2022: Some of my fountain pen highlights.

As another year end approaches, it is time for a round-up. Against the background of a tumultuous year in national and world events, I had a busy year and took comfort in my fountain pens, whilst trying to curb my temptation to buy more.

In 2022, I had 24 fountain pens incoming. These included five that I bought and gifted, and coincidentally, another five that were given to me. This leaves 14 fountain pens bought for myself over the year. My total spend on these came to around £976.00.

My biggest single purchase was an Aurora Talentum in yellow, with a 14k gold, oblique medium nib. I am delighted with it and consider it one of the best value gold nib pens on the market. Aside from a vintage Parker 17 Lady, a £10.00 impulse buy at a pen show, the Talentum was the only pen that I bought with a gold nib.

Aurora Talentum, with oblique medium 14k gold nib, rhodium plated

I notice that a theme of my 2022 pen purchases, has been in relatively high-end steel nib pens. These included a Tibaldi N.60, an Esterbrook Estie Nouveau bleu, an Onoto Scholar and an Otto Hut Design 06. In each case, the pen was the first and only model that I have of each brand.

Esterbrook Estie, Aurora Talentum, Tibaldi N.60 and Onoto Scholar.

Another theme to note is that I bought myself three Delike New Moon fountain pens, with fude (bent) nibs, in green, blue and finally red acrylic. I am very taken with these. They are inexpensive cartridge-converter fillers, with screw caps and steel nibs, in attractive finishes and with a very versatile smooth nib. This can be used to produce a line from broad to extra fine, depending upon how you hold the pen. I have them filled with matching inks and enjoy them a lot.

Delike New Moon fude nib fountain pens. Great value.

Receiving a surprise parcel in the post with a gift of pens from a friend overseas, is always a thrill. A friend in Australia sent me five fountain pens, namely a Geha 715, Montblanc Carrera, a Montblanc 34, a Lamy 2000 and an old version Waterman Hemisphere in tobacco brown. There were also two Montblanc ballpoint pens (a matching ball pen for the Carrera, plus a Meisterstuck ball pen, both with new refills). It was exciting to try them all out. The Geha 715 was a German, black resin, piston fill pen which had an ink reserve feature, activated by sliding a switch in the feed, under the nib. The Carrera was a steel nib pen, mine being a cartridge converter version. Aside from the Waterman, the others all had oblique nibs, which I have found to be suited to my lefty overwriter hand-writing style.

Some gifts from Australia! Montblanc 34; Montblanc Carrera fountain pen and ballpoint pen; Waterman Hemisphere.

The Lamy 2000 was new and had an oblique broad nib. Unfortunately I found that this one did not suit me. Held at my usual writing angle, it produced too broad a line for me, both in down strokes and cross strokes. Perhaps looking back I needed to adjust my angle of grip for this particular nib to use it properly. However, I asked Lamy whether they would agree to exchange this nib for a Fine. They kindly agreed and I sent the pen to Germany.

I wrote a blog post at the time about sending the Lamy 2000 back for a nib swap. An extraordinary thing then happened and this post received over 14,000 views in the first month. My blog received it’s highest ever numbers of daily and monthly views.

I attended both the London Spring and Autumn Pen Shows, in March and October. These were most enjoyable and it was good to see so many friends particularly as we had not resumed the London pen club meets since Covid restrictions were lifted.

It was at the Spring pen show that I bought my Esterbrook Estie. I had seen a lot of buzz about these online and was a late-comer to the party. Then at the Autumn pen show, I bought my Onoto Scholar, in navy blue with gold plated trim. The bicolour steel, number 7 medium nib is a joy to use and is the same as the standard steel nib that you would receive on an Onoto Magna, a pen costing more than twice the price of a Scholar, although there is an option to upgrade to a gold nib.

My final pen purchase of the year came in November whilst on a short break in Portugal. I found a wonderful, long-established fountain pen shop called Araujo & Sobrinho and enjoyed meeting the proprietor and buying an Otto Hutt Design 06, in black lacquer with silver colour trim. I am thrilled with it. I hope to give it a blog post to itself soon.

Otto Hutt Design 06 fountain pen.

At home, my pen cups typically have around a dozen pens currently inked. At my office, I limit my work fountain pens to two. A Cross Bailey Light, royal blue model has been in constant use with bottled Cross Blue ink all year, which I am using up for my late Godfather Brian. My other work pen is a Moonman S5 eyedropper, with oblique broad nib. This gets only occasional use and as a result has not needed refilling all year.

I have continued to use fountain pens for my daily A5 page-a-day journal. I cherish the ten minutes or so, spent recalling and summarising the previous day. I think my intention was to change pen each month. In the event, I used the Cleo Skribent Classic Gold for both January and February. I then switched to the Visconti Rembrandt from March right through to September inclusive. In October, I used the Esterbrook Estie. Then for November and December it was the Onoto Scholar. When travelling, I take a different notebook for holiday journaling.

With the year almost over, I am very content with my accumulated pens and ink stash. I have ample to last me out! Also, I am equally well stocked for new notebooks, of all shapes and sizes. My resolution for 2023 will be to remember to use the pens, inks and notebooks I have and not keep buying more. I always say that.

One of my resolutions last year was to walk 1,500 miles, an average of 125 miles per month. Mostly, this consists of walking to and from my office. Ultimately, my pedometer app has counted about 1,200 miles, a slightly disappointing 80% of my annual target. Still, as with my stationery hopes, it is good to leave some room for improvement in the future. A Happy New Year to all.

Onoto Scholar. An exquisite steel nib.

A few bloggiversary thoughts.

Today, Fountain pen blog turns six! It seems like a good moment to take stock, share a few statistics and to reflect on where I am at on this journey.

Born on 5 November 2016, there have now been 218 posts, which makes an average of around 36 per year. There have been 360,000 views, 212,000 visitors and 1,761 comments.

The posts have for the most part been a record of my personal journey through the world of fountain pens, inks and paper. They provide a snapshot of what was on my mind at the time they were written. The blog is an outlet to share my thoughts on recent purchases. I do not plan these posts very far in advance (in case that was not obvious). I have not so far received items for review. Just this week, after some consideration, I declined a friendly and flattering invitation from a well-respected notebook company to feature a product in the blog. It has been my preference, to write reviews only on items that I have bought. Naturally I would have been only too happy to receive a free journal to try but I worry about feeling some obligation to write favourably about a product in those circumstances. Perhaps this will change. I know many others have overcome such reservations.

Meanwhile, the journey of discovering and learning about different makes and types of pen is a long and interesting one. There is a risk that you are constantly tempted to buy ever more expensive pens and that the amount that you feel reasonable to spend on a pen will escalate. I do not think I have fallen too far into that trap. I can think of only three occasions when I spent over £400.00 on a pen: one was a Visconti which I promptly returned a couple of days later. Another, a Montegrappa Monte Grappa I also returned. Finally, a Montblanc 145 Classique, I have had for three years now was an impulse buy but outside my usual comfort zone.

My annual expenditure on fountain pens and the number of pens bought, did rise for a time but is under better control now. Looking back on 2022, I have had 22 pens incoming. Of these, five were gifted to me, which leaves 17 purchases. But of my purchases, four were gifted to other people. Total spent: £931.60.

I am still learning about what pens and nibs best suit me and my writing styles. I am left-handed and for the most part, an overwriter at that. This means writing with little or no downward pressure. Without that downward pressure the nib still needs to have a good ink flow. In recent years, I have found that oblique nibs work well for me and I have enjoyed nibs on a Moonman S5 eyedropper, an Aurora Optima (oblique broad), an Aurora Talentum (oblique medium) and some vintage Montblanc and Geha models that were kindly given to me by a friend knowing of my liking for such nibs.

I do also write in a lefty-underwriter mode sometimes, particularly for short notes since this is less comfortable and natural for me. I am usually not happy with how my writing looks in this style, chiefly because it is so hard to keep the upstrokes vertical. The good news is that fountain pens are much happier in this mode and the natural pressure that you apply in a downstroke, opens the tines, enhances ink flow and lubrication and you get a silky, smooth writing experience (assuming you have a smooth nib and suitable paper).

For underwriting style, I am happy to use standard nibs with fine, medium or broad rounded tipping. I have learned that Sailor’s standard nibs, with the tipping flattened at the sides, have a sharp and unforgiving edge and are not the best option for my style. This year, I have discovered the “bent” (fude) nibs of the Delike/Majohn New Moon fountain pens. As told in my last piece, I have three of them now and am very pleased with their flattering influence on my handwriting, particularly in my lefty-underwriter style.

My three Delike New Moon, fude nib pens. Currently my most-reached for pens!

Over the years I have learned that you do not need to spend more than a certain amount, to enjoy a really pleasant writing experience. You need to spend a bit, of course, to get something which is of decent quality, well made and appealing. The great news, in my opinion, is that the amount you need to spend is probably no more than £30.00. I am thinking here of the Moonman S5, the Cross Bailey Light or the Delike/Majohn New Moon, for example, which make up my most oft-used pens.

I realise that I am probably getting “off message” here for a fountain pen blog and risk not being taken seriously. Well, I do also enjoy my slightly more valuable pens. This year, my four most costly pen purchases were an Aurora Talentum at £240.00 (possibly one of the best value gold nib pens that I know of), an Esterbrook Estie (£140.00), a Tibaldi N.60 (£157.25) and, most recently the entry level Onoto Scholar (£150.00 pen show price). Of these, only the Aurora has a gold nib.

This year’s “big four” purchases: Esterbrook Estie, Aurora Talentum, Tibaldi N.60 and Onoto Scholar.

My fountain pen hobby did not begin with the blog but has always been there since I was a child. I remember cleaning my Parker pens, twisting tissue paper tightly to dry the inside of the cap. I still do this. I once (aged about 10) sent a letter to Parker, to ask about a Leonardo da Vinci drawing used in their advert (what I now know to be the Vitruvian man).

My fountain pen, ink and notebook obsession shows no signs of going anywhere. I still derive a lot of pleasure from using them or even just thinking about using them! And this blog has been a joy, as a platform to share some thoughts and pictures. I enjoy the interaction that it brings with this wonderful fountain pen community. I have made many lasting friends, both at home and abroad through the blog.

Whilst I still get excited about a new bottle of ink, I am now at an age when I also get excited about finishing one. It takes a long time to get to the end of a bottle, when you are using multiple pens and inks simultaneously. This year I have got through my stash of Kaweco blue cartridges and am now working through my Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt blue cartridges, in my Onoto Scholar (an excellent match for the navy blue body).

Although I do not get to do it very often, a favourite occupation is to take a break from the abundant choice of pens, inks and notebooks that surrounds me at home and to focus on one of each for a while in a writing session, say in a coffee shop somewhere. Perhaps this need for simplicity is to balance the modern-day problem of too much choice, or else is a yearning to return to simpler times when we had only one pen. The wish to buy more, whilst also wishing to have less, are clearly conflicting aims. The journey continues.