Six Month Review, Part III: Favorite Pen Accessories

As the current analog resurgence continues, and more people become interested in fountain pens, pencils, good paper, and the stationery category in general, new lines of accessories are popping up to serve this market segment. Which means, for us pen obsessives, that there are new categories of things to buy that aren’t more pens, inks, or bound journals that we can’t possibly use in one lifetime. Over the past year or so I’ve had the opportunity to test out more than a dozen of these different products. Here I discuss five of my favorites. 

Disclaimer: The following contains links to sponsors and affiliates. It’s how I support the blog and keep the lights on around here. That said, whether or not I chose to include a specific item on this list in the first place is a choice separate and apart from which retailer I choose to link to. No sponsor or affiliate had any input into the inks included on this list, which reflects my own personal opinion.  

Penwell-Montblanc-146

Penwell Pen Holder. The “desk pen” as a stand-alone tool has more or less died out (with some limited exceptions). In 2017, Good Made Better released the Penwell, a pen holder that converts any pen into a desk pen, and allows for quick removal if you want to take your currently inked fountain pen on the go. The Penwell is easily my favorite pen accessory that I’ve reviewed since I’ve been writing this blog, and I look forward to seeing what else GMB has in store for the future. My review of the Penwell here.

One Star Leather Notebook Covers. I’ve settled on the Baron Fig Confidant as my favorite hardbound notebook, and whichever one I’m currently working through is always protected in my One Star Leather cover. Keegan does excellent leather work, and he makes a wide variety of accessories for sale, including custom leather covers designed to fit pretty much any brand of notebook from Moleskine to Leuchtturm to Baron Fig. My review here.

Roterfaden-Taschenbegleiter-A5

Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. The Taschenbegleiter isn’t new to the market, but after sitting on the fence for a couple of years, I purchased one from Los Angeles-based retailer Baum-Kuchen and have been using it regularly to manage multiple “mini-projects” I’ve been working on, each of which is contained in an A5-ish softcover notebook clipped into the Roterfaden. I’m still working on my full review, but I plan to have a fairly in-depth piece ready to go sometime this summer.

Baron-Fig-Mastermind

Baron Fig Mastermind Desk Pad. Few products have received more daily use at my desk than the Mastermind. While I do wish Baron Fig made a slightly larger size, the Mastermind has become my “catch-all” scratch pad, whether for household budgeting, outlining reviews and content for the site, or sketching out the initial drafts of legal briefs. Though it doesn’t see quite as much use - I manage my calendar electronically - the Mastermind Weeks pad can be particularly helpful in navigating those busy weeks at work with multiple deadlines and to-dos. My review here.

Col-o-ring/Col-o-Dex. My friend Ana at the Well-Appointed Desk released the Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book last year as a way to help organize your ink swatches and ink collections. This year, she upped the ante with the Col-o-dex, a way to repurpose those rolodexes that might be sitting unused in your (or your workplaces) office supply closet. You’ve probably noticed my Col-o-ring cards prominently featured in most of my recent ink reviews, and it’s a great way to compare colors.

And that's that for the recaps! I'm officially back from vacation tomorrow (if only in body, and not yet in spirit). Happy Saturday night to all!   

Six Month Review, Part II: Favorite Inks from the First Half of 2018

For my first “on vacation” post from last week, I recapped my five favorite pens from the first half of 2018. This week I’ll do the same for several inks I’ve been using recently. If you’ve been following the blog regularly, you won’t be surprised to see that Colorverse inks feature prominently, as I’ve been quite impressed with this line of inks from South Korea.  

Disclaimer: The following contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. It’s how I support the blog and keep the lights on around here. That said, whether or not I chose to include a specific pen on this list in the first place is a choice separate and apart from which retailer I choose to link to. No sponsor or affiliate had any input into the inks included on this list, which reflects my own personal opinion.   

Colorverse Dark Energy. It’s a dark burgundy ink, so of all the Colorverse inks that I’ve had the opportunity to try so far, Dark Energy is my favorite. I’ve had it inked in at least one pen since I got my hands on this bottle. Colorverse inks play nice in most pens and on most paper. My review here.

Sailor-Rikyu-Cha-Ink

Sailor Rikyu-Cha. Is brown? Is it green? Is it grey? All of the above? Rikyu-cha is one of those colors that defies categorization, other than to say it’s really cool looking and an ink that I enjoy using regularly. Sailor inks are among my favorite for everyday use, and Rikyu-cha is an excellent work-friendly option. My review here.   

Colorverse Schrodinger & Cat. For their “Season Three” inks, Colorverse chose to issue inks in pairs, so you’ll receive a 65ml bottle of one color along with a 15ml bottle of another. Schrodinger (a dark green) and Cat (a “glistening” blue) complement each other nicely. Cat is actually one of the few “shimmer inks” that I’ll use for regular writing. My review here.

Papier-Plume-Bootlegger's-Sacrament

Papier Plume Bootlegger’s Sacrament. Ok, not fair, since it was a Chicago Show special edition and I’m not sure how much is left for regular purchase, but I really, really like this dusky purple ink. If you were unable to get a bottle, keep watching the Papier Plume website and social media accounts, because they are releasing a steady stream of new ink colors in addition to their regular lineup. My review here.

Aurora-Blue-Black-Ink

Aurora Blue-Black. Some might find this choice boring, but Aurora’s first new release in years has become something of a staple for me, in addition to their standard blue and black inks that, in my opinion, are some of the best “standard” colors out there. The ink itself was actually released last year, but it didn’t make its way into my rotation until recently. I’ll need to review it on its own soon, but it makes an appearance in my review of the Aurora Flex nib.

Honorable Mention

Well, the Montegrappa Fuchsia did make an appearance on my Instagram feed.  Sort of. 

Montegrappa Fuchsia. I can’t officially add this ink to the list, since I’ve just received it, but given my “pink ink” obsession I thought I’d mention it here. Montegrappa only recently started to expand their ink offerings by releasing some “wilder” colors, like the Fuchsia, and so far I’ve been impressed. The color is quite vibrant, and generally behaves well for such a brightly colored pink. Look for a review soon.  

From the Archive: My Favorite Posts from 2018, So Far...

It's vacation time, so new reviews will have to wait until June. In the meantime, here are my five favorite posts from the first half of this year, in case you missed them the first time around. If you're still looking for more content to keep you busy while I'm out, you might want to start with the 2018 revisions to my "Best Pens" list, as well as my "Six Month Review" of favorite pens from the first half of 2018. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!  

  1. Workhorse Pens: Montblanc 146. This year I resolved to write more about those pens and gear that I actually use on a day-to-day basis, rather than trying to keep up with what seems like an endless stream of new releases. One result was the "Workhorse Pens" series. 
  2. Workhorse Pens: Lamy 2000. I revisited another "workhorse" that I keep coming back to. The Lamy 2000, in all of its various incarnations (fountain pen, ballpoint, multipen) is always in my pen case.  
  3. My 2018 Notebook Setup. My current notebook setup. I've largely stuck with this "lineup", though I've added a Nock Seed A5 that might displace the Bellroy Work Folio in my everyday carry.  
  4. Great Pen Stores: My Visit to Vanness Pens. One of the first posts from this year. In late December, I had the opportunity to visit Vanness Pens in Little Rock, Arkansas, and had a blast. While I didn't get to come back for the Arkansas Pen Show, I'm definitely making time to visit Vanness again in the future. 
  5. Great Pen Stores: Papier Plume in New Orleans. While my March trip wasn't my first visit to Papier Plume, it did serve as my first introduction to Faggionato pens, which have quickly become a favorite. 

Six Month Review: Favorite Pens from the First Half of 2018

Every year my family and I take a break around Memorial Day to go on vacation and forget about work for a week or two. In the past, I’ve tried to keep up with the blog in some form or fashion, (1) because I enjoy doing this, and (2) I have a hard time just “letting things sit”, even for as little time as a week. This year, though, I’m doing things a bit differently, writing out some content a couple weeks ahead of time so that you’ll have something to read, and I’ll have some actual time off, from both “real work” and from pens.

First up is my annual “Six Month” recap, where I give you my top five products that I reviewed or acquired during the first six months of the year. The Faggionato Pens are easily my favorite discovery so far, though once I get my hands on a Kanilea Hanauma Bay they will likely have competition. So without further ado, I give you the list.  

Disclaimer: The following contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. It’s how I support the blog and keep the lights on around here. That said, whether or not I chose to include a specific pen on this list in the first place is a choice separate and apart from which retailer I choose to link to.  No sponsor or affiliate had any input into the pens included on this list, which reflects my own personal opinion.      

Faggionato PKS/Petrarque. Two pens that are “in the queue” for a formal review. The smaller Petrarque first caught my eye during my March visit to Papier Plume in New Orleans. I picked up a second Faggionato, the larger PKS model, at the Atlanta Pen Show a month later. I love the streamlined shape of these pens, especially the section, which makes them very comfortable writers. Faggionato pens are available in a wide range of unique acrylics and celluloid derivatives.

Lamy Studio Racing Green and Piano Black Special Editions. I’m partial to the Lamy Studio, especially the 14k nib version, and this year’s special releases were excellent, easily trumping the Safari and AL-Star special editions, in my book. The Racing Green is now difficult to find, but the Piano Black is still available, featuring Lamy’s bouncy 14kt nib. Initial impressions of the Racing Green here.

Moonman M2 Eyedropper. Rarely do you find this combination of quality and value. I’ve personally never had a nib this good, at least out of the box, on a fountain pen this inexpensive. Note that this pen is eyedropper only, so if you don’t want to deal with the potential mess, take a pass. Full review here.

Wing Sung 618 (Piston Filler) and 601 (Vacumatic Filler). I promise I’ll quit pushing these pens once mine finally crap out on me. But seriously, six months in, these bargain-basement piston fillers / vacumatics have become everyday workhorses for me. I don’t worry about losing them or breaking them at work, and while some nibs write better than others, they hold a ton of ink and I’ve paid five times as much for less reliable fountain pens. Initial thoughts here.

Montegrappa Monte-Grappa. Montegrappa seems to have simplified things with their releases this year, opting for vintage-inspired offerings like the Monte-Grappa. This pen comes with your choice of stainless or 14k nibs, and both versions feature a high-end ratcheting piston filler that holds a lot of ink. Montegrappa also recently switched to JoWo nibs, which in my opinion has vastly improved the writing experience. Look for a full review on the blog soon.

“Honorable Mention”

Kanilea Pen Company Hanauma Bay. Ok, this one’s cheating a little bit, because I’ve never seen it in person, much less bought it, but given Kanilea’s track record, and the fact that I own two of them already, I’m pretty confident that I’m going to love this one once I get the chance to have the pen in-hand. Surefire buy at some point this year, so it’s on here, but I can’t technically put it on the list yet. My review of the Kanilea Mauna Kea here.

I can’t wait for the second half of 2018 and seeing which of these pens end up making my “best of” 2018 post. Will the Kanilea top the Faggionatos? Will the Wing Sungs and the Moonman last a full year of heavy use? Stay tuned.