Matt’s Top 5, Season 2 Edition

Well, pen friends, it is finally that time. Love it or hate it, Season 2 of The Pen Habit has come to an end. I will be taking several months off to recouperate, enjoy the lovely Seattle summer, play with my dog, catch up on my pen pal reply pile, and maybe even play a video game or two. You know, what most normal people call “relaxing.” (At least that’s what I think it’s called…)

But before I go, I promised I would end the season with a revisit of my Top 5 pens so far. My only rules around this are that 1) I still have to own the pen and 2) it has to be a pen for which I have published a review. Pretty simple, eh?  So here goes:

#5. Conway Stewart Wellington (Dartmoor Finish) – Review

The Capped Pen

Conway Stewart Wellington (Dartmoor)

The Conway Stewart Wellington was one of my early forays into the world of very expensive pens. Its factory nib was a bit of a mess, but a trip to Mr. Mike Masuyama fixed it right up, and now it’s a beauty. Aside from being a great writer with a lovely fine italic nib (that I knocked down to a stub because I didn’t like the hard-edged corners), the material is remiscent of rich, coffee-brown quartz, laced with hints and sparkles of white. But most of all, this pen is the perfect combination of attributes to create a transcendent hand-feel. It’s ludicrously comfortable to hold, and every time I ink it up, I can’t help but wonder why I don’t use it more often.

#4 – Waterman’s Ideal #7 w/ “Red” Flex Nib – Review

Pen Review: Waterman’s Ideal #7 – Red Nib

Every time I try a flex nib or talk about a flex nib, the nib in this 1929 Waterman’s Ideal #7 is the nib against which I compare it. Although I (admittedly) haven’t tried a lot of flex nibs in my day, not a single one of those I have tried can hold a candle to this nib in this pen. Aside from a wonderful flex and an agile snapback, this pen has never once railroaded or been unable to keep up with even the most demanding of flex. Plus, there’s an extremely satisfying sense of connection to the past when using an 85-year-old pen. It’s a feeling of tangibility and permanence that is not often found in a modern, digital, throwaway culture.

#3 – Stipula Etruria Rainbow Limited Edition – Review

Stipula Etruria Rainbow LE

This pen, which took my #1 spot in Season 1’s Top 5, has slipped to #3 as part of Season 2. The Etruria Rainbow is not normally my kind of design. I’m not a huge fan of demonstrators, and I find the pen’s matte gold hardware to be a little on the tacky side, even for me. Despite that, I really enjoy this pen, which I won in Farhney’s Pens 2014 National Handwriting Day contest (thanks again, Fahrney’s!) The pen is a beautiful green acrylic (one can never have too many green pens), had a lovely ink capacity, a perfectly shaped section, and a really wonderful gold nib which I adjusted slightly to make this pen simply skate across the page. I did have to spend nearly 10 months without my baby, as we had an unfortunate episode involving a heat gun and a cracked nib housing, so the pen had to go back home to Italy for a repair. But it’s back, and I’ve currently got it inked up. Great pen.

#2 – Visconti Divina Elegance Maxi – Review

Visconti Divina Elegance

I mean, REALLY. Just look at that thing. I have heard several people say, “eh, it’s not my cup of tea.” I, frankly, do not understand this. Based on the divine proportion, everything about this pen just screams perfection to me. From the deep midnight ocean blue acrylic, alive with swirls, to the five-sided barrel that spirals from final to finial, to the perfectly polished silver inlay, everything about this pen sings of the divine to me. If any pen were my aesthetic spirit animal, this would be that pen. It’s a wonderful writer, with a nice, bouncy Dreamtouch nib in medium. My only real complaint with this pen is the captured converter filling system, which tends to run dry far too quickly for as much as I want to continue using this pen.

#1 – OMAS Ogiva Celluloide (Brown Arco) – Review

Omas Ogiva Celluloide


“Wow. Look at that.” Those are usually the first words out of someone’s mouth the first time they gingerly pick up the Ogiva Celluloid. The design of the pen itself is fairly pedestrian, but OMAS’ fabled Brown Arco material turns this pen from pedestrian to pedestal-worthy. Part neon tortoiseshell, part luminescent wood grain, the multi-layered, multi-hued Brown Arco celluloid makes this pen appear as though it is being illuminated from the inside. Coupled with a wonderfully bouncy (even semi-flexy) 14k Extra Flessibile nib, the Ogiva Celluloide is a joy with which to write–especially as I have continued to improve my handwriting technique, and have learned to incorporate a gentle, vertical bouncing motion into my hand as I write with this nib. What it does to my handwriting is nothing short of amazing. It’s a joy to hold and a joy to behold. And that’s why it’s my #1

Honorable Mentions

There are several pens that didn’t quite make the cut for the top 5, but that I nonetheless wanted to call out because they were awfully close.

  • OMAS Notti di Bologna – Lovely orange and blue swirled acrylic and a butter-smooth 18k nib, marred by a fingerprint-magnet metal section
  • Faber-Castell Loom – Probably my favorite sub-$50 pen on the market today.
  • Delta Fusion 82 – Ludicrous marketing, but a killer nib and a good-looking pen.
  • Edison Collier – Big and chunky, but a solid writer built with some of the best craftsmanship in the market today.
  • Platinum 3776 Century – The Chartres Blue acrylic is amazing. This is the pen I turn to when I need a fine line. It has grown on me a lot over time.
  • Franklin Christoph Model 19 “1901” – “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life.” Still a great looking pen with a great nib, but the Medium Italic just isn’t my cup of tea, I’ve decided. I need to get it swapped out for another nib that’s more up my alley.


  • Frank van Krieken

    It was a wonderful season, enjoyed watching reviews and look forward to next season.
    Enjoy your summer.

  • Mikey Mazur

    Great video Matt! I cant afford anything in that top 5 maybe one day….ONE DAY haha. Hell right now the most I really can afford right now is noddlers but I digress. I cant wait for the next season until then I will be rewatching everything

    • Thanks, Mikey. I’ll have some more affordable pens in Season 3 coming up as well. Until then, enjoy the heck out of your Noodler’s.

      • Mikey Mazur

        I do so far. I have made couple of my own italic nibs(untipped). The funny thing to me is everyone around here where I live in southern New Mexico say things like look at Mr fancy here with his nice pen. I just laugh and say ok thanks people

  • Denis Van Ruymbeke

    Thanks very much for this season, Matt! I really enjoyed your reviews and I’m looking forward to the season 3.
    Enjoy your summer time.

    • Thank you Denis. I am looking forward to the time, but Season 3 should be pretty great. Got some good stuff coming up.

  • Ted

    Thanks for all the great reviews, Matt. Have a good summer with family and friends and pens.

  • Clifford Hughes

    We’ll all miss your reviews (tho we can always revisit the old ones). I love logging on to see what’s new. Your style is unique – always cheerful, always informative, always fair. Have a good holiday, Matt. You’ve earned it.

  • Pascal Leers

    I don’t even have enough fountain pens to make a top 5. But hey, with my small collection I can make a top 4. (But there is a pen show coming op in september…..)

    • *Flails Arms* DANGER WILL ROBINSON! DANGER! (Actually, I’m kind of afraid what I’m going to come home from the DC Pen Show with…)

      • Pascal Leers

        I know the danger. I bought my expensive limited edition Omas ,when I was only going to buy a bottle of ink. So when I,ll go to the penshow, I will bring only 3 or 4 hundred euro. And nothing else.

  • Marc Florent

    Loved season 2 and very much looking forward to number 3. Enjoy the beak. I hope the summer brings you joy and relaxation.

  • slkinsey

    Great season & I enjoyed this roundup. I really need to get my hands on a Divina myself.

    FWIW, “flessibile” has the accent on the second syllable (“fles-SEE-bee-leh” rather than “fless-uh-BEE-leh”). I think you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to say “extra flessibile” this way. Your vocal skills are so expert that the inherent awkwardness of saying “extra flessibile” with the accent on the penultimate syllable stands out, whereas it probably wouldn’t with someone with a less polished delivery.

    Looking forward to Season 3!

  • Greg Moore

    Thanks for all your time, effort and work that goes into your excellent videos. I hope you have a great summer. I’m glad that you had more fun with season 2 and I look forward to season 3.

    Have fun and as Brian Goulet would say…

    Write on,

  • Jason H

    Matt, another wonderful season! Can you share your current thoughts on your Nakaya? Is it close to the top 5?

    • I still like my Nakaya a lot. I love the finish of the lacquer and the feel in the hand. There are a couple of things about the pen I don’t care for, though. First, it tends to run a little dry, and have a minor ink starvation issue. It’s never been enough to cause the ink flow to stop entirely, but it can be just a touch inconsistent. Secondly, I had a broad nib custom-ground into a broad oblique. What I got (and wasn’t expecting) was a broad oblique italic, which I don’t love. At some point, I’ll buy a replacement nib and have them swap it out. Third, it’s just a little on the light side for me. I prefer just a touch more heft.

      If I had to buy it over again, I probably wouldn’t get this particular model of pen, nor would I get the nib ground like that. I’d probably go with the Neo instead, and stick with one of the factory nibs.

      • Jason H

        Thanks Matt for your informative and detailed answer. I really appreciate it. Keep up the great work.