The past year was a bit weird for me with my fountain pen hobby. I went into 2020 with a substantial fountain pen budget, which included travel to pen shows. Then the pandemic came around. That was my first and last pen show of the year.
I made it to the Long Island Pen Show in March. That coincided with the Pandemics’ arrival, but shutdowns weren’t happening yet, so the show went on, and I attended. I did buy a pen at the show, which kicked off this year’s buying spree.
By the end of March, COVID was taking hold, and it was becoming apparent that the pen shows I was considering attending wouldn’t be happening. Or, if they did, I wouldn’t be attending. It probably doesn’t need to be said, but for the future record, some shows may have slipped in before March, but if effect, pen show season was over. I put my travel budget to use buying pens.
Additional purchases quickly followed, and I bought more pens in 2020 than I did in any year since 2013. It was the second-highest number of new (to me) fountain pens in any year.
2020 By the Numbers
Fountain Pen Arrivals: 25 (1 still in transit – I hope)
Fountain Pen Departures: 11 (4 of which were purchased this year)
Blog Posts: 73
Website Views: 83k (based on WordPress stats)
Website Visitors: 33.5k (based on WordPress stats)
Favorite Fountain Pen in 2020
The Sailor King of Pen Royal Tangerine, with a medium, left oblique nib, was my favorite new fountain pen in 2020. This hugely overpriced pen is comfortable in my hand and has my favorite nib style. I can use the pen comfortably for hours, and the nib is natural for the way I hold the pen. The color clinched it. My theme this year seems to have been The Year of the Bent Nib, so I did have to send this out to Mark Bacus to have the nib straightened.
Runner-up: Kanilea Pen Co. Kona Cherry. It took a while for this pen and I to bond. Now it’s always inked with my favorite ink – Montblanc Bordeaux.
Most Disappointing Fountain Pen in 2020
Through no fault of its own, the Sailor Pro Gear British Racing Green was my biggest disappointment. You’d think it would be one of my catch and release fountain pens, but it wasn’t. For me, disappointment is based entirely on expectations. I had convinced myself that this Pro Gear would be different, and one that I could use for hours and hours while admiring its great looks.
But no, when my hand is already tired (such as from typing all day) it can be uncomfortable to use. It’s a small pen. The added weight of the Regency Stripe version makes it more comfortable for me. I had convinced myself the Racing Green would be the same.
Still, I love the looks of the pen and will be keeping it.
This year was the first time I had Mark Bacas grind any nibs for me, and I’m quite happy with his work. I also had him repair a bent nib. He has another of my pens for a nib repair, and I have a third that I’ll eventually send off to him.
As the above implies, it seems that 2020 was The Year of the Bent Nib for me. I managed to bend three nibs this year. All are on pens worth saving.
I moved this website to a new host after Christmas. (This is the first post since the move.)
Plans for 2021
I bought a lot of pens in 2020. I had budgeted for both fountain pens and pen show travel. The one pen show I got to was local, so travel expenses were minimal, and I only bought one pen at that show. The pen shows I had been considering were early in the year. It soon became obvious that I wouldn’t be attending, even before the shows were officially canceled, freeing up the travel money. I put the travel money towards pens. Sure, I could have saved it for 2021, but years in Corporate America taught me to treat budgets with the rule – Use it or lose it, even if the budget is totally under my control.
In 2021 I’ll budget enough for a good fountain pen or two, but no travel. Most pen shows I consider are early in the year, so they either won’t happen or will be before I’m ready to go. I’m holding out hope for the Commonwealth Pen Show (Boston) on Sept. 12, 2021. I’ll budget for a vacation, and if there’s an opportunity, I could vacation at a pen show. It will be interesting to see if some early shows can reschedule for later in the year.
The quantity of new pens that I kept (20 or 21, depending on my long lost in transit pen) means none have gotten much use. I’ll concentrate on enjoying them, and my older fountain pens, in 2021.