Favorite 5: Modern Fountain Pens

It’s been over 6 months so it’s time for me to update my Favorite 5 lists, starting with my Favorite 5 Modern Fountain Pens. The rules are the same as when I lasted updated the favorite 5 modern pens list in May. First, the fountain pen has to have been used since the last list update. Second, to be a modern fountain pen it has to have been manufactured after I was born. So in my accumulation that puts the Sheaffer PFM I’s in the transition period and I classify those as vintage since they were probably manufactured before I was born. One of them could have been used to sign my birth certificate, none of the ones listed here could have.

I dropped two pens from May’s list. None of my KarasKustoms Inks have been used since May, so they’re off the list. This surprised me but it was undeniable. The Pelikan M805 Stresemann also left the list and this was a tough decision as it’s been continuously inked since I got it. My recent ink notes cover the reasons why. In short –  I just can’t get past the width of the nib. I go back and forth about getting it ground to either a truer extra fine or even a left oblique. I’m now leaning towards getting it ground and if I did it would probably return to the list.

This is a strictly personal list, I’m not claiming these are the best modern fountain pens, but they are my favorite. On to the pens…

1. Sheaffer Balance Aspen SE

Sheaffer Balance Aspen LE medium nib with Montblanc Permanent Grey ink bottle

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen enters its second year as my favorite fountain pen. It’s gorgeous and has a terrific nib. (I did have to have a problematic feed fixed by Mike Masuyama and the nib was tuned at the same time.) Even though it’s officially a medium nib, it’s a very thin medium. Review

2. Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo (Left Oblique nib)

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)

This is a new addition to my accumulation and debuts as my second favorite modern fountain pen. While the red bamboo isn’t really bamboo (and not called bamboo in some markets) I can get past that because the pen is gorgeous and feels comfortable in my hand. I enjoy the warm feel of the wooden Vanishing Points over the cold metal versions. The left oblique nib is perfectly suited to the grip of the Vanishing Point, at least for me.

The pen has that new pen glow and the nib benefits from being uncommon in my collection (except for some Easterbrook nibs). This helped it make the list but it’s still a solid choice. This Just In article

3. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 not posted

The Pilot Custom 823 dropped a spot but it is a solid member of my Fav 5 list. I like the classic cigar shape which is comfortable in my hand. The rest of the design is just “meh” for me and I am getting tired of it. Even though I like brown I’m not a fan of colored demonstrators or gold trim, which pretty much describes this pen. Yet, when I use the pen I forget all that and just enjoy it. The fine nib is a Japanese (read: thin) fine with some spring to it, making it a soft touch. This provides a nearly perfect writing experience. Review

4. Edison Huron Grande

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink

This is my only custom pen. It’s huge and hold about 5 ml of ink. It’s big and bright with a extra fine nib. It’s too big to be a regular carry, but it’s usually at my desk filled with one of my favorite inks. This Just In article

5. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Another new fountain pen that made the list. The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe joined my accumulation back in July. It’s heavier than my first Pro Gear which is a plus in my book. The thin line of the extra fine nib limits the inks I can use since with my aging eyes the ink has to be dark enough for me to see. Even so, I would not change the nib.

The new pen glow helped this pen make the list. I have to admit its hold on the #5 slot is tenuous and it may be replaced by one of the runners up.

Wrapping Up

There were a couple fountain pens that were close runner ups. The Franklin-Christoph Model 20 was a strong contender, especially the one with the stub nib. The Regency Stripe beat it out because while all these are unlinked, I’m most anxious to ink up the Regency Stripe.

I have two more Sheaffer Balance IIs, either of which could have made the list. They are the same as the Aspen except for the acrylic. They all share the thin medium nib that I like.

Every time I compile this list I wonder why I have 150 fountain pens in my accumulation. If I can pick 5 I should be able to get down to a dozen or so. Nah!

Ink & Pen Notes: Kaweco Brass Sport and Kaweco Red

Kaweco Brass Sport in pen loop

I put the Kaweco Red ink cartridge in my Kaweco Brass Sport way back on July 25th, so it took about 3 1/2 months to write dry. This is only the second ink for the pen since I got it.

I like the Kaweco Sport design in general. I really like the Brass Sport. The extra weight and the patina the brass is developing only serve to enhance the pen in my opinion.

The pen doesn’t get much use, even if it is in my pocket every day. Red ink seemed suitable for this pen. I usually have at least one full size pen with me so this gives me an easy to carry pen suitable for marking up other documents. It does mean the ink leaves the pen slowly.

There was a surprising lack of ink in the cap despite all the time spent bouncing around in my pocket and computer bag. I also like carrying it with my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter.

The Kaweco Brass Sport performed well, no hard starts or skipping even when it was unused for over a week. Cleaning was quick and easy, even after nearly four months with red ink in it.

The Kaweco Brass Sport will be returned to the pen case. Of my three Kaweco Sports it will probably be used the most, but it’s time for a little break.

Ink & Pen Notes: Sheaffer Balance Aspen and Sailor Skrip Gray

Sheaffer Balance Aspen with Sheaffer Skrip Gray Ink Bottle

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen sits solidly atop my favorite 5 modern fountain pens list. The pen has been inked up nearly every day since I got it. Well, more truthfully, every day since I had the feed problem fixed by Mike Masuyama.

Montblanc Permanent Grey is typically my ink of choice for this pen but I decided to change it up a bit this time. I picked Sheaffer Skrip Gray (the old Burgundy bottle version) back on September 19th. It did take awhile to write it dry this time.

I didn’t like the Sheaffer Skrip Gray anywhere near as much as the Montblanc Permanent Grey. I do like gray ink in general and the color of Sheaffer Gray is fine. It’s not great, it doesn’t have much character, but it’s fine. The performance varied based on the paper. It performed really well on Tomoe River paper and provided a very nice writing experience. It was less enjoyable on Doane Paper which is what I typically use. The ink seemed to provide less lubrication and the nib seemed to drag on the paper. This explains why it took so long to write dry, it wasn’t a good choice for my most common paper.

This pen also lasts longer because it’s the one fountain pen I have that I won’t carry out of the house. It’s a beautiful pen but has a reputation of being fragile. So I use it around the house. Even there I keep in in a single pen case that has hard sides.

I do plan to ink the Sheaffer Balance Aspen up again very soon but I did decide to clean it out which was fast and easy. I’m undecided on the next ink but will be one of my favorites I may return to Montblanc Permanent Gray or may switch to Montblanc Bordeaux.

Ink & Pen Notes: Pelikan M805 Stresemann with Montblanc Bordeaux

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann extra fine nib with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

The Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite made it to my Favorite 5 Modern Pens list back in May when it still had that new pen glow. Montblanc Bordeaux has topped my favorite inks list since I first created a favorite inks list.

This combination has all the ingredients to be a blockbuster, a pen I can’t put down. Yet, I inked the pen up back on July 17th and it took nearly four months to write the pen dry. While it does hold a lot of ink, four months to write dry makes me question its choice as a fav 5 pen.

When I’m using the Stresemann I love it. It’s a great looking pen and it’s a fine writer. Well, not really fine, more like medium despite Pelikan calling this an extra fine nib. And that’s the problem my brain has with this pen. I struggle with this being a wide extra fine nib. I can’t use it in the same ways I use my other extra fine nibs. But when I use it for long writing sessions, where I sometimes use a medium, or even wider, nib I enjoy it very much.

Despite being inked for nearly four months the pen was extremely easy to flush out. It took considerably less time and water to clean than the Conway Stewart I cleaned out at the same time.

I’ll be returning the Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite to the pen case, at least for a little while. As for the Montblanc Bordeaux, I still have a pen inked up with it.

Sunday Notes and Links

Edison Huson Grande Favorite Fountain Pen - October 31, 2015 with Montblanc Boardeaux inside

I didn’t really have a favorite pen and ink this week. The Sailor Pro Gear lost its chance due to a leaky converter. My F-C Model 66 was a contender until it burped ink on the page. My most used was my Conway Stewart FPH 60th Anniversary pen. I wrote it dry and will be reviewing it soon. It doesn’t make it to favorite status because it too was problematic, requiring me to prime the feed a couple of times. If I was forced to pick a favorite among my currently inked pens it would be the Edison Huron Grande (again). I didn’t use it very often this past week, but it does look good sitting on my desk.

If you missed it – I’m running a giveaway. You have until month’s end to enter but since entry requires snail mail don’t wait to long.

Cult Pens is having their annual pens for kids event. Full details are at the link but it’s worth pointing out you will be charged shipping, but if all you have is the donation and use a credit/debit card then the shipping will be refunded.

Some links of interest…

Tale of a Vandal Pen Repairer: Namiki Inset Nib – Peaceable Writer // Some pens are worth fixing

Refining my pen collecting focus — TooManyInks // This concept is foreign to me.

Pilot Vanishing Point Review – The Pen Haul

Buying From a Local Online Retailer – Pens! Paper! Pencils! // Mainly a UK perspective but it could apply to other countries too. I’m lucky being in the U.S., both because of the local (read that as in the US) retailers and that import taxes and fees are minimal. I’ve never paid any import fees or taxes when ordering from overseas retailers.

Review: Moleskine Soft Cover XL Plain – The Well-Appointed Desk // I’m not a Moleskine fan, but it sounds like the paper is improving. Unless it’s just this model.

Review: Franklin Christoph Model 66 Stabilis — Alt. Haven // A review of the pen with a Ice acrylic and an extra fine nib.

TWSBI Diamond 580RB – EF Nib — The Finer Point // Review of a pen that stood the test of time and is one of Jenny’s favorites

A pen show happened:

Scriptus Toronto Pen Show 2015 | – Wonder Pens

Scriptus 2015 Pen Show Recap — Gorgeous.Ink

Check out all of this week’s links at Fountain Pen Links. If you’re looking for information about a specific pen or ink be sure to visit Pennquod.