Q&A: What Is A Left-Handed Fountain Pen?

Lamy Z50 left handed fountain pen nib

How well suited are pens to left-handed people?

We are often asked about pens for left-handers, specifically left-handed fountain pens. Given that a lot of people are left-handed this market is poorly catered for. Apart from those designed for young children, there is not much available.

Although some 10% of the population are left-handed, as a child I was the only one in a class of 39 pupils apart from my teacher. She, being a no-nonsense type, was determined that if she could write ‘properly’ so could I. Properly meant ensuring my writing sloped to the right and not backwards and she would return all my left-sloping efforts to me with a big red ‘NO’ all over them. After being kept in for seemingly endless lunchtimes being made to write out over and over the handwriting cards we used, she declared herself reasonably satisfied. My writing was and still is, forward sloping.

left handed writing with a fountain pen
Left-handed writing that avoids smudging the ink (it's a Caran d'Ache 849 fluorescent orange fountain pen, nail varnish model's own)

These days children are allowed to develop their own style and backward sloping writing is considered fine. The problem many left-handers have though is that they find it difficult to see what they have written as they are going over the text as they move forward This then leads to the curled hand or hook many people end up developing to avoid smudging. The answer is to try and learn to hold the pen under the writing so that you can still see. The grip should be well back from the end of the pen so as to keep the hand back and the wrist should be straight. Turning the paper by 45 degrees clockwise makes it easier to slant the writing forwards if that is preferred.

But what of specialist pens? Many pens have a universal grip but with fountain pens there is the question of the nib. Of the brands we sell, only Lamy offers a left-handed fountain pen nib. Opinion is divided on how useful this is with some feeling there is no real difference between an LH nib and a medium. When I have tested them out I can feel no difference but that may be because of my writing style which is more akin to a right-hander (thanks Miss) but others may find differently. One of the issues to consider is that the left-handed nib only comes in medium so if you want a fine or broad, tough, they don’t make them for left-handers. Italic nibs can be difficult for those with overhand styles as contact with the paper can be lost with some angles but again, all these things depend on the writing style.

Certainly for children there can be an advantage of offering a left-handed nib. Even if the difference is slight or non-existent, the child may feel they have a special writing instrument that will help them and sometimes small things make a difference. Arguably fountain pens in themselves can help as they require careful positioning which encourages a proper grip and of course they are a bit special. For adults though it is a harder choice. Ultimately, if you are happy with a medium nib then it may be worth trying the left-handed version to see if that feels comfortable. If you want a fine or broad though, give it a go and you may be surprised to find it works just fine. If not, you’ll have to come see me at lunchtime I guess.

8 thoughts on “Q&A: What Is A Left-Handed Fountain Pen?

  1. I’m a corrie-fister, a leftie, a southpaw …. and am proud of it! 😀

    I bought a left-handed nib for my Lamy and it was a complete breeze to change the nibs over. I didn’t notice a huge amount of difference with the LH nib, but then again, I write like you – like a right-hander. For those that hook, I think that it would make a difference AND, if you are buying a pen as a gift for a southpaw, what could be more considerate than buying one that has a left-handed nib? <3

  2. Leftie here (underwriter) – with a short note to say for me it wasn’t all about the nib…

    I didn’t get on with the Lamy Safari – for me the triangular section of the moulded grip didn’t suit the way I hold a pen. However, that wasn’t the end of my fountain pen story – there are others without moulded grips and I’m now really enjoying pens with a circular cross section – including Pilot Metropolitan and a TWSBI (with an EF nib).

  3. I have owned various left handed pens over the years and have found no benefit. In my school days nobody showed me how to write left handed so I blundered into using “the hook”. My writing was both bad and slow. It held me back at the 11plus, at my “O” levels, “A” levels, first degree and when I was writing my Ph.D thesis.
    I learnt more about writing left handed after a twenty minute search on the internet than in my entire school career. The problem with left handed nibs is that left handers write in many different ways. Left handed nibs suit some people but not me.
    The system that works for me is to angle the paper and keep my hand below the line. It works best with a Japanese or Chinese fine nib using a low feather ink on low feather paper like Rhodia. Diamine registrar’s ink is an example of a low feather ink

  4. A very long lime ago, I wrote asking advice on what kind of pens that you sell would be suitable for a left hander, I already had the left handed fountain pen, but I really like using rollerball as the way I write doesn’t particularly allow for great fountain pen handwriting, I asked if you had any pens with fast drying ink, that don’t smudge as you ‘drag’ your hand across the page. no one ever responded. That being said, I enjoyed the article, but I just wish that there would be a rating for left handers on other pens that have been tried and tested (by left handers).

    1. Hi Lauren,

      I’m sorry – it seems like the emails got lost somewhere in world wide web… I’d probably recommend a fast drying ink from Pentel – their gel pens are amazing (not something we sell), come in many colours and have very comfortable round grip which isn’t too thin nor too thick…

      Take care,

      Mishka

  5. Hi Lauren
    I too didn’t see your request so sorry about that. We do get that question quite often but it is hard to answer as everyone is different and the left handed style especially so. I am not sure how we would go about rating pens, I myself just use ‘normal’ pens as I mention in the piece. Others may find they don’t suit. We have just started product reviews up again after a break so hopefully we will get some feedback from users which will prove helpful. If we get positive reviews from left ganders we will try and highlight those. Thanks for reading

    Jo

  6. I commented above and just wanted to add that I am now a few months down the line and I find that I am turning to my Lamy with the LH nib more and more. So, the difference may be subtle, but it is there.

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