One thing I probably don’t say often enough is this: I am bloody chuffed with my pen collection.
Sure, it’s always waxing and waning. There’s a gradual shift in emphasis from manufacturer to manufacturer, big to small, fine to broad, bright to monochromatic, and back again. Life would be boring if we weren’t always pursuing change.
But I’ll say it again: I’m bloody chuffed with my collection. In fact, after playing with a few dozen beautiful and varied pens from fellow addicts at today’s London pen club meet up, I’m even more attached to my small horde.
Here’s how it stands today.
The Pelikan flock
I’ve bought and sold quite a few Pelikans: M205 Aquamarine, M805 blue stripe, M805 Stresemann, M1000 black. The two I’m stuck with at the moment are the M805 Ocean Swirl, and my newest pen, the M400 White Tortoiseshell.
The Ocean Swirl is just mesmerising to look at, and being an M8 series it’s a good size, solidly built, with a nice brass piston to add a bit of weight. By all accounts (and I showed it off to some fellow pen addicts today) mine is possibly the nicest pattern out there. This is a keeper. The current nib is an EF, home-tuned, and loaded with Montblanc Leo Tolstoy Sky Blue. The Sky in the Ocean.
The White M400? It’s a small pen. That’s ultimately why I sold my M205. But I’ve had my eye on these beautiful green-gold stripes for years, and I saw it for an unbeatable price. The broad nib hasn’t yet broken in, but by standards of the Pelikan nibs I’ve used over the years, it’s a good one. And it’s showing off Montblanc Swan Illusion beautifully already.
Graf von Faber Castell Intuition Platino Ebony — the pen world’s longest name
I tried hard to sell this pen. Admittedly, nobody really wanted to buy it, but that’s their loss — I’ve withdrawn it from sale and fallen back in love with it. Aside from being an engineering marvel of statuesque proportions, it’s eminently tactile and a great writer. And, at any pen meet you’re practically guaranteed to be the only one with a Platino wood there.
The enchanted Montblanc 1912
I could make a good case for this being my favourite pen. It’s never uninked, and choosing a new ink for it causes more anguish than for any other pen. It’s like I want to make every minute writing with it as good as it can be, and I’m afraid of losing the magic by loading the wrong ink.
Right now it’s loaded with Unicef, but it has had long stints with Montblanc Red Fox and Herbin Poussiere de Lune. It makes any ink shine. The bouncy medium nib has some enchantment on it.
My Lamy trio
The alien spaceship Dialog 3 is currently loaded with Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, which it lays down in great wet lines from its supposedly “fine” nib. Another engineering marvel, and one that writes better than you might expect. The gold Lamy Z55 nibs are rightly well respected.
The Lamy 2000 is practically the grandfather of my pen collection, and certainly a stalwart. I’ll never sell it; it’s simply too graceful and too good a writer. The hooded medium nib is fluid and wet, although right now it’s struggling a little through a load of Diamine Oxblood, quite a dry ink. Since I greased the piston a few weeks back, the 2000 is in fighting form.
Jasper Morrison’s Aion has stuck it out in my collection after the honeymoon period has worn off. Even though it doesn’t get as many outings as when it was fresh-faced, the smooth EF steel nib still impresses.
The arty Kaweco duo
I sold my other Sports, but the Alabaster Art Sport is too good (and too rare) to part with. The glowing white material is easily the best of the Art Sport colours, both the original range and the new versions just announced. It’s currently rocking a fat B nib, Kaweco Midnight Blue cartridges, and living in a navy blue custom sleeve, often in my pocket.
The Dia 2 also continues to impress, and in a sense I treat it as my experimental pen. I pulled out the spring from the barrel so I can fit a converter, and I’ve fitted it with my FPnibs B Architect nib and Pelikan Edelstein Olivine ink. No fuss, just low-maintenance fun.
My lone Sheaffer
I have no vintage pens in active rotation — one old Parker of my mother’s lives in my pen box, but my Esterbrook, Vacumatic and others are long sold. I couldn’t bear the fears of leaking sacs and cracks. But I bought this Sheaffer almost as a gesture towards vintage pens. It’s a modern take on the classic “Pen For Men” PFM, but without the tough-to-flush snorkel-filler. So while inside the Legacy Heritage is a boring cartridge/converter, the ribbed palladium finish and glorious B inlaid nib really stand out in the collection. Incredibly classy.
The primadonna Viscontis
Nobody can compete with Penultimate “Visconti” Dave, but in my own small way I have a Visconti addiction. These pens are expensive, high-maintenance, idiosyncratic, perhaps flawed, but exhilarating to hold and to write with.
The Wall Street Limited Edition is monolithic in stacked grey celluloid, an image of a skyscraper in the hand. Once the power filler tap is opened, the medium nib gushes like a hose, and it’s almost as bendy as one. This will never be an everyday notetaker, but it will always impress. And since they’re a long discontinued Limited Edition, I’ll be hanging on to this one.
The Steel Age Homosapiens, by contrast, is much more practical. The smooth, fine nib is a great notetaker, and mine has been remarkably troublefree. This was my first “oh my God I can’t believe I spent that much money on a pen” purchase, and looking back I think I made a pretty good bet.
It’s fair to say that my tastes have swung more to Germany than Japan in recent times. I have nine German pens, and only three from Asia (with one Pilot incoming too).
I whittled my 3776s down to the superlative Ultra Extra Fine, which is somehow sharp as a needle yet a great fast jotter. The beautiful but ridiculously named Kumpoo may force me back up to two 3776s soon, though.
The Pilot Fermo gained a last-minute reprieve from sale, and now I’m quite attached to the thing. Its fine nib is a delight and the navy blue finish over metal body gives it a reassuring solidity.
Last but not least, the TWSBI Eco in broad brings out the kid in me. I’ve got it loaded with Graf Electric Pink ink right now, which sloshes jubilantly around the enormous tank, and flows smoothly on to the page at just the right rate. I have a fine nib for it too, which is just as wonderful but takes a lot longer to run the pen dry!
Today, I’m happy
I’ve learned (eventually) that it would be pointless to promise never to sell any of these pens, or to say that I’m done with purchasing. I’m already craving getting another 149 back in my hands, and I still want a London Fog enough to contemplate selling a kidney. But it’s good to celebrate what you have, not only long for what you have not. And looking over now at these 15 pens all lined up, I think they’re all fabulous. I’m a lucky guy.