Pelikan M320 Ruby Red photo by Halsted M. Bernard
It has come to this: my passion for fountain pens, ink, and other analog tools requires its own page.
I don’t know when it began. From a very early age, I was fascinated with stationery, particularly office supplies. As a child, I learned calligraphy, so I must have owned my first fountain pen then. It didn’t turn into a full-blown passion until 2003, and I’m still not sure why.
Despite all this, I am not snooty about writing instruments; I appreciate any pen that provides a compelling tactile experience. I love to talk pens with people, and sometimes I even write about them.
I have been collecting fountain pens for a while now, and have some recommendations. Soon I’ll write short blurbs next to each pen explaining why I recommend it. And I’ll add some photos, too.
Although these are considered starter pens, I love them and recommend them to anyone curious about fountain pens. They both have smooth nibs and good ink capacity.
Both of these are pocket pens, which makes them ultra portable. I also like them because they turn into full-sized pens when posted.
When considering a pinnacle pen purchase, I always recommend that you visit a local pen shop to try before you buy. And then sleep on it. I’ve been burned by an impulse purchase of a Stipula Ventidue while on holiday, and ended up with a gorgeous yet hopelessly busted pen.
I don’t own these … yet. It’s good to yearn for a “grail” pen or two.
Although I primarily use fountain pens, I use and recommend these other writing instruments.
One of the best parts of using fountain pens is getting to play with all the beautiful inks! My ink collection is catalogued at Fountain Pen Companion. Goulet Pens' Swab Shop is my online reference for ink swabs; in person, I go to Oblation Papers & Press and use their ink swatch book.
I am currently intrigued by pale-hued shaders like Sailor Manyo Nekoyanagi and Troublemaker Inks Petrichor.
The inks I use the most for daily use are:
Don’t know where to start? Email me and I’ll happily recommend some inks to you.
Different inks have varying drying times on various paper types. Some people let their pages air-dry; I can be impatient so I use blotter sheets. These A5 blotter sheets from Nanami Paper are especially good at soaking up excess ink and being sturdy enough to use for many months.
Pen people tend to fuss about paper because it’s a huge bummer to break out a beautiful pen filled with gorgeous ink and watch it feather and bleed all over the place.
You’ll hear a lot about Tomoe River paper because it has unique properties that allow for almost no ghosting or bleed-through, and it can unlock some truly gorgeous shading and hue changes in sheening inks. As a long-time user of Tomoe River paper, I can confirm that it lives up to the hype. (Read “Tomoe River: The Full Story” for more.)
The planners, notebooks, and covers I use daily and recommend are: