Fountain Pens, Ink, Paper & More

I am obsessed with the TWSBI Eco. So much so, I have EIGHT inked up right now, out of TWENTY currently inked pens in all. It's time to empty some, but which ones will end up on top?

Check out Fountain Pen Companion: TWSBI Eco fountain pens on Amazon:

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Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s interesting coming back to my first fountain pen. A friend told me the Pilot Metropolitan would be a great starter pen, and he was right. (Thanks, Colin!)

Now, two years or so later*, I have a little more context with which to judge the Metropolitan. I now know its grip is a bit narrow for my taste (and comfort), and the medium nib leans towards the wrong side—the finer side—of what I like to use.

That said, I still have to say that it is a great pen to launch into this wonderful world of fountain pens. If given the chance, I’d recommend it to the fountain pen-curious, as well.

* In grabbing the Amazon link for the Metropolitan, Amazon reminded me that I last purchased it on February 12, 2019. That’s nearly four years! My, how time flies…

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Monteverde gets a lot more love for their inks than their pens. I’m a huge fan of both. Many of their pen designs are unique from any other pens. Their designs tend to be modern—like the Ritma—and unconventional—like the Regatta. They also have the world’s only (?) fountain pen multi-tool.

Monteverde Pens are frequently on clearance or deeply discounted. I recently picked up a black Ritma for $24! And the pictured Trees of the World “Avenue of the Baobabs” was snatched up on Pen Chalet for $46. Steals. Plain and simple.

The Baobabs has a 1.1 stub (far better than TWSBI stubs, in my opinion) that shows off this Krishna “Candle Day” ink beautifully. So I’m happy to use this as today’s pen.

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SPOILER ALERT: Moonman A1 wins.

I think I understand why the Pilot Capless is apparently no longer being made. The “special alloy” fine nib offers a joyless writing experience that feels dry with more feedback than I would like.* With a fine nib producing an extra fine line, the ink lacks any character whatsoever. Admittedly, this is based on the included black cartridge, but even black ink can have character. At a price tag of around $80 on Amazon, at the time of this writing, I expect better.

By contrast, the extra fine nib on the Moonman/Majohn A1 dishes up a fine line that actually lets you see the ink. With the option of a clipless version, as well as a handful of colors, the A1 has a leg up on the Capless. Not to mention the $41 price tag on Amazon, or sub-$30 on eBay.

To be fair, it’s not all bad with the Capless. The way the parts fit together is buttery smooth. The nib unit appears to be more ink-tight. And they come stocked with nibs ranging from extra fine to medium.

But with an extra fine nib on the A1 that writes so well, do you even need any other nib options? Okay, it would be nice. Like really, really nice. But I’m good for now.

* UPDATE Perhaps after “warming” the Pilot Capless in my shirt pocket, the ink seems much more fluid! Still lays down a super fine line, but a much better writing experience. The A1 remains my preference, though.

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The Moonman/Majohn A1 is quite possibly my favorite retractable fountain pen. I have two: the stealth, all-black version with the clip; and pictured here, the white with silver trim clipless. It’s highly likely I’ll get more.

I love my Platinum Curidas—in fact, I have a second one on the way. Its price has dropped nearly in half. But it’s bulky, plastic body can’t compete with the sleek, metal body of the A1. (Steak sauce, anyone?)

Though the ridiculously-priced Lamy Dialog3 will never be in my budget, and the Pilot Vanishing Point isn’t likely to make its way into my hands any time soon, I did just snatch up a $66 Pilot Capless. (Basically, a Vanishing Point with a steel nib?) So, it will be nice to make a direct comparison between copycat and the original.

Until then, I am enjoying the shockingly-smooth EF nib—and dry but consistent flow—of the Moonman A1.

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After being underwhelmed by a cheap Lamy Safari knockoff or two, I decided to try the real thing. I was completely and utterly underwhelmed—disappointed, even. After all, most people seem to go nuts over them. The broad nib was scratchy and prone to skipping. So it sat in the “good riddance” pile for a year or more. I swore off the brand entirely.

But when I got a bottle of Lamy Crystal Agate in my Truphae Inkmeister Premium subscription box (save $5), I thought I would dig out my Safari and give it one last try.

The ink is right up my alley: a medium-light grey. Much like Kaweco Smokey Grey, it looks a lot like pencil! What better color to come out of a Charcoal Lamy Safari?

In the photo above, my brief test confirmed the scratchiness of the nib. But it’s going to be the pen of the day, so it will get put to the test. I’m hopeful it will be a keeper, but I have my doubts.

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Thanks to the November 2022 Ink Flight subscription box… I’m in love with Octopus Fluids fountain pen inks. Of the seven ink samples in the box, I really liked six, and ended up ordering five from Amazon Germany. (I wanted to order directly from Octopus Fluids, but I would have paid more for shipping than for the ink. Amazon can ship to the US for $16 versus Octopus Fluids charging $46. Amazon ain’t so bad.)

Though I was pleased with how the video above illustrates the inks, you can’t beat an ultra-closeup with a macro lens. These closeups made me fall in love with the inks all over again. There’s a lot more going on than at first glance. Wow! Just wow!

These are just a few of my favorites:

Weinrot, to the naked eye, appeared to simply be maroon with some red shading. But is that some gold sheen we’re seeing?

In the video, I describe Aubergine as “deep purple,” but I didn’t catch the wonderful green sheen halo.

Though Orange didn’t reveal anything mind-blowing upon closer inspection, we do get a good look at the shading from a light orange to an orange-red. Love it.

The paper here, as mentioned in the video, is a CVS Caliber notebook, with paper made in Vietnam. (The Caliber paper made in the USA, such as the plain white scratch pad, is not fountain pen friendly. Before buying, make sure it says “Made in Vietnam.”)

I carry all my currently inked fountain pens with me every day, but I quickly outgrew my 10-pen case. So I stuffed 12 pens in it. Then I added a two-pen strap. And most recently, I added a four-pen pocket protector to my setup. See how it all fits together.

Get the Kaco pen case here: Get the pocket protector here:

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After my WordPress install broke, I lost the entire blog. There wasn't a lot there, but what was there was damn good, I must say. I've switched to using because it’s damn cool… and it’s not WordPress. So the blog is back just as I return from my hiatus on YouTube. Perfect timing!

I’m excited about the videos I have lined up. Available within hours of this post is a look at my bloated EDC pen case: a 10-pen Kaco case (stuffed with 12 pens), wrapped with a no longer available Fountain Pen Revolution two-pen strap, with a four-pen pocket protector tucked underneath that. Despite my embarrassing mathematical error in the video, the whole setup contains 18 pens—all inked up, of course. (Technically, one doesn’t count: it’s my Uni 4+1 multi-pen.)

Still to be recorded is a video about a really cool glass nib eyedropper fountain pen, as well as updates on my TWSBI Eco and Jinhao collections. And it won’t stop there. I want to get back to making currently inked videos, ink comparisons, paper tests, and more.

The channel, as I write this, is just under 100 subscribers, so I am already planning a series of giveaways. Stay tuned!

Question: What kind of videos do you want to see? Comment

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