Another year rolls to a close, and here at The Gentleman Stationer I'm about to celebrate this blog's third full year! I have a lot of exciting stuff planned for the coming weeks and months, but today I wanted to take a brief moment to recap what's been an eventful year (in stationery and other "analog-related" topics - I don't get into that other stuff). After some consideration, I've organized this piece into several different sections: (1) my five best purchases of 2016, (2) the most intriguing/innovative products that hit the market in 2016, (3) most popular posts from 2016; and (4) some personal reflections and goals for 2017.
Top 5 Pen Purchases of 2016
My pen acquisitions slowed significantly in 2016. After a somewhat crazy 2015, I sold off a large chunk of my collection - mostly pens that I wasn't using very much - and for the most part invested in a smaller number of higher-end pens. I've found myself using and enjoying what I have much more than before, and I'll continue this collecting "strategy" in 2017. Here are my five favorite purchases from 2016, based on nothing other than my own enjoyment and opinion.
- Lamy 2000 4-Color Ballpoint Multi Pen. I've only owned it for a month or so, but I haven't put it down since. I enjoy multifunction pens for their convenience, and since so much of the daily writing that I do is notetaking for my day job, having both ballpoint and gel pens (and even highlighters!) in a single pen body is awesome.
- Pilot Custom 823. The pen that everybody waits too long to buy. This pen has a massive ink capacity and a sweet nib. It's become one of my most-recommended pens, especially for people who write a lot and are looking for a single "daily driver" workhorse.
- Pilot Myu. I have Thomas to "blame" for my acquisition of not one, but two, Pilot Myus this year. The Myu was Pilot's integrated nib pen from the 1970s that people are clamoring for Pilot to bring back. Look for a review/write-up soon. (Link via Clickypost)
- Pelikan M800 Burnt Orange. Like the Custom 823, I held off on purchasing a Pelikan M800 for a while, mainly because I didn't find a version that spoke to me. At this year's Atlanta Pen Show, I came across the Special Edition Burnt Orange M800, which hooked me. The review has been in the works for a while, since I want to do the pen justice, but it's coming. (Note: These pens are now starting to sell out as we move into a new special edition cycle. Act quick if you want one.) (Link via Pelikan's Perch)
- Sailor 1911 Black Luster. An absolutely beautiful Sailor that is up there with the Imperial Black Edition as a possible best-of-all-time pen for me. Yes, it has a metal section, but the pen is well-balanced, and the ion-plated coating on the section avoids many of the slipperiness problems that plague other metal pens.
My Favorite New Products from 2016
The analog resurgence led to what, at times, seemed like near-daily releases of new pen, paper, and ink-related products in 2016. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try out many of them. These stood out to me.
- Steel and Flint Pen. I love everything about this Kickstarter pen, from the light weight to the knurled grip to the Schmidt Easyflow refill. Following a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, it will be interesting to see what Steel and Flint does next.
- BigiDesign Ti Arto. Somebody finally did it: a universal refill pen that lives up to the hype. If you're an EDC aficionado or someone who likes to have only one pen, this may actually be the last pen you ever need.
- Moo Hardcover Notebook. One of the most beautifully designed notebooks I've seen. I have this book waiting in the wings as the "next up".
- Slice Planner. An interesting undated planner/notebook that borrows heavily from the Chronodex system. If you buy into this type of planning/time logging, I highly recommend that you check this notebook out once the company finishes Kickstarter fulfillment. It may not be for everybody, but the Slice Planner was one of those products that met an immediate need in my workflow.
- Write Notepads Pocket Notebook Subscription Service. On the other end of the spectrum, here's something that I didn't need at all, but ended up giving me endless amounts of enjoyment. I like what Write Notepads is doing with their limited edition pocket notebook series, and can't wait to see the upcoming Winter quarterly edition.
Most Popular Posts from 2016
This quick list is based solely on the amount of traffic these posts received, and nothing more. It's interesting to see what my readers are interested in, and we definitely share an affinity for Pilot and other Japanese brands.
- Five Best Fountain Pen Inks for Everyday Writing. I still stand by all of these ink recommendations. I haven't used Skrip Red or Diamine Oxblood in a while, though. A good reminder to break these out!
- Pilot Custom 823 Review. Already linked to above, but people are (rightfully) interested in this pen.
- Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo Review. A beautiful dark teal Iroshizuku ink that often gets overlooked in favor of Shin-Kai and Kon-Peki.
- Pilot Custom Heritage 92 Review. An excellent pen that saw heavy use this year. I say this all the time, but I wish Pilot would introduce the blue, orange, and smoke demonstrators into the US market.
- Platinum 3776 Review. I use Platinum's Ultra Extra-Fine nib much more than I thought I would for everyday notetaking. Following a tuning by Mike Masuyama, this nib is remarkably smooth for how fine a line it writes. As for the 3776 itself, the understated design probably causes it to fly under most people's radar, but the nibs on these pens are exceptional writers.
Personal Reflections and Goals
A few things that I want to talk about don't really fall into any of the previous categories. Here are some quick reflections on my own past year in pens and where I think I'm headed in 2017.
- I bought a lot less ink this year. Not due to lack of interest, but because there is SO MUCH new ink being released. It's almost intimidating - I've basically given up trying to keep up with and review all of these new brands and colors. I also realized that because I already own so much ink, I probably have a close approximation of any shade I could possibly be looking for, so other than super unique colors that grab my attention, there's really no incentive for me to keep loading up on ink.
- I plan to move even more into "analog" and away from "digital" in other areas of my life. Chalk this up to recency bias, but I finished David Sax's The Revenge of Analog last night and found it quite inspiring. My life could definitely benefit from incorporating some of the benefits and enjoyment I find in pens and paper into other areas of interest, such as photography, reading, music, watches, etc. I'll definitely write more on this topic in the future.
- I plan to scale back on pen acquisitions even further. I'll probably continue buying fewer pens, and worrying less about spending money on those pens I really, really want. Interestingly, I purchased much more expensive pens this past year, but spent less money overall on this pen hobby.
- I want to enjoy new aspects of the pen/stationery hobby. This year I dabbled in things like wax seal stamps (thanks to Kustom Haus), and I'd like to give both journaling and regular letter writing another shot. The trick will be finding out how to work them into an already jam-packed day.
- Use more notebooks. An annual promise to myself, but I did better this year (especially with pocket notebooks) and want to keep things rolling forward. I really, really need to burn through my backlog of A5 journal-style notebooks.
Finally, thanks to all of you who read this blog and make it fun to write. I've enjoyed corresponding with many of you by e-mail, letter, and social media, and meeting many of you in person at pen shows. The pen and stationery community is a great one, and I'm proud to be a member and contributor!