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Year in Review – 2023 Pens

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Non-Fountain Pens

I’m proud of myself for sticking so well to my fountain pen purchase limit this year. I went over by two, although one was an impulse purchase that may be a catch-and-release. I also didn’t expect my Stanford Pen Studio commissions to be ready so quickly. I thought I’d be counting them toward next year’s total.

Unlike last year, I decided to add photos so you can see the pretties. Where possible, I’ve also linked to my dedicated blog posts. Now, enough chit-chat, this post will be long enough as it is. Onto the ranking!

The Regrets

46. Cheap Brass Pocket Pen

Cheap Brass Pen

Honestly, I shouldn’t have bought this pen. But, it was unique and cheap. Then, in researching it, I found that I could have gotten it for a tiny fraction of the already low price I paid if I’d purchased it from one of the Chinese sites (Temu, AliExpress, etc.). That made my impulse purchase seem all the more ill-advised. But, at least it wasn’t an expensive dumb purchase.

45. Gioia Cameo Edition Burgundy

Gioia Cameo Edition capped

I honestly thought I’d enjoy this one. But, since it was a somewhat expensive mistake, I regret spending money that I won’t recover. I’m selling it for 80% of what I paid.

The OK

44. Retro 51 Rainforest

Retro 51 Rainforest

This pen is cute — I still love the tree frog finial. But, it can’t compare to other pens I’ve purchased this year

42. TWSBI Mini AL Grape and TWSBI Kai

It seems weird to put TWSBIs so far down my list. But, despite how much I love the nibs, I bought these for collectability. I’m collecting the Minis, and I have the Aurora and Draco, so I felt I should have the Kai.

The Good

41. Caran d’Ache 849 London

Caran d'Ache 849 London

This one is super cool, especially as I love London, but it can’t compare to custom pens.

40. Retro 51 x Goldspot Tea Time

Retro 51 Tea Time

I enjoy tea, and this one has a cool design. But, at the end of the day, it can’t compare to some of my better purchases this year.

39. Shibui Kitsune Converter Creepy Little Skulls

Shibui North Kitsune Converter

The only reason why this one ranks this low is that I discovered that the barrel cap — to access the converter — doesn’t perfectly line up with the barrel when fully tightened. I find that highly distracting.

38. Skogsy Pens Cholla Micarta

Skogsy Cholla Micarta

I’m happy to have a micarta pen in my collection. I’ve wanted one for a long time. And the model is nice. But, I can’t rank everything high. It just gets beat out by other, prettier, pens.

37. Gravitas Universe

Gravitas Universe Full Size

Earlier in the year, when I bought this, I thought it would rank higher. But, it’s been a year for fantastic pen purchases. Unfortunately, this one isn’t helped by the slight metal-on-metal sound when unscrewing the cap. Even the tiniest details make a difference when ranking awesome pens.

36. Opus 88 Medusa

Opus 88 Medusa

I bought this for the material — which is pretty — and the theme. Depending on the day, I could see this going up and down by a few slots on my ranking.

35. Rob’s Penworks Taro Boba

Robs Penworks Taro Boba Tea

This is a cool idea, and I love that Rob was willing to work on it with me. It’s another one that, depending on the day, could move up or down on my list.

34. Rob’s Penworks Four Seasons Spring

Robs Penworks Spring

While I love sakura and am happy to have this pen, pink isn’t my favorite in the work, so it’s the lowest of my three season pens.

33. Benu Talisman Sakura

Benu Talisman Sakura

More sakura! This one has blue, too, though, so it just slightly edges out the all-pink sakura pen.

32. Rob’s Penworks Four Seasons Winter

Robs Penworks Winter

If you know me at all, you know I love winter. This is blue and has snowflake glitter. The model is a bit chunky for my general tastes, although I understand why that’s necessary.

31. Benu x Truphae Talisman Venus’s Hair

Benu Talisman Venus' Hair

This one just edges out the Winter because it’s so shiny, and my crow-brain is strong.

30. Rob’s Penworks Four Seasons Fall

Robs Penworks Autumn

While I love the Winter, the color scheme on this one is my favorite of my three season pens.

29. Retro 51 x Metropolitan Museum of Art L.C. Tiffany Favrile

Retro 51 Tiffany Favrile

It has a peacock feather. I love peacocks. Not quite as much as dragons and hummingbirds, but still pretty high up there.

28. Nahvalur x Enigma Stationery Nautilus Brilliant Bunny

Nahvalur Nautilus Brilliant Bunny

I really enjoy the Nautilus model. And the material on this pen is stupendous. But, for some reason, Nahvalur’s gold nibs aren’t as nice as their steel nibs. I might see about tuning it to see if I can like it more.

27. Esterbrook JR Beleza

Esterbrook JR Beleza

This one is surprisingly weighty and well-balanced for its size. I could probably move up a bit in the ranking, but I’m also comfortable with it here.

26. Benu Talisman Lavender

Benu Talisman Lavender

This one ranks as high as it does because it’s scented, and that’s really cool. I’m sad that the scent will eventually fade. But, for now, I still get a whiff of lavender every time I uncap the pen.

25. Retro 51 Wars of the Roses, House of York

Retro 51 Wars of the Roses House of York

I’m a bit of a Tudor history nerd. I know the Wars of the Roses weren’t directly related to Tudor history, but it’s Tudor-adjacent. Also, I want the whole set of three roses, so I needed this one.

24. Scriveiner EDC Copper

Scriveiner EDC Copper

I finally got my copper pen, and I don’t have to deal with patina. Plus, this one has a good weight and a great nib.

23. Pilot Custom 74 Benifuji

Namiki Custom 74 Benifuji

I really just bought this for the nib (FM). I love Custom 74 nibs, and this was a size I didn’t have. It doesn’t hurt that it’s not one of the standard colorways.

22. Retro 51 x Metropolitan Museum of Art Tudor Armor

Retro 51 Tudor Armor

More Tudor goodness. Because this one is directly related to Tudor history it rates higher. Also, the design is fabulous.

20. Nahvalur 365 Beluga and Nahvalur Voyage Vacation Tromsø

I’m setting these two at a tie because I bought them both for their materials. I like the Nahvalur steel nibs, and these pens gave me excuses to own both of these materials without buying “pretty ink sticks.”

The Great

19. Pens By Pasquale Cerberus Neon Ribbon Demonstrator

Pens By Pasquale Ribbon Demonstrator

This one is unique, and it’s colorful. That gives this pen an edge in my book.

18. Scribo Feel Spiaggia Rosa

Scribo Feel Spiaggia Rosa

The material on this is just so awesome, it sneaks into the “great” category. I haven’t used the pen enough yet to have a good “feel” of the nib. *grin*

17. Edison Pen Co. x Goulet Pens Nouveau Tequila Sunrise

Edison Pen Co Nouveau Tequila Sunrise

I’ve wanted this one for so long that having it is sweet, sweet victory. Also, it’s bright and colorful, so, you know.

16. Tailored Pen Co. Churchill Wildflowers

Tailored Pen Company Churchill Wildflower

Another one I’ve been waiting for for a long time. Not this pen exactly, but one with flowers in the material.

15. 18111 Night Snow

18111 Night Snow

Another one I waited a long time for. Hmm, we’re getting a theme going. For the wait and the winter theme, this one gets to be a little higher than otherwise.

14. Shibui North Pocket Fox Copper Asa No Ha

Shibui North Pocket Fox Asa No Ha Cherry Black

This pen was really unique to me for the design, the coating, the nib coating, and the decoration. And unique carries a lot of weight for me.

13. Benu x Gourmet Pens Talisman True Unicorn

Benu Talisman True Unicorn

This one is colorful, shiny, and was designed in collaboration with a friend of mine. This makes it important.

12. Den’s Pens Arawn

Den's Pens Arawn

This pen ranks higher than you would expect because of the cap. This isn’t just a pretty ink stick. It’s also a fidget toy. I adore playing with the flats and divot on the cap. It’s the reason I bought it.

11. Benu Euphoria Playful Paws

Benu Euphoria Playful Paws

You don’t have to have been here very long to understand I love cats. So, a hand-painted pen with multiple cats has to be high on this list.

The Best

10. Benu x Cult Pens Minima Día de Muertos

Benu Minima Dia de Muertos

If you’ve been here for a while, you know about my other Día De Muertos pen. When I saw this one, I couldn’t buy it fast enough.

9. Cypress Kawari Nuri Pink

Cypress Kawari Nuri Pink

I bought this second-hand from Candace (Inks.and.Anchors on Instagram). She took good care of it, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I love the pattern, colors, and bits of raden throughout.

8. Sailor Pro Gear Sakura Nagare

Sailor Pro Gear Sakura Nagare

For the story behind this pen, the gorgeous urushi and maki-e work, and the nib, this one gets a high rating.

7. Analog Notes Precious Petals

Analog Notes Precious Petals

I suggest you read my post on this pen. I’ll say only that the petals in it are from the first bouquet Jim gave me when we were dating.

6. Benu x Luxury Brands of America Harmony of the Hummingbird

Benu Euphoria Harmony of the Hummingbird

It’s a sparkly Benu with a hand-painted hummingbird. Do I really need to say more?

5. Ryan Krusac Legend L14 Ashbain the Dragon

Ryan Krusac Ashbain the Dragon

I’ve been interested in a Ryan Krusac dragon pen for several years now. I held off because I wasn’t sold on his designs where the dragon is battling a human. I saw this pen at the 2022 DC Pen Show, but didn’t buy it, and had to wait until the DC show this year. It’s great having a dragon-themed pen.

NOTE: I said plenty about these pens in my previous post, no need to repeat myself. If you’re curious about them, check out my 2023 Top Tens post or each pen’s pen porn post.

4. Stanford Pen Studio x Val Myburgh Sketched Fashion

Stanford Pen Studio Sketched Fashion

3. Iron Feather Creative Mayan Hummingbird

Iron Feather Creative Mayan Pen

2. Stanford Pen Studio x Marian Binder Hummingbirds

Stanford Pen Studio Hummingbirds

1. Stanford Pen Studio x Hanna Farmer Ardently

Stanford Pen Studio Ardently

There are many pen porn posts coming, I just haven’t had time to take the photos. Between my paid work and some intense blog posts, I haven’t been able to make the necessary time until recently. But I have a long list of pens to feature.

But Wait, There’s More!

Caran d'Ache 849 Dragon

It seems like I do this every year. After finishing this post, but before actually posting, I purchased one more pen — not a fountain pen. The Caran d’Ache Dragon is my first year of the dragon purchase — I was born year of the dragon — and it’s gorgeous.

Do you agree with my rankings? Do you prefer this year’s version with the photos, or last year’s without? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Make sure to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss any posts. I generally post at least once a week.


  1. Shari Kalb
    Shari Kalb

    Your pen collection is stunning, wow! I need a trust fund, seriously.

    January 2, 2024
  2. gary scott
    gary scott

    Definity the pictures make this post much more enjoyable to read. Unfortunately, for me pens are like food. I buy pens based on looks first figuring that a good nib smith can fix all but the crapiest of nibs. I saw several pens in your list that I liked and a couple that I already own. I enjoy reading your post and look forward to another year of posts.

    December 22, 2023
  3. Di

    We are beyond thrilled. Thank you, Rachel!!

    December 22, 2023

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