When I started collecting pens I went looking for the best fountain pen book I could find. I purchased a lot of books on fountain pens, pencils, and related materials, more than I want to admit. The good part of that is that I have probably owned and/or read just about all of the popular fountain pen books so I am going to try to pass some of this on to you so you don’t have to buy quite as many as I did. Your significant other will be thankful.
Recommended Fountain Pen Book for beginning collectors
The first book that comes to mind when recommending books to future collectors is a pretty popular book, Fountain Pens Past & Present by Paul Erano.
This book was not the first or second book I bought, but when I finally did find it (in an actual book store, go figure) I was smitten. It has a very good selection of pens listed but where it really shines is that the first third of the book is probably the best introduction to fountain pen collecting in any book I have read.
The rest of the book, approximately two-thirds of the pages, is devoted to the pens and is broken into several sections based on age. This is quite different than most books that break things into manufacturers instead. This approach allows you to see pens from different manufacturers of approximately the same age which really helps you see how the pens evolved over time.
Most of the popular books seem to put a lot of weight on Parker, Sheaffer, Waterman, and a few others. This book includes those too but has a lot of other manufacturers too, manufacturers that I really enjoy. I know too many collectors who get into the big three and miss a lot of really cool pens in the process. This book makes sure that it doesn’t happen and includes both vintage and very modern pens as well.
Roughly 285 pages with some beautiful pen-pictures which include pretty accurate price ranges.
Looking for the classic book that everyone knows? Fountain Pens of the World by Andreas Lambrou is that book. Go to any pen show, there it is for sale. In fact, Andreas will most likely be there himself at his company booth, Lambrou pens!
This book breaks the pens down by region such as the US, UK, France, Germany, etc, and then by manufacturer. It also contains a section on limited editions and another section on materials and construction methods. It truly is the ultimate book about fountain pens.
With over 440 pages packed with some of the most beautiful images and the best information of all the books, I have ever seen. The only negatives are that the book can be a bit overwhelming to the novice and that it can be a little expensive. This book typically goes for the same price as all the other books in this section combined.
Next on my list is this book, Fountain Pens and Pencils by George Fischler and Stuart Schneider. This book has over three hundred beautiful pages jammed packed with beautiful pictures of pens.
To start with, let’s address the elephant in the room with this book, its lack of modern pens. If you are looking for a book with something newer than the mid-1980s, look elsewhere.
That being said, I still love this fountain pen book. It is full of beautiful images including more pens than most other books. The selection of pens chosen is fantastic. If you want a book that is cheaper than Pens of the World but almost as good, this is it.
Not the most popular, not the best selling, not the most pens, not the most manufacturers, but Fountain Pens: History and Design by Giorgio Dragoni and Guiseppe Fishera is an absolutely amazing fountain pen book and one of my favorites.
The first half of the book is an excellent introduction, history, and technical overview of writing instruments. It is almost as good as my favorite introduction in Fountain Pens Past & Present listed at the top of this page, and probably has better historical images.
The second half of the book contains about ninety-five pens, as opposed to many hundreds usually found in other books. The big difference is that instead of a picture and a price, with maybe a little description, you get an entire page of description for each pen and usually two to three pictures. This allows you to get more intimate with each pen and its manufacturer.
This approach of more detail with fewer pens I found to be an excellent companion to larger books with more pens since it really gives you a feel for each writing instrument. You can then transfer that feeling to other similar pens and have a better understanding of them all.
This fountain pen book presents an excellent selection of classic pens spread over a very nice group of manufacturers. Years later I still like to crack open this book and peruse the pages. Given how inexpensive it is, I highly recommend every new collector have a copy on their shelf.
Bonus book for Montblanc lovers
So I have to throw in The Montblanc Diary & Collector’s Guide by Jens Rosler because, well, I love Montblancs. It is considered too expensive and only covers older Montblanc writing instruments, but I don’t care. It is a wonderful book packed with more eye candy than should be legal. It is probably one of the finest books of its kind made for any manufacturer.
If you like vintage Montblancs from the days when they were writing tools first and showpieces second, you need this book.
While there are a lot of books on the subject, I would personally start you off with Fountain Pens Past & Present and Fountain Pens: History and Design. For the price of a large specialty pizza, you can have both books and a great start to your new hobby. After all, why spend money on more books when you could use that money to buy new pens!
I hope this article helps you find the perfect fountain pen book for you.