With 2015 drawing to a close I thought I would cover what ended up being my top 3 pen purchases this year. It was a bit tough as this has been quite the year for new acquisitions with over 50 pens joining the collection ranging from the inexpensive Pilot Metropolitan to the exquisite Visconti Opera Metal. When I sat down to pick, it ended up coming down to flexibility, reliability, or uniqueness that helped these three stand out from the crowd. With that said and in no particular order this is who came out on top:
Lamy AL-Star Copper Orange w/ 1.9mm Nib
This was one of the first pens added to the collection this year and became an instant favorite. The design is very clean and the 2015 special edition Copper Orange color is excellent (as is the ink if you can find it). The pen is easy to fill and clean with a solid convertor while the nib and feed unit is pretty bulletproof. I swapped out the fine nib shortly after getting it to a 1.9mm Italic and it is perfect for doing calligraphy. The nib starts instantly every time and is not too wet or dry making large blocks of lettering easy to work though with no drips or ink pooling. Speaking of nibs, the other bonus with the Lamy is the range of nib sizes available ranging from a EF to a 1.9mm Italic. This allows you to have a great range of options for very little money. The concave carved grip is a love it or hate it sort of thing, but I am a huge fan – nice curved shape with a good flare at the base means I can write with a slightly looser grip.
Pilot Custom 742 w/ FA 10 nib
While the hunt still continues for a early 1900’s “wet noodle” nibbled pen I have been really impressed with this Pilot 742. The Falcon (FA) nib is really amazing and with some practice renders some great results. I would not say it’s on par with flexible nibs of the past but if you are looking for a modern pen with some flex then this is it. The pen is typical Pilot – excellent build quality and reliability to match. This pen has 15 nib options available including the FA #10 (a slightly larger FA #15 is available on the 743) so you do have some other choices available should you want them. The only caveat with this pen is setup time – you will find you need to spend a little more time getting the nib and feed working with the right combination of flex and ink delivery for your comfort level – I tend to try and push it quite a bit so getting a lot of ink consistently to the nib took some trial and error, but once dialed in it is really fun to write with.
Pilot Vanishing Point w/ 1.1mm Stub
I had been debating pulling the trigger on a Vanishing Point (or Capless Decimo in Japan) for a few months, but news of a 1.1mm nib in flat black sealed the deal. This is one of my favorites for work as you don’t have the same leaking issues present in a capped pen. It flies under the radar with the flat black coating and has the same benefits of a retractable ball-point to boot. The nib and feed are well paired and the smaller stub allows me to write or sketch ideas in meetings easily with no skips or hard starts. You can get this pen in a variety of colors and trims as well as five nib sizes (XF/F/M/B/ST1.1). If you are not a huge fan of the VP shape then check out the Pilot Capless Fermo – a more traditional look featuring a twisting barrel with the same retractable deign instead of the push button.
Making the choices above was tough as there are a LOT of pens that could fit here this year based on design, writing experience, price, and reliability so if the pens above already grace your collection then check out the following: Platinum 3776 pens, the TWSBI ECO, and Sailor’s Pro Gear pens. These have been in heavy rotation with the pens above and have been almost as flawless in capability – well worth a look in my opinion.
Looking forward to a fun and inky 2016 – Happy New Years everyone!