Matt’s Personal Top 10 Pens for 2017
So, what are my personal favorite pens at the end of Season 4? (Or at least among those pens I have reviewed so far?) Watch the video above or scroll through the list down below. Just as a reminder: these are MY personal favorites. It doesn’t mean they’re the best pens out there, or worth the money. They are just the ones I happen to like best in my collection.
#10 – Kanilea Kahakai
New this year
When the Kanilea Pen Company was unveiled at the DC Show in 2016, I took one look at the pens they offered and fell in love. I picked up one of the very last casual encounters ads models they brought with them. On the surface, these are relatively simple pens: made from a custom acrylic by Jonathan Brooks, these pens are handmade and assembled, and retail for around $400 with a steel nib. That’s a relatively high price for a steel-nibbed pen, granted, but worth it to me. The material is beautiful. The craftsmanship is among some of the highest of any handmade pen I’ve ever seen. The steel nib was wonderful, but I kicked up my pen a bit by installing a 14k semi-flex nib. The long section and lightweight material make this a delight to hold in the hand. This is a pen I keep inking up over and over again, which is a really good indication of my feelings for the pen.
Down from #4
For me, there are fewer pens more visually beautiful than the Visconti Divina Elegance in blue. The craftsmanship of the exterior of the pen is superb, and the design is so unique and beautifully proportioned. This is a pen that gets a lot of attention every time I pull it out and start writing. The pen has fallen out of favor with me a bit, but not because there is anything particularly wrong with the pen. I’ve just had so many negative experiences with Visconti pens recently that I think those feelings are bleeding over into the Divina…which really has been a good performer for me. The only real negative about this pen is the captured converter filling system, which both complicates the cleaning process and results in a smaller-than-ideal ink capacity. Still, it’s a beautiful writer, comfortable in the hand, and pretty as hell.
#8 – OMAS Ogiva Celluloide
Down from #3
I was fortunate enough to have purchased one of these beautiful brown arco OMAS Ogivas only a few months before the company ended up going out of business, and the pen has been among my favorites for quite a while now. There is really nothing quite like the stunning brown arco celluloid, and OMAS had a penchant for making really solid pens and very good nibs. The nib on my Ogiva is a Fine Extra Flessibile nib, one of OMAS’ attempts to recreate a flex nib in the modern pen. Originally, I really liked this nib a lot, but as time as gone on, I’ve started to become a little scared of damaging the nib. It has gotten softer with use and is losing some of its spring back. As a result, the nib feels more and more like it would be easy to spring. These days, I still love using the pen, but I pretty much never take advantage of the Extra Flessibile features of the nib, except for whatever happens naturally in my regular, everyday, non-flex handwriting.
#7 – Waterman’s Ideal #7
Down from #5
Among my very first forays into the vintage pen world was the Waterman’s Ideal #7, a late 1920s/early 1930s model that featured a line of nibs that were color-coded based on their flexibility, point size, and grind style. My first was the Red nib, a flex nib with a medium point. Then, at the San Fran show in 2016, I came across a very rare “Pink” nib, which was Waterman’s Extra-fine flex nib. Both pens still reside in my collection but don’t get used as much as I’d like mainly because I’m concerned about their age and damaging them. (But typing this, I realize that I need to ink one of them up again…I love using them so much.) They’re longer than the average vintage pen and are one of the few pens of that era that I find long enough to use unposted.
#6 – Pelikan M800
New this year
When I reviewed the Pelikan M805 pictured above, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether or not I liked the pen. Well, a few years have passed and I can honestly say that not only do I like the Pelikan M80x line of pens, I really love it. I no longer have the blue Pelikan M805, nor the M805 Stresseman (the silver/grey one). What I do have, instead, are two lovely birds: the Brown Tortoise Special Edition with a factory OB nib, and the (new for 2017) Renaissance Special Edition with a Fine nib. (You can see these pens in the video above…I don’t have photos yet.) These pens are solidly built, with a giant ink capacity, and are comfortable in the hand for people who like bigger pens. And personally, I believe that the M800 nib is the real sweet spot in Pelikan’s nib lineup. (The M1000 nib is a sloppy mess and the M200/400/600 nibs are too rigid and a little too dry.) These are pens that I find myself continually drawn back to over and over again.
#5 – Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age
Up from #8
The Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Age was one of the very first pens over $300 I ever purchased. It, like far too many Viscontis, came with a problematic nib that I was able to get fixed locally by the retailer from whom I purchased the pen. However, over the years and I’ve continued picking up new pens, this is a pen that I found myself not using very much. A few months ago, I inked it up to determine if this one was going to make the “keep” list or if it were going to be sold, and I fell in love with it all over again. The adjusted nib is great, the lava resin has a fantastic feel in the hand, and the bronze accents offset nicely against the mineral grey of the barrel. It really is a great pen.
#4 – Danitrio Takumi Tsugaru-nuri Kara-nuri
New this year
The Danitrio Takumi I reviewed at the beginning of this most recent season is an amazing pen. In fact, it would have made my Top 10 list last year, but I hadn’t reviewed it by the end of the season, so it didn’t qualify for inclusion. This pen is stunning. The urushi work is beautiful, the section is comfortable, its lightweight ebonite construction makes it easy to use for long writing. But the real winner on this pen is the 18k nib. This is one of the most unusual, softest 18k nibs I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. It’s a gusher of a pen, and so much fun to write with. I keep coming back to this pen over and over again.
#3 – Pilot Custom 823
New this year
I already talked about this pen in my Top Workhorse Pens videos for this season (where it took spot #1.) There is just a lot to love about the Pilot Custom 823: a great nib, large ink capacity, nice fit and feel in the hand, a reasonable price, and an overall balance between understatedness, quality of writing, and construction build. Love this pen
I cheated a bit on this one, combining Aurora’s top two pen models. The Optima and the 88 are basically the same pen, one with flat ends, the other with rounded ends. I have a slight preference for the shape of the 88 (I like rounded ends over flat ends) but both are a nearly perfect combination of balance, comfort, beautiful materials, and really unique (but superbly crafted) nibs. I have smoothed most of my Aurora nibs out a bit because I have a personal preference for the smoother writing experience, but I’ve yet to have one of these top-of-the-line Auroras that was anything shy of perfect out of the box. Plus, the NEBULOSA!
#1 – Classic Pens LB5
Holding Steady at #1
This year’s entry into the least surprising #1 ever is the Classic Pens LB5. The only pen in my collection where I would be interested in collecting one in every color, the LB5 is as close to perfection as I get in my pens. The materials are stunning, the nibs are wonderful, the shape and fit are like a glove in my hand. These pens are uber-expensive, but I just love them. My only real complaint about them are the crappy, crappy converters that Sailor uses. (Seriously…a pen in this price range should have a converter worth of it, not the POC plastic dohickey with a rear-end leakage problem.)
And that will do it for Season 4 of The Pen Habit! Thank you so much for sticking with me this season. I hope you enjoyed the reviews, the Currently Inked, and all the other fun stuff that got posted this season.
I’d also like to offer huge thanks to the wonderful sponsor for Season 4 of the Pen Habit.
- Karas Kustoms
- La Couronne du Comte
- Tom Barrington Leather Goods & Accessories
- Vanness Pens
And also many, many thanks to the wonderful Patreon supporters and PayPal/Venmo donators who have provided me with support for continuing to do these videos. It is so appreciated!
I’ll be spending the next couple of months preparing for Season 5 of The Pen Habit. There will be a few Currently Inked videos that make their way to YouTube in the meantime. I’m also going to be making a few structural changes to the whole Pen Habit ecosystem. I’m working with a few new folks to start providing ink reviews for the blog (since I hate doing ink reviews so much myself). I’m looking at some new types of educational content to include on the channel, and I’m revisiting some of my policies and procedures around reviews. So, stay tuned for those changes, and I’ll see you back here soon!