People write a lot about their favorite pens, but over the past several months I've been thinking about my favorite pen brands. After giving this question some thought, I considered a few things:
- What pen brands, if any, could I recommend to others, without really worrying about recommending a specific model?
- What pens give me, personally, the most joy to use on a daily basis?
- What pens are most represented in my own collection?
The results here may not surprise followers of this blog, though number 3 was a bit of a surprise to me. Without further ado:
Pilot. When picking my overall favorite pen brand, without naming a specific pen, it would have to be Pilot. At every price level, from inexpensive "beginner" pens to very expensive urushi and makie models, you really can't go wrong. The key selling point for me is the consistency of Pilot's nibs. Without exception, every Pilot nib I have used has been excellent. This applies across the product range: from the steel nib on the entry-level Pilot Metropolitan and Kakuno to the more expensive Pilot Custom Heritage 92 or the Pilot Custom 823. What made Pilot number 1? The fact that I feel like I can recommend Pilot as a brand to anyone and still have confidence they will be able to find something there they like.
Sailor. On the other hand, Sailor is probably my personal favorite, if that makes sense, meaning that Sailor pens are most heavily represented in my own collection and give me the most pleasure to use. Sailor's Pro Gear model is probably my favorite pen of all time, and I have several of them: the Pro Gear Imperial Black, the Pro Gear Sky, the limited edition "Realo Soleil" model by Bung Box, and something new on the way. Why do I like the Pro Gear? It fits my hand really well, and the nibs, while stiff, almost always write well without tuning. Unlike Pilot, however, Sailor focuses on higher-end pens. Entry-level Sailor pens do exist, but I've heard mixed reviews and they are not widely available.
Delta. This one was something of a surprise for me, but it turns out that I've somehow managed to acquire a lot of Deltas. Delta is an Italian brand that offers a wide range of pens across a variety of price points. Recently, I reviewed the flagship Dolcevita (in the Soiree model), and in the past I've also looked at the Fusion 82. While perhaps not quite as reliable as Pilot, I've had a near-perfect record of Delta pens writing perfectly out of the box, and they are one of a handful of pen companies that still issue pens in celluloid, a vintage-style material that I love and collect.
Honorable Mention. Platinum and Pelikan both have received increasing amounts of attention from me. I'm thoroughly enjoying the Pelikan M800 Burnt Orange that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show last month, and my Platinum 3776 with the ultra extra-fine (UEF) nib has become a near-daily user for detailed note taking after Mike Masuyama tuned it. However, I don't yet have enough experience using either of these brands to dethrone one of the current top three. In a year, that might change...
It was interesting to spend some time going through my collection this weekend and looking at things from a macro perspective (as in, on a brand-by-brand basis instead of a pen-by-pen basis). Eventually I'll need to update my Tier One Pens list, as some changes are overdue.
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