State of the collection: August 2020

Since my last SotC on 12th July, here’s what’s been cooking. There’s a lot, so apologies in advance for the long post…

First, and most importantly, thank you for the donations! More than 20 of you donated, and I appreciate every single one of you who did so, whether you gave a fiver or rather more… Thank you. That’s the WordPress bill paid for for another year.

In other news: on 24th August I have an appointment with the Montblanc boutique to see the new and forthcoming releases; I’ll report back anything interesting! I’m so excited to see the Solitaire Curved Nib and the Egyptomania. I will bring a sick bag for the Elvis…!


If I’m to keep this blog humming along, I need pens to review. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ve been working hard to source new and interesting products at all price points, and in addition to buying as many as I can afford, I’ve been lucky enough to get some support from retailers and brands sending me review samples (if you’re reading this on the web, check the right sidebar for a list of some of them). I won’t be short of things to write about for a while.

Benu Hexagon

Something about the Hexagon really grabbed me and I paid to keep it. You can tell a pen is special if you can’t bear to send it back! I’ll be honest, it looks like an outlier in my pen tray and I’m not sure whether to keep it in the main tray with my ‘fancy pens’ or keep it with my TWSBIs and other ‘fun pens’ (or ‘toys’ in my categorisation). For now it stays with the big guns. The broad nib is a firehose and I recently reinked it with Maruzen Athena Murasaki. The purple suits the pen beautifully!

Three pens from Onoto

I have reviewed two Onoto pens before, a Magna that I owned and a plunger filler that Onoto loaned me. But it had been nearly a year since that last review, so I got in touch with the company and, well, this happened:

My first impression was a reminder that Onoto really does do some of the best packaging in the industry — you feel treasured as a customer (or ‘custodian’) from the first moment.

My priority for review was the British Museum Great Court (that’s the big blue pen in the photo above) and I’ve been using it extensively from the moment it arrived. Check out the final writeup here.

The other two pens are limited edition Magnas, made from pinstripe material, the Shakespeare and Victory. It was truly wonderful to have a Magna back in my hand — I’d forgotten how comfortable they are, and what fantastic writers, particularly with the gold nib and its reversible grind.

I’ll be keeping one of the Magnas with a view to some long-term perspectives; the other two will be heading back to Onoto after my review. But I hope that won’t be the last you’ll see of Onoto on this blog.

Narwhal Original

This budget piston filler was an impulse purchase, but I ended up really liking it, and I have been using it lots. Although the stock nib was one of the nicest I’ve used in a while, I swapped in a special nib… check out the review of that here.

John Garnham Venom and JG5 prototype

Wow, my review of these pens really blew up. Apparently lots of people like John’s pens! The Venom JG6 in particular has spent a lot of time in my hand since it arrived, and like the Narwhal it’s now fitted with another one of Jose’s special nibs. I am pestering John to let me play with his next prototype, so stay tuned.

Rockster Troubleshooter 1313 Aspen

I hadn’t heard of Rockster Pens until an Instagram chat pointed me to them. I asked for a review sample and this gorgeous Aspen turned up.

I’m genuinely really excited about what this maker is doing — everything from the website to the distinctive contrasting section accent ring speaks to a designer that’s a cut above the norm and is doing things their own way.

Otto Hutt design04

Like Cleo Skribent, Otto Hutt is one of those German brands that doesn’t get enough attention. I reached out and they agreed to send me a design04 with blue wave pattern and steel nib. It’s a small pen, but the nib has loads of character and there’s serious craftsmanship in the barrel guilloche. A brand to watch. Read my review here.

S T Dupont from Pure Pens

Yesterday two beautiful pens arrived from French manufacturer S T Dupont via the kind people at Pure Pens. First up for review will be the Elysee, a classic black pen with a few individual twists. But many readers will no doubt be interested in Dupont’s entry-level D Initial, with steel nib and a price under £200. Stay tuned for that.

Newton Orville

This huge pen in ripple peacock ebonite turned up yesterday after a hefty customs charge, and I promptly eyedroppered it with my M800 Italic Broad nib. It filled the cap with ink. Back to the drawing board! Until then I’ve put on the alternative section, threaded for JoWo, and filled a converter with Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku, which is lovely from the broad nib that Shawn included. This is my first Newton pen, would you believe, and currently my only ebonite pen, too!

TWSBI Eco Cement Grey

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the Eco. And grey is my favourite colour. So, Write Here got my preorder for an EF nib, with a bottle of Scribo grey ink to match. The ink is a blue-grey and the pen is simply gorgeous. The pen is a true mid-grey that I called Concrete on Instagram, though it’s Cement officially! The EF nib writes a marvellous line. Of course, I’m thrilled. Even if the bottle of ink was more expensive than the pen!


If you’re interested, here’s what I’m waiting for. With the exception of the Desiderata, which I paid for with my own money (including your donations), the rest of these are review samples. Thanks (again) to the kind support of these retailers and makers, I can bring you more reviews than I could possibly afford to fund myself.

Desiderata Soubriquet Cocobolo limited edition

When I found out that Pierre was doing a final numbered run of Soubriquets in cocobolo, this time with a piston filler, I knew I was going to be getting one. I probably won’t review it — I already published a review of the first three Soubriquets I bought — but I’m really excited to see how the design has refined in the past year.

TWSBI AL 580 Prussian Blue

Write Here said they’d send me a Prussian Blue to test when their next batch came in. To be honest it’s been a while since I used any TWSBI other than an Eco, after both a Classic and Vac Mini cracked and leaked on me. I hear good things about the 580 and the blue looks very pretty. Excited.


Maiora is a sister brand to Nettuno, and Roy at Izods has said he’ll send one my way to poke at. Having had a couple of Nettunos and appreciated both the design and quality service from Nino, I’m keen to see how the two brands compare.


Esterbrook’s updated Nook v2 is candidate for product of the year if the Instagram pictures are anything to go by. I hope that the international shipping from Kenro is fast so I can try it out soon…

Ben Walsh Design

Ben’s new machined pen Kickstarter starts soon, and one should be landing with me to test tomorrow. I have loved how Ben has given us a real behind-the-scenes journey towards launch on his Instagram, and I’ve enjoyed watching other machinists commenting. This should be good.

Leonard Slattery Pens

Remember my trends post this morning talking about pocket pens? Well. Leonard’s pocket pen design looks eminently usable, and if his mastery of wood is anything like it was, this should be good too. I should chase him up to find out how he’s getting on, I can’t wait to see it…

Everything else…

I reached out to Karas about their aluminium Ink v2, but no reply. I contacted Parker about their new 51. No reply. I approached Caran d’Ache to see if I can review the Leman. No reply. I approached Namisu to try out some of their pens after my Ixion-induced grudge wore off. No reply yet. And I approached niche German manufacturer Achim Velte on Tom’s recommendation… no reply. Good thing I have enough pens to keep me busy for now.


Karas Ink Pony Express

This brass beauty finally went to a new home, along with a gift package of flashlights to get the new owner on a path to flashoholism.

Scribo Feel

Honestly, the last couple of months I overextended myself financially, not just with pens. So I had to make a few bigger sacrifices. One was the Scribo Feel Verde Prato, which I took a bath on price-wise but I hope its new owner loves it even more than I did.

Pelikan M1005 Stresemann

The M1005 remains my favourite Pelikan: its size and proportions I find very comfortable. And while mine had a medium that was one of the best I’ve received from Pelikan in ages, it was lacking a certain something. I decided I could live without it, and it sold quickly, as Pelikans always do.

Two of three Benu pens

The Chameleon and Minima went back to Stonecott after review loan. In case you missed the review, check it out here. I decided to buy the Hexagon, at a small discount.

Venvstas Magna

After all the controversy, I was glad to get this packed up and back to Stonecott.

Cleo Skribent Natura

My work here is done. I returned the Natura to Write Here, confident that thousands more people are now aware of this lovely writer.

Currently inked

With all these new pens in for review, I’ve outgrown my main tray again. Without even including my six pocket pens from Kaweco/Galen, Schon and John Garnham, and the new additions from the past couple of days, my main tray looks a little like this:

(Yep, the Midnight in Florence is still there — I’ll explain another time…)

And my overflow loaner/toy case looks like this:

Spot the odd one out!

So, busy times ahead with lots of pen reviews coming up, and plenty more besides. Thanks as always for following along!

3 thoughts on “State of the collection: August 2020

  1. Pingback: Benu, cartridges, interviews, queues and more | UK fountain pens

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