Favorite 5: Modern Pens

It’s been a little over six months since I first picked my Favorite 5 modern fountain pens, vintage fountain pens, and inks. In looking over those lists I find that only the Modern Pens list has significant changes, with four pens bumped off the list. In my defense, all 4 replacements are new since I published the first list. The Vintage pens and ink lists are holding up so there’s no need to update those lists.

1. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 not posted

The Pilot Custom 823 has the classic cigar shape that I love. The large 14K gold nib has enough spring to add to my writing enjoyment without making me feel like its talents are completely wasted on me. It’s a large pen but light and seems custom designed for my hand. Add its large ink capacity and it defines a perfect pen for me. Here’s my review.

2. Franklin-Christoph Model 66

Franklin-Christoph Model 66

The F-C Model 66 is the only holdover from my first Fav 5 list. As I said then: The design is simple, but it fits my hand perfectly and it’s a great writer. Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz is my ink of choice for this pen which I converted to an eyedropper filler. The pen wrote consistently well for over a year without needing a cleaning. I just kept topping off the ink supply. It was a strong contender for the top position but didn’t quit make it. My review is here

3. Pelikan M101N “Lizard” SE

photo of the uncapped Pelikan M101N Lizard uncappedA new acquisition that seems like it should be too small for me to appreciate. It’s one of the few pens I regularly use posted, which should also be a strike against it. Despite these two strikes I love this pen, I writes great. Here’s my review.

4. Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood

photo of the Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood Limited EditionThe Vanishing Points almost made the list the last time, but I wasn’t using them enough. While practical, the metal bodies weren’t all that comfortable during extended writing sessions. That all changed with the Maplewood Edition. No review yet.

5. Kaweco AL Sport Raw Aluminum

Kaweco AL Sport Raw Aluminim postedThis pen made the list simply because it’s used so much. It gets carried every day and used nearly every day, even if only for short notes. The raw aluminum has been banged up a bit since it’s a pocket carry but that gives the pen character. There’s a converter available but I’ve stuck to cartridges since they hold more ink. It’s reviewed here.


Wrapping Up

I’m pretty fickle when it comes to fountain pens. The ones I like the most tend to be the ones I’m using or used most recently. So I’m sure this list will be different in six months, but for now these are solidly in the top five.


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Time to Thin the Accumulation

It’s time to start thinning the fountain pen accumulation and make room for new acquisitions. I bought these pens to use and now I have too many to use regularly. So some have to go. I’m starting with the Bexleys in this post. Full details are on my Pens For Sale page and there’s more photos in this Flickr gallery.

All except the America the Beautiful have been sold (4th pen from the left)

tray of Bexley pens

tray of Bexley pens

tray of Bexley pens


All the Bexley pens were purchased from Richard Binder and had the nib “binderized” (tuned) before shipping. None of the pens in this post include a box or paperwork. All include a convertor.

Shipping in the U.S. is $6 per order (no matter how many pens in the shipment). You can contact me for international shipping costs. You can use the contact form on the for sale page or email me at ray [at] fpquest.com.

Bexley Poseidon Magnum in Duofold Red with a medium steel nib sold

The pen was purchased in 2011, was lightly used, and is in excellent condition with a smooth nib.The convertor is included. The clip and trim are gold.

Bexley Intrepid in Mandarin Yellow with a fine steel nib Sold

This pen was purchased in 2011 and is in excellent condition with a smooth nib. The convertor is included. The clip and trim are gold.

Bexley Imperial in Red/Black Ebonite with a fine steel nib Sold

This pen was purchased in 2012 and is excellent condition with a smooth nib. The convertor is included. The clip is gold. The pen does post securely so if you must post your pens this one isn’t for you.

Bexley America the Beautiful in black with a stub 18 kt gold nib $160

The pen was purchased in 2005 but lightly used and is in excellent condition. The nib is a factory stub and the convertor is included. The ball clip allows it to slide easily over material. Both the clip and trim are gold.

Bexley 2007 Owners Club in Mahogany Ebonite with a medium18 kt gold nib Sold

The pen was purchased in 2007 and is in excellent condition. The pen has silver trim on the dark ebonite and is engraved 063 on the section. The convertor is included. The ball clip allows it to slide easily over material.

Bexley 2007 Owners Club in Amber Ebonite with a stub18 kt gold nib Sold

The pen was purchased in 2007 and is in excellent condition. The pen has gold trim on the woodgrain-like ebonite and is engraved 063 on the section. It’s a factory stub two-tone nib and the convertor is included. The ball clip allows it to slide easily over material.


Look Out! There’s a New Podcast In Town

A recent Pen Addict podcast mentioned a new podcast had appeared on the scene. it wasn’t fountain pen (or even pen) related. While I usually enjoy non-fountain pen discussions on the Pen Addict I’m not drawn to try anything out  So I figured I was safe when I listened to the Erasable Podcast. it was dedicated to wooden pencils and my last memory of using them was of #2 pencils to fill in ovals while taking a test. Not exactly exiting, so I figured I was safe.

I was wrong. Unfortunately what I find interesting about fountain pens (and other tech with a long history) is evident in wooden pencils. According to Wikipedia, wood case pencils date to about 1560 and technology developed in the late 1700s is still used to make the pencil lead (or actually a granite/clay mixture, not lead). My type of technology.

I was hooked. I listened to the podcast while on a drive home and decided to stop into the local Staples. True to my compulsive nature I left with the following…

Photo of my first pencil purchases

Not exactly every wood case pencil they had, but close. There is one benefit to pencils – this batch, plus a sharpener and a large Dunkin’ Donuts coffee all cost less than a bottle of Iroshizuku that’s on sale.

The pencils available were mostly Ticonderoga so I got one pack of every grade available along with the Staples house brand. The black Staedtler Noricas were in a $5 bin and looked sharp. Even though 36 pencils was far more than I ever expect to use I picked up a pack.

I’m using one of the Staedtlers to write the draft of this article. It’s not a fountain pen but there does seem to be an obsession brewing. I recommend the podcast, but you’ve been warned.

Long Island Pen Show This Weekend

Photo of my pen show haul

2013 Long Island Pen Show haul

The Long Island Pen show is just hours aways, scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Last year’s LI pen show was my first ever and I recapped it here.

I’m still debating whether to attend Saturday or Sunday. It’ll probably be Saturday morning.

I don’t really have a list for this year’s show although I’m sure I won’t walk away empty. I don’t need ink, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get any. I’ll look to see if I can add any Esterbrook nibs missing from my collection.  I just realized my first Esterbrook at last year’s LI show (from Anderson Pens) so I’ve only known of them for a year. Seems longer.

I went through my pens to see if there’s any that I’d want to visit Richard Binder so they could get some nib work, but haven’t come across any. I want to see the Visconti Wall Streets but they’re way above my current budget so I’ll just be window shopping.

If I remember right, last year was slightly more vintage than modern so there will be plenty for me to browse.

You going to the show?


Writing Until Dry

Kaweco AL Sport Raw Aluminim nibI hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I used a fountain pen until it went dry. Typically after month or so I flush out a pen and with so many pens inked I rarely wrote one dry. In fact, I can’t remember when that was. That’s been changing recently and for some unknown reason it feels good to empty a pen of ink. In fact, four went empty this past week.

My new policy is that I don’t flush a pen just because a month is up. If it’s not a special ink (like iron gall or highly saturated) I won’t flush it unless the pen is hard to start or has other problems. The ink stays as long as it keeps flowing to my satisfaction. I do use all inked pens at least once a week, if only for a sentence or two.

I always carry my Kaweco AL-Sport although the fact that the cartridge lasted over 3 months means I don’t use it all that often. Seems like I do, but that thin nib conserves ink. I like carrying the pen, so it got a quick cleaning then immediately loaded with a Visconti Brown cartridge.

While the Kaweco stayed inked I have lowered my inked pen count. Of the pens inked last week, shown below, three went dry while I used them and a fourth needed to be flushed as it didn’t seem to like the ink.

Pens inked for the week (and more) aheadThe Sheaffer Balance II Aspen, first on the left, was the first to go. I only filled the converter about half way and once I started writing it was hard to stop.

The second Sheaffer Balance, this one the vintage one in Carmine Red (4th from right), went dry later the same day and know of my pens had Montblanc Bordeaux. I resisted the urge to ink one up.

The Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood (3rd from right) went dry Saturday, four days short of three months. No problems at all in those three months. The medium nib wrote perfectly every time.

The TWSBI Micarta was the only pen I had to flush vast quantities of ink. The Cult Pens Deep Dark Green didn’t get along with the ultra fine nib. After sitting overnight the pen needed a great deal of coaxing to write. The dried ink was visible at the tip of the nib but it needed more than a little dab of water to get going. I’ll use Waterman next to see if it’s the pen or the ink. If Waterman has the issue then it’s the pen.

The Platinum 3776 Ribbed will probably be next to go, although that ultra fine nib may make what little ink remains last a long time.

Do you usually write your pens dry or do you flush them out after awhile even if they still have ink?