Fountain Pens Worth Replacing

With all the favorite pens lists from myself and others I decided to look at pens I really value. Not if they are a good value from a financial perspective, fountain pens that I value so much that I would replace with an exact copy it if I lost it. I’m not going to list all my pens, just my favorites and any others that make the cut into the replaceable category. If they aren’t listed here then they aren’t replaceable.

The question is simple: Would I replace the pen exactly as I got it for the same price that I paid? Fountain pen prices change, inflation happens and pens become unavailable. For simplicity I ignore all that. I also assume I only lost that one pen, it’s replacement competes with what I already own and every other fountain pen I could buy. So here goes:

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ink BottleVisconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age: Hell yes, I’d sell a ~kidney~ as many pens as necessary to quickly replace the pen. I’d also pay full list price and any price increase if it was necessary.

Franklin-Christoph Model 66Franklin-Christoph Model 66: Yes, in a heartbeat. I have the basic black model with an extra fine nib. F-C has since released additional acrylics including Antique Glass (aka the Coke bottle pen) which was all the rage this year. Not for me, I’d stick with basic black. The pen is a workhorse and a fixture on my desk.

Sheaffer Balance Aspen with Sheaffer Skrip Gray Ink BottleSheaffer Balance Aspen LE: Yes, if I could. Availability would be a problem since mine was mint. But if I could I would. I have two other Balance IIs with similar nibs which would ease the pain of this loss and keep me from wanting to spend more than what I did pay, or to buy one that’s less than mint. Neither of those other Balance IIs would be automatically replaced if I lost one of them, I like the Aspen just a little more.

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)Pilot Vanishing Points: Mostly yes. I’ll deal with these as a group. I would replace both my XXXF and left oblique nib units if they were lost or damaged. I’d also replace the Cherry Bamboo barrel (which is birchwood, not bamboo) if it was lost. I like the Maplewood but it was a Limited Edition and has a LE price. It was released before the Bamboo models so while I’d want to replace it I’d pick a less expensive variant with a wood barrel.

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE inkEdison Huron Grande: Yes. This was a custom pen (Edison Signature Series) and I’d be tempted to replace it with different material. But after consideration I really like the red, white and blue flecks. It’s a nice contrast to my other desk pen, the F-C Model 66 in formal black. Plus it has a slight translucence so I can see the ink level.

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LESailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe: Yes. This was a tough decision because it’s an expensive pen. I had a Sailor extra fine nib installed when I purchased the pen. This isn’t a factory option so replacement wouldn’t necessarily be easy. The nib would be a key in the pen replacement. It’s a fairly stiff nib that writes great and works well with the pen in my hand. This is one of the thinnest nibs that I have in a pen that I find suitable for very, very long writing sessions.

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann extra fine nib with Montblanc Bordeaux writing samplePelikan M805 Stresemann: Yes. This is a past member of my favorite 5 list. The nib got it kicked off the list. Even so, the M800/M805 size is perfect for me. I would check the secondary market and try to avoid paying the same price but eventually I would give in and replace it at the same price. As for the nib – I plan to have it slimmed down at a pen show in 2016. It’s not a bad nib so I think the best course of action is to have a discussion about it rather than send it off with instructions. Any replacement would probably get the same treatment. Another M805 design wouldn’t be a suitable replacement, this is it.

Edison Menlo Punp Filler with Montblanc Toffee Brown bottleEdison Menlo: Yes. This was another tough choice. I have to admit, if I actually lost his pen I may prove to be a liar and not replace it. It’s a Edison Signature Line pen with a unique filling system which means it’s pricey. But I like the large ink capacity and it’s a good size for my hand. So it made the list. Like the Huron Grande it’s a custom pen and I could change the acrylic. I’m more likely to do it with this pen but I do really like the cinnamon acrylic and would probably keep it.

Lamy 2000: No. I got this at a significant discount but did need to have the nib tuned. Even so, I still spent less than typical retail. I have a tendency to rotate this pen when writing (more than other pens) and this nib has a very small sweet spot. Sometimes I’m “in the zone” and it’s a great writing experience. Other times I find myself fighting with the pen. It’s those fights that would keep me from replacing the pen. I have too many other choices. I listed this one because it started off as a “yes” but then I realized that while I might replace it at the same low price that I originally paid, I wouldn’t go looking for it and I might skip the deal if I had my eyes on another pen or no money in the pen budget.

Pilot Custom 823: No. This is one of my favorite five modern fountain pens yet I wouldn’t replace it if I lost it. The pen is comfortable and I love the way it writes. But it’s expensive and I now have comparable pens that I find more aesthetically pleasing. I would consider a model with a different color and trim, if it existed.

History

I’ve only lost one fountain pen that I tried replacing. It was a Bexley Submariner (not the Grande) in a speckled orange acrylic that I lost years ago. I spent some time looking for a replacement because I really liked that pen but it was out of production by then. At the time I had far fewer fountain pens and wouldn’t buy one today if it became available (unless the price was right and a wave of nostalgia washed over me). I also misplaced (for a couple years) a yellow Lamy Safari. Since I had other Safaris I didn’t consider replacing it.

Wrapping Up

I was a bit surprised that I only came up with eight or nine fountain pens (depending whether or not the second VP nib unit counts as it’s own pen) that I would replace out of the 150 or so in my accumulation. I’m not sure what it means. Bad choices? Maybe, in some cases yes, but mostly I think not.

I hate repeating myself or doing things a second time, so buying the exact pen a second time goes against the grain. My tendency is to change things up, even just a little. So from that point of view finding as many as 8 surprised me a bit. I guess I’ve come up with my next favorites list or my core group of fountain pens. If I’m willing, even eager, to buy the exact same thing all over again I must like it.

Ink and Pen Notes: Pilot Vanishing Point with Pilot Black

Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood XXXF nibThis pen and ink combo is a quiet but consistent worker for me. Actually, it’s the Vanishing Point XXXF nib and Pilot black ink (in a cartridge) that’s quiet and consistent. The barrel is interchangeable. It was inked up back on September 18th and I wrote it dry on Sunday. So it was just shy of four months of use. While it started and ended in the Maplewood barrel it did spend some time in the Red Bamboo barrel for variety. It’s one of the things I like about the Vanishing Points, the nibs are easily (and cleanly) swapped while inked.

I like using cartridges in the Vanishing Points since they have more capacity than the converters and are easy to handle. Since I’m not a fan of re-using cartridges this means I use Pilot ink. I like Pilot ink so this isn’t a problem at all. The black ink shows up nicely with the thin XXXF nib.

The pen performed perfectly over the four months it was in the pen. No skipping or hard starts. It was mainly a shirt pocket carry and was used for quick notes which explains the four months of use.

Even after four months there wasn’t any staining and the pen was easily flushed.

I’ve done this combination before so the pictures are repeats since my schedule and the weather didn’t cooperate for natural light photos.

Sunday Notes and Links – January 17, 2016

What I Used

Thirteen fountain pens inked up as the year beginsAnother week with very low fountain pen usage on my part. I think I missed a day using the Visconti Homo Sapien so I can no longer say I’ve used the pen every day since getting it. I stopped carrying it in order to give other pens a shot, intending to use it evenings. But I didn’t write every evening so it went unused. No favorite this week since I tried mixing up my carry every day. I picked a different three pens to carry each day.

What Others Use

Jon Bemis used a dozen fountain pens over a two week period during some negotiations. (Guest post on The Pen Addict)

Dr. Deans, at Pen Economist, wrote about capping your collection and at the bottom of the article he lists his current collection (capped at 10 fountain pens). I’ve debated capping my collection but I can’t bring myself to do it. I use a pen and like it enough so I decide not to sell it. I do have pens that make me happier than others and I will use these more than others. I’ve carefully avoided declaring an arbitrary buying moratorium but I suspect there will be a high hurdle to get over for me to add new pens this year. As Dr. Deans mentions, the value of new pens has declined for me. So maybe a cap isn’t out of the question.

Heidi started using a 2016 Hobonichi Techo and tells us How I use my Hobonichi Techo [via @dowdyism]

Joe, The Gentleman Stationer, shares his 5 favorite fountain pen inks for everyday writing. Couldn’t agree more with Sheaffer Skrip Red and Pilot Blue-Black. I can’t argue with Waterman either, except blue isn’t a color for me. I can’t argue with the others either, I like them but they aren’t everyday inks for me.

Mary at From the Pen Cup, also started with the 2016 Hobonichi Techo and shares A Practice: My Hobonichi Techo. I’ve ben recording the daily weather on the daily page. But Mary uses the monthly index pages for that purpose. I use those index pages to keep track of habits or daily goals (fun to see a unbroken streak) but I don’t use the monthly calendar pages at all and those seem ideal for the weather summary.

Website Spotlight

This week’s website in the spotlight is The Pen Addict. This is a little bit like the president of the local model rocketry club telling people they should visit the NASA website. You probably already know about it and visit it regularly. But still, I shouldn’t ignore it for that reason.

It’s worth mentioning now for a couple of reasons. First, Brad just updated his Top 5 lists. Second, Brad just started a Pen Addict membership to support the site. Although, if you don’t currently visit the site regularly then the membership wouldn’t appeal to you, but it does mean Brad will be spending more time and attention on the site. So, if you haven’t visited the site in awhile it’s worth visiting to see what’s new. Some changes are not so new such as regular contributions from a couple of writers (Susan & Jeff) along with frequent guest posts.

My only complaint is that he wastes time also writes about pencils, rollerballs, gel pens and other non-fountain pen topics.

Pen Shows & Other News

For those of you in the latest Edison Pens group buy, there was an update. It’s getting close!

The pens show season kicks off in the U.S with the Philadelphia Pen Show at the end of this week, January 23 and 24. Website.

Pen shows kick off in Europe a week from today with the Southwest Pen Show in the UK on January 24th.

Fountain Pen Contentment

Pens new to me in 2015 that upped my fountain pen enjoymentIf I had to pick one word to describe my feelings towards fountain pens as 2015 ended and 2016 kicked off it would be contentment. I am happy and satisfied with the fountain pens that I’ve been using. I see a lot of shiny new pens and my first impulse is to add them to my want list. Then I think about which of my currently inked pens it could replace (never mind all my un-inked ones). The answer is typically “none”. I began the year with thirteen fountain pens inked and there’s only one I don’t yearn to use every day, and even that one is pretty good.

My pen acquisitions have been trending down the last couple of years and only 11 fountain pens were added to my accumulation this year. Fifteen fountain pens left my accumulation, so not all pens contribute to my contentment and move on. But of the 11 I added, only two don’t make me smile when I use them. It’s a lot easier to avoid impulse purchases when I have so many good pens to chose from and can only use one fountain pen at a time. (Maybe I need to learn to write with both hands at once so I can use them twice as fast.)

The highlight of course (for regular readers) is my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze age which I’ve used every day since it arrived. I’ve used it so much that it requires a weekly refill which is rare for me, even for a pen with a smallish capacity.

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo on my Roterfaden TaschenbegleiterI’ve always liked Pilot Vanishing Points but the wooden VPs brought them to a whole new level. The Maplewood was my first wooden Vanishing Point and this triggered a sell-off all but one of my metal VPs after it arrived last year. This year I picked up a second wooden VP, the Cherry Bamboo (made of birchwood despite the name). The pen is gorgeous. I took a leap and purchased it with a left oblique nib. A nib grind that I like and also seemed like a good choice for the VP based on how I grip it. I was right. While not an everyday writer for me (the nib is too wide for that) the nib and pen are a joy to use. It’s currently un-inked, but I miss it.

The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe had the distinction of being on my want list for years. I finally pulled the trigger but again got a non-stock nib (stock for Sailor, but not for this pen). The Sailor extra fine nib is a thin, firm nib that I like. Another pen that makes me smile when I use it.

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite on a Pelle coverThe Pelikan M805 Stresemann caused a stir when it was announced although the excitement seems to have faded away and some quickly appeared on the secondary market. I’m still excited about it and love the appearance. I’m less enamored with the so-called extra fine nib. Ignoring the fact that it’s too wide for an extra fine it’s a great smooth writer and the perfect size for my hand. Another pen that makes me smile, although the smile will be bigger once I have the nib slimmed down at a pen show.

Two Franklin-Christoph Model 20s joined my accumulation. I like the vintage look and feel of the pens. While being nothing like my Esterbrooks they still remind me of the Esterbrooks. I place these just below the above four pens on my contentment scale. I really enjoy them but they are new so I realize they may grow less satisfying over time or be replaced by other fountain pens.

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As for the other additions to my acquisition this year – I like them all and only one isn’t a solid keeper. But they are interchangeable with other pens in my accumulation when it comes to picking a pen to ink up. They’ll see ink, but they don’t make me rush to write other pens dry so I can get to them.

Usage Patterns

This year I tried to make a concentrated effort to use a fountain pen until I wrote it dry. I stuck to it successfully. I didn’t want to suffer through a bad writing experience just to meet an arbitrary goal, so there were a few exceptions for pens & inks that didn’t work well together. But the vast majority of pens stayed inked until they went dry.

This did affect my selection of fountain pens. I inked fewer pens at the same time. With fewer fountain pens inked up I picked pens & ink that I knew I would enjoy over time. After all, it’s easier to write a pen dry when I enjoy writing with it.

This does cause a couple of dilemmas for 2016. First, I can see myself gravitating to a core five or six fountain pens. This leaves another 140 or so pens competing for just a couple other slots each month. Clearly a lot of fountain pens in my accumulation will go unused over the course of the year. The second dilemma is that I enjoy having all these pens to choose from, yet I occasionally feel guilty if I stick with a select few. I suspect my days of inking up so many pens at one time and writing them dry are numbered. We’ll see how it goes.

The Year Ahead.

I do have an Edison Extended Mina coming my way, but that could be all for the year in the way of brand new new pens. The only thing on my fountain pen wish list is a wish for a custom pen that can take Esterbrook nibs. The Esterbrook J is a little too thin and light for me to use comfortably for a long writing session, but I sure do like the nibs. There’s no existing or announced fountain pen that appeals to me as something that would enhance my accumulation.

It looks like 2016 will be a year of pen shows for me, with four potential shows on my calendar. So while there aren’t any new pens on my wish list I suspect at least a couple will find their way home with me from the shows. Atlanta and Washington DC will be the two big shows for me. Atlanta may not be big when compared to Washington DC or LA, but it will be a Pen Addict party which will attract a lot of folks and opportunities to meet, greet and learn. I’ve already made the hotel reservations. (FYI – I was able to get a better rate than what was advertised as the show rate.).

The big show, by anyone’s definition, will be Washington DC in August. I haven’t been to that one in a couple of years, so it’s time to go back. It’s too early to make specific plans, but I’m looking forward to going.

Then there’s a couple of smaller local shows, Long Island in March and Boston in September. Both are easy day trips for me so I can usually go.

If I add a pen to my accumulation this year it has to provide something I don’t have or I need to have a reasonable expectation it can become a regular in my rotation. This makes pen shows the perfect opportunity to try before I buy. Being content with the pens I have could make pen shows even more enjoyable since I won’t be equating success with acquisitions. While I don’t have any specific plans to reduce my accumulation it will probably be a good idea to sell of a few pens to finance my pen show trips. I’ll have to see where that leads, I hate parting with my pens.

But mainly, I’ll just enjoy using my fountain pens.

Ink and Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age and Montblanc Bordeaux

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ink BottleI put Montblanc Boirdeaux in my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age back on December 17th. I wrote it dry several times since then, refilling it about once every calendar week, sometimes in less than seven days, sometimes in more than seven days. I decided it was time to try a different ink. I like to try different inks in my new pens and this one is barely a month old, so when it went dry this past Friday I decided to flush it out and pick a different ink.

This fountain pen, with its extra fine nib, and ink combination can be described with one word – TERRIFIC! The Visconti has been used daily since I got it and it’s easily my current favorite. Montblanc Bordeaux is my long time favorite ink. This was a case of 1 + 1 = 3. The nib puts down enough ink to highlight the Bordeaux color but doesn’t gush ink. It wrote without skipping or hard starts right up until it went dry.

Cleaning the pen was quick and easy. Almost too quick for a pen that can’t be flushed by forcing water through it. I planned to immediately re-ink it and the Montblanc ink isn’t harsh so I wasn’t worried about removing every trace, yet the water water perfectly clear within a couple of minutes. I did hold the nib in the ultrasonic for a couple of minutes as some ink had dried at the top of the feed where it enters the section.

I let the pen site in a paper towel for a hour or so then filled it with Iroshizuku Fuyu-shogun, a past favorite but one that hasn’t been used in awhile.

As the photos show, the feed seems to be slightly misaligned with the nib. But since this hasn’t affected the writing and I don’t notice it when I’m using the pen I’ve left it alone. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

I could easily dedicate my remaining Montblanc Bordeaux stash to this pen, but I’ll let some other inks enjoy this pen.

Sunday Notes – January 10, 2016

What I Used

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc BordeauxIt as a slow week when it came to using fountain pens. I kept my streak going and used the Visconti Bronze Age every day. Although considering it lasted well over a week on it’s fill, only going dry on Saturday. I used it considerably less than previous weeks. It’s still my favorite. I can’t really pick a second place favorite as I tried to spread what little writing that I did among all my inked pens.

I’ve also continued to write in my Hobonichi every day. While I don’t necessarily like matching pens & notebooks, in this case I’ve been alternating entries with my two desk pens. The F-C Model 66 for blue-black and the Edison Huron Grande when I want the red of Montblanc Bordeaux.

What Others Are Using

“Where’ve you been, Mike?” ~ Inkdependence!

Mike shows us his Christmas stuff.

My Vintage Parker 61 Jet Flighter Fountain Pen Experience — The Clicky Post

Mike (a different Mike) tells up about his vintage pen experience.

Stationery at My Wedding | All Things Stationery

While I’d stop short of calling it a stationery themed wedding, Tessa certainly did go all out when incorporating it into her wedding. She can be forgiven for only including one fountain pen.

EDC Show & Tell, January 2016 — The Purl Bug

With only three fountain pens Amanda is is showing excessive restraint and logic.

New Year, New Loadout — Ink&Flour

BW is also showing excessive restraint and logic and carrying three fountain pen.

Top Ten Pens 2015 | Leigh Reyes. My Life As a Verb.

Leigh shares her top 10 fountain pens of 2015 several of which get regular use.

Website Spotlight

This week’s website spotlight shines on Too Many Inks, at least that’s what it’s called at the moment. There’s been a few other iterations and this is the fourth name.

Obsessive/compulsive (in a good way) collector of fountain pens and inks. David mainly collects Pelikan fountain pens and his ink currently totals 309 bottles.

He regularly posts his pens/inks as he loads them up and uses a database to manage the rotation to make sure he keeps a good mix of pens and inks.

Since I like seeing what other people use this site is a regular for me since the vast majority of posts is what he’s using. And since he inks & flushes to a schedule there’s always something new to see.

Pen Shows & Other News

A new M800 from Pelikan is just around the corner, and it’s a looker. Josh later tweeted, and updated the post to say that it appears that this pen will only be released in the United States and one other (currently unknown country). My guess, completely uninformed, is that the second country is Belgium based on the name of the pen. This is a Special Edition and pre-orders are about $680 from US retailers.

The pens show season kicks off with the Philadelphia Pen Show in less than two weeks, January 23 and 24. Website

Looking for Links?

With the revised format for my Sunday post there’s far fewer links than I had in the past. If you still want to get your link fix I’d recommend these sites which publish regular link posts. There are other sites that post links, but I think of these two as the ones with both a regular schedule and a large number and variety of links in each post.

On Fountain PensSunday Inklings every other Sunday.

The Well-Appointed Desk publishes Link Love every Wednesday.

Lastly, thanks to automation, most of what I read gets pushed out to Fountain Pen Links as a link, so if you want a firehose of links it’s there.

Sunday Notes

My Sunday Notes and Links post is taking on a new format as the year begins. There will be fewer links so I removed the word from the name. If you have an opinion or suggestion (constructive please) let me know in the comments.

What I Used

Parker Vacumatic Maxima with Montblanc Albert Einstein. Second favorite pen/ink on January 3, 2016

This week’s second favorite fountain pen and ink

I’m as tired of writing that my Visconti Bronze Age is my favorite pen as you are of reading it. It’s still my favorite and the only one I used every day. My second favorite fountain pen/ink of the week is my Parker Vacumatic Maxima (c.1942) with Montblanc Albert Einstein. Its firm fine nib is a nice contrast to the Visconti.

With it being relatively slow this time of year I used my fountain pens a lot less than the previous week. Not helping is the fact that I have several written drafts of posts already done and have been typing them up, leaving less time for hand writing. That said, I did find time to use the Visconti every day and I forced myself to use other pens at least some of the times. I did give each of my currently inked pens a short workout.

I finished off my 2015 Hobonichi and started my 2016 copy. Two days into the year (it’s really early Sunday so it doesn’t count yet) and I filled both pages. I’m using it as a journal and not a planner.

I’m using an Agendio as a paper planner. I’m only a week in (it started last Monday) but I’m off to a rough start. I’m not a paper planner person so it will take some getting used to.

What Others Used

Used versus Un-used pocket notebooks – The Finer Point

Jenny at The Finer Point writes about pocket notebooks she’s used, along with the ones she hasn’t. Guess which she has more of? Even though I haven’t counted mine, I know I share the same addiction.

Short List Of Time-Tested Inks | An Inkophile’s Blog

Margana shares the inks she’s used the longest, some for more than 10 years. If I was to put together a similar list I think Montblanc Bordeaux would be the only one on it.

TWSBI Vac 700 Review – The Pen Haul

Cody reviews a fountain pen he’s been using for months.

Moving Into My Hobonichi Techo 2016 | The Well-Appointed Desk

Ana is setting up the planner that she’ll use for the year.

The Frugal Fountain Pen: My New Traveler’s Notebook

Tony made his own traveler’s notebook.

What others have inked up

Paul from Gorgeous.Ink has six pens inked.

Cody (from The Pen Haul) tells us his Christmas carry, which does include that Vac 700.

Website Spotlight

Each Sunday I hope to highlight a website I enjoy ready. The inaugural choice is On Fountain Pens. Singapore has a surprisingly (to me) large and active fountain pen community which includes Maybelline. A lot of pen reviews, stationery reviews and other information are at the site.

I picked her site for this week because she’s wrapping up her 12 Days of Christmas guest posts. All are worth reading, but Fountain Pen Inks and Bleach by Nick Stewart was a unique read. Oh yea, and the artwork is really cool.

Pen Shows & Other News

The pens show season kicks off with the Philadelphia Pen Show in a couple of weeks, January 23 and 24. Website

NASA is excited (and so am I) that the USPS will have a slew of space themed postage stamps in 2016. If space doesn’t excite you then USPS previews many of it’s 2016 stamps here.

Looking for Links?

If you still want to get your link fix I’d recommend these sites which publish regular link posts. There are other sites that post links, but I think of these two as the ones with both a regular schedule and a large number and variety of links in each post.

On Fountain PensSunday Inklings every other Sunday.

The Well-Appointed Desk publishes Link Love every Wednesday.

Lastly, thanks to automation, most of what I read gets pushed out to Fountain Pen Links as a link post, so if you want a firehose of links it’s there.