Monday, 1 January 2018

My top pens of 2017

I have had a little luck finding pens in the wild this year, as well as having spent a bit of money on new pens. Some real love affairs happened.

I should make it clear that these are not my all-time best pen selections: they're the pens which entered my collection this year and that I've really loved. Added to which I should give honorary mention to two Bexleys (Poseidon Magnum and 20th Anniversary 'lemon') and two Pelikans (m200 blue marbled with an m400 gold nib, and 950 Toledo) which have delivered real enjoyment over the year.

Pelikan Brown Tortoise m400 with broad italic nib

Because tortoise. Slightly more orangey and less varied than my vintage 400s, but still the most amazing colours; twirl the pen in your fingers and watch the highlights shimmer.

And because that nib is so juicy. I love a good stub or italic, and this nib is delightful - bouncy, wet, fat, and still gives good line variation, though it's not quite crisp enough for calligraphy. Thank you very much, Pelikan, for giving us the chance to buy a nib that's not F, M or B, and please do it again on other pens!

Pilot Custom Heritage 92 demonstrator

My first upscale Pilot, with an FM nib. In some ways this is quite a clunky looking pen, with two steps down to the piston turning knob, and a very visible inner cap. But I've grown to love it, particularly filled up with a nice wet ink. The piston works wonderfully smoothly, and the nib is juicy, and the clear plastic has the sparkle and brightness of diamonds, and it's just the most comfortable pen ever to write with. For a couple of weeks I've had it paired with another of my favourite Japanese pens, the Platinum 3776 Sai, giving me a double dose of beautiful transparency.

Aurora desk pens
Two generations of writing implements

An unexpected entry for an unexpected find - four desk pens, probably an accounting set (the inlay rings in red and blue show the colour of ink so you could have pens ready for doing double entry bookkeeping), found in an old watermill turned antique shop in the Eure valley. Beautiful matt ebonite, the 'Aurora' badge impressed on each section, fantastic nibs (though one, sadly, is broken, and it won't even work as a stub). The flared edge on the section is beautifully sharp. I really love the desk pen shape - Lamy Joy and Rotring Artpen are two of my favourites - and these little pens have delighted me.

Edacoto and unidentified red mottled hard rubber pens - French 1930s

I found the  'Mory et Cie' pen at a vide-grenier, and couldn't resist the character of the imprint, which I found out later belonged to a French shipping company. Late in the year I saw the gorgeous Edacoto at Vanves flea market, and negotiated a good discount as it was getting towards lunchtime (it's strictly a mornings-only market).

There should be a photo to come when I can actually find the Mory pen!

Since I've been living in France I have found that the Brits and Americans never really understood what red hard rubber can do. The French have wonderfully extrovert ways with this material - there are tiger stripes, Rorschach blots, vivid stormscapes, as well as ripple and bark effects.

And they do it in celluloid too! This Stylomine (fourth from top), also found at a vide-grenier, would make it into my top pens of the year... if only it had a section. I have some work on my Unimat lathe to do.
Not a bad haul for a handful of euros