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My 2023 Top Tens

Posted in Fountain Pens

Once again, I’m sharing my current top pens. Last year’s approach to my top tens worked well, making me actually stick to lists of 10. I swear, this post gets harder every year. The nibs aren’t too hard, but the pens! It takes me more and more time to narrow down to ten, and then actually figure out the order.

Since I’m keeping to the same format as last year, I’ll compare my lists

But without further preamble, enjoy my top tens of 2023.

Top 10 Pens by Appearance

While I still love all of last year’s top pens, I had to drop several pens from the list because of this year’s acquisitions:

As I said last year, all of these top ten pens bring a smile to my face whenever I pick them up. It’s not uncommon for me to spend time just admiring their beauty.

#10: ARTUS Four Elements Earth


The Earth almost didn’t make it on the list this year. It’s beautiful, but between new custom acquisitions, and the new “new shiny” wearing off, it’s only just clinging to a spot in the top 10. I doubt it will make the list next year.

#9: ARTUS Four Elements Fire


While last year I put the Fire under the Earth, this year it feels right to bump it up a slot. Regardless of their list position, I love all of my ARTUS pens, they’re all beautifully painted and incredibly details.

#4: ARTUS Four Elements Air


I go back and forth on whether I prefer the Air or the Water. Sometimes, I prefer the swirls and dawn color scheme of the Air. At the time of writing this, Water wins out.

#3: ARTUS Four Elements Water


The monochromatic teal/turquoise colors scheme of the Water has always been high on my favorites list. There’s a reason why the Water was my first ARTUS purchase. I’m especially of the scale-like raden flakes that evoke memories of The Rainbow Fish.

#6: Stanford Pen Studio x Val Myburgh Sketched Fashion

Stanford Pen Studio Sketched Fashion

I had a REALLY hard time figuring out where to rank Sketched Fashion. It’s absolutely stunning, no doubt, and the work is exquisite. I think what kept it out of the top five is that I love color — NOTE: I didn’t expect color on this pen — and my top five are almost all brightly colored.

#5: Iron Feather Creative Mayan Hummingbird

Iron Feather Creative Mayan Pen

As I expected last year, the Art Deco Nibs pen got dethroned by my Mayan Hummingbird pen. I love the detail and care Brian put into this. It’s absolutely amazing. Plus, it features a hummingbird; that places it in the top five even though it’s not colorful.

#4: Permies.World English Garden

Full view of English Garden

The English Garden is another beauty that has only fallen because “new shiny” pretties carry a bit more weight than pretties that have been in my collection a while. But, I adore this pen, and you’ll have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. It only just beats out the Mayan pen because it’s colorful.

#3: Stanford Pen Studio x Marian Binder Hummingbirds

Stanford Pen Studio Hummingbirds

This hummingbird pen beats out the other two hummingbird-themed pens for its color scheme. I adore the colors. Of course, the art is absolutely stunning, too.

#1: Stanford Pen Studio x Marian Binder The Right Royal Pen AND Stanford Pen Studio x Hanna Farmer Ardently

The Right Royal Pen
Stanford Pen Studio Ardently

I was planning to rank The Right Royal Pen as number two, because it’s older. But, I just couldn’t do it. So, it’s tied with Ardently for number one. My Bumbledore pen is precious to me for obvious reasons. Ardently is absolutely beautiful and so extravagantly complex. I have a suspicion that next year’s number one slot will be tied again, but with the Little Women pen I commissioned.

Top 10 Nibs

I dropped two nibs from last year’s list — Pelikan m600 14C F and Cursive Italic M — because I got two new types of nibs this year. Makes sense, right?

Some of these nibs are specific to a certain pen, others are nib grinds. But these are my favorite nibs to write with.

#10: Visconti 18K EF

Ok, technically, I love the EF nib on my Il Magnifico Lapislazzuli. It writes like a M, not an EF, but it’s buttery smooth.

#9: Vintage Esterbrook 9128

I haven’t used my vintage Esterbrook as much as I would like. I’ve been looking for another one so I can use this nib more, but I want to love the pen as well, and I’m not a big fan of vintage materials.

#8: Platinum President F

This is definitely a daily writer. The line is beautifully precise, and, despite the thinness, the nib isn’t remotely scratchy. It’s fantastic. It doesn’t hurt that it’s in my Kurikara Ken.

#7: Pilot Custom 74 F

I loved the F nib so much that I bought other pens to test the other nibs, which are also awesome. I’m still trying to get some in-between nib sizes, but I want really pretty pens to go with them.

#6: TWSBI 580 F

I still love TWSBI 580 nibs. There’s not much more to say.

#5: My Cut Oblique

I loved my oblique nibs so much that I decided to make my own. Rather than grind them down, though, I cut them to the angle I like and smooth them — hence the name. They’re fabulous. I love the amount of character they add to my writing. I’ve made one in almost every type of inexpensive nib I own — Jowo, Bock, Lamy, and Schmidt.

#3: Stylosuite XXXF X-Wing Harpoon and Namiki Yukari M

I was going to list these separately, but they’re so different, that I feel a tie makes sense.

The reason that the XXXF X-Wing Harpoon didn’t beat out the Spencerian is that it doesn’t have quite as much line variation. Otherwise, it’s fabulous. I heartily recommend it to anyone, especially if you don’t like the sharpness of the Spencerian.

I simply couldn’t drop the Namiki Yukari M by one slot. I planned to list it as number four, but that felt wrong. It’s my top standard nib. It doesn’t need any adjustment. It wrote beautifully right out of the box, and when I start writing with it, I don’t want to stop.

#1: StyloSuite Spencerian and All in the Nib TWSBI Oblique

These still tie for first because they’re both amazing. I love them equally, and can’t really place one above the other.

The Spencerian is still my favorite for specialty writing, although it is perfectly usable for standard writing. The line variation is exquisite, ranging from hairline to at least BB. I keep my Spencerian in an always inked pen so it’s never not in use.

The oblique is my favorite for everyday writing. The TWSBI oblique, specifically, is really special. The wetness of the TWSBI feed makes the oblique that much more awesome. I still need to get a Pelikan oblique and a Sailor oblique. I just don’t know where to get extra Sailor nibs. Any suggestions?

Well, there you have it, my top 10 pens based on appearance and my top 10 nibs. I’m not looking forward to next year’s list, as I know it’s going to get even harder.

Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. What do you think of my lists? Is there anything you disagree with? Did anything surprise you? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.

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  1. LeAnne Bernard
    LeAnne Bernard

    Nice list! I agree with your #1 pen. It’s pawsitively gorgeous!! His Meowjesty is surely a very special kitty. Loved the hummingbird pen, too.

    December 20, 2023
    • Bumbledore is (in my admittedly very biased opinion) the most amazing cat I’ve every had the honor to meet. 😊

      December 21, 2023

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