Unpopular Fountain Pen Opinions

Alright, I’ve got a potentially (probably) divisive post for you today. I’m sharing opinions I have that seem to be unpopular based on what I’ve seen and heard in fountain pen groups and gatherings. Let’s jump in, shall we? I’ll start slow, leaving the doozies until the end.

“Rainbow”/”Iridescent” Finish

It’s been on a lot of pens in the past couple of years, and I think it’s ugly and overpriced. From Visconti’s Rainbow Watermark to TWSBI’s Vac 700r Iris and Conklin’s Duragraph Rainbow, pens at all price points are using the colorful finish.

I don’t know what to call it. It’s not a proper rainbow — the colors aren’t in order and there isn’t a good red or purple. It’s not iridescent — the colors don’t change, or even appear to change, at different angles. Regardless, I bought a seven piece cutlery set with the same finish about 3 years ago for $11 thinking it would be super cool and ended up woefully disappointed. I definitely won’t be investing in a pen with it.

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Keeping to My Goal

As I’ve stated previously, my current pen rule is to be more thoughtful with my pen purchases. I’m doing my best to purchase pens that will make me happy to own, not just happy to buy.

It can be difficult sometimes. Pens may have misleading marketing photos — I’m looking at you, Sailor Pro Gear Slim Red Supernova — or zero size reference, for example. So, pens you think will be be fabulous may turn out to be not so great, or even totally wrong for you.

The question then, is what do you do? My plan was always to immediately return any pen that didn’t make me 100% happy upon unboxing. I put that plan in place after the Red Supernova debacle. In theory, it was a great plan. In practice, it hit a major snag the next time a pen didn’t meet that standard.

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Another “Step Up” Pen

As I stated in my TWSBI post, the Kaweco Sport series is another contender for best “step up” pen. I know several people who absolutely adore the Sport series, and I’ve come across photos of truly impressive collections.

I really like the non-satin finish metal-bodied Sports for their weight and durability. The nibs for the entire series are decent and come in a wide range of sizes, but the TWSBI nibs are definitely better.

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Día de Muertos, But Make it Pen

Watching Coco gave me a greater appreciation for my Mexican heritage. Since then, I’ve been trying to fill in cultural gaps leftover from childhood; like the appreciation and understanding of Mexican art.

One of those glorious art styles is centered on Día de Muertos. The riotous use of colors alone is enough to capture my attention, but combined with macabre imagery and joyous celebration, it’s definitely in my top 5 favorite art styles/themes.

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Pen Opinions Change

Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote the third installment to my Fountain Pen 101 series: Where to Start (With Pens). In it, I recommended the Pilot Metropolitan and Platinum Preppy as the best starter pens. I also promoted the Lamy Safari as the best “step up” pen.

While I stand by my assertions about the Preppy and Metropolitan, I’ve changed my mind about the Safari. This is because 2 years ago, I tried a TWSBI Diamond 580AL. In my opinion, it is by far the better “step up” pen. I now own 11 of the 580 series pens (full sized and mini), and I love them! In fact, if some freak occurrence were to lose me my collection, I’d likely just buy a few 580s and call it quits.

A quick note before jumping into the meat of this post. There is a third contender for best “step up” pen: The Kaweco Sport series. I’d put it as the second best, due to price and nib selection, and should have a post about it in the next week or two.

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My 2020 Top Pens

In working on blog posts for the new year, I wanted to revisit last year’s favorite pens, only to realize I hadn’t previously written such a list. So, to have something to revisit next year, I give you my top pens as of the close of 2020.

I tend to sell or trade pens that don’t make me very happy to own. I’m hoping to eventually get to a point where all of my pens are favorites, but I was able to come up with a top 10 and top 20 this year. It was difficult to do, but these are basically the pens you’d have to pry out of my cold, dead hands.

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Year in Review – 2020 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.

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Pen Ownership

2020 was my fourth full year truly invested in the pen world. I bought 3 pens in 2016 — over the entire year — but I wasn’t a “pen person” yet. So, what’s changed in four years? What’s stayed the same? And what have I learned?

I want to start with that last one. The most important thing I’ve learned is that I need to buy pens that I’m happy to own, not just pens I’m happy to buy. Pens that I’m happy to buy don’t stick around very long.

In an unexpected, and unpleasant, way, 2020 really helped me get a good handle on this new philosophy. Less money coming in means less money for pens. So I really had to question every purchase — especially pens.

And it made a huge difference. I acquired 40% less pens this year than last year, and even 10% less than 2018. In many cases, I sold other pens to fund purchases. And, to be fair to myself, several pens were gifts or trades.

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Year in Review – 2019 Pens

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.

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25 Days of Dupes Wrap-Up

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you were unable to purchase the Inkvent Calendar, then I hope this settled your mind about experiencing the colors. If you fell in love with a color (or a few) from the Inkvent Calendar, then I hope this freed you to use them since you can get color dupes.

I want to provide an easy reference post so you don’t have to click through 25 separate blog posts to find the dupe names. I’m only listing the ink that I feel is the best overall dupe. If you want to see the comparison swabs or the other dupe options, you can click through to the corresponding post.

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