Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dollar Calligraphy Fountain Pen Review

Despite the name, the Dollar Calligraphy Fountain Pen does not, in fact, cost a dollar. But it doesn't cost much more than that, about $5-6. For those not privy to this great budget pen from Pakistan, the 'Dollar' company has been making fountain pens for many decades in that part of the world, and many in and near the Asian subcontinent have grown up using these pens in school.

The Dollar company makes several versions of regular fountain pens, but today we are considering the 'Calligraphy' pen, which has some interesting features not often found in pens in the US, and definitely not at the same price point.

The pen in uncapped and posted position:

Close-up of the logo:

And here is the pen with all caps removed:

One awesome feature of this pen is that it is piston-fill (just like the Pelikans, yeah!), with a blind cap and the piston knob hiding beneath. The pen therefore has a large ink capacity, almost 2~3 times that of other conventional cartridge converter pens. It also has a nice ink window (the black band just behind the section in the picture above - looks black because of the black ink within). Btw, the cap is a screw-on type, nice.

Here's a shot of the nib:

Notice how the nib tilts down to the left, like a right-oblique (er, left-oblique, depending on who you talk to!)? I thought it was just a very severe right-oblique, so tried to write in the standard nib position for that, and had mixed results. Then I read somewhere, that these pens were designed like an 'Arabic script' nib (which come in many different shapes), and turned out that was true! In other words, the pen is designed to be written with the nib turned 90 degrees from the way we normally hold fountain pens - i.e., the edge of the nib is intended to sit on the paper in a vertical orientation (line).

This makes for a uniquely writing calligraphy pen. You can tell it's a calligraphy pen, either a cursive italic or even almost like a stub, with good line variation - but there's a subtle different due to the 90 degree offset orientation. See the writing sample below, with hatches and line-width samples too:

Note at the bottom of the sample, I have tried to replicate the text that was below the logo. One can see even in that (very poorly done I'm sure) imitation, how in Arabic/Urdu/etc. type scripts (please note I am not trying to offend anyone here, but using terms that I think best describe it) this nib orientation really works well. It looks very capable of producing the right kind of script that I see in middle-eastern magazines and shops.

The pen runs for around the eponymous dollar, in Pakistan and India, but is not readily available here. However, user 'smeden' at the Fountain Pen Network is able to procure them and you can contact him for info.

It's a great pen, very decently solid construction, especially at this price point, and provides a writing style/look not readily available with other pens. The nib itself is very smooth and smeden actually inspects the pens before shipping them out. Comment back or shoot me an email if you have any q's about this unique international pen!! Will post another Dollar pen review in the future.


  1. Okay, now I have to track down smeden and get some of these. The review is great and I"m really interested.

  2. Hey Dianeb! Yeah - mr. smeden is great with helping procure these =) And it's really nice to have in the 'ole pencil case as an ornamental writer, one that you would be ok accidentally dropping or taking with you into more hostile environs!

  3. Great review of an interesting pen. Thanks for introducing us to it.

  4. Thanks Julie! =D It's neat that I got to introduce a pen to ya. Definitely worth a look!

    Let me know if you want any other types of writing samples or anything...

    I forgot to mention that the ink, is Noodler's Heart of Darkness!

  5. Where can I find these? I haven't been able to locate them on my own, and I would like to try one or three.


    Larry aka Kosimov

  6. Hey Kosimov!

    Here you go!

  7. The Dollar Fountain Pen. Although it does sound cheap, it's actually a cool name. I love when inexpensive products work surprisingly well!

  8. Hey Grace - definitely, it's all about the bargain-hunting. And not just meaning cheap at any cost - cheap things that don't work are still, well, cheap =) Nice blog btw. Will be perusing it more in the future!

  9. oh sweet Dollar ive been using this pen since childhood for URDU text from my school days and have been envied by students and teachers alike. this pen is xtrmly cheap but worth evry cent. thank God somebody reviewed anything else besides terrorism from Pakistan. if i cn be of service or anybody needs these in any color, id b happy to help

  10. I found these at an Islamic book shop on Devon Ave. in chicago-three of them at $2 each! These are silver and gold plated-the nib is 22g gold plated. The original price was $3.

  11. It is only to write Arabic , Urdu , Persian and Turkish. But you can write English as well by tilting it in awkward direction.

    I wrote all my school life with Dollar Fountain Pen, glad to see review. Start of the review I don't like. It worth is more than a dollar. It is made for the student of Pakistan. Who can not spend more money to invest upscale brand.