2017 Purchases

Another year has come and gone. And it’s time to see how much I’ve spend on this hobby of mine. This year has seen a drastic decrease in the number of pens I’ve purchased. The main reason being each pen that I buy is significantly more expensive in general so it makes sense that I buy less pens. I’d be worried if I didn’t. I spent a total of $3800 on 7 fountain pens. One of them was a shoo in on Christmas eve. It’s a Pilot Custom 823 in WA from Tokyo Quill. I had expected it to receive the invoice next year. Comparing it to last year’s 19 pens, I feel I’ve exercised a great deal of self control. However with the average price of each pen is more than $500, it is probably due to the higher end fountain pens that I’ve been buying rather than due to any self control.

Ink purchases has gone up when compared to last year’s 19 bottles. I got 27 new inks at $500 in total, some were multiple bottles of the same inks for gifts. 27 bottles of inks at $500 total is not too bad. Well, inks will always be cheaper and it’s easier to impulse buy when compared to pens.

I’ve added a new category to track this year. It’s a category to cover non-pens and non-ink related products, mostly paper and pen cases. That came in at $340. The bulk of it was due to a Pelikan M400 B nib that I’ve purchased for modding.

I’ve sold 6 pens, none of them purchased within the year. And 16 bottles of inks were also sold, some from within the year. I’ve gone a little crazy with Robert Oster Signature inks so I had to cull some to make room for more inks. My collection is probably due for another culling pretty soon.

So that’s $4600 over the course of 12 months, baring nothing just comes up in the next 2 days. Now comparing this to last year’s purchases which came in at more than $5000, I think this is a step in the right direction. It’s not that I’m losing interest in the hobby but as any hobby matures, I think you’d get to know what you like and what you don’t. In turn, you’ll be able to apply these criteria to your purchasing decisions. At the end of the day, hopefully it will means less buy to try, more buy to use.

Which direction has your fountain pen and related products purchases been going?

Affordable gold nib pens

So you started down the rabbit hole of a hobby known as fountain pens. You have got a stainless steel fountain pen or maybe more than a few. You write with them and you are enjoying the writing experience the pen provides you. However, you always read about the fable writing experience that gold nib pens seemed to give. You wonder, then you research but the price have always put you off. There is no way you can spend so much on a pen even if it is a gold nib one you might say but you know in your heart of hearts that is not true. You are afraid, afraid that you might be exposing yourself to the point of no return.

Enough melodrama, all that might be true but you can still find affordable gold nib fountain pens locally or online. Here are a few entry level (entry level only in terms of price) gold nib fountain pens if you are looking to dip your toe into the pool. The prices stated below are the manufacturer's suggested retail price for Singapore. You can get about 20% off if you visit the stores.

Pilot Custom 74 - SGD$160

This is one of the most common starter gold nib pen. Pilot is known for a good writing experience right out of the box. The Custom 74 is one of the more affordable gold nib pen they sell. Its design is one of the few models with a gold nib that has a little pop of colour. The orange, purple and blue models are exclusive to the US market. If I am not wrong, the clear and black barrel are the models available locally.

Platinum 3776 Century - SGD$208

If you are looking an alternative to the Pilot Custom 74, the Platinum 3776 Century is a good bet. Do note that both pens may look really similar but they provide a vastly different writing experience. The Platinum 3776 Century has a stiffer nib with more feedback than the Pilot’s. It have quite a few different colour option available as well. Personally, I lean more towards the Platinum 3776 Century maybe more for aesthetics and the feedback that the nib gives me. Who can say no to a heart shaped breather hole?

Pilot Vanishing Point - SGD$267 and upwards

Now this is the only retractable pen on the list and it is not a pen for everyone thanks to the clip’s position and height. However, the 18k nib that comes with the modern version is nothing to scoff at. Yes, the nib is tiny but it packs a punch. It is a wet and juicy nib that has very slight line variation. Like the other two pens above, the Pilot Vanishing Point has a number of colour options more so than the Pilot Custom 74 and the Platinum 3776 Century.

Lamy 2000 - SGD$305

This is the only non-Japanese fountain pen on the list and clocking in at $305 this is really on the border of affordable. Even so, the sleek and modern design of the Lamy 2000 speaks for itself. The nib is very good and mine wrote well right out of the box. However the nib’s line width can differ greatly even with the same nib size. I’ve seen EF that writes like how you expect it to and EF that writes like a M nib. This is one pen best purchase in store if possible.

Wing Sung 698

This is a made in China fountain pen and possibly the cheapest on the list. I’ve not personally tried the gold nib of a China made fountain pen yet. However for its price on eBay, it might be worth a try. It is cheaper than some stainless steel pens even. However, personally I would rather topping up a little more money and get a pen from a reputable brand.

Stainless steel nibs for everyone

Stainless steel nibs are what a beginner fountain pen user experiences. As you spend more time using fountain pens, most would move onto gold nibs. Personally, I am a fan of stainless steel as well as gold nibs. A good stainless steel nib can be on par and sometimes be better than a gold one. It all depends on the individual nib characteristics. The stiffness, the ink flow and the smoothness are the three main nib characteristics I usually judge my nibs on. I believe stainless steel nibs can be enjoyed by anyone be it a newcomer or an experienced fountain pen user. Here is a list of stainless steel nib pens that everyone can enjoy.

Faber Castell Loom
The Loom is Faber-Castell’s entry level pen. The original M nib I got with the Loom is super smooth. It’s like writing with butter on hot glass. Personally I found it way too smooth but if smoothness is the priority, you can’t go wrong with a nib from Faber-Castell.

Kaweco Supra
I love the size of the #6 Bock nib that my Kaweco Supra comes with. The nib has just right amount of smoothness and the ink flow is generous. What’s best is the #6 nib is interchangeable with other pens such as the Tactile Turn Gist and Franklin Christoph pens.

Platinum Balance
The Platinum Balance is not one of my favourite stainless steel nib but I think it deserves a mention for it’s surprisingly bouncy and soft nib. It can provide you with some cushion as you write that’s similar to how gold nibs behave.

Pilot Metropolitan
This is a popular beginner fountain pen and the nib is just plain outstanding. It comes in fine or medium nib and I prefer the fine. Pilot being a Japanese company does an excellent job with the fine nib. I’ve purchased 4 Pilot Metropolitans so far and all of them wrote out of the box. The nib is a great balance of smoothness and feedback that Pilot has mastered.

Pilot Murex
The Pilot Murex has good looks paired with a great writing experience. It is a complete package. The nib is plain but all business when it comes to writing. It provides a characteristic feedback and this is one of my favourite steel nib pens.

Sailor ProColor 500
I had one bad experience with an entry Sailor pen but the Pro Colour is different. The nib is stiff and hard as a nail. Though the nib is finer than the Pilot’s equivalent but it doesn’t scratch the paper. It glides effortlessly across the page and provides the perfect balance of feedback and smoothness. I wish Sailor would improve their entry level steel nibs so that they can provide some competition in the entry level Japanese steel nib pen space.

Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night
The stainless steel nib I got with the Visconti Van Gogh is outstanding. It isn’t just because it writes well with a good ink flow but the nib provides me a natural line variation with having to push the nib. Though the nib was sold as an EF, I found it wrote like a stub nib. It also has some give as I write as well. The nib is also beautifully adorned with scrollwork.

Do you have a favourite stainless steel nib pen? Drop me a comment and tell me about it!