Favorite 5: Vintage Fountain Pens

It’s been just over six months since I last updated my Favorite 5 Vintage Fountain Pens. As I mentioned when I updated my Favorite 5 Modern Fountain Pens, I have instituted a new rule – to be considered the pen must have been used since I last published my favorite five list. In this case this made picking the pens a non-event, I only used 5 vintage pens since October. I do group my Esterbrook J’s and nibs together which does reduce the overall number. A vintage pen is any pen manufactured before I was born. Here’s my current list.

1. Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Silver Pearl with Nickel Trim

Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Pearl GreyThis moves all the way up from the fifth position six months ago. I love this particular finish, it seems I’m attracted to black and gray finishes, and even though the finish is worn through use, that merely enhances its beauty.

The nib is very nail-like but that’s what I like. It’s performance never disappoints me.

2. Esterbrook J (any of them)

Esterbrook J with 8440 nibThis is certainly my most used vintage model. It’s a rare day when at least one Esterbrook isn’t inked. I’d prefer a bigger pen but like my modern KarasKustoms Ink this pen makes the list thanks to its variety. No real review of the pen but the nibs are indexed here with links to their reviews.

3. Esterbrook Dip-Less with #7550 nib

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

This has been inked, so to speak, since August 2014 and I use it almost every day, at least for a few words. Part of the attraction is that the pen is different. But I do enjoy writing with it. Review

4. Sheaffer PFM I

Photo of a Sheaffer PFM I on a mirrorThis is borderline vintage. Since most were sold before my birth I choose to believe my specific pens were manufactured before I was born. This is the low end trim for the PFM line but it works well for me. The photo and the review are of my first PFM which was blue. I bought a second PFM I in green which is my color preference. The pens are identical in every way except color. Even the nib performance is identical, at least as much as I can tell. Review

5. Parker Duofold Senior c1928 “Big Red”

Parker Duofold Senior This has always been the classic fountain for me so this makes the list based strictly on emotion, and the fact that is was one of only five vintage pens I used since October. This pen has a tendency to leak a bit from the nib into the cap when being bounced around in my bag, so it tends to stick around the house. While it’s never actually leaked I also hesitate to carry it in my shirt pocket since it is one of the few vintage pens I have where I am paranoid about it leaking. Review

Wrapping Up

I was a little surprised that I only used five vintage fountain pens in the last six months. I have a couple that could have challenged these if I had used them. The Duofold certainly has the a tenuous grip on the list which is no surprise since it’s been on the list and then dropped in the past.

What’s your favorite vintage pen?

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Favorite 5: Modern Pens

It’s been a little over six months since I last picked my Favorite 5 modern fountain pens. This time around I decided to impose a new rule – only fountain pens inked since my last favorite five list can be considered. Since I’m fickle with my fountain pens one of the worst things that can happen is I use it so much I get tired of it and move on simply for variety. This rule is what kept the Franklin-Christoph Model 66 from being on this list. It had been inked, on my desk, and used regularly for years. It’s still a fine pen and will be back, but it went on hiatus. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

For the record, a modern pen is anyone 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.

1. Sheaffer Balance Aspen SE

Sheaffer Balance II AspenThis was my favorite six months ago and remains my favorite today. It’s been inked constantly for the last six months, getting an immediate refill when it went dry. The nib was tuned by Mike Masuyama which certainly helps it hold the #1 position. It’s a medium nib, which isn’t my typical point of choice, but it’s on the fine side of medium which makes it great for all but my smallest writing. Review

2. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 not postedThe Pilot Custom 823 has the classic cigar shape that I love. It moved up from the fourth to the second position on the strength of the nib. I love the fine nib on this pen. I’m not a flex nib person but this nib has a nice spring which enhances the writing experience. 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.

3. Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite capped on mirrorA new pen for me and the newest to make this list. Part of the reason it’s here is because of that new pen glow. It’s extra fine nib is almost what keeps it off the list. The nib is a little wetter/wider than I want in an extra fine nib, much wetter and as wide as the Sheaffer Aspen. If I had to pick one, this would be the fountain pen most likely to be missing from my next fav 5 list. We’ll have to see how much that new pen glow contributes to its place on the list. No review yet but I did write my initial thoughts here and here.

#4 KarasKustoms Ink

Gold fountain pen Ink with copper section

Another relatively new fountain pen for me. I didn’t have any the last time I published this list. Now I have several of them. These are excellent pens, and an excellent size for me, but they make this list because of the variety of choices. As I said, I’m fickle. These let me change up barrel colors, gripping section materials and nib sizes. I admit, if I had one of these pens it probably wouldn’t be on the list although it would be frequently used.

#5 Edison Huron Grande

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE inkThis big, bright fountain pen is new to my favorite 5 list. It has an extra fine nib and I use it as a eye dropper filler so it lasts a long time. This replaced my F-C Model 66 as my desk pen for several months. It was my first, and remains my only, custom pen. No review yet but my initial impressions are here and I wrote about it with one of my favorite inks here.

Wrapping Up

I’m sure this list will be different in six months, but for now these are solidly in the top five. Pens that I have inked get an immediate bump in my opinion so it’s no surprise that the first three pens on the list are currently in my rotation.

In addition to the previously mentioned F-C Model 66 I also dropped the Vanishing Point Maplewood and the Lamy 2000 from the list even though they were used, and enjoyed, in the last six months. I look forward to inking them up again, but I wasn’t wishing for a pen to go dry so I could ink one of them up. I don’t have an KarasKustoms Ink in the rotation (well, a Ink rollerball is in my bag) but I am looking forward to inking one up as I do the Huron Grande since I do miss them.

 

Favorite 5: Vintage Fountain Pens

It’s been over a year since my Favorite 5 Vintage Fountain Pens list changed. I revisited the list six months ago but decided there weren’t any changes. In the last six months I’ve been almost all modern. Because of this, picking a favorite 5 was a bit easier since by definition (at least my definition) a favorite pen should be one that is used. So I didn’t have to decide from among my entire vintage accumulation. A vintage pen is any pen manufactured before I was born. Here’s my current list.

1. Esterbrook J (any of them)

Esterbrook J with 8440 nibI moved the Esterbrook J to the top spot since it was easily the most used vintage pen these past six months. Maybe it’s a cheat since I used several barrels and many different nibs, but that’s what makes the Estie J a favorite. Now that I’ve run through all my nibs (although there are many I don’t have) maybe I can narrow it down to a favorite nib or two (or six) for the next update. No real review of the pen but the nibs are indexed here with links to their reviews.

2. Sheaffer Balance Lifetime Oversize c1935

Sheaffer Balance Oversize - Marine GreenThis pen gets used so often because of it’s looks. The custom stub nib is a smooth writer. While the stub is far wider than my typical fine or extra fine preference my horizons are expanding and I’ve grown to love this nib. It was a coin toss between this and the Esterbrooks for the top slot. The Esterbrooks won on volume. I was surprised to see I haven’t reviewed this pen. At the very least I need to do a photo post.

3. Sheaffer PFM I

Photo of a Sheaffer PFM I on a mirrorThis is borderline vintage. Since most were sold before my birth I choose to believe mine were manufactured before I was born. This is the low end trim for the PFM line but it works well for me. The photo and the review are of my first PFM which was blue. I bought a second PFM I in green which is my color preference. Review

4. Sheaffer Balance Junior c1931 with custom stub nib

Sheaffer Balance Junior c1931This ugly pen used to top my Fav 5 list. It’s still a smooth stub nib that I love, but I’ve used it less over the last six months. Review.

5. Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Silver Pearl with Nickel Trim

Parker Vacumatic Maxima (1942) Pearl GreyThis was second vintage pen (an Esterbrook $1 was my first) and it’s still a favorite. I love the vintage Vacumatic finishes and this one is in pretty good shape. I haven’t used it recently but since this article jogged my memory I’ll be inking it up.

Wrapping Up

The Parker Duofold Senior c1928 (Big Red) is a sentimental favorite but it was reluctantly dropped from the list in favor of the Sheaffer PFM I. Big Red leaks a bit around the nib which has kept me from using it. But I have to admit, sentiment aside I’d have to pick the PFM over Big Red even if it didn’t leak. The other four pens were on my first Fav 5 list although they’ve swapped positions around. What’s your favorite vintage pen?

Favorite 5: Modern Fountain Pens

It’s been over six months since my last Fav 5 modern fountain pen list so nows a good time for an update. I’ve been almost exclusively modern for the last six months so this is where I have the most change. For the record, my definition of modern is and pen that’s not vintage. In other words, any pen manufactured after I was born.

1. Sheaffer Balance Aspen LE

Sheaffer Balance II AspenThis one came out of nowhere and took the crown. The pen is beautiful and I just smile as I use it. While its medium nib wouldn’t be my normal choice my horizons are expanding. The nib and flow were tuned by Mike Masuyama so it writes as good as it looks. I’m glad I resisted the urge to have him grind it to an extra fine. Review

2. Lamy 2000

Capped Lamy 2000 on marblesAnother new addition to the list and another Mike Masuyama tuned nib. I love holding the pen and writing with it. The material has a unique look and feel. Myke voiced his opinion on this pen on a recent Pen Addict podcast and I couldn’t agree more. Every last detail of this pen contributes to a great experience. Review

3. Franklin-Christoph Model 66

Franklin-Christoph Model 66My nib on a stick and the only fountain pen to be on this list since the beginning. This fountain pen just writes and it does it well. The simple design is so comfortable. There’s a new Ice version but for me this pen must be black. The Model 66, along with R&K Blau-Schwarz ink, gives the lie to the statement that inks can’t stay in a pen for a year. This pen has gone over a year with regular use, but no cleaning and has never failed to perform. Review

4. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 not postedThe Pilot Custom 823 drops from the top of the list but it’s just as good as it ever was. It’s been inked often but I just haven’t reached for it as much as the top 3 pens. Review

5. Pilot Vanishing Point Maplewood

Pilot Vanishing Point Maple Wood 2013 Limited EditionThis has all the benefits if the Vanishing Point but the wood barrel is so much more comfortable. Plus, it’s just a tad bigger. The interchangeable nib units are a nice bonus. Review

Wrapping Up

Trimming this list to five fountain pens wasn’t easy. I ended up picking the pens I’ve been reaching for lately. If they’re favorites they should be the pens I use most. Right? I feel I should pick honorable mentions but that would defeat the purpose of the list, so add your favorites to the comments.

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.