku line; personally I prefer the colors available in iroshizuku so I have my friends start there, however if cost is an issue Diamine is generally less expensive and offers smaller size bottles as well.
Don’t worry, this is the ONLY time you’ll ever HAVE to buy all three components of writing with a fountain pen at once. The pens last for just about ever and if you plan ahead you’ll never run out of ink while once you’ve committed to the fountain pen way of life, you will likely always be one package ahead in your paper purchasing to prevent any risk of running out of that as well
Where should you buy this pen, paper, and ink? You could go to that “A” site and sometimes, because I’m forced to due to financial restrictions (and because I already know exactly what I want and don’t need to brows), I do. But for your first purchase, especially as a virgin to fountain pen inks, I strongly recommend not penny pinching on this first purchase and going to Gouletpens.com for the whole kit and kaboodle. Make sure to watch all the videos that come up with any item you are considering; they are long but REALLLLY educational and fairly entertaining. Goulet Pen’s shipping fee, which turned me off at first, turned out to be a BARGAIN, even compared to free shipping if you have A. Prime, because their packages consistently come VERY well put together with all the correct merchandise safely and snugly boxed for transit; that OTHER “A” SITE is a last resort when it’s that or nothing and let me tell you, I’ve had some real messes of orders show up from a couple of their writing supply sellers….
Let me say it again Go To GouletPen.com and browse the available colors in those two lines (again that Diamine and iroshzuku)…
I recommend you start with ONE AND NO MORE full size bottle of the ink based on what you guess will be best suited to your intended use and if you are tempted to buy more, save yourself a fortune and try them first with the 2ml Sample Vials Goulet offers for most inks they sell.. samples great way to know what you really love before you invest in a bottle that, at, say 50ml, could easily last an average person an entire year if it were the only ink they used…. so I repeat: Start with ONE full sized bottle and get samples of anything else tempting, there’s no race to who has the most inks!
(By the by, my #1 favorite ink is iroshizuku kosmosu which is a dark bubble gum pink. Assuming that’s not your cup of tea, their amo-iro (sky blue) is a nice bright blue, but can be used for all but the most formal of writings; I strongly recommend it as a first ink if you’re overwhelmed and can’t pick. -J)