I have another secret vice: a deep appreciation of fountain pens. These handy, precious-metal tipped bits of flattened gold or steel assembled in a housing of wood, plastic or more metal are a delightful way to spend one's time, earned golds, paper and nerves. The fun does however not end there! Unlike regular pens that come with the (at best!) options red, blue, green, black, violet, fountain pens open up a new world with a myriad ink options. What about Havasu Turquoise, Amaranth, the shimmering Arabian Nights, or the pea soup-y Alt-Goldgrün? Don't they sound enticing?
Don't be alarmed -- pens are writing instruments and a 3 USD pen can often go toe-to-toe with a 600 EUR pen in ability. With brand names comes quality control (not always), design (sometimes a bit dull), and reliability (from and to manufacturer and year). If there's anything you take with you from this page, let it be that Montblanc fountain pens, while high quality, are not the be all and end all of quality they often are made out to be.
Some of the brands I have and enjoy quite a lot are (in no particular order)
One of my earliest pen splurges was buying a lot of pens on eBay from this brand. A chinese manufacturer with incredibly low prices (in the pen world) for often, very decent pens. I have a pen of this series that I adjusted slightly that then went on to match a 500 EUR German design luxurious pen in absolute writing pleasure. The chinese one cost 2.5 USD. All in all, a brand I like enough to always keep a few around and follow the new models even though I have “graduated” to mostly buying higher-end or custom pens that suit my fancy.