Pen Review: Platinum Preppy (fine, black)

The first two fountain pens I ever used–the OHTO Rook and the Sailor HighAce Neo–had some issues, and left me rather underwhelmed with the whole fountain pen experience. I can’t say that the Platinum Preppy knocked my socks off, but I can say that it worked, which is a good start. For $3.30 (at the time of writing), it’s a great way to get introduced to fountain pens, and I appreciate having such an inexpensive fountain pen to try out. The downsides are that I would never consider this a “fine” line width, and the ink isn’t quite black so much as it is dark gray. If you’re just looking to try out a fountain pen, like me, it’s a good place to start, and may very well be your gateway pen into the fountain pen world.

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101026

So a bit about fountain pens, which should hopefully make more sense since this pen actually works. Ink is stored in a cartridge (in the photo below, the middle piece on the right), which is stuck into the nib/feed section (middle left). The seal on the cartridge is punctured and ink runs down the feed of the pen, then trails off the nib and onto the page. The cap and body pieces are, as usual, to hold everything together. The build quality of the Preppy is quite reasonable, with sturdy plastic walls that will hopefully resist cracking. The cap has a spring-loaded mechanism that I think seals off the nib to prevent it from drying out. Since the ink is water-based, if the water evaporates off, the ink residue will dry in the nib and feed and require cleaning to get it up and running again. Again, this shouldn’t be an issue, but even if it is, cleaning it takes only a minute or two. (I always keep at least two pens on me anyway, in case one runs out!)

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101236

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101133      Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101152
Left: nib when viewed from the top.
Right: nib and feed when viewed from the bottom.

The Preppy works quite well. Again, unlike the two entry-level fountain pens I’ve used before, this one started up with no problem, and is continuing to write great. As expected for a fountain pen, the pen writes quite smoothly. If the nib is manufactured and aligned correctly (which they usually are, unless you’re me, and have terrible luck with fountain pens), then the ink flow acts as a bit of lubrication against the friction of writing motion. Also, since the ink flows by capillary action, no pressure is required to get the pen writing, unlike with ballpoint, and even gel, pens. From what I’ve read, this is actually a major selling point for people who write a lot, like court notetakers, or for those with hand/joint problems.

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101026

My two issues with the Platinum Preppy are listed in the handwritten card above: this is not what I would call a fine nib, nor is it what I would call black ink. I’ve done a comparison with a 0.7mm gel ink pen (Pilot G2 refill), and you can see that the fine nib on this Preppy is noticeably wider. If this is what the fine nib is like, the medium must lay down an incredibly wide line. Also, particularly at the top of the image above, you can see that the ink really is more of a gray than a black. On the plus side, the lighter color allows for a bit of shading–that is, in a single letter, different shades of ink can be seen, ranging from a medium gray to almost black.

If you’re looking for an inexpensive fountain pen to see what they’re like, this isn’t a bad way to start. (As a sidenote, cartridges are two for $1.65, if you really like the pen and don’t want to toss it.) I haven’t tried the Pilot Petit1 line of mini fountain pens yet, although I’d love to see how they compare. From writing samples I’ve seen from a friend, the Petit1 has a nib that is much more what I think of when I think of a fine nib, so that should be taken into consideration. The bottom line is that this is an inexpensive way to see if fountain pens might be for you. If you’d like a finer nib, you might try the Petit1. Hopefully I’ll get to review some less disposable fountain pen options, for those who are thinking about owning a serious fountain pen.

Platinum Preppy - IMG_20140317_101057

(This pen, and several sheets of Mnemosyne notebook paper, was provided free for review by the JetPens store, but the opinions contained herein are solely my own.)

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