The $500 Game


From The Pen Addict’s Podcast Episode #233 (, we were challenged.

If you had $500 and you can buy three pens, what pens would those be? 

And, to clarify, this should be MSRP/fair prices for the pens — not 50-cent flea market Montblanc finds. (Katherine has only managed to do this twice…)



I’ll be honest — I didn’t listen to the podcast, but when Pam first asked me, my immediate question was “MSRP, or how much I paid for the pen used?” But, I guess to be fair, we’re going with fair prices, not crazy deals. 🙂 My three would be my Doric (I paid $275 for it at a pen show, so I assume that’s fair? :P), a Pilot Vanishing Point with a fine nib ($90ish off eBay) and a vintage Pelikan 400 with a fine nib, ideally a soft one (~$120 in green most likely, since I’ve never seen a Tortie one below $140 ish, but I have purchased two greens and a black for $120 or under).

If I was only allowed modern pens… A Pelikan M805 in extra fine (EF) nib (~$350 from the UK), a Pilot Vanishing Point also with an EF nib (~$90ish), a Kaweco Sport with a broad nib ($25), and, if it’s allowed, a 1.1 calligraphy nib for the Kaweco ($12).


I loved the idea of the $500 game because it really highlighted to me what pens I would recommend to a budding pen lover who is on a relatively limited budget.  Or the better question for me was what would be the three pens I would want to buy and use regularly if I only had $500 to spend on pens for the foreseeable future.  (This is a possible future since my “new year’s resolution” for 2017 is to “Save more and eff up less.”)  I don’t see the “savings” part standing for very long when I am surrounded by such amazing pen friends, writing instruments, ink and stationery.

My choices are the Lamy 2000 in an EF nib (~$160 via Goulet Pens), a Sailor Pro Gear Slim, transparent model with rhodium trim, in EF nib (~$160 via Anderson’s Pens) and Brute Force Design’s Pequeño in Amber Tortoise acrylic with a fine or medium nib so that Katherine can experiment grinding the nib (~$145 from Brute Force Designs aka Troy Clark).

Leftover money would be for ink from Vanness.  My choices for ink would be: Bungbox Omaezaki Sea, Sailor Yama-dori, Pilot Tsuki-yo.


This is sooo easy! Pelikan M805 Blue-Black with a medium cursive italic by Mr. Mike Masuyama… BOOM!! hahaha… I know, I know, that’s against the rule of the game. ;-P

Okay, it definitely was a difficult task but I think it became a learning experience and taught me what I would want other than Pelikan pens.  So the first pen would be an Edison Huron from the Signature Line of the Edison Pen Co. ($250), and I will ask him to do a cursive italic grind on a broad nib ($40). Next would be the Franklin-Christoph Model 03 Anderson Pens Special Edition with a medium nib ($165). That blue marble acrylic is just something else! And the last pen would be a black TWSBI Eco with a fine nib (~$30 from Goulet Pens). And I still have $15 for a nice bottle of Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium, or Sailor Yama-Dori.


What would you choose for the $500 game?  Better yet, what are you getting for the pen lover in your life?

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  1. For moderns, my three would be a Franklin Christoph 03 with a gold Fine, a Pilot Decimo EF, and a used Pelikan M200/M205. All have replaceable nibs so the person can try a decent range of widths and grinds as he or she sinks deeper into the hobby.

    In vintage, I’d probably go with a Parker 51 aerometric, a Sheaffer Snorkel and a Pelikan 400/400NN. All three are made of robust materials and feature easily serviceable filling systems. Plus, who doesn’t like a pen that can shoot ink out to 6 feet away? 😬

    1. Those are some good choices Karlo! Having a Pelikan in the 3 sure makes sense. And yes, shooting ink especially with a snorkel seems fun!

  2. Assuming that’s $500 US, I’d get a Pilot Decimo Vanishing Point, a Lamy LX in rose gold finish and either a Waterman Carene or a Pilot Elite E95.

  3. I’ll have to think about my answer for a little while. However, when Pam refers to the $500.00 challenge as being choices for a person on a “relatively limited budget”…

    Come on, what world are we living in? There are going to be a *lot* of people in your audience that are going to be hard pressed to squeeze out a 1/5 of that for buying pens. When I see people buying higher-priced pens, or a bunch of pens that total to a larger sum, I’m at least honest about the fact that they actually don’t have much in the way of budgetary constraints.

    Maybe I’ve spent too much time consoling redditors…

    1. You probably have spent too much time. Haha! j/k!

      But yes, you’re not wrong at all. Especially when I was starting out, it was very difficult to get above the $100 mark. But that moved up quick even before the joining the SF Pen Posse.

  4. Visconti Rembrandt merry-go-round
    Edison Nouveau Premiere Cappuccino
    Pilot vanishing point metallic mountain blue

      1. Yeah I would love these pens…as of right now my most expensive pen is my noodlers Ahab ($23)…as a college student I am broke and very limited as to what I can afford… 🙁 I do love my Pilot Metro though! 🙂

  5. I would buy another Platinum 3776 in Koi color medium point and have it modified by Mike M

    Edison Nouveau Premiere Cappuccino fine point

    Pilot Custom Heritage 912 FA nib

    I could be happy the rest of my life with these three pens if I had to have just three.

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