New to Nibs: A fountain pen novice's review of Platinum's Preppy Fountain Pen.

To a fountain pen novice like myself, the world of nibs, inks and cartridges is complicated, confusing, and more than a little daunting. When a pen can be as simple and user-friendly as a trusty ballpoint, then why bother with all the antiquated fuss?

Unsurprisingly, there are a few fountain pen fanatics around the Milligram office, all of whom tout the superior qualities of the fountain pen– from beautiful handwriting and greater control, to the freedom to change ink colour, longevity, and a certain old-school charm.

So, when the colourful range of Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens arrived in the office recently, I thought it might be time to put aside my preconceptions and give them a chance. I try the Platinum Preppy 03 Fine Nib, with blue-black ink.

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Review: Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

Launched in 2007 by Japanese label Platinum Pen Co., the Preppy pen is the perfect fountain pen for beginners. At $13.95, it is an inexpensive investment, and yet has a wonderful reputation for its quality and design.

The pen comes with one cartridge, which is simple to insert, although you do need to push quite firmly on the ball end of the cartridge until you feel it ‘click’ in to the nib end of the pen. There is absolutely no leaking ink! Replacement cartridges– the Platinum fountain pen ink cartridges– cost $4.95 for a pack of two, and are available in a range of colours including violet and yellow!

In the hand, the Preppy feels lighter than I expected. When I place the nib to my paper, it is a little scratchy at first, but once the ink starts to flow, it is smooth and a beautiful vibrant blue– definitely more ‘blue,’ than ‘blue-black’ as its name suggests.

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The nib is stainless steel, which makes it durable and resistant to damage, but also flexible, so that the width of the line drawn is proportional to the amount of pressure placed on the nib. I play around with pressing lightly, and then more firmly, and find that I can change the thickness and style of my handwriting with relative ease. A lighter hand produces a thin, spidery script, whereas more pressure makes my writing rounder and bolder, and the ink has slightly more depth. My handwriting– usually a loopy mess– appears more uniform and cursive, and I enjoy the precision that a fine nib affords. The fine nib is perfect for my small handwriting, but there are extra-fine and medium nibs available for those who want something thinner or thicker. The body of the pen itself is translucent, which seems useful for gauging ink usage at a glance, and the cap features a clever ‘Slip & Seal’ function which makes the inside of the pen airtight and prevents the ink from drying out, even if the pen goes unused for a year.

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I borrowed my colleague’s Lamy Safari Fountain Pen with a fine nib and blue-black ink to compare. The Safari definitely writes a little more smoothly and has a heavier ink flow, however I have more control over my writing with the Preppy. The Preppy’s ‘fine’ nib is narrower than Lamy’s, so this is something to keep in mind if you’re familiar with the Lamy range. I also found the Preppy more comfortable to hold than the Lamy’s moulded grip.

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Typically, due to the cost of the pens and nibs, a person might own one or two fountain pens, and change the ink colour when the pen runs dry. Because the Preppy is so inexpensive, it is possible to have a few colours on the go at once, and use black for writing, blue for revisions and red for edits, and so on. It also means that if you use fountain pens for illustration, you can have a collection of filled pens on hand without spending too much money. The Preppy pen lids feature a plastic coloured pen clip that corresponds with the ink colour, so that it is easy to find in your pencil case.

Personally, I really like that the Preppy isn’t too precious. As a serial pen-misplacer, I’m always hesitant to carry an expensive pen in my handbag, but at this price point, I don’t have to worry too much about it being broken, lost, or stolen by a friend or co-worker (ahem). As an entry-level fountain pen, the Preppy certainly exceeded my expectations.

Overall, my first experience writing with a fountain pen has been excellent, and although I’m not ready to part with my trusty ballpoint just yet, I’ll definitely be adding a few Preppy pens to my collection!

PROS:

  • Very inexpensive!
  • Refillable, and cartridge snaps in easily
  • Transparent body so you can see how much ink you’ve used
  • Comfortable to hold, especially with cap posted
  • Precise and clean, with no feathering or ink blotches, even on low-quality paper
  • Cartridges available in lots of colours, so are good for artists
  • Slip & Seal function = no ink drying out
  • Can be upgraded with a converter, if you desire

CONS:

  • Nib is a little sharp/scratchy at times
  • The ‘fine’ nib is more like an ‘extra-fine’ width
  • The plastic body seems like it might crack or shatter if dropped on a hard surface
  • Blue-black ink is definitely more blue than black
  • When left overnight, in the morning it took a few tries to get it writing

 Shop Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens at Milligram

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens at Milligram