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June 20, 2012

The Platinum Plaisir vs The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

The Platinum Plaisir fountain pen makes a frequent appearance in my rotation of daily writing instruments. Since it uses the exact same cartridge/converter filling system, feed section and nib as the Platinum Preppy fountain pen it gets a lot of comparison to the popular Preppy. So why spend the extra money on the Plaisir? Perhaps some of the following observations will help you make your own choice.

First of all, the body and cap of the Plaisir fountain pen are make of a light-weight yet durable anodized aluminum that lasts much longer than the recycled polycarbonate cap and body of the Preppy. The plastic Preppy pen is a great beginner fountain pen with a bargain price of less than $5.00, but it is not meant to be a forever pen. Once in a while I'll give a Preppy to one my friends who has never tried using a fountain pen. When I ask them later how they like using it, sometimes I find that they have cracked the cap or the barrel and are no longer using the pen. If they genuinely like the experience of using a fountain pen, often I’ll give them an “upgrade” to a Plaisir and have received many positive comments on their new Plaisir pen.

I find the scratch-resistant pearlized finish on the Plaisir fountain pen very attractive. It’s very smooth and I like the way it feels in my hand. Since there are seven color choices, there is a color to suit almost everyone. One of my personal favorites is the bright sports car red, or others might call it a bright lipstick red. The pearlized colors range from a conservative black to a delicate and feminine pink. The Preppy pen has a clear body and cap with a clear but colorful clip and top on the cap. Both fountain pens have nib colors that match the pen color. The steel nib and feed section are interchangeable between pens and the nib performance is generally the same.

The cap of the Plaisir has a special design that allows you to let your fountain pen sit for a long period of time without any use, then to uncap it and begin to write smoothly without any hesitation.  This cap also reduces ink loss due to evaporation. I find that the cap on the Preppy works fairly well at keeping my ink from drying out, but eventually it cracks allowing the pen to dry out. To make the cap on my Preppy pens last longer I usually put a piece of clear tape around the bottom of the cap when it is brand new. Once the cap cracks, the tape will not help.

One advantage of the Preppy pen is that it can easily be converted into an eye dropper fill pen with some silicone grease and an optional rubber o-ring. The polycarbonate barrel of the Preppy does not react with ink (although it is possible that it could be stained by some inks) and it does not have any holes in it which makes it work well as an eye dropper fill. The metal barrel of the Plaisir may chemically react with ink so it is not suitable to be converted into an eye dropper fill pen.

Both the Plaisir and the Preppy have a cartridge/converter filling system which is typical for fountain pens in this price range. These pens must be filled with Platinum ink cartridges since universal/standard ink cartridges will not fit. It makes a lot more sense to use the converter with the Plaisir since the converter costs more than double the price of the Preppy pen. If you don’t want to spend the money on the converter or you don’t want to be limited to using Platinum ink, you can always refill empty cartridges yourself using bottled ink and something like a blunt-tip needle bottle.

So which pen will you choose? What are your thoughts on Plaisir vs Preppy fountain pens?

Plaisir Pros:

Much more durable than the Preppy
Special cap design prevents ink from drying out
Attractive pearlized finish in a choice of 7 different colors

Plaisir Cons:

More expensive than the Platinum Preppy (currently about $20.00)
Cannot be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Pros:

Bargain price (less than $5.00)
Can be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Cons:

Polycarbonate cap and body can crack over time
Limited pen color options
Converter costs about twice as much as the pen

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June 06, 2012

Clearly, Demonstrator Fountain Pens are Cool!

Modern demonstrator fountain pens are clear, or partially clear writing instruments that allow you to see the inner workings of the pen. Originally, the purpose of these pens was for pen manufacturers or pen sellers to show-off the desirable mechanisms of the pen that were not normally visible from the outside. They were not meant to be sold to the public. Some old demonstrator pens were non-functioning and even had holes cut into the barrel. Eventually, clear plastics came to be used to create very limited numbers of these pens and they became sought after by collectors. Their popularity grew, and now they are commonly used by many as daily writing instruments.

There are many reasons writers are attracted to demonstrator fountain pens. It’s easy to monitor the level of your ink so you’ll know when you need to refill. If you like to use bright, colorful inks a demonstrator pen with a clear, colorless barrel really shows off your ink color. Mechanically minded engineer types like to see how all of the parts that make up the fountain pen function and it’s easier to diagnose pen problems and repair them. Others say that the transparency of these pens reminds them of a crystal.

(Aurora Optima Demonstrator with Red Auroloide Trim)

Some demonstrator fountain pens are very luxurious and are only produced as limited editions. One example is the Aurora Optima demonstrator fountain pen that is available as a limited edition of only 1936 pens, corresponding to the year in which the Optima was first introduced. Because this Optima is a clear demonstrator pen, if you look closely you might be able to spot Aurora’s hidden ink reservoir system that allows an extra page of writing when your normal ink supply runs out.

(Pilot Prera Demonstrator with Orange Trim)

If you like the handsome appearance of the Aurora Optima demonstrator but you aren’t able to splurge on such a pen, an attractive and more affordable alternative is the Pilot Prera demonstrator fountain pen. It also has a clear, colorless body with a colorful contrasting trim on the end of both the cap and the barrel. In addition to red, you can get the Prera with a variety of trim colors, and the Japanese stainless steel fine nib is great especially if you like to write with a very fine line.

(LAMY Vista Demonstrator Fountain Pen)

Since demonstrator fountain pens are clear, when they have a cartridge or converter filling system, the appearance of the converter matters. When we use the LAMY Vista, which is the demonstrator version of the popular Safari fountain pen, we like to think of the red top of its converter as the “heart” inside the pen.

(Platinum President Demonstrator with Gold Trim)

Platinum Pens thoughtfully designed the converter inside this President demonstrator fountain pen to match the color of the gold-plated trim.

(Pilot Custom 74 Demonstrator in Violet)

In addition to clear, colorless barrels, many demonstrator fountain pens are made with clear, colorful barrels and caps. I really like the pale violet color of this Pilot Custom 74 demonstrator fountain pen. It has an easy-to-use piston converter that fills with ink using just a few clicks of a button.

(TWSBI Vac 700 in Sapphire Blue)

The fact that the TWSBI Vac 700 is transparent allows you to see its cool vintage-style vac filling system in action! I love both the amber orange and sapphire blue versions of this demonstrator pen and it also comes in a mysterious smoke black.

(Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens)

Demonstrator fountain pens don’t have to be expensive. At the time of writing this post, the Platinum Preppy fountain pen allows you to give one a try for only $3.00! Other demonstrator pens that can currently be purchased for $25.00 or less include the Kaweco Sport Ice, Kaweco Sport Classic, Noodler’s Ink Ahab flex-nib pen and the Pilot Plumix student calligraphy pen.

We’ve only mentioned just a handful of the large variety of demonstrator fountain pens that are available today. What’s your favorite demonstrator fountain pen and why do you like to use it? Share your favorites with us!



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