As you may have noticed, I am a collector. I collect stories, books, and I make lists. On paper.
So, as a collector who makes lists on paper, I have long been in search of the perfect fit. I have bought many in hopes that it would become my favorite pen. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that this perfect pen does not exist.
Not because there aren’t any good pens out there, but because there are different needs for different situations. I have narrowed it down at this point to, gulp, NINE writing implements that I use on a regular basis. When I got them together to photograph them, I was a bit horrified that there were so many. I dream of being the simple person with just one of everything. And, while I have pared my things down for the most part to those that give me joy and no others, I guess I’m just the type to have a lot of pens.
I thought perhaps all of you book lovers might relate? In service to anyone who might love pens I give you:
The Book Dr.’s List of My 9 Favorite Pens
Here they are, with pros and cons and good situations for each, from left to right:
- Calligraphy quill. I got this in the gorgeous kit compiled by Maybelle Imasa-Stukulis. She is a gorgeous calligrapher that I have been learning modern lettering from via her online courses. This pen is good for hand dipped calligraphy, makes luscious strokes of a wide range of thickness, and feels deliciously old-fashioned. That said, it would be a bit heavy handed for a grocery list. Although, I suspect Maybelle probably has done it. I imagine that her house is filled with scrolls and dreamy fairy tale writing. I could be wrong.
- Ateleia Brass pen. I found this one either through Eunice Roe’s post about her favorite pens, or through Baum-Kuchen. I adore this pen. I have the version that takes either the Hi-tec C refill or the Pilot G-2 refill. I am a pilot G-2 lover, but I hate all the plastic that you throw away when finishing one. This seemed like a brilliant solution and it truly is. It has a nice heft, has been developing a wonderful patina and I love the smoothness of the writing. Why isn’t it the perfect pen? It’s a bit fussy to get the little screw-on top on and off and I am afraid of losing it. So I have relegated this one to home use only- it’s lovely for my journal or Traveler’s Notebook or writing letters. But I don’t feel it’s right for out in the world.
- Lamy Swift in Imperial Blue. I found this one in an airport bookshop in Miami while waiting to check in to our flight to Havana a few weeks ago. There was an unusually knowledgeable staff member and we quickly dove into our mutual love of pens. He let me try every single Lamy in my quest to find a truly smooth gel rollerball. This one has been a dream. I love that the clip retracts smoothly into the body of the pen when the point is clicked out and the ink is smooth and lovely. I’ve only had it a few weeks, but this is my current favorite for most writing situations. I also adore the color. It’s elegant and crisp. Total win.
- Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen. People go truly bonkers over this pen. I once pen stalked someone on instagram for months- or at least it felt like it- trying to determine what the pen was in her feed. People kept referring to it, but not by name. “I’ve got the get that pen!” WTF is it, I kept wondering and even asked her (more politely than that) and got no reply. Finally, I realized it was this pen, that I had in my drawer. Here’s the thing. It’s even more expensive than the pens above. It writes like a dream if it’s the only pen you ever write with and you write a lot. It doesn’t leak, and the retractable point is clever. Other than that, it’s a diva. If you leave this pen lying about for a day, it will take forever to get it going again. I have found it a bit better with the bottled ink converter, but still. It needs more coddling than I often want to provide. Of course, as I’m testing it right now, it’s writing flawlessly. So.. try at your own risk.
- Lamy Safari Fountain Pen. This was another favorite early on, and still is, under the right circumstances. First off, it is both incredibly smooth and very reasonably priced. The line is gorgeous and smooth. The only downside? It leaks. At least with the refillable converter for bottle ink, which I prefer using for Noodler’s inks, which are so yummy. I’m willing to have stained fingers, but I would never risk carrying this around in a purse. Again- good for letters and low-pressure writing. It has a tendency to jam up from time to time and stop writing before it runs out of ink. I shake it or fiddle with the converter to get things going again and it’s fine, but that would be a deal breaker if I were a reporter or someone taking notes at a live event. For someone looking to get into fountain pens, this is a great first option.
- Modern Fuel mechanical pencil. Ok- this is a bit of a cheat, but I adore this thing. How could I say no to a mechanical pencil that will last a lifetime? It’s heavy and built like a tank and it is a joy to hold. You can specify your preferred lead thickness as well. If you do accounts or have to write in pencil a lot and want a sexy writing implement, this is the one. The only downside is that I most often write in pen, so this clearly won’t suit for those moments.
- Retro 51 Tornado. I have the Vino model, which is cork and delicious to hold, but sadly doesn’t appear to be available any longer. There are many other options in this line however, and it is a lovely rollerball. My issue with this one isn’t with the pen, which is gorgeous and functions wonderfully. My issue is that the refills I have found haven’t been as smooth as the original one that came in the pen. I have found the black refills to be superior to the blue ink, and I am having more luck there. Perhaps my memory is clouded, but I want gel rollerball ink as smooth as is in the Lamy. As I test it now, I think it feels pretty good. I’ll have to run it against the Lamy and see how that goes. Wow- I am really that crazy.
- Kaweco brass Sport Fountain pen. I do love brass. There are a lot of pros to the Kaweco line- they fold up very small and then extend to full-length pens with the cap on. This pen looks and feels like an heirloom and is developing the warm brass patina that I love. It writes well, but not quite as smoothly as the Lamy Fountain pen or the Pilot when it’s in a good mood, but it is by no means scratchy or fussy. My only issue is that it’s a bit heavy to carry around. And it’s pricey, although much cheaper than the Pilot. As an at-home pen, it’s a dream. Great for letters or journal or other list-making.
- At last…the Kaweco Sport Roller Ball. This one also came close to perfect. Light-weight, folds up to nothing, perfect for travel and writes beautifully. Again, the refill was not as good as the original. I suspect the shop I ordered refills from accidentally sent me ballpoint instead of rollerball. Give a try in a shop if you can. This one is inexpensive and brilliant in almost all cases. If you get the right ink in it, I’d recommend this first to any pen seeker.
Ok! Now you know the depth of my mania about my favorite pens. Please do let me know if you have any collecting manias, as it would make me feel a bit less loony. Or of you love pens and want to share about them… please do comment below or head over to FB to discuss…