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One Year Later: The fountain pens I’ve bought

In May 2020, I bought a fountain pen. Well technically, I ordered the pen in April but due to the pandemic, shipping was delayed for a month. At that time, I thought all I needed was just one fountain pen. Then I bought a second one. And a third.

Now one year later, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the fountain pens that I’ve bought in my first year. All of them are steel nibs and apart from one, all are under S$100. The fountain pens below are in chronological order of purchase.

My fountain pens

1) TWSBI ECO-T in Mint Blue

TWSBI ECO-T in mint blue

This is my first fountain pen.

While the general advice for beginners is to start with a cartridge fountain pen, I decided to get a piston filler instead. Too many bad memories of practising calligraphy in secondary school with a cheap calligraphy pen has spoilt my appetite for cartridges.

I love this pen. I love seeing the ink slushing around the transparent barrel. When I was sitting at the desk, I found myself picking up the pen every once in a while to look at the ink flowing in the barrel.

Close up of Jinhao fude/bent nib

This pen is now fitted with a Jinhao fude nib. I lost the original nib by carelessly leaving it in the sink while I was cleaning the pen. A quick turn of the tap and the nib disappeared down the drain. When I bought a fude nib, I decided to put it in this pen.

I’ve tried writing with the nib but it looked better in drawings. I didn’t use it daily but the cap seal was good and I didn’t experienced any hard starts even after leaving it for weeks. The fude nib gave the drawing a brush-like feel which was lovely to look at.

2) TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR in Prussian Blue

TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR in prussian blue

About a month after I bought the TWSBI ECO-T, TWSBI released the Diamond 580 ALR in Prussian Blue. I loved the shade of blue on this pen and struggled for a month before finally giving in and buying it.

I got it in the fine nib which complemented the medium nib on the ECO-T. I love the medium nib, but the line it lays down can be a bit too thick, especially with the passport-size monthly planner layout in the Traveler’s Notebook.

This pen is used daily to note and keep track of stuff.

3) Pilot Kakuno

Pilot Kakuno in red and grey colours

I didn’t need this pen.

But I bought it anyway (on 3 February 2021).

In the beginning of 2021, I was feeling rather stressed and needed some distraction. My hands were itching for a new toy and I wanted something cheerful without spending a lot of money. A fountain pen for kids seemed to fit the bill.

Being a Pilot fan (I love my G1 despite all its flaws), I’ve always wanted a Pilot fountain pen. (I’m actually eyeing a Custom Heritage but I’m not about to pay a few hundreds for a fountain pen yet. *cue ironic laughter* You will see why later) This was one of the cheaper fountain pens available and it helped that the nib was identical to the more expensive Pilot Metropolitan.

Close up of a Pilot Kakuno fine nib

Besides, who can say no to that smiley face?

This pen has a Japanese fine nib. I used the cartridge that came with the pen. When the ink ran out, I refilled the cartridge with Monteverde Jade Noir. This wasn’t one of my preferred inks but I really liked it in this pen.

Because it was fairly cheap (compared to other fountain pens) and made of study plastic, I was comfortable leaving it in the office. I didn’t like the thin lines from this nib at first but found it’s perfect for quickly scribbling down meeting notes on non-fountain-pen-friendly paper.

4) Jinhao X450

Jinhao X450 in marble blue

I ordered this pen soon after buying the Pilot Kakuno. I was looking for a fountain pen with a fude nib and came across an online listing for the Jinhao X450. It was listed as being fitted with a fude nib but when it arrived, it just had an ordinary (medium?) nib.

The nib was a bit scratchy at first. I gently pushed the tines with my fingernail to align them, which seemed to solve the scratchiness problem. It was a wet writer so I decided to keep it, and placed an order for just the fude nib. I thought about putting the fude nib in this pen but I ended up putting it in the nib-less TWSBI ECO-T.

This pen is mainly used for writing in my journal. I used it alternatively with pen no. 6 so it wasn’t inked up all the time.

5) TWSBI ECO-T in Mint Blue no. 2

TWSBI ECO-T in mint blue

I ordered this pen after I lost the nib of the original TWSBI ECO-T. I took a look at all the other colours available for both the ECO and ECO-T but none really appealed to me. Mint blue was still the best colour in my book and why settle for second best? So I got it in the same colour again. I am really not good at making decisions under distress.

This pen is now used for all the writing samples shown on this site.

6) Jason Neil Penworks Tucker model in vintage glass resin

Beginning of 2021, I started following a few artisan fountain pen makers on instagram. I enjoyed looking at the pens they made. While some pens totally fit with my aesthetic, the price for a hand-turned pen is a deterrent. You have to remember that up until now, my pens all cost under S$100 (US$75). Paying over US$200 for a pen, even if it was a beautifully handcrafted one, felt really daunting.

Then Jason Miller from Jason Neil Penworks posted this image on Instagram:

I really, really, REALLY, like the look of the vintage glass resin.

After this post, I kept checking Jason’s instagram to see if if there were any updates to the pen. But cruelly (and totally unintentional on Jason’s part), Jason worked on other pens and didn’t post any more WIP photos of the vintage glass resin pen until about a month later.

I was captivated by the look of the finished pen, but at the same time, I was also really hesitant because it was quite a sum of money. I kept checking back at every opportunity to see if the pen had been sold, thinking that if it was gone, at least I could stop pining for it. I kept talking about the pen until my normally super patient friend ran out of patience and told me to contact the penmaker.

After a few messages with Jason, I bought the pen. It took a while for the pen to arrive, shipping being what they are in these pandemic times.

Tucker model in vintage glass resin from Jason Neil Penworks

This pen look stunning and I love minimalist look of it. (You can see more beautiful photos of this pen on Jason’s instagram. He’s a much better photographer than I am.)

I alternate between this pen and the Jinhao X450 for writing in my journal. Recently I discovered a crack in the nib housing so this pen would be on a break until I managed to get a new housing.

What’s next?

One day I would like to buy a gold nib fountain pen. Perhaps when the pandemic is over, I will fly to Japan for a holiday. It seemed fitting to buy a Japanese gold nib pen (either a Pilot or Sailor/Bungubox) when I am in the country, to commemorate both the end of the pandemic and my trip.

Until that day comes, maybe I’ll buy other nibs to put in the TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR or Tucker model. There are a lot of options out there and I think it will be fun to try out the various nibs.

Disclaimer: The fountain pens were purchased by me and all opinions/photos are my own, except where stated. This post was not sponsored.

One reply on “One Year Later: The fountain pens I’ve bought”

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