I actually can’t believe that we’re already moving into the third quarter of 2019, and that most of pen show season has already passed with this weekend’s San Francisco Pen Show. Sure, there are a handful of shows left (Dallas, Colorado, Ohio, and Detroit), but the largest have come and gone. At this point in the year, most of the manufacturers have released their 2019 limited and special editions, and some have even sold out. Missing out on San Francisco has made me a bit nostalgic for the shows I was able to attend earlier in the year, so I thought I’d reminisce a bit on my favorite releases from 2019. I’ll also take this opportunity to offer some commentary on what I’d consider to be a few “misses,” as well as those releases that we’re still awaiting as we approach the end of the year.
My Five Favorite Special and Limited Edition Pens of 2019
Graf von Faber-Castell 2019 Pen of the Year Samurai Black Edition (via Appelboom). Even though I will likely never own one of these pens, Graf von Faber-Castell’s “Pen of the Year” for 2019 turned out beautifully. The extremely high price point keeps this line out of the reach of most collectors, but I’ve always enjoyed GvFC’s understated design on their limited editions, especially compared to many of the more elaborate limited editions released by Montblanc. The somewhat less expensive Samurai “Magnolia Wood” pen comes in a close second to the Black Edition, in my book.
Pelikan M101N Grey-Blue Fountain Pen (via Pen Chalet). When Pelikan first released pictures of it’s 2019 M101N in “Grey-Blue,” I was underwhelmed. The promotional pictures of the acrylic made the pen look inexpensive and not worth the premium price, but seeing this pen in person completely changed my mind. The material actually does capture the vintage vibe of the M101N series, whereas I originally thought it would seem too modern.
Aurora Internazionale Limited Edition Fountain Pen (via Nibsmith). Aurora releases multiple limited editions - I might even say too many - every year, with supply tending to linger a year, sometimes even two years, after release. The Internazionale will not be one of those pens. This vintage-inspired limited edition is absolutely gorgeous, featuring an authentically vintage design centered around the marbled blue “auroloide” material.
Leonardo Officina Italiana x Pen Chalet Momento Zero Collaboration (via Pen Chalet). I promise I’ll stop harping on this collaboration, which actually includes several different combinations of colors and textures, but these pens really impressed me, as have most of Leonardo’s releases this year. You can read my full review of the matte black/orange pen here.
Esterbrook Estie “Blueberry” (via Pen Chalet). I’ve remarked on how I’ve enjoyed Leonardo’s approach to releasing pens, which is to focus on one or two designs, and then release variants of those designs in unique materials, either as part of the regular line or as special releases. Esterbrook has taken a similar approach, and their “blueberry” acrylic special edition Estie came out well.
Special and Limited Edition Pens that Missed the Mark
Sailor 1911 Ringless Epinard (via Nibsmith). I love the “Epinard” green, but I can’t get past the fact that the nib is a different color than the clip, as well as the unfinished edge without the cap band. I can’t help but think that this pen looks like it was cobbled together out of spare parts.
Platinum #3776 “The Prime” Silver (via Appelboom). I understand what Platinum was trying to do here - create a high-end limited edition pen to commemorate their 100th anniversary, without making the pen so expensive that the it becomes inaccessible to all but the most well-heeled collectors. Still, at this price point, I want to see more than a plain black plastic section.
Pelikan M805 Blue Dunes (via Appelboom). Something about swirled acrylics and high-end pens don’t gel for me. This is more a matter of personal taste than anything, but the “Blue Dunes” edition does not strike me as a $600 pen.
Lamy AL-Star Bronze (via Pen Chalet). For me, this one definitely missed the mark. The color is somewhat similar to the gold pen already available in the Lamy LX line, and the accompanying special edition “Bronze” ink turned out to be orange. An odd choice by Lamy, which has a history of strange special editions.
Pens We’re Still Waiting On…
Lamy 2000 Blue Bauhaus 100th Anniversary Edition. I’m expecting this pen to either be the best of the year or another letdown akin to the “Black Amber” fiasco. Lamy is apparently telling retailers that stock will be “limited,” and certain retailers are now requiring customers to enter “lotteries” to win the right to purchase one of the Bauhaus pens. Part of me says “enough already.” The Lamy 2000 isn’t intended to be a super high-end collector’s item - it’s a prime example of functional design at an accessible price point - and Lamy should treat it accordingly.
Pelikan M1005 Anthracite Stresemann (via Appelboom). The Pelikan M1005 Stresemann has been repeatedly delayed, with the release now pushed into September. The M1000/M1005 series has never really tempted me, primarily because the pen is so large, but I don’t have a Stresemann pen in my collection and may choose this one simply because it’s unique.
Aurora 88 “Black Mamba” (via Nibsmith). I’ve not had a chance to see this one in person, but I hear that U.S. distributor Kenro now has prototypes available at their pen show tables. Of all the limited edition “88” designs that Aurora has released over the past few years, this one might be my favorite. I’m glad to see they went with matte black over gloss black trim, which is the one quibble I had with the Unica Nera edition I reviewed back in February.
Pens to Purchase NOW!
Remaining stock from a few of last year’s special and limited editions are still available to purchase, often at greatly reduced prices. The one that surprises me the most is the Aurora 88 Sigaro Blu, which is a gorgeous lacquered pen that I purchased in January from Dan Smith. Pen Chalet also has a few remaining on deep discount. If you’re interested in Aurora’s “Optima Flex” pens, Vanness has them on sale, along with a couple of Aurora 88 Minerali demonstrators. Finally, orange pen fans won’t want to miss the Pelikan M600 Vibrant Orange, and there are even some M800 Stone Garden pens left.