Originally Posted by Man Of Lint
Has no one ever had their fountain pen leak? I am terrified at even the thought of using one.
Unless you're doing something weird with the fountain pen, it shouldn't leak. I carry a fountain pen in my suit pocket, most days. Been doing this for years. Haven't lost a suit yet.
Your fear is similar to the way many people assume shaving with a straight razor makes it virtually certain you'll slash your throat and bleed to death. Again, that's just not the reality of it.
Anyway, I agree with others that among vintage pens, a Parker 51 is tough to beat.
Among new pens, at under $50... well, there's the Waterman Phileas, I suppose. It's a good fountain pen, but uses a converter. And one could argue that a "real" fountain pen is filled from a bottle. But that would lead me to recommend a Pelikan M200, and they're priced above $50 (although available for under $100). Pelikans are wonderful pens, though.
If one really wants to go inexpensive, just to sort of test the waters, there's the Pilot Petit1 fountain pen. Runs about $5. Spare ink cartridges run maybe 69 cents each, and are available in a wide variety of colors.
The Platinum Preppy fountain pen is around the same price as the Pilot. Supposed to be a nice little essentially disposable fountain pen.
The Pilot and the Platinum could probably be found at a good office supply store or stationery store. Or online, of course.
And, of course, there's the Hero 616, which can sometimes be found, brand new, for even less than the Pilot or the Platinum. It's a Chinese pen, sort of kind of similar to a Parker 51. I bought a 10-pack of them, a while ago. Cost me under $20. They're great pens for the price, and pretty good pens, even when measured against competition costing many times their price. Available online, although I understand they can also be found at stores in some Chinatown neighborhoods, or presumably at some stores in China.
For someone looking to just try out a fountain pen, who doesn't want to blow much money on the experiment, I'd suggest dropping $5 on a Pilot Petit1 or a Platinum Preppy, complete with ink cartridges. They're not great pens, but they're probably good enough to permit one to decide whether to get more serious about fountain pens. And if the decision is "no," then all that's been wasted is $5.