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Why Are Fountain Pens So Expensive? Learn Secrets!

Written by Robert S. Brown / Fact checked by Helen B. Harris

why are fountain pens so expensive

The reason fountain pens are extravagant is due to the quality of the materials used in making them, which can range from resins to precious metals and high-quality woods.

Additionally, quality fountain pens require a high level of craftsmanship and precision during their manufacturing process. But, are fountain pens worth it?

In this article, we will further explain why are fountain pens so expensive and how the hefty price tag affects their quality and functionality.

Fountain Pen Price Range According to Type


So, how much is a fountain pen? The cheapest fountain pen you can get in the market is the disposable type, such as the Pilot Varsity, which can cost you around $4.

If you’re willing to shell out more for a refillable pen with no replaceable nibs, the average price would be $15. Then, there are $30 pens with refillable ink and replaceable nibs, with the Lamy Safari being one notable example.

However, the price range named above is the cheapest you can get, and the pen’s quality is usually nothing to write home about. For a decent fountain pen, the expected cost would be $150 to $500 and more.

Fountain pen enthusiasts with deep pockets can opt for premium brand names, such as Montblanc.

These will set you back $1,000 to $168,000, which can seem a lot until you learn that there are those that cost up to $8 million. That said, consider these pens outliers, as they are embedded with diamonds, rubies, or gold.

Why Are Fountain Pens So Expensive?

1. Quality and craftsmanship


Fountain pens are created with more effort and precision. This includes calculated steps in between nib flattening and tip hardening. In high-end fountain pens, this part is mostly handcrafted, making them more expensive and valuable.

2. Rarity and exclusivity


Some fountain pens are one of a kind. For example, the most expensive fountain pen—the Fulgor Nocturnus — is a one-of-a-kind pen sold in an auction in 2020.

Likewise, pens whose price falls in the $1,000 to $168,000 range are oftentimes limited or reserve editions. A few notable examples are the Montblanc Master of Art inspired by Vincent van Gogh, the Montegrappa Reserve Edition Nicolaus Copernicus, and the S.T. Dupont Loves Paris set.

3. Personalization and customization


This can be done by engraving names, adding expensive stones, or using precious metals such as gold and platinum. These materials make valuable pens since they set them apart from normal ones.

4. Supply and demand

In general, the demand for fountain pens is relatively low, which ultimately results in a more or less monopoly situation. Furthermore, as companies need to avoid breaking even or going bankrupt in a market with such low demands, they naturally have to raise the pens’ retail price.

5. Performance and functionality


The viscosity of the ink affects the quality of a fountain pen, resulting in smoother and easier strokes. The nib also plays a major role in how a fountain pen should be used. The nib is the one that spreads the ink on the paper.

What Makes Fountain Pens Expensive?

1. Factors affecting fountain pen prices


A fountain pen’s price will depend on the materials used, the quality and precision of how it is made, how rare it is, and sometimes its brand.

For example, a fountain pen made of solid gold and a limited-edition number would be more expensive than a simple plastic fountain pen.

Additionally, some fountain pens come with additional features, such as interchangeable nibs or built-in inkwells, which can also affect the price.

2. Pen materials, design, nibs, and ink refills


A fountain pen barrel and cap can be made out of various materials, ranging from a simple plastic piece to a gilded oakwood fossil. The design, intricacy, and attention to detail may add more value to a fountain pen, especially if handcrafted.

A high-quality nib will produce smoother lines that are easier to control when writing. Plus, as fountain pens can be refilled with ink, they can theoretically last forever if well-kept.

Additionally, fountain pens are often seen as a status symbol or a luxury item due to their elegant design and how they require more maintenance than most other pens.  

3. Perception of luxury and craftsmanship


The more effort and time spent making a fountain pen, the more expensive and valuable it gets. A beautiful and extravagant fountain pen requires a lot of creativity and craftsmanship to make it unique and stand out from the rest.

Moreover, the brand and history of the fountain pen can also play a significant role in its value. Pens from well-known and respected brands, or those with a rich history or unique story, can be highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts, further driving up their prices.

4. The role of brand reputation


Brands and labels are one of the biggest illusions in the marketing industry. Placing an expensive brand on a simple object changes people’s perceptions.

Owning fancy fountain pens such as Caran d’Ache or Montblanc fountain pen, Boheme Royal would sound very luxurious compared to a cheap fountain pen from Pilot, which is a very common brand.

The exclusivity of these luxury brands makes them valuable since not everyone can afford them, which, in turn, makes them rare and worth having.

5. Inexpensive vs expensive fountain pens

Pens are pens. They write and do the job. Inexpensive and expensive fountain pens vary mostly because of luxury and quality.

Luxurious fountain pens and costly pens are valued more solely because of the expensive materials used in making them and the additional processes they undergo to achieve uniqueness.

In terms of quality, expensive fountain pens are more durable and may even last a lifetime compared to cheaper fountain pens. Likewise, high-end fountain pens offer a better writing experience, as they usually feel smoother and more balanced in your hand.

Furthermore, very expensive pens often come with unique designs and materials that add to their aesthetic appeal. This makes them a popular choice for gift-giving or as a status symbol among pen enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Do You Choose the Right Fountain Pen?

It is important to consider personal preference and purpose when choosing a fountain pen. There are many types of fountain pens, from simple letter writing to calligraphy or drawing. Choosing the right type of fountain pen for the job at hand will make it easier.

The nib size and ink flow are important factors to consider. A wider nib size, 0.75 to 0.9mm, is better for calligraphy or bold lettering. Meanwhile, a nib around 0.6 mm or smaller is better for everyday writing. Ink flow affects the smoothness and amount of ink used.

Experimenting with different fountain pens and inks can help determine personal preferences.

How Do You Care for and Maintain a Fountain Pen?

Avoid drying out inks in the nib since it will build up clogs that will hinder ink flow.

  • Occasionally wash your nibs by removing the cartridge and placing it under lukewarm running water. Dry it afterward with a tissue, making sure that it is well-dried.
  • Avoid water-proof inks since it will be difficult for you to clean them with water.
  • Be careful not to drop your fountain pen to avoid damage to the nib and barrel.

What is the Difference Between a Fountain Pen and Other Types of Pens? Why fountain pens are better?

Fountain pens deposit ink through an internal pump, while most other types of pens distribute ink through a ball inside the barrel. Expensive fountain pens are precise since they provide more control when it comes to ink distribution.

Fountain pens are popular with calligraphers and artists due to their ability to create varying line widths and styles. However, one downside is that these pens require more maintenance due to the potential for ink to dry out.

Are Expensive Fountain Pens Worth the Price?

Yes, this is due to the fact that expensive fountain pens with higher quality will be more durable and longer lasting. In addition, you can refill the ink inside the pen instead of buying a new one.

What’s more, the better nibs and ink flow that make writing more enjoyable can make a fountain pen expensive. In other words, these pens are a worthwhile investment for those who write frequently or for long periods.

Other Options for Fountain Pens

  • Calligraphy Fountain Pens – Have a square-cut tip that allows various thicknesses and are available in different nib sizes.
  • Glass Dip Pens – Antique with a touch of modern style, these dipping pens will allow you to write a whole page before needing to dip it again.


A fountain pen is a useful tool for writing. Anyone can choose what they need to finish the job, those who question why are fountain pens so expensive and are on a budget can buy cheaper off-brand fountain pens that will last them long enough.

However, fountain pens require a bit of maintenance and care, such as cleaning and refilling the ink, which many enthusiasts find part of the charm and satisfaction of using a fountain pen. Happy writing!

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