There’s been a lot of talk about “Tier One” and “Tier Two” pens since this week's episode of the Pen Addict. I take a different approach to this than some. I don’t include in my “Tier One” pens that I hold onto purely for sentimental value. These pens, such as my Waterman Laureate and a Parker 51 that matches a Parker 51 mechanical pencil I inherited from my great Aunt, will never be sold, but I don’t necessarily have them in rotation that often—maybe once a year.
My “Tier One”, defined as user pens that are almost always inked up and that (at least for now) I would never consider selling, are:
- Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Edition. A great daily user with an understated look. I love matte black pens, and this one has sentimental value because I received it the day my daughter was born.
- Delta Fusion 82 Limited Editions in Celluloid. Say what you will about the “science” behind the Fusion nib, but I can’t argue with the fact that these are among the smoothest steel nibs I have ever used, and this limited edition series from Bryant at Chatterly Luxuries/Pentime are a relatively budget-friendly way to enjoy Italian Celluloids. I opted for the Marmo Incrinato/Pompeii versions. The Pompeii has an architect's nib.
- Montblanc 146 with .6mm stub nib. Once I finally got this nib tuned properly, it writes like a dream and is one of my favorite pens. I always end up inking this pen, even if I end up giving it a break every now and then. The nib shows off ink well, and the line variation is excellent. Montblanc quality control (especially on pens from the 1980s and the early 1990s) leaves something to be desired.
- Lamy 2000 with .9mm Greg Minuskin stub retip. This Lamy 2000, the first nice (>$100) pen I ever purchased, is another great writer. Unfortunately the medium nib was ruined during “nib work”, but I sent it off to Greg Minuskin who added a super-smooth stub. The result is close to perfection.
- My Blue Parker 51. The first vintage pen I ever purchased, featuring a relatively rare (for a Parker 51) fat medium nib.
I’m generally with Brad on how I characterize something as a “Tier Two” pen. My Tier Two includes nice writing pens that are frequently in rotation but are easily replaceable, or vintage pens that I use a lot but for some reason don’t rise to the level of a true Tier One because they just aren't as durable. This Tier Two list also consists of models, as opposed to individual pens.
- Parker Vacumatics. Probably my favorite vintage pens overall. They don’t travel well inked, and therefore don’t see as much use as my Tier Ones, which is the reason they sit here at the top of Tier Two.
- Fusion 82 (any): If I didn’t have my two celluloid pens in my Tier One, I would still have a standard Fusion 82. The pen has near perfect size and balance for my hand, and as discussed above, I’ve enjoyed using the nibs.
- Sailor Pro Gear (any): In addition to the Imperial Black Edition, I have the Pro Gear Sky, which is probably in the process of working its way into Tier One.
- Lamy 2000 (any): I have a second Lamy 2000 with an EF nib that I use regularly for work.
- MaxMadCo Stainless Steel Bolt Action: I have yet to review this pen, which has become my go-to non-fountain pen for daily carry.
There are several other pens I've been using recently, but not enough to make a decision on where (or whether) to include them. I can see the Bulkfiller Minimalistica making one of the two lists, as well as the Esterbrook J with the "Fine Stub" nib. Stay tuned for updates!