Cartridge pens are a great and inexpensive way to get started with calligraphy.
I include them as part of my workshop kit for beginners when teaching traditional scripts, as the thought of using a dip pen and ink can be daunting for some people.
They work like regular cartridge/fountain pens, so once you’ve popped your ink cartridge in, you’re ready to go.
Many brands also produce a wide variety of nib sizes and ink cartridge colours.
And you can still used bottled fountain pen ink with an ink converter.
Here are five of my favourites.
Manuscript Pen Company
My first calligraphy pen was a Manuscript pen and I still use it today.
Their Beginner’s Calligraphy Set, which is generally what I use in my workshops, comes with a Dodec pen, three nibs, two ink cartridges and an ink converter.
They also offer deluxe, creative and classic calligraphy sets, as well as a master and scribe series.
Their Callicreative markers, which are essentially italic felt-tipped pens, are also a great starting point, particularly for young crafters.
Manuscript is based in Shropshire, UK, and through its association with D Leonardt and Co, has been connected with the pen trade since 1856.
Pilot Parallel Pen
They come in four nib sizes with various ink cartridge colours and they write beautifully.
They’re a little more expensive, but well worth the investment if you’ve been bitten by the calligraphy bug. You can read more in this post.
The Pilot Pen Company is Japan’s oldest pen manufacturer, founded in Tokyo in 1915.
The German pen manufacturer, founded in 1930, produces the popular Safari fountain pen, as well as the Joy, which comes in three nib sizes.
I find the nib of the Lamy Joy a little more rounded and therefore smoother to write with than, say, the sharper tip of the Manuscript Dodec pen.
The longer barrel also makes it more comfortable to write with.
You can read more about the Lamy range here.
The Sheaffer Classic Calligraphy Set is a great buy as it contains three pens, so you can have a fine, medium and broad pen set up and ready to go.
The ink takes a little longer to dry and is more prone to bleeding than the Manuscript pens, but patience and good quality practice paper soon fixes those issues.
I used the medium pen for a commission recently and was very impressed with the finish.
Sheaffer was founded in the US in 1913.
I’m currently coveting a Rotring Calligraphy Art Pen Set.
Rotring was founded in Germany in 1926 and the Art Pen made its debut in 1984.
I’ve seen it described as one of the best calligraphy pens available, with nibs made from the finest quality stainless steel available.
The company says its ergonomic body combines “the balance and nib shape of the quill pen with the convenience of a modern fountain pen”.