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Year in Review – 2020 Pens

Posted in Fountain Pens

Welcome to 2021! Of course, my first post of the year is about pens. But, I promise, my next post won’t be. Really.

Last year, I wrote about my biggest pen wins and regrets of 2019. It was fun to look back on my pens, so I decided to do the same thing this year. Thankfully, I’m less embarrassed about my total pen purchases this year.

In my last post, I took a more intention-based look at my pen collection from last year. This time I’m looking at actual pens.

What, No Regrets?

Yeah, kind of hard to believe, but I have no real pen regrets this year. If you read my last post, then you know why, but the short version is that the few pens I didn’t love weren’t impulse purchases. Sometimes you think you’re going to love a pen, but, after owning it for a bit, you realize it’s not a great fit. That doesn’t mean you regret the purchase, rather it means it’s time to find it a new home.

I’m proud of my lack of regrets, because it means I met my goal for 2020.

Now, On To the Wins!

It’s hard to choose the best pens I got this year as I adore most of them. After much hemming and hawing, I managed to whittle the list down to a top 5 with 5 honorable mentions.

Because picking a top pen is like asking me to pick a favorite cat, I’m going to do this in the order I acquired them.

Aurora Sun Moon Lake – Moonlight

A stunning pen. I’d eyed this guy many times, starting in 2018 when a fellow DC Pen Crew member got one, before they came to the U.S. I had a hard time pulling the trigger, though. Maybe I was trying to convince myself I didn’t want it because of the price.

So when I had the opportunity to trade some work hours for it, I jumped on it. The material is glorious, and the cap band is a thing of beauty. It’s also very comfortable to write with. 100% satisfaction. This came VERY close to joining the “always inked” family, and may still dethrone my Montegrappa Shiny Lines/Dove.

Iron Feather Creative Scrollwork

This pen was meant to be in my family. Jim saw it at Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show before me, and was considering buying it. But, lucky me, I got it first. When I showed it to him, and he told me his story, we had a good chuckle. I repaid his “sacrifice” by cluing him into a deal on Reddit that let him get his own feather Iron Feather masterpiece.

My Scrollwork pen is one of my six “always inked” pens. I have a custom pen on order from Iron Feather Creative, as well. Brian Weaver is an amazing artist. If you don’t own one of his works of art, you should.

Visconti Medici Il Magnifico – Lapislazzuli

I’d eyed each of the previous Il Magnifico edicitions, especially the Serpentine — it’s the perfect Slytherin pen. And then I saw the Lapis on Instagram and fell in love. But, knowing that photos lie, I was sure that when I finally saw it in person, I wouldn’t like it as much. But, I liked it even more. Medici-inspired pen or not, it reminds me of Versailles, which is one of my favorite places I’ve been to.

When I got offered the same deal as the Aurora at a massive discount, I couldn’t say no. The day it arrived was glorious. Even the box is stunning, with a real glass viewport, instead of the typical thin plastic. Granted, at that price, it better be.

The nib is amazing. The pen feels good in my hand — heavy, but not so much as to cause cramps while writing. And the lapis is a joy to behold. It’s another one of my “always inked” pens, and I can’t imagine anything dethroning it.

Note: I’ve seen this pen named “Lapis Lazuli” and “Lapis Lazzuli”. But, Visconti lists it as the “Lapislazzuli” on their website, and they would know best, since it’s their pen.

Aurora 88 Venere (Venus)

I thought I’d missed my chance with this pen. I’d planned to trade in a pen I didn’t care for and pay the balance. But, the store wasn’t sure when, or if, they’d get it. So, I checked online — this was early September, and I didn’t know Aurora still wasn’t shipping anything — and freaked out when everyone listed it as out of stock.

Only one place had it listed as available: Appelboom. And, hooray, hooray, it was cheaper than in the U.S., plus free shipping. Well, it was a tense few weeks as Appelboom waited for Aurora to deliver. I’m sure they were tired of hearing from me as I kept checking in for updates, ut they were always very kind.

I briefly considered canceling my order and trying the one that had popped up on eBay, but I talked myself out of it. I was sure Appelboom wouldn’t string me along if they weren’t sure if the pen would arrive.

And, sure enough, I finally arrived. It’s gorgeous, reminding me of a flamingo with the color. Definitely a happy addition to my collection.

Aurora 100th Anniversary

And we come to the most recent of my top acquisitions this year. The Aurora 100th Anniversary pen. I fell in love with it when I saw it in an ad back at the beginning of the year. But I put it out of my mind until it started showing up in newsletters.

Well, Bertram’s Inkwell had it, and I got the chance to hold it, to see how the light played on the guilloché patterns. I probably shouldn’t have done that.

I gave the pen back, but it played on my mind the rest of that day and the next. So, I emailed Bert for the price, somewhat hoping he’d have sold it already. He hadn’t. And he offered me a good deal. How could I say no?

I’m still paying it off. And I’ve put myself on very strict pen regulation until I finish paying it off. But I consider it my present to myself for surviving 2020 with my sanity in tact and my credibility at work better than ever.

Anyway, ZERO regrets on getting that pen, despite the price. It’s stunning, terrific, fabulous, exquisite, and a whole host of other positive adjectives. It’s my third pen this year to join the “always inked” family.

Honorable Mentions

And, finally, we come to the honorable mentions: the five other pens I can’t end this post without mentioning. Even adding these, it was hard to leave some pens out. Like the wins, these are in purchase order.

  • Walltown Craftworks Watts in Glacier Bay: Nibsandflourishes on Instagram made me want a pen in this material with this stunning photo.
  • OMAS T2 Dama Prototype: I came across what I thought was a full sized OMAS for a crazy low price. Turns out it was a mini, Dama, size. But it was still super cheap because it’s a 1-of-a-kind prototype for a U.S. Exclusive pen with Sterling Silver and Vermeil editions.
  • Pelikan M205 Moonstone: I already like the look of this pen. Then ferociousnprettypens on Instagram posted a video of the rainbow sparkle, and I HAD to have it.
  • Sailor Pro Gear Après Ski: I’ve had an eBay search for this pen since some time in 2018. Of course, it popped up right after I bought the Aurora 100th Anniversary and was (am) on self-imposed pen restriction. Jim was kind enough to get it for me as a Christmas present, then let me open it when it arrived early.
  • Wood Wonders of North Carolina Modified Frenchie in Water Lily Koi: I believe Nibsandflourishes takes the blame for my wanting this pen, too. She takes such fabulous photos! I’ve been trying to get my hands on one for nearly a year with no success. Then Wood Wonders posted a material haul, and I was lucky enough to claim one. it’s stunning.

But Wait, There’s More!

A Surprise Comeback!

Sailor Pro Gear Mini Aries

Last year I listed my Sailor X Bungubox Pro Gear Slim Mini Aries as a major regret, having given it to Jim. But now, a year further removed from my disappointment at the appearance, I can appreciate it for what it is. Getting a converter helped, too, as I have more ink options. While I am still disappointed that it looks almost nothing like the concept art or pre-sale description, I like Sailor pens, and it’s a Sailor pen.

Must Be Mentioned

I have one last pen to mention. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I already know I’m going to love it.

Jim and I ordered the Nordic Snow and Black Onyx pens from Mike Allen‘s Kickstarter campaign. We were happy to help him out, and I’ll treasure that pen both because it helped him start a new chapter of penmaking and because Mike’s an awesome guy.

OK, now I’m done. Really. What were your best pen purchases of 2020? Do you have any pen regrets? Let me know in the comments.

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