2016 was a whirlwind of a year for me with fountain pens. It’s really the first time I’ve expanded beyond just having a pen or two. I started out the year buying quite a few pens in quick succession, then in May, after impulse ordering a Nakaya and buying a Danitrio within the same week, I decided to set a 15 pen limit for myself. (More on that some other day) So, with that in mind — looking back at the last year, here is my top third:
- Pelikan M805, EF nib. I had eyed this pen but considered it ridiculously expensive (It’s $700 on nibs.com!) — but Franz, being the fantastic enabler that he is, lent me his to borrow. Over the week that I had it, I discovered that the M800’s size wasn’t too big nor too heavy (worries of the small-handed). Additionally, it’s the only fountain pen my non-hobbyist boyfriend has ever complimented. I picked up one used about a month later and it’s been a love affair ever since. The size is perfect, it’s looks really cool AND it holds a boatload of ink. It also helps that the Pelikan EF is easy for me to use — it’s not too wet, yet still shows sheening and shading with the right inks.
- Romulus Pens Custom, M Pelikan M600 nib. This is my first custom pen, and I had a great experience working with John Albert on designing this pen. I got to pick every aspect of the pen — from the yellow accents, to the nib (a delightfully wet, but not firehose-y Pelikan M600 Medium), to the size (a smidge narrower than the M800, but just as long) to the filling capacity (a little larger than an international short, so I can change inks often). The result is a fantastic companion to my M805 — a wider wetter nib for headers and more interesting inks, and a completely different look.
- Wahl Doric, #9 Adjustable Broad Stub. Of the four vintage pens I currently own and the dozens that have passed through my hands in the last year, this Doric is the one I have to have. To start with, the nib is amazing and unlike anything else I own, it’s a semi-flex, super smooth broad and wet factory stub. In addition to a very interesting nib, it’s in great shape (no dings, scratches or tarnishing) and is a nifty vac-filler (I’m not a big fan of sacs and levers, so this is a big deal to me!). And, of course, it appeals to me aesthetically — I picked this over an Omas, and haven’t regretted it. I love the faceted design, the subtle striped pattern and the contrast of the gold hardware.
- Platinum 3776, Soft Fine. This one is actually a cheat as I no longer own this pen. I owned two 3776s, a Bourgogne and a Sai, and I have since sold both. However, I do love the nibs and am eagerly waiting their more expensive sibling, a Nakaya. The 3776 was the first nib that I tried that really opened my eyes to how different a nib could be without being super flexy or having a crazy grind.
- Pilot Vanishing Point. While I’ve found that the VP is a super-solid convenient pen, it hasn’t been a daily carry for me. But, it has been a fantastic base for all sorts of experiments. An easy to remove clip and clearly demarcated barrel makes it an ideal candidate for experimenting with raden and other finishes. And, if things turn out well, it’s not hard to use the pen!
2016 marked the birth of my friendships with Katherine and Franz which led to the creation of this blog which has opened me to the best parts of being part of the pen community. Good people, good ink, good pens and great conversations. Thank you Katherine and Franz for adopting me and being there with great pens and ink through “broad” and “needlepoint” this year.
It also marked the year that I broke any “savings” resolutions I had as I bought pens from my “grail” list, from different eras (modern and vintage), from different brands (Pelikan, Nemosine, Brute Force Designs, Tactile Turn etc.), and had my first custom nib grind completed by Dan Smith!
- Sailor Pro Gear Slim, EF nib. The limited edition Galaxy finish from 2015 was a grail pen of mine. The nib is amazingly smooth for an EF and it is a joy to use. It has been inked since I received it. In quick summary, the EF nib on this pen, by Sailor, is a must try. Even for those who don’t enjoy such a fine line, it’s a great nib in how it feels on paper and provides a perfectly saturated line. This nib on Midori or Tomoe River paper is heavenly.
- Lamy 2000, EF nib. The Lamy 2000 is my most recommended pen this year. My fellow pen addict physician still raves about this pen. This pen taught me that loving a pen doesn’t mean I need to love it no matter what. When I first received the pen, I didn’t love for work because the line wasn’t what I wanted on the copy paper. However, the more I wrote with it on Midori paper, the more the “mini-architect-like” line variation grew on me. Pairing it with a fantastic ink like Yama-dori doesn’t hurt either. I primarily use it with my B6 sized planner, that has paper similar to Midori paper, on a daily basis. Maybe it’s Franz’s influence on me, but now, the EF nib on copy paper isn’t so bad either.
- Pilot Prera, F nib. Of all the “beginner” pens that I have tried, the Prera has been with me the longest. It harkens back to the “good ol’ days” for me. The nib is still wonderful and it still writes well, even on copy paper. I use it regularly for work and in my Hobonichi. For the relatively affordable price and beautiful colors, I am surprised that I don’t have multiples of this pen.
- Pelikan M200, B architect grind by Dan Smith. This pen was “adopted” by me from Franz, which provides it with extra sentimental value. The architect grind is probably one of my favorite discoveries this year. Despite seeing multiple writing samples with this nib grind, it wasn’t until I tried it, that I was smitten. Due to how I hold my pen, the architect grind becomes more of a stub or cursive italic. The lines are not as crisp as a cursive italic but the line variation is undeniable. Bonus, no hand cramps and the Pelikan M200 is the perfect size and fit. This pen has it all.
- Pilot Myu, F nib. This was the year that I branched out into the vintage realm seeking the Myu. (Thanks Mike Dudek.) Thanks to Katherine, I got my hands on this beauty, that is so unique in design and amazing on paper. Katherine has been introducing me to more vintage pens like Sheaffer and Esterbrook. So we will see what 2017 will bring!
For 2017, I am probably going to be selling some of my pens and refine my collection. It’s a bit hard to sell any pen, but I also enjoy using pens. So pens that don’t “spark joy” when used will (probably) find a happier home (maybe).
Another year has passed and I am still very much into this fountain pen hobby, if not, even deeper. What really makes this hobby more enjoyable are the people I share the fun with. Throughout the year, I’ve been fortunate to spend time and meet with people I’ve only known via the interwebs. And of course, who would’ve thought that I’d be part of a pen blog with Pam and Katherine? This definitely raised it up a notch or two.
Anyway, this post is about our top 5 pens. The way I approached this is I thought of the 5 pens that I’ve always kept inked up and write with for the most of 2016. So, here they are:
- Pelikan M805, Blue Striated, M cursive italic. Ah yes, this is the Franz pen. I’ve had this pen since 2013 and it’s what I use at work and for personal writing. At the 2014 SF Pen Show, Mike Masuyama-san (mikeitwork.com) transformed this medium nib into a cursive italic and this has been my nib of all nibs ever since. My signature, and writing looks best with this nib. Aside from the nib, I regard the Pelikan M800/805 model the most perfect pen for my hand. So this nib and the pen body has been a powerhouse of a combo for me. Paired since 2013 with Noodlers Liberty’s Elysium ink.
- Classic Pens LB5, Tairiku (continent) in Amethyst Mauve, B nib. I acquired this specific LB5 from Mr. Andy Lambrou (lambroupens.com) at the 2015 LA Pen Show since I fell in love with the material. The broad 21k gold nib is quite springy and gives my writing a little bit of character. The LB5 was made 5mm longer than the Sailor King of Pen and even if the difference is minor in scale, the difference in the hand was quite major. The length and girth of this pen is quite perfect for my hand. Paired with Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst ink. An Amethyst ink for the Amethyst Mauve.
- Edison Pen Custom Huron Pump Filler, Flecked Tortoise, B cursive italic. I’ve always had the flecked tortoise material on my mind ever since Goulet Pens offered the limited edition Edison Nouveau Encore in 2012. At the 2016 LA Pen Show, I finally sat down with Mr. Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Co. (edisonpen.com) and discussed my order from his Signature Line and asked him to make the broad nib into a cursive italic. And after 8 long weeks, it arrived! It’s one of my 2016 purchases that I’m very proud of. Paired with Pelikan 4001 Turquoise ink since April 2016.
- Parker Vacumatic Maxima, Silver Pearl, M nib. Since I started this hobby, I have always loved Parker Vacumatic pens. The fourth generation Vacumatic in Major size was one of the first vintage pens I acquired but it was a little too small for me. At the 2016 SF Pen Show, I’ve set out and purchased my first Vacumatic Maxima at a reasonable price. It has a medium springy nib and perfect for my hand. I’ve had this pen inked up since August 2016 and I use it at work regularly. Paired with Pilot Blue Black.
- TWSBI Eco, Black, M nib. This pen surprisingly became one of my favorite pens within a very short span of time. Ever since I used and reviewed Pam’s TWSBI Eco in August, I’ve had this pen on my mind and just struggled with deciding if I wanted the transparent version, or the black version. I finally decided to get the black version in November and since then, it’s been my daily user pen in tandem with my Pelikan M805 at work. I may, or may not have this nib turned into a cursive italic the next time I see Masuyama-san. Currently paired with Sailor Jentle Yama-Dori ink.
Here’s to more fun with friends and pens in 2017! Happy New Year!!