DISCLAIMER UPDATE (6/24/22): TWSBI and Narwhal have released a joint statement which I cover in my most recent TWSBIgate post. While not completely satisfied with TWSBI’s response to the situation, I no longer feel the need to dissuade people from purchasing their products.
DISCLAIMER (5/1/22): Since writing this post, TWSBI has been involved in some unsavory actions, and I am currently boycotting them. For more information, refer to the #twsbigate tag page.
I purchased a great deal of pens in 2019. More than I should have. I’m a little embarrassed, actually. Some I adore, others I seriously regret. However, despite regretting some of them later, they have all helped me on my fountain pen journey; they’ve all taught me more about what I do or don’t like.
I figure there isn’t much better a way to welcome a new year than to have a retrospective look at the previous. I’d originally planned to go through all the pens I acquired this past year, including some information about each.
But, after some thought, I don’t think it’s really necessary. Instead, join me in a look back at a selection of my pen purchases of 2019, including my biggest regrets, my favorites, and my best new discoveries.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. While I have gotten better about making impulse purchases over the past year, they make up the majority of my regrets. But, I’ve also learned from them. I’ve listed my biggest pen purchase regrets chronologically below.
Franklin-Christoph Model 02
I picked up my first Franklin-Christoph at the Philadelphia Pen Show, a Model 02 color prototype demonstrator in lilac purple. I’ve long felt I “should” have a Franklin-Christoph because people love them so much. I liked the purple, but even at the show, I was uncertain about the placement of the threads (red flag there). Sure enough, as I used the pen more, the thread placement hurt my fingers and drove me nuts. Thankfully, I was able to sell it fairly easily. As a side note, I’m currently awaiting the arrival of a Model 31 that should suit me much better.
Sailor Pro Gear Slim Hawaiian Ripe
A little later, I bought the Sailor Pro Gear Slim Hawaiian Ripe. I kept seeing it everywhere, and I got hit with a bit of FOMO. I got mine secondhand on Virtual Pen Show. While it’s a fabulous pen in and of itself, once I had it, I quickly fell out of love with it. I don’t think single-colored Pro Gear pens are for me. If you’re in the market for one, I’m looking to sell mine, it’s an H-MF nib. Send me a message on Instagram for more information.
Sailor Pro Gear Slim Red Supernova
In March, I bought the Sailor Pro Gear Slim Red Supernova. I loved the Purple Cosmos and eagerly anticipated its sister pen. Unfortunately, the advertising was a lie. Rather than the bright red pen I was expecting, I received a dull, faded red pen. What I should have done is package it up and send it right bak. However, I was determined to like it despite the disappointing color disparity. Almost 11 months later, I’m still disappointed with it. It’s also available, if you’re looking for one, with original box, etc. It has an H-B nib.
Bungbox x Sailor Pro Gear Mini Aries
Near my birthday, Bungubox started advertising their upcoming zodiac line. The initial concept art and description of the Aries pen on their website were both intriguing, so I pre-ordered it. When it arrived, however, it was a bigger disappointment than the Red Supernova. Rather than a deep berry color with large silver sparkles, it was a fuschia with nearly invisible sparkle. The zodiac symbols purported to be on the cap and body were nowhere to be found. I didn’t want to pay to return it to Japan. Thankfully, my husband fell in love with it, so it’s part of his collection now.
Pineider Honeycomb Black Prince
Last, but not least, is the Pineider Honeycomb Black Prince. The Sugar White edition has a polished, elegant look to it (in my opinion). The Black Prince, however, is cheap, both in appearance and feel. The hard edges around the cutouts remind me of knockoff Legos. The entire pen doesn’t weight much more than a Preppy. But, I’d learned my lesson with the Red Supernova. I boxed it right back up and sent it back. So at least there’s a happy ending one for this one.
There are other pens I’ve sold or am selling from 2019’s purchases, but these were the only ones I wish I hadn’t bought to begin with.
Like the regrets, I’ve listed my wins in chronological order by when I acquired them. I find it interesting that most of my regrets were from the first half of the year, whereas my wins are mostly from the second half of the year.
18111 Custom Harley Quinn
Of course, a custom pen has to make it on my favorites list. I commissioned this pen from Yoshi Nakama of 18111 Pens. It’s the first pen I really planned out and fully customized. The final pen is better than I could have hoped for. It’s an awesome addition to my collection, and I’m super happy I bought it.
Sometimes a pen just falls into your lap. While looking through the available secondhand pens at Bertram’s Inkwell. I picked out a vintage black and green Pelikan with an amazing nib. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a Year One Pelikan. Unfortunately, it’s not in writing condition, but it’s a fabulous piece of history to own.
Omas T2 Arte Italia
The same day I found the Pelikan, I also came across an Omas T2 Arte Italia. I couldn’t not ask how much it was and was floored by the price. Without a second thought, I bought it. It’s a beautiful pen, I just need to get the nib adjusted to work better for me. There’s a part of me that still can’t believe I own one of these beauties.
Platinum Izumo Maki-e Kurikara-Ken
The Kurikara-Ken was a bit of a surprise. When I first learned about it, I didn’t think I would like it much. But once I saw it in person, I fell in love. I got it at the DC Pen Show, and, honestly, I’ve never had a pen that feels so good in my hand. It’s also incredibly versatile, as I’ve yet to meet anyone who doesn’t like the feel of it when they write. The nib is satisfying and smooth, as I’d expect from a Platinum. The body is also absolutely gorgeous, and the texture is lovely to touch. It’s one of my favorite pens in my entire collection.
Pelikan m640 Indian Summer
The Indian Summer was another treasure in Bertram’s Inkwell’s secondhand stock. The price was super low, and, as I’d been eyeing the model at pen shows for a while, I couldn’t let it get away. I was, and still am, incredibly pleased to own it.
Montegrappa Fortuna Crowned Skull
I came across the Crowned Skull while doing research on a different Montegrappa. I reached out to Cary of Kenro Industries for some additional information and found out that this pen was never brought to the US. Cue an eBay search. I find one in Tel Aviv for a good price, and got really lucky with shipping. It arrived a good two weeks early, and I had it in time for Halloween/Dia de los Muertos. This pen is absolutely gorgeous, and I’m thrilled to have it.
So there you have it, my biggest wins of 2019. Granted, there were other awesome pen purchases last year, but I think these were the best.
Best New Discoveries
2019 also introduced me to some new (to me) brands. I bought my first Benu, Conklin, Franklin-Christoph, Leonardo Officina Italiana, Retro 51, Omas, and TWSBI. While some of these introductions were rocky, others were love at first write.
My first TWSBI purchase was a Rose Red TWSBI Diamond 580 on Virtual Pen Show for a good price. Having wanted one for a while, I picked it up, and loved it so much that I ended up buying three more: the emerald green, the purple, and the mint blue mini. The nib is buttery smooth, and the pen is comfortable to write with, even for longer writing sessions. It’s a fabulous pen for the price.
I also picked up two Ecos: the transparent orange (which had some nib issues I was able to take care of it fairly easily) and the mint blue. I foresee myself getting more TWSBIs in the future.
Not necessarily fountain pens (only one of my Retro 51s is a fountain pen), but great pens nonetheless. After all, there are times when you can’t use a fountain pen. I’ll admit that I dislike the ballpoint refills, but the rollerball refills are lovely. And the Apollo 11 fountain pen is such a fun, detailed pen.
I’ve known about Benu for quite a while. However, I bought my first Benu last year, the JetPens-exclusive Pacific Coast, and it’s a fabulous pen. Benu has some really unique designs, and the nib is super smooth and wet. I certainly recommend them.
Expectations for 2020
My biggest goal for 2020 is to end the year without any pen regrets. I’m hoping to eliminate impulse purchases, and, ultimately, cut down on the number of pens I buy. I’m not going to set a number limit, but I’d like to focus on getting only pens that will make me happy to use and own, as opposed to pens that will make me happy to purchase.
I have several pens on order with indie makers, hopefully my turns will be coming up soon for those. And I’ve got a couple of pens making their way to me as I write this. I won’t count those for now, as they were planned/purchased/scheduled in 2019. But, they’ll be lovely to get once they arrive.
I really only have one more pen I’m “looking” for. I want an akatame style urushi pen, but where the red is readily apparent (as opposed to the way it’s almost hidden on Platinum’s). If you have a suggestion, let me know in the comments.
Do you have any pen goals for 2020? How about pen victories or regrets from 2019? Let me know in the comments.