Six Month Review: Miscellaneous Paper, Accessories, & More

Last recap post before things get back to normal this week! Today I’ll look at miscellaneous stationery accessories that I’ve enjoyed reviewing in 2019. As with other similar posts, all links are to my own previous reviews. Enjoy!

Traveling with Fountain Pens: Do You Need a Traveling Inkwell? Although “Traveling Inkwells” or “ink pots” have been on the market for some time, they’ve received a lot of attention over the past year when Visconti and Pineider both made a push to get these products some additional exposure by lowering the price to a more reasonable level. Personally, I use my two inkwells to hold the remnants of near-empty ink bottles, or to help me use inks from bottles that make it hard to fill pens with larger nibs. It’s also much easier to fully fill a vacuum-filler fountain pen using an inkwell - just be sure to hold the inkwell tightly so it doesn’t fly across the room.

Traveling with Fountain Pens: In Praise of the Humble Ink Cartridge. In the second entry of my “Traveling with Fountain Pens” series, I looked at the ink cartridge - something that often gets overlooked (or mocked) by “serious” fountain pen enthusiasts, but which I use regularly as a convenient and functional way to refill pens at work and on the road. Use those cartridges proudly!

Jetstream SXR-600 Refill. For years, I’ve wanted a Uniball Jetstream hybrid-ballpoint refill that I could use in my standard ballpoint and rollerball pen bodies. Now, you can have the Jetstream’s write-anywhere, quick drying experience in any pen that takes a standard Parker-style refill, such as the Retro 51 Tornado or the Baron Fig Squire.

Staples TRU RED Notebooks. The paper in the black “soft-cover” notebooks is excellent for fountain pens, and I hope Staples continues to source this paper in the future. It’s a low-cost option that’s readily available at your local office-supply store, and the leatherette covers are nice as well.

Pen Storage Solutions: Pen Boxes and Folios. I’ve really reworked my pen organization/pen storage over the past year, and am preparing to do another round of thinning the herd in the coming months. In this post I highlight several storage options that I use to keep my pen collection (relatively) organized and easy to navigate.

Thanks for bearing with me while I’ve been on vacation. I’ve needed a break and I look forward to tackling the second half of the year!

Six Month Review: Favorite Inks from 2019, So Far

As with my Six Month Review of my favorite pens from the first part of this year, I’ll take a look at some favorite inks I’ve reviewed so far. Unfortunately, I don’t do as many ink reviews as I do pen reviews (honestly, I don’t use THAT many different inks), so this may actually turn into a recap of most of the inks I’ve reviewed this year. The good thing is that those inks I choose to review actually end up being the inks I really like and use, and I’ve loaded up on ink in the first part of this year, and look forward to broadening my horizons a bit going forward.

Pilot Iroshizuku 100th Anniversary Inks Bishamonten (Red) and Hoteison (Dark Green). While I wasn’t blown away by the 100th Anniversary Iroshizuku inks as a whole - I found the overall color palette underwhelming - these two inks have both seen steady use, and caused me to pull out my other underused Iroshizuku inks and invest in several additional colors. Look forward to seeing more Iroshizuku content coming your way.

Rediscovering an Old Favorite: Private Reserve Burgundy Mist. I set aside my Private Reserve inks years ago and more or less wrote off the brand, but my recent experience with Burgundy Mist has me wanting to repurchase more old favorites as Private Reserve has been revitalized under new ownership.

Robert Oster / Pen Addict “Fire on Fire” Collaboration. Brad and Robert Oster came up with one of the best “everyday” orange inks on the market, in terms of flow, visibility, and the lack of any tendency to form “nib crud.” Fire on Fire will be a mainstay of my rotation for as long as they continue making the ink.

Taccia Ebi (Purple Red) and Uguisu (Olive Green). Taccia is a brand that I’ve grown to appreciate over the years. They don’t make a wide range of products, but what they do make - both pens and ink - are of excellent quality. The inks are also quite reasonably priced, and I’m certainly going to pick more of these up in the future.

Waterman Tender Purple. Making a guest appearance in my review of the Tactile Turn Gist 2.0, I will always think of this ink as Waterman Violet, which is what it was called for years before Waterman updated its line not to add more colors, but rather a series of cheesy names such as “Tender Purple,” “Inspired Blue,” “Serenity Blue,” etc. Strange marketing decisions aside, it’s a great ink, and I’ve had multiple fills of this ink loaded in my Gist for the past couple months.

Thanks for reading! For more of my thoughts on inks, check out my post titled “Favorite Workhorse Fountain Pen Inks, as Determined by Actual Use.” As a reminder, I’m on vacation for the rest of this week so nearly all of what I post will be recap-style content. Things will be back to normal next week!

Six Month Review: Favorite Pens From 2019, So Far

Every year I take time off around Memorial Day to go on vacation, and while there won’t be any new content until the first week of June, I typically will post a series of short recaps in which I revisit some of my favorite products and reviews from the first six months of the year. First up is pens. All links are links to my own full reviews. Enjoy!

Leonardo Officina Italiana Momento Zero. Though these aren’t supposed to be in any particular order of preference, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the Leonardo Momento Zero made this list. I now own SIX of these pens - three celluloid and three acrylic - and carry at least one with me every day. The fact that you can get one of these pens well under the $200 price point amazes me, though you will have to pay a premium for unique materials such as celluloid or ebonite.

Desiderata Soubriquet. I waited a long time to pick up my first Desiderata. Too long, apparently. The Soubriquet is the biggest pleasant surprise of the year, if not the entire blog. I love this pen, especially the Briar Ebonite material. Now that Pierre is making these pens with JoWo nibs, those who like the look of the Soubriquet and other Desiderata Pens won’t be limited to the Zebra G Calligraphy nib, which itself is a great option/feature if you’re looking for a fountain pen to do calligraphy.

TWSBI ECO Transparent Orange. While I’ve always considered it a good pen, especially considering that you’re getting a reliable high capacity piston-filler for around $30, the ECO’s design has never appealed to me as much as TWSBI’s 580 line. Something about the acrylic on the standard white and black models made the faceted cap look too chunky. That changed with TWSBI’s release of clear demonstrator versions, especially the orange version that came out this year. Sometimes you find a pen that just checks all your boxes: a great price-to-value proposition, just the right pop of color, a large ink capacity, and a good nib.

Montblanc Starwalker Rollerball. Despite the premium price point, I like Montblanc rollerball refills because they come in a finer tip and generally don’t write as wet of a line as Schmidt refills, which have become the default for rollerball pens such as the Retro 51 and the Baron Fig Squire. I’ve also been wanting to add a Montblanc Starwalker to my collection for years, but have held off purchasing a fountain pen because this particular model is cartridge-only and has developed a reputation for spotty nib quality over the years. But a Starwalker rollerball? On deep discount? I snapped it up immediately.

Baux Pens. Though the 22Pen might be a close second, the Baux Pen is probably the weirdest - in a good way - Kickstarter project I’ve ever backed. A premium barrel for a Bic Cristal refill? Sign me up. I’ve used these pens on a daily basis since they made their way into my hands. I highly recommend the Xtra Precision refill if you find the typical Bic Cristal too wide.

Editor’s Note: I’m traveling this week on vacation, so I’ll likely be slow to respond to e-mails and comments. I’ll catch up with all of you when I get back the week of June 3.

Live on the Blog: Updated 2019 "Best Pens" Recommendations!

It’s April, and you know what that means: it’s time for the annual update to my “Best Pens” Recommendations list. There may be a few surprises on here, particularly in the “beginners” category, the $100-200 price point, and my list of personal favorites. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

You can check out the updated list here. The 2018 list and the 2017 list are still live if you’d like to see how things changed.