Friday, September 10, 2010

Pilot Varsity Fountain Pens

Okay, so if any of you pay attention to my Facebook, you know I am slightly obsessed with pens. I think that writing on paper, be it journaling, doodling, or even making the grocery list, is inherently therapeutic. There is a sense of art, and of control, that the act of putting pen to paper brings me. I feel more responsible, more organized, and sometimes a little pretentious when I write. But enough about me, more about pens.

The Pilot Varsity is one of two major disposable fountain pens. The other is the Platinum Preppy, which I have not tried, and as of now am not interested in doing so. I had never tried a fountain pen until I happened upon a Varsity being sold individually at Borders. I bought one to try it, loved it, then bought a few more. I enjoyed them, but they went to the wayside. Other than journaling I really had no use for them. As you can tell from my lack of posts on this site, my commitment to writing is sporadic at best. So I finally re-enrolled in (real) college in April and spent a quarter taking notes and tests. My lifelong addiction to pens now had a legitimate purpose again, and I brought out the Varsities to re-try. You would think I had found a long-lost sibling. Writing with a fountain pen is much different than with any other writing implement. You do not have to use much pressure, if any at all. There is more room for personality in your writing, and your hand fatigues much more slowly. I LOVE fountain pens now! Keep in mind you must still keep a more sturdy pen around for tasks like check-writing, or anything you want to make a carbon duplicate of that requires pressure to be applied.

I had originally purchased Varsities in black, blue, and purple. They are all beautiful, but a girl needs options. For my birthday I asked for the Varsity seven color pack (pictured above). The pen itself is not particularly eye-catching, and other than having a more ergonomic grip, that is all I would change about it. Perhaps Pilot knows that if this pen were very attractive, it would be even more likely to grow legs and run away, if you get my drift. The Varsity lays down a rather bold line; if you are a fine point or extra-fine point person, this probably isn't the pen for you. Since it is a fountain pen, it is quite generous with the ink flow so you must consider the paper you are using. Feathering of the ink on the paper grain can occur as can bleed-through to the opposite side of the page. I haven't really used these pens on "nice" paper, but on regular old notebook paper they perform admirably. I try to avoid writing on both sides of my paper, so bleed-through isn't a huge concern for me.

Varsities are available in black, blue, red, green, purple, pink, and turquoise. The colors are very vivid and rich. The green probably surprised me the most. I want to love green pens, I really do, but I am often disappointed by the hue they spit out. The green Varsity is an exception. The ink is a bright true green. It is not dull or dark, but it is easy to read and far from neon.

If you want to try a fountain pen (and I HIGHLY recommend that you do), you can buy these rather inexpensively. The price does depend greatly on where you purchase them. I bought my first ones for $2 a pop I'm sure. I got my seven color pack for $11 online. They are $24 at Hobby Lobby and $20 from Staples online. I believe they have three-packs available at Staples stores for a reasonable amount if you want to pick a few up just to try. I have since bought another pack of Varsities just so I have plenty to spare. My sixth wedding anniversary brought me my first "real" (ie: non-disposable) fountain pen in the form of a Lamy Safari, but that is another entry. I will leave you with this thought:

A pen may be mightier than the sword, but a sharp tongue is the most harmful of the three. Words to live by.

Later edit: added writing sample.



  1. I'm with you! I have a MAJOR pen addiction (hey, admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?) and also find writing therapeutic. Looking forward to reading the other pen reviews you have here and following your blog!

  2. The platinum preppy is not disposable, it converts quite nicely to an eyedropper pen with a bit of silicone grease. We've got 2 of the highlighters filled with noodler's firefly yellow and the PP Highlighter is very economical. The PP FP is also very economical and writes very smoothly. The great things is that when converted to an eyedropper the barrel holds a good 3ml of ink, that's 3times as much as a cartridge.

  3. Please consider joining my Facebook group for people who enjoy using the Pilot Varsity fountain pen. Find us at

  4. Really nice article. I'm partial to the turquoise myself. It's amazing how well these write - I refill mine until they wear out.

    What's nice about these, other than the low cost, is how reliable they are. You can carry them anywhere and they don't leak ink and start right up and write until the ink is gone.