Budget Beaut: Helix Oxford Fountain Pen


I started this blog with a bang of excitement and enthusiasm, as I have with a few other blogs in my time. You can, with a little dedicated Googling, find the cadavers of other blogs I have abandoned along the way. This will not be one of those! My excuse is that right after Christmas, we decided to sell our house and change absolutely every aspect of our life and that is an INCREDIBLY DISTRACTING THING TO DO and we are still very much in the gunky, coagulated thick of it. Also, the number keys on my Chromebook stopped working, so I can’t even log into it and that proved to be really rather inconvenient.

UGH ANYWAY – I bought this laptop a few days ago and every single one of the backlit keys works as it should! So my first thought was, “I can type about pens again!” And then it dawned on me that I haven’t bought any stationery because we’ve been in a limbo of thinking we’re moving so-don’t-you-dare-bring-anything-into-this-house-that-we-then-have-to-pack-up-any-day-now-and-carry-out-of-here-no-matter-how-small-or-cheap!

And then today my mother-in-law gave me some really very awesome thoughtful birthday presents and one of them was this pen. And it’s such a splendid little gem of a surprise that I immediately came home and hand-wrote this whole rambleview (a rambling review!!) with it and then typed it out on my flash new laptop (with a little background music of my neighbours having a total nuclear brawl in the backyard. They seem determined to throw each other through the fence separating our yards, but at press time, the fence is valiantly holding out.) MOVING ON. From this topic and from this neighbourhood, please God.


This seems to be marketed as a student pen. It’s made by the company that made every compass and protractor that every kid has used in every geometry class in every country in EVERY WORLD – Helix.

When I first picked up the pen, I was struck by how solid and weighty it feels. It seems to be lacquer over a metal body, but I suppose it could be plastic. As far as I can tell, it only comes in one colour – a very deep navy blue with chrome accents, including the very sturdy but flexible pocket clip. There is nothing flashy about the pen, but the construction is surprisingly top-notch for something you can pick up for £5 – £7.

The cap is a pull-off, push-on and closes with the loveliest of clicks. It posts well and it’s really an incredibly well-balanced pen. I generally write with my pens unposted, but I love the feel of writing with this pen posted. It’s not too long or back heavy.

I’d say the nib writes a line on par with a steel Lamy F nib. It has a smooth and consistent flow that I’m really happy with. I put in a Jinhao converter I happened to have and filled it with Diamine Deep Dark Blue, which I find to be a fairly wet ink. I generally like EF nibs, but the flow and nib size on the Helix are a really great combination for an everyday writer.

In the realm of affordable, readily available fountain pens, the Parker Vector is pretty much king, in terms of ubiquity. But this Helix fountain pen, which I’m sure you can pick up in most stationery shops in the UK, would be a great alternative. The construction is better, with metal threads that mean it won’t have the cracking problems that tend to plague well-used Vectors. It’s also cheaper, and a bit more convenient, because rather than proprietary refills, it uses standard international cartridges and converters.

Jinhao x750 size comparison
Jinhao x750 size comparison
Here’s the biggest endorsement I can give this pen: If your world is in a spin and you just want something solid to clutch and write a few thoughts down with, you cannot go wrong with this little beaut. You’ll get change from £10 and it will be a bud for years to come.

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