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You Can Only Keep One

Posted in Fountain Pens

I’ve seen this tag come and go in the makeup world multiple times. I have no idea, at this point, what the first video was that I saw for it, or who started it, but I thought I’d try it for fountain pens. I might try it for ink, too, but that will likely be even harder.

For this post, we travel to an alternate universe where, for some reason, I’m forced to give up all but one fountain pen per brand — “you can only keep one.” I’m giving myself leeway with my Stanford Pen Studios pens because there are from/by different artists, and that is the only company that does that. I could easily argue that individual artists are sub-brands under the Stanford Pen Studio umbrella. So, I’m letting myself keep one pen per artist for Stanford Pen Studios.

Let’s go through these in alphabetical order by brand.

UPDATE: A Gathering of Curiosities, Line Variation, Pen Addict, and Ana and Laura at The Well-Appointed Desk have all given this challenge a go, you should check them out. Please note, the Pen Addict post is exclusive to members.

Disclaimer: I take no responsibility for pen envy or impulse purchases resulting from viewing this post.


I think most would expect me to keep my commissioned pen from 18111, and a couple of years ago, that would have been true. But, I’ve mostly gotten over my Harley Quinn obsession since then. I have not, however, lost any love for winter, so I’m keeping the Night Snow.

18111 Night Snow
18111 Night Snow


Whooo. This one is HARD! Of course, the Fire and Earth are beautiful, but I regularly flop between Air and Water as my favorite ARTUS pen. Air is a bit more colorful, and has a blue/pink color scheme I love. But, once again, water just wins out because it reminds me of Rainbow Fish. Nostalgia for the win!

ARTUS Four Elements Water


Oh, gosh, another super-hard one, mainly because I have so many — 14! At first glance, it comes down to Feather in the Wind, Playful Paws, Harmony of the Hummingbird, and Día de Muertos. They’re all Benu’s hand-painted pens.

But, I have to narrow it down to one. OK, I’ll drop Playful Paws because I’m not in love with the tone of pink. And while I love the colors of the Día de Muertos, I think the painting on it is not quite to the level of the other two, and I have a pen in mind to keep later that has the same theme. I also have a pen in mind that is hummingbird themed, so I’m keeping the Feather in the Wind.

Benu Feather in the Wind
Benu Briolette Feather in the Wind

Country Made Pens

This one isn’t as hard as my Benu choice, but it isn’t easy. The engraved sleeve is fabulous on my first purchase from Country Made Pens, but I think the 3D scrollwork sleeve from my recent commission is more technically difficult. I could be wrong about that. Between the two base materials, though, there is no competition. The multichrome material on the new pen really pushes it over the edge to keep it over the other.

Country Made Pens 3D Scrollwork Sleeve
Country Made Pens 3D Scrollwork Sleeve in Stormwind Calypso and Abominable


While I love all of the Cypress pens I own, my top three are the newest — E06 — because it’s gorgeous and still has the “new shiny” factor, the Skull and Crystals, and my Día de Muertos commission for the emotional connection. I have another pen in mind for a different brand that has a similar style to the E06, so it’s out.

But that leaves me with the highly difficult decision between the technically superior Skull and Crystals and the higher emotional connection of the Día de Muertos. As much as the technical flaws can bug me on my “perfectionist” days, emotional connection wins, so I’m keeping the Día de Muertos.

Día de Muertos
Cypress Día De Muertos

Den’s Pens

While the technical precision necessary for the Baetylus model makes it more impressive, the “fidget” aspect of the Arawn cap makes it the keeper for me.

Den's Pens Arawn
Den’s Pens Arawn in unknown material


Likely surprising everyone given my preference for modern pens, my Estie Sunflower and JR Beleza are no contest to keeping my vintage Esterbrook J. This is both because the J was a gift and because the 9128 nib I’ve got in it is fabulous.

Esterbrook J Dubonnet Red
Esterbrook J in Dubonnet Red


This one’s easy! While the Goulet Pens 2019 collab, Cosmic Dust, is pretty, it can’t beat the sparkly goodness of the Gourmet Pens collab, Stars on Sapphire Lake. Not that it needs a boost in my desire to keep it, but being developed in collaboration with a friend of mine makes it more precious.

Stars on Sapphire Lakes
Franklin-Christoph x Gourmet Pens Model 46 Stars on Sapphire Lake

Gravitas Pens

Another easy one! While I like the design on the “microtexture” Sentry, it doesn’t hold a candle to the holographic sparkle of the Universe.

Gravitas Universe Full Size
Gravitas Universe

Herbert Pen Co

Ooh, back to a more difficult choice. I love that the NOLA Tricentennial limited edition was my first indie pen. But, the colors on the Poe goldfish ribbon are more to my taste at this point, so I’m keeping it.

Herbert Pen Co Octagonal Poe Goldfish Ribbon
Herbert Pen Co. Octagonal Poe in Goldfish Ribbon

Iron Feather Creative

I’d be devastated to lose any of my Iron Feather Creative pens. But, being forced to choose, it only makes sense to keep my commissioned Mayan Hummingbird pen. This is the hummingbird pen I was referring to in the Benu section.

Iron Feather Creative Mayan Pen
Iron Feather Creative Mayan Art


The AL Sport Stonewashed Blue is pretty unique to my full collection, and would be unique to a collection of just one pen per brand. But, the Iridescent Pearl is so pretty! And, since I already chose a weighty metal pen to keep — Gravitas Universe — I’m keeping the “pretty”.

Kaweco Collection Iridescent Pearl
Kaweco Collection in Iridescent Pearl with Deluxe Chrome Clip


While I technically own two Lamy pens, I’ve retired one of them. Generally, this would be an easy decision, but the retired pen is my Safari Dark Lilac, the first “expensive” pen I purchased.

As I prefer to use the pens I own, I’m keeping the 2000 as I’ve long “outgrown” the Safari.

Lamy 2000
Lamy 2000 in Makrolon

Mayfair Pens

Mayfair pens are fun, and so curvy. My Noldor is very pretty, but, I’m keeping the Eowyn because it’s even more curvy, and the material is utterly fantastic.

Mayfair Eowyn in Hijinks
Mayfair Pens Eowyn in Stormwind Hijinks


Another brand where one pen is retired. I don’t have a major emotional attachment to the Crowned Skull, though. Sadly, despite how pretty it is, the Crowned Skull suffers from the same hard start issues that every other Fortuna model I’ve owned does. The Shiny Lines/Dove, by contrast, is one of the few Montegrappa’s I’ve come across that works well every time you use it. Not to mention, I love the celluloid material. Definitely keeping it.

Montegrappa Shiny Lines/Dove
Montegrappa x Goulet Pen Co. Shiny Lines/Dove


As all three of my Nahvalur pens are the same shape — although technically different models — this decision is entirely based on material. The Beluga is pretty, but the muted blues and reds don’t pop as much as the other two, so it’s out.

The Brilliant Bunny is a gorgeous sparkly red; the Tromsø stands out for the iridescent shifts. They’re both limited editions. I’m keeping other pens made out of swirly materials and a pen with iridescence. But I’m only keeping one other pen that sparkles like the Brilliant Bunny, and it’s a lime green. So, I guess it makes more sense to keep the Brilliant Bunny.

Nahvalur Nautilus Brilliant Bunny
Nahvalur x Enigma Stationery Nautilus in Brilliant Bunny


Yes, I’m aware that it could be considered cheating to separate Pilot and Namiki. But, they’re labeled with different names on the clip, so I think it’s fair.

While I own three pens labeled Namiki, I don’t even have to think about this one. I’m keeping the Rock Garden. I love the 3D aspect of the rocks, and the nib writes like a hot knife slices butter.

Namiki Yukari Rock Garden
Namiki Yukari Rock Garden


I admittedly have a marginally greater affinity for the looks of my Paragon Arte Italiana. But, I have to keep the Dama. It’s a prototype, it’s small — and cute! — and it has the T2 nib.

OMAS Dama prototype
OMAS Dama-sized prototype of a Chatterley Luxuries collaboration


Another easy decision. The 2021 Illuminating/Ultimate Gray Demo Eyedropper is, while pretty, just a basic demonstrator. The Medusa, though, has a combination of materials and a fantastic snake finial.

Opus 88 Medusa
OPUS 88 x Endless Pens x Micah Finds Medusa


And… I’m back to a harder decision. I can instantly rule out the M205 Moonstone since I kept the Gravitas Universe. And, as much as I hate to say this, I can also rule out the 100 Jade/Marbled Green — AKA the Year One — from 1929 as I can’t use it due to nib stress fractures.

That leaves my three M640s. The Sahara is very pretty, but I have more “me” options than a desert-themed pen. The Indian Summer is also very nice, but it’s always bugged me that the trim and nib are silver on a warm-toned pen. That means I’m keeping the Eternal Ice, perfect for my cold-loving self.

Pelikan M640 Eternal Ice
Pelikan M640 Beauties of Nature Eternal Ice


With one exception, my Pilot pens are all Custom 74s. The exception, a black Custom 743, is just too plain to keep, even if it does have the FA nib. The others are the Orange, the Violet, an after-market sticker maki-e, and the Benifuji.

The Orange and Violet aren’t much more interesting, appearance-wise, than the 743. And, while the after-market work is pretty, I’m keeping much better examples of urushi art. So, almost by default, I’m keeping the Benifuji, which is pretty, and a limited edition.

Pilot Custom 74 Benifuji
Pilot Custom 74 Benifuji


I have nine platinum pens. Some are cheap, like the Preppy and Little Shooting Star models. Others are not, like the Izumo model. You would think, with contenders like the Bamboo Weaving Torafu and the Shape of a Heart, this would be difficult. But, one of my two genuinely “always inked” pens is a Platinum, the Kurikara-Ken. Of course that’s the one I’m keeping.

The platinum izumo kurikara ken
Platinum Izumo Maki-e Kurikara-Ken

River City Pen Co

This decision is a little harder again. Both of my River City Pen Co pens are delightful examples of “pretty ink sticks” and I love them both. I’m keeping other pens with similar materials and shapes, so I can’t decide which to keep based on either factor. The Arlington model is a bit chunky, not exactly my favorite with my smallish hands, so I’ll keep the Shadyside.

River City Pen Co Shadyside
River City Pen Co Shadyside in Carolina Pen Co. Waterlily Koi

Rob’s Penworks

Because I own a winter-themed pen from Rob’s Penworks, that would typically be my choice to keep. But, since I’m already keeping a snow-themed and ice-themed pen, I’m going to keep my next favorite season, Autumn.

Robs Penworks Autumn
Rob’s Penworks Four Seasons Autumn

Ryan Krusac

The wood pen I own from Ryan Krusac is beautiful, but it doesn’t have a dragon on it. So, with virtually no contest, I’m keeping Ashbain the Dragon.

Ryan Krusac Ashbain the Dragon
Ryan Krusac L-14 Ashbain the Dragon


I own quite a few Sailor pens. And there are several I’d be sad to lose. However, my Sakura Nagare has so much history associated with it. And, it’s absolutely gorgeous. So, it’s the one I’m keeping.

Sailor Pro Gear Sakura Nagare
Sailor Pro Gear Sakura Nagare

Scriptorium Pens

While I truly love the material on my Idyll, it’s a bit on the chunky side. Because of that, I’m keeping my customized Exemplar.

Scriptorium Exemplar
Scriptorium Customized Exemplar in Dupras Dark Cenote

Shibui North

The Kitsune is interesting, but the Pocket Fox is so uniquely elegant that I simply have to keep it.

Shibui North Pocket Fox Asa No Ha Cherry Black
Shibui North Pocket Fox Copper in Asa No Ha

Skogsy Pens

I really should keep the micarta pen, since it would be unique to the collection. But, the Baby Saguaro is new and just so cute that I have to keep it instead.

Skogsy Pens Baby Saguaro
Skogsy Pens Baby Saguaro in Stormwinds Sedona Spa

Stanford Pen Studio

As I already mentioned, I’m allowing one pen per artist for Stanford Pen Studio. For my current collection, that means three pens, one each for Marian Binder, Hanna Farmer, and Val Myburgh.

Marian Binder

As much as I love my hummingbirds pen, it simply has no chance against my Bumbledore pen, which I’m keeping.

The Right Royal Pen
Stanford Pen Studio x Marian Binder The Right Royal Pen

Hanna Farmer

If you’ve seen my most recent pen porn posts, then you already know I’m keeping Little Women — but I’m renaming it March Sisters — over Ardently. If you haven’t, then my Little Women-themed pen was the means for me to return to my favorite childhood novel.

Stanford Pen Studio x Hanna Farmer Little Women
Stanford Pen Studio x Hanna Farmer March Sisters

Val Myburgh

This one isn’t actually a decision. I only have one pen by Val, and I’m keeping it.

Stanford Pen Studio Sketched Fashion
Stanford Pen Studio x Val Myburgh Sketched Fashion


This is another difficult decision. I own to Stipula pens, the Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88 and the Leonardo da Vinci. The former is a very special pen I purchased as a reward to myself for finally getting my driver’s license. The latter was my first and only grail pen. However, both are now retired.

So, we have two important pens, neither of which I use anymore. I don’t use the Prisma 88 because I’m not in love with the nib. I don’t use the da Vinci because it’s uncomfortable to write with for long periods. So, I guess it makes more sense to keep the Prisma 88.

Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88
Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88


Despite how many TWSBIs I own — 14! — this one is easy. The TWSBIs in the 580 family look the same, just different colors, and they account for 11 of my TWSBIs. The remaining three are the Aurora, Draco, and Kai. I find the Aurora far and away the prettiest of those three, so that’s the one I’m keeping.

TWSBI Aurora
TWSBI Aurora


This is another easy one. My Lapislazzuli is the most expensive pen I own. Because of that — even though I traded for it — there’s no way I’m getting rid of it.

Visconti Medici Il Magnifico Lapislazzuli
Visconti Il Magnifico Lapislazzuli

Woodshed Pen Co

I have two Woodshed Pen Co. pens left. And, while one is made from an objectively more interesting material, the other was a gift. So, that’s the one I’m keeping.

Woodshed Pen Co Sparkly Green
Woodshed Pen Co. Standard Model in Sparkly Green

Single-Pen Brands

With these remaining brands, I only own one pen, so there is no decision to make, and, consequently, no justification. But I know you all like looking at pretty pictures of pens, so, enjoy!

Analog Notes

Model: Henry, Name/Material: Precious Petals

Analog Notes Precious Petals

Atelier Lusso

Model: Carina 15, Name/Material: Timascus



Model: 100° Anniversario

Aurora 100th Anniversary

Black Robin Pens

Model: Ophelia, Name/Material: Faux Opal

Black Robin Pens Opal

Carolina Pen Co

Model: Charlotte, Name/Material: DC Metro Pen Crew Capital Cherry Blossom

Carolina Pen Co Charlotte


Model: Undersize, Name/Material: Dolcevita

Delta Dolcevita

Edison Pen Co

Model: Nouveau Premiere, Name/Material: Tequila Sunrise

Edison Pen Co Nouveau Tequila Sunrise

Hardy Penwrights

Model: Companion, Name/Material: Diamondcast Liquid Smoke

Hardy Penwrights Companion

Jason Neil Penworks

Model: Modified Clarke, Name/Material: Carolina Pen Co. Unicorn Horn

Jason Neil Penworks

Loft Pens

Model: Glenwood, Name/Material: Stacked Pride

Stacked Pride

London Pen Co

Model: Christopher 14, Name/Material: Carolina Pen Co. Warm Primary Manipulation

London Pen Co Christopher 14

Mythic Pens

Model: Aeschylus, Name/Material: Carolina Pen Co. Peacock Koi

Mythic Pen Co Aeschylus

Pens by Pasquale

Model: Cerberus, Name/Material: Neon Ribbon & Neon Diamondcast

Pens By Pasquale Ribbon Demonstrator

Permies World

Model: Pen BBS 323, Name/Material: English Garden 2

Full view of English Garden

Retro 51

Model: Tornado, Name/Material: Wings of the Monarch

Retro 51 Wings of the Monarch


Model: Feel, Name/Material: Spiaggia Rosa

Scribo Feel Spiaggia Rosa


Model: EDC, Name/Material: Copper

Scriveiner EDC Copper


Model: Triumph Valiant, Name/Material: Marine Green


Smith Crafters

Model: Shredded Money Writer, Name/Material: Gold Rush

SmithCrafters Gold Rush

Tailored Pen Co

Model: Churchill, Name/Material: Wildflowers

Tailored Pen Company Churchill Wildflower

Tamenuri Studio

Model: Kawari-Nuri and Nashiji Nuri

Tamenuri Studio cutout

The Chicago Pen Co

Model: Aristophanes, Name/Material: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

Chicago Pen Co Hummingbird

Walltown Pens

Model: Watts, Name/Material: Glacier Bay

Walltown Pens Watts

How would you handle having to give up all but one pen per brand? 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. Corinne Peterman
    Corinne Peterman

    Given how many VPs and Decimos I have, there is just no way I could pick just one. And I also love writing with my Custom 74 and falcon nib 843. So Pilot alone would send me into a tailspin. lol

    I’m impressed though by your choices and thought process to get to “the one”.

    April 15, 2024
    • It’s a hard challenge, even in this theoretical format. It would be much harder if I ACTUALLY had to get rid of some pens.

      April 16, 2024
  2. Jose Silva
    Jose Silva

    Fantastic list! Especially the Herbert, tho I have a thing for translucent orange pens. Have you heard of Gutovschi Pens? I didn’t see them on your small pen makers page. I hadn’t heard of them until a couple of days ago thanks to virtual pen show on instagram.

    April 12, 2024
    • I haven’t heard of them. I’ll be sure to include them on my next update.

      April 13, 2024
  3. Shahriar Farkhan
    Shahriar Farkhan

    Yeah nope 😂 – I don’t think I could do this exercise. More power to you 🤣

    April 12, 2024
  4. Thank you for including us in this list, and thank you for the enormous amount of work you put into your pen reviews. It is such a pleasure to see so many magnificent writing instruments and to get such a lovely “wow” feeling at each and every pen. Bravo!

    April 12, 2024
    • Thanks, Di! And thank you so much for helping me grow my collection of Stanford Pen Studio pens. 😀

      April 12, 2024
  5. Hey Rachel,

    It is clear you don’t own a Conid pen. Otherwise the choice would be very simple and your post rather short. For me thus brand has the best pens, although they didn’t make a dragon version (yet)

    April 12, 2024
    • Conid pens have never really interested me. Blasphemous, I know, but I much prefer to get pens that are both pretty (to me) and write well.

      April 12, 2024

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