Last updated on May 2, 2022
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.
Ink Journal’s September 10th Flex Nib Friday issue included a link to ukfountainpens.com‘s article The Three Pen Collection for £1,000. The idea was based on a series of posts on the watch blog Worn & Wound called the three watch collection for $5,000. UK Fountain Pens adapted the idea to pens, dropped the budget to $1,000 because “watches are much more expensive than pens” — *chortle* some watches are much more expensive than some pens — and limited picks to pens you can go out and buy today.
It’s an easy enough premise. My problem, however, is that the pens I’d choose don’t work out well with the budget provided. So, I gave it some thought and decided to curate two collections, one with the adjusted $1,000 budget and one with the original $5,000 budget. As a note, I did not include taxes when figuring out my choices.
At $1K, I’m focusing on writing experience, not pen appearance. I have an affinity for “pretty” pens, but those tend to run higher in pricing.
TWSBI Diamond 580AL(R) – $65
First up, a TWSBI Diamond 580AL or 580ALR with an M nib. I don’t really care which color, as long as it’s not one of the special editions that have non-silver colored nibs. The 580 series nib is so deliciously wet, I can enjoy ink shading to my heart’s delight. It’s super easy to clean, and can be fully disassembled, so I can use any ink. And, since my final tally ends up a little shy of the $1K budget, I’d also get a replacement F nib for $20.
Running Total: $85.
Pilot Custom 74 – $160
Next up, a Pilot CUstom 74 Grenadine with a F nib. I fell in love with the one I bought, so I know this one wouldn’t disappoint. Like the TWSBI, it’s easy to clean, so I can change ink regularly.
Running Total: $245
Platinum Izumo Bombay Black Wood Tagayasan Fountain Pen, Matte – $595
And my last choice: The Platinum Izumo Tagayasan matte. I love how comfortable the Izumo shape is to write with. And the nib is wonderfully smooth, but crisp. This one would be good for non-shading inks.
Grand Total: $840
Look at that, even with taxes, I should be able to make it in under the $1K budget. Don’t know how well it would cover shipping, though. Those three wouldn’t be the prettiest collection in the world, but I’d love writing with them.
Now for the really fun one, the $5K collection. For this one, I considered aesthetics in addition to writing experience.
TWSBI Diamond 580AL(R) – $65
First up is the TWSBI again. And I’d get two replacement nibs so I have EF, F, and M options. What can I say, I truly love how the 580s write.
Running Total: $105
Namiki Yukari Rock Garden – $1,400
Next up is the Namiki Yukari Rock Garden with an M nib. The exterior is a beautiful work of art, and the nib glides on paper like a hot knife through butter.
Running Total: $1,505
ARTUS Pen – $1,800
Finally, I’d get another ARTUS, along the same lines as my Four Elements Water, because that pen is STUNNING. Every time I pick it up, I ogle it for a few moments. The sheer artistry is almost beyond comprehension. Sadly, no photo for this one, because it would depend what ARTUS has available at any given time in the $1,800 price point. To make it even better, I’d get one of Stylo Suite’s Spencerian nibs for it, because that is one of the most amazing nib experiences I’ve ever had.
Running Total: $3,505
I’m Going to Cheat: Platinum Izumo Maki-e Kurikara-ken – $1,250?
So this leaves me with $1,495 to spend (maybe more if I shop around for deals). So I’m going to let myself cheat and spend it on a fourth pen: The Platinum Izumo Maki-e Kurikara-ken. That Izumo shape, the president nib, and the dragon all together JUST edge out a carved pen from Brian Weaver, but it was a VERY close race. I had to get Jim’s opinion to decide. The pricing is iffy on this one. Google shows a couple of places that have this pen around $1,250 mark, but there are others with it around $1,600.
Grand Total: $4,755
I didn’t manage to get in under budget if I include taxes with this one. However, with a bit of shopping around, I could probably get lower prices and manage to get 100% under budget.
Despite putting together two ideal 3-pen collections, I know I wouldn’t be happy with a capsule collection. I like having 5+ pens inked up so I can have a bunch of ink colors. It was, after all, ink that first got me into the pen hobby, not pens.
So, what do you think of my choices? Do you agree with any of them? What would you choose instead? Would you be able to limit yourself to $1K, or would you need the full $5K? Let me know in the comments.