The state of the pen cups, September 2021.

It has been a quiet month on the blogging front. This niggles at me occasionally, as being wasteful, rather like having a car parked outside but not driving it. I do also have a car parked outside which I am not using much either. We currently have a situation with queues at petrol stations, as a shortage of fuel deliveries led to some panic buying.

For a change today, I thought to round off the month with a short tour of my “currently inked” fountain pens. I have fifteen, spread across three pen cups at home. This number is fairly typical for me. I enjoy the variety, but also wish I could be more minimalist and just have a couple on the go. Having the simplicity of just one pen and one ink, is a fantasy that I sometimes create by going thus-equipped to a coffee shop and spending an hour writing with whatever I have taken with me.

I should point out that the fifteen inked pens at home is not quite the end of the story and that I counted a further four fountain pens in my pen cup at work. These are a Parker Duofold, a Cross Bailey Light, a Moonman S5 with oblique broad nib and a Pilot V pen with red ink. The first three are filled with blue black, black and blue ink, respectively. These meet all my needs at work – for writing notes, signing letters and documents or amending drafts.

At home it is a different story as I am constantly picking up a pen and writing a paragraph or two just for relaxation and the sheer joy of the flow of ink on the paper, hence the variety. So here they are, roughly from left to right:-

The pen cups – a snap shot of my currently inked.

Pilot V pens in black and purple. These are both quite a few years old. For a long time they lived in a separate pot behind the sofa and were seldom touched. I felt that I should bring them into circulation. They write adequately, never hard start and seem to last forever (particularly with such little use). The downside is that the ink bleeds through paper badly. Also the colour of the purple ink is now well past its best.

Italix Captain’s Commission, Fine italic. This is a gorgeous pen, which did not cost a lot. At the time, I think it was under £60.00 and included a hand-ground nib, which writes like a dream, incredibly smooth and with generous flow. I since bought a couple more, with the same nib as gifts. Mine is inked with Onoto Mediterranean Blue.

Waterman Expert, Chrome cap. My history with Waterman Experts goes back to the 1990’s when I bought my first one, in marbled blue lacquer and used it for years at work. I added a couple more, one black and one red although I never made as much use of them as my blue one, as the nibs were not so joyous. And then a couple of years ago I bought this handsome blue model with a chrome cap, in a gift set with a pen case and some ink. I did a little bit of tinkering with the nib, with some brass shims to improve flow and now it writes wonderfully. It has been my journal pen, with Serenity blue cartridges for the whole of September. Like many of my pens, it is one of those which I could manage with on its own.

Moonman S5s, with oblique broad and with medium nib. This little pen has been a revelation, turning my pen world upside down. It is a clear demonstrator, eye-dropper filler and comes with three nib units which can be swapped around. The oblique broad is my favourite and seems well suited for my lefty overwriter, slanting handwriting. It is super-smooth, gives a nice line variation and is not too wide (given that the nib is held at an angle so you do not get its full width most of the time). It is fun to fill, holds masses of ink, is supremely comfortable and costs only £27.50. I just love it.

Platinum Plaisir. I bought this pen on impulse and out of curiosity, when browsing in Selfridge’s stationery department a few weeks ago. It is very good at not hard-starting, with its Platinum slip’n’seal inner cap. It writes well enough and would make a robust EDC but I have not been sufficiently excited to want to write with it for long periods.

Lamy Safari, yellow. What can I say? I do not consider myself a fan of the Safari as I dislike the faceted section. And yet I have a dozen or so of them in all different colours, with a Vista, some AL-Stars and even a Lamy Lx. They are well made, write well and are inexpensive. And the different colours make them strangely collectable. Yellow is my favourite. I had one which got ruined by absorbing the black dye from a pen case, but recently I bought a replacement, tempted by a 25% discount in Rymans. It writes very nicely and is also filled with Onoto Mediterranean Blue. No pen cup is complete without one!

Aurora 88. This is most probably my favourite pen, one of a very small number on which I have ever splurged more than £300.00, (and this was heavily discounted in a summer sale) but has everything you could wish for: black resin barrel and section, gold plated guilloche cap, 14k gold nib, (easily removable), ebonite feed, piston filler and a large clear ink window. It is very comfortable and very handsome. Filled with Aurora Blue.

Aurora Optima rossa, OB nib. This is my latest significant purchase – in which I was hoping to combine the joy of my Aurora 88 with the joy of my Moonman S5 oblique broad nib! It is a lovely pen and I am very happy with it but to be honest its OB nib does not perform any better than the Moonman’s. It probably needs to wear in a bit more. But the materials are beautiful to look at and to feel.

Montegrappa Fortuna, black. This is my only Montegrappa. It is a steel nibbed pen, not quite “entry level” for the brand but fairly basic. It came with a very enjoyable medium nib but I bought a spare nib in Selfridges in a Fine and now have this in the Fortuna, which is beautifully firm and precise. I have it inked with Pelikan Smoky Quartz, which seems to suit it well.

Montblanc Meisterstuck 146. This is a 1970’s model with a wonderful soft broad stubby nib, an ebonite feed and a large grey ink window unlike the current models. It was a generous gift from a pen friend in Australia and is one of my best writers. I use only Montblanc Royal Blue in this one.

Cross Bailey Light, white. My fondness for these pens is well known, to anyone who follows this blog. Shortly after they were first introduced, I devoured all the available colours. The white model I have kept for waterproof inks – such as Rohrer & Klingner Salix iron gall ink or, as currently filled, Noodlers bullet proof black. This ink was a purchase from the London pen show last July and I am delighted with it. It seems very well behaved and has a pleasing silver-grey-black tone. I love that you can use a highlighter over it, or use it for addressing envelopes for wet weather delivery!

Diplomat Traveller, lapis raspberry, medium nib. This little pen is the smallest in the Diplomat line up, but still sports a very pleasing steel nib. I was extremely fortunate to stumble across this when it was reduced to £5.00 in a Rymans sale. Once you adapt to its slender girth and shortish barrel (it does not post) then it is a real treat. Mine is paired with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo – the lovely magenta ink like no other.

Sailor Procolor 500, blue demonstrator. And so finally, to this pen which was a London Pen Show purchase in July. Of the four pens that I bought that day, it turned out to be the one I have enjoyed picking up and using the most. This was due, to a large part, to my pairing it with the Noodlers bulletproof black. It has a fine nib, which, being Sailor, equates to an extra fine in European terms. It has a lovely, pencil-like feedback. But it writes like a pencil in more ways than one: the line from the Noodlers ink from this very fine nib also looks like the work of a sharp HB pencil. Used on the smooth satin-matte finish of the Leuchtturm A5 journal paper – and then with the ability to go over your notes with a highlighter, you will appreciate what a delight this is.

And so there you have it – a quick canter through my current random selection of pens in use. Here in London we are now blessed with two pen shows a year, having both a Spring and an Autumn show. The Autumn event is on 10 October 2021. Whilst my needs are more than satisfied by what I have on the table right now, I expect to be there and will probably be tempted by something.

3 thoughts on “The state of the pen cups, September 2021.

    1. Thankyou! This current selection demonstrates quite well how my pen accumulation spans a wide price range. One current star is my Diplomat Traveller. I sent one to a friend who was so impressed by it that he gave away about 10 of his pens, including Montblancs, realising that he did not need them anymore! How are you enjoying your Traveller in the special flame finish 🔥? The nibs seem uniformly excellent.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.