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My 2020 Top Pens

Posted in Fountain Pens

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.

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.

Always Inked

I have a handful of pens that I keep inked, ignoring the weekly rotation of other pens. I used to have 5, but with the purchase of my Aurora 100th Anniversary pen, I now have 6.

#1 Tie: Aurora 100th Anniversary and Visconti Il Magnifico Lapislazzuli

These are two stunning pens that write beautifully. I doubt they require any explanation for their list position.

#3: Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88

Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88

My Prisma 88 carries a large emotional attachment for me. For those interested in the full story, you can read my post about it. The short version is that it was a gift to myself for accomplishing something I never thought I would.

#4: Iron Feather Creative Scrollwork Feathers

The Iron Feather was destined to be in the family. I have a feather tattoo designed by Jim, and the feathers on this pen are, amazingly, in a complementary style.

#5: Platinum Izumo Maki-e Kurikara-Ken

Platinum Izumo Kurikara-Ken

I was fortunate to have the option to trade work for this pen. It’s phenomenal. I also love Dragons, so the combination of artistic work and subject make it a top-spot holder.

#6: Montegrappa 1930 Shiny Lines/Dove

Montegrappa Shiny Lines/Dove

This was my first expensive pen after the Prisma 88. For a while, I kept it inked to “earn its keep,” but now it’s because I love it. The shine on the celluloid is almost distracting in its beauty.

Remaining Top 10

#7: Aurora Sun Moon Lake Moonlight

For a pen I almost didn’t buy, this is exquisite. The cracked iced-style material has a great depth. I’m trying to decide if I should add a 7th always inked pen. I’ll keep you posted.

#8: Benu Briolette Pacific Coast

Benu Briolette Pacific Coast

I’d been wanting a Benu for a while when this came out. It was the perfect pen, and it writes beautifully. Plus bonus points for being one of JetPens’ charity pens.

#9: Visconti Medici Rose Sovrano

Visconti Medici Rose Sovrano

This pen is striking. The material is gorgeous; it has a lot of depth, with the highlights catching the light as you write with it. And the nib is lovely.

#10: Lamy Safari Dark Lilac

Lamy Safari Dark Lilac

Probably a surprising pen for a top 10 list, but it’s the first pen I bought over $5, so it means a lot to me.

The Top 20

My next ten pens are ones that I would only part with if my life was completely falling apart. May such a day never come.

#11: Stipula Leonardo da Vinci Olive Wood Limited Edition

Stipula Leonardo da Vinci Olive Wood

Not to be confused with the Deluxe Edition with solid good trims, this was my grail pen. I do love it, but I’ve found that it isn’t great for writing, so I couldn’t put it in my top 10. The pen takes some time to open, thus not ideal for quick notes. But it’s also rather heavy, tiring my hand during long writing sessions. I don’t ever want to get rid of it, though.

#12: Sailor Pro Gear Tequila Sunrise

Sailor Pro Gear Tequila Sunrise

This was my first Sailor, and it’s still my favorite. Sailor nibs are great, and the color scheme is delightful. Plus, one of my favorite drinks (not a tequila sunrise) has the same color scheme.

#13: Aurora 88 Venere

Perhaps just because it’s new (time will tell), I adore this pen. It’s a great color, and it writes well. I’m considering getting the nib flexified, but we’ll see.

#14: Pelikan M640 Eternal Ice

Pelikan M640 Eternal Ice

This was the third Wonders of Nature series pen that I bought, but it’s my favorite. I love cold and winter, so this is very me.

#15: Platinum #3776 Century Nice Lavande

Platinum #3776 Century Nice Lavande

I considered selling this at one point, but couldn’t bring myself to do so, and I couldn’t be happier, now. It meant more to me back then than I realized, and I’m aware of it now. Also, I’m a sucker for a good rose gold trim.

#16: Pelikan M205 Moonstone

Pelikan M205 Moonstone

Two words: Rainbow glitter. Enough said.

#17: SmithCrafters Shredded Money Writer Gold Rush

SmithCrafters Gold Rush

This pen is so unique. Shredded money and gold flakes in swirled clear, white, and gold resin.I doubt anything like it will ever be made again.

#18: Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age

Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age

Ralph Reyes, in his early days in the pen world, tuned the Palladium nib on my Homo Sapiens the day I got it. It’s buttery smooth, and likely one of a kind at this point.

#19: 18111 Standard Model Green Ivies & Harley Quinn Custom

18111 Green Ivies (top) and Custom Harley Quinn

OK, yes, technically two pens, but this is a set I tend to think of as a single unit. I ordered the Harley Quinn as a companion pen to the Green Ivies (Poison Ivy, in my mind). I only ink them together and only carry them together.

#20: Any TWSBI 580 Series Pen

Photoshopped TWSBI 580 Series mix

A little different this time. I ADORE the TWSBI 580 series nibs — side note, should I do a top nibs post? I own… erm… too many — yet somehow not enough — TWSBI 580 series pens, both full size and mini. Every single one has a fabulous nib. They’re super wet, so I can see shading even with EF nibs, and perfectly smooth. It doesn’t really matter to me which of the TWSBI 580 pens I keep, but I have to keep one.

Wrap Up

So there were are. My top 10 and top 20 pens. That was difficult, and there are so many pens I wanted to name — the other Wonders of Nature pens, my pen made of Glacier Bay material, the OMASs, the Woodshed, other Sailor Cocktail series pens. *sigh* But that’s a good thing. I want to consider all of my pens favorites, after all, so this should be hard to do.

What do you think of my list? Is there anything you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.

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