Tag: fountain pen

Ask The Desk: Lamy Fountain Pens over $50

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Niles asked:

I’m looking for a left-handed fountain pen.

You wrote an article that said:

Lamy nibs are awesome and if you are ready to invest in a fountain pen over $50, I have plenty of Lamys I can recommend.

Any change you could name a few – would really appreciate it.

As it turns out, Niles isn’t the first person to ask me to provide some clarity around what are my favorite Lamy pens. On many occasions, I’ve mentioned that I really like Lamy nibs and prefer their higher end models over the molded grip Safari and AL-Star models but I have never been specific about which models. Partially because I pretty much have all of them except the Dialog which is enormous and the Imporium which is pretty expensive (but gorgeous!).

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For left handed writers, I prefer the round barrel shapes on the higher end Lamy fountain pens like the Lamy Studio, the Lamy 2000 and the Lamy CP1.

The Lamy 2000 is a classic and is totally unusual in the makrolon black material and brushed aluminum grip. It also has the hooded 14K nib which, for many, is their first experience with Lamy’s gold nibs. It’s also a piston filler which is pretty unique in the Lamy as well. It’s definitely the most expensive option I’m listing, retailing for about $160, but it is an icon and something every pen collector should have in their collection.

I find that the Lamy Studio is aesthetically similar to the Lamy 2000 in many ways without the hooded nib, with a more tapered clip and a wider array of finishes available. Pricewise, it’s also not nearly as expensive since it comes with a steel nib. It starts at about $80 but can be upgraded to a gold nib and a palladium finish for about $160.

At present, I don’t own a Lamy 2000 but its mostly because I haven’t pulled the “buy it now” button yet. I do own a Studio in brushed aluminum. I frequently fondle the 2000 in friends’ pen cases and pick them at pen shows debating if this will be the day I finally fold.

The Lamy CP1 is a much more slender pen, available in a black titanium finish for about $56. It’s a very simple, clean looking pen. Very functional and utilitarian. I don’t think it could be anymore German if it tried. The Lamy Logo is very similar but has a spring-loaded clip.

Then there’s the Lamy Scala that also has a spring-loaded clip that I find to be considerably heavy and makes the pen way too top-heavy if you try to post it. Aesthetically, I like the looks of the Scala and the model I have actually has the 14K nib on it which means it writes like a dream but the cap is just too heavy. If you don’t post your cap when writing, then you might consider the Logo as an alternative to the CP1. The price is a little lower. And with any Lamy, you can go crazy  upgrade it with a 14K nib.

Lamy fountain pens are available from my fine sponsors: JetPens, Anderson Pens and Pen Chalet.

Pen Review: Aurora Optima Perla Fountain Pen

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Some days call for a pen that make me feel like Audrey Hepburn on a Roman Holiday. On those days, I cannot carry around a plastic gel pen with scented ink in it. Oh, no. On those days, I need something with stature and sophistication. A pen that says I’m ready to take on the world with a disarming smile and a cunning plan. Those days call for the Aurora Optima fountain pen.

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See what I mean about how beautiful it looks in my Kate Spade handbag? Kind of speaks for itself.

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The Optima Auroloide Perla is made from a two-color resin, which is a combination of iridescent and transparent colors, that reminds me of pearl seashells or marbled floor or countertops. It’s combined with the silver colored hardware that makes the Optima look posh but understated. It’s classy but not gaudy.

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The nib is engraved with lovely scrollwork. I have a medium nib which is a bit wider than what I would normally use but thought it would provide more line variation than my normal fine or extra-fine.

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The Optima is a piston filler with a clear window to view ink capacity. Since the resin material has a little bit of transparency as well, the choice of ink color will be visible in some light as well. I have Robert Oster Signature Claret in the Optima here. It seemed appropriate to have a wine color in an Italian pen.

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The nib was tuned by Dan Smith of Nibsmith to make sure that it was in tip-top shape. I was able to use the pen to write in script, print and even to doodle using my upside down left-handed writing without any issues or hard starts. The medium nib might be a tad wide for my tiny, everyday handwriting though. But I do love how much line variation I get and how much color variation in the ink is visible in the larger nib width.

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Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 23gms filled with ink
  • Length: 5″ long capped
  • 4.75″ uncapped from nib tip to end
  • 6″ long with cap posted
  • 14K nib

This is my “big girl” pen. For those days when I put on my heels, the jacket and get out my Kate Spade handbag that says I mean business. But its not so fussy or fancy as to not feel at home with my well-loved Traveler’s Notebook and a pea coat. But this pen is urbane and classic and sophisticated. It loves my Kate Spade zip planner and lovely ivory paper stock.

This pen hopes I get to fly business class.

The Aurora Optima is available from Anderson Pens and Pen Chalet, starting at $445.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kenro Industries for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: TWSBI Eco Lime Green Fountain Pen

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Fountain Pen

I was a little hesitant to get another TWSBI simply because I already own a Mini and a couple of 580 models so I saw no real reason to purchase to budget-priced Eco model, until they released the lime green model and then my urge was entirely based on aesthetics.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Clip

When looking at the Eco, the only thing I can tell that happened to bring the price down was to remove some of the metal hardware on the higher priced 580 line. The clip is simple and the only metal components are the clip and the band on the cap with the branding.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Cap

The logo on the end cap is inset red plastic which actually looks quite nice. And both ends terminate in a hexagonal shape. The pen seems similarly weighted and balanced to the 580. In actuality, the Eco is 23gms, filled and capped and the 580 weighs 30gms. The Mini weighs 20gms comparatively.  The Eco is the same length as the 580 but the barrel is a smooth, round tube where the 580’s is faceted. The Eco cap is a straight hex tube to the 580’s tapered cap and end. Also the ink capacity looks a little bit smaller but its still considerably larger than most cartridges or converters.

The cap posts with a click which seems pretty secure but I wonder if, for newbies, might lead to twisting to remove it leading to releasing the piston a bit? The hex grip on the end was the first thing my husband grabbed and started to hold as he attempted to remove the cap leading to releasing the piston and the cap simultaneously. Awkward.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green nib close up

The nib is the same design and material used in all the other TSBI pens so its the one area that is consistent. I had a scratchy nib in a previous TWSBI so I was a little gun shy to get another EF nib but this one is sharp and hard as nails but not scratchy.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Writing Sample

In writing, the pen performs without any false starts and stops and the EF writes fine enough to be a good gateway for someone transitioning from a rollerball or gel pen in a fine diameter. Liquid fountain pen inks will still present new challenges in regards to paper choices but overall, the TWSBI is one of the best options for someone who is looking to move into fountain pens for the first time, especially if the lure is bottled ink.

Being able to get a piston-filling pen for $28.99 and a full-sized pen is a great option for folks just starting out. Being able to swap out nibs makes it extra appealing for folks who are still trying to find their way in fountain pens. My only complaint would be about how hard the nibs are but I’ve been writing with a lot of gold nibs lately so I may be to a point in my fountain pen life where I’ve moved past these pens. That said, I really like it and have already recommended it to folks who are starting out in fountain pens. If you’re coming from rollerballs and ballpoints, you’re not as likely to notice quite how hard the nib is. The clear ink reservoir is conversation starter wherever I go too.

Of course, the Eco is available with other cap color options, I chose the lime green for obvious reasons. Do you own one? If so, which color and nib combination did you pick?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Anderson Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Delta Virtuosa Medium Fusion Nib Fountain Pen

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

The Delta Virtuosa is my first experience with a Delta pen and with the Delta Fusion nib.

First, let me mention the packaging, which is not something I normally do because, honestly, I prefer the packaging to be protective and recyclable. In the case of the Delta packaging, it is protective but not particularly recyclable. However, it does speak to the designer in me. Its kind of cool looking. It has a screen printed, clear plexiglass top that has an elastic closure on one end and is hinged to pivot at the other end. Inside is a cut out in foam to hold the pen. Since the Virtuosa is such a vibrant blue, its visible through the lucite which is pretty cool. There was a paperboard slipcase as well to hold the box and paperwork but it was not as interesting. So, the packaging is pleasing and noteworthy.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Inside the box is the beautiful blue swirl resin of the pen. The color is phenomenal. All the hardware is silver. When I showed it to my husband, his one comment was that he thought the clip was kind of boring and that was the one thing I was particularly pleased about. The clip is notably understated which is rare with Delta that tends to embellish their clips. I like the clean simplicity, especially with the vibrant color. So, clearly, to each his own.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Now to get to the nitty gritty of the Fusion nib. I will try to explain it as best as I can from the documentation included. The idea is that Delta attempted fuse gold to steel (and other precious metals) to somehow get the best properties of the metals. As best as I can tell, putting gold on TOP of a steel nib just gives you essentially a glorified gold-plated steel nib. That said, the nib is super smooth and writes well, even for an upside-down, left-handed writer.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

The cap posts easily and since the pen is resin, it is a relatively light pen overall. I preferred using it unposted but posted and filled, it only weighed 22gms making it similar to a Lamy AL-Star in regards to weight.

Fountain Pen Weights

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

I don’t normally use a medium nib because of my teeny, tiny handwriting and the Delta Fusion nib is quite a wet writer overall but it writes very smoothly and I could write from any angle with no issues which is a huge plus. It also needed very little pressure to write and showed off the shading of the Robert Oster ink beautifully.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

I also tested the pen on some standard office copy paper (20# bond and Moleskine Cahier) just to  see how much a big juicy medium nib would feather and bleed. Obviously, my ink choice may play a role in how much feathering and bleed I get, YMMV. As you can see, the Moleskine had some feathering and the office paper softened the lines a bit but it wasn’t horrible. There was a bit of showthrough on the back of the Moleskine but the copy paper was fine. I’d recommend a drier ink if you wee to use this as your daily pen though.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Overall, the Delta Virtuosa is a beautiful pen and was a great introduction into the Delta product line. They  definitely make a quality pen and work hard to create unique and interesting designs.

Pen Chalet still has some of the Delta Virtuosa in stock in the Light and Dark Ivory with steel nibs and the Light Ivory with the Fusion nib at a substantial discount. Or check out the full range of Delta fountain pens that Pen Chalet offers, some are available with the Fusion nib.

For an in-depth review and more details about the Fusion nib, check out The Pen Habit’s video review of the Delta Fusion 82.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Namisu Nova Titanium Deluxe

Namisu Nova Titanium

The Namisu Nova Titanium Deluxe is my first experience with a titanium fountain pen and a titanium nib. The overall shape and feel of the pen is a smooth machined cigar shape. It’s very space-aged. There is no clip so it will roll off the table at a moment’s notice. This is definitely a pen that might need a pen sleeve to keep it protected from potential tumbles.

Namisu Nova Titanium

The nib is also titanium, as I mentioned, in medium. Its a Bock nib. The titanuim give the nib a very matte look. The pen is a standard converter and/or cartridge filler so it allows for easy filling.

Namisu Nova Titanium

The pen does not seem particularly large or heavy until I started measuring it and weighing it. Lengthwise, its comparable to a Lamy Safari at 5.5″ capped. Uncapped and unposted, it was a hair shorted than a Safari at 5.125″. The Nova does post but it becomes extremely heavy at 52 gms but is a 6.25″, about a 0.25″ shorter than a posted Safari.

Fountain Pen Weights

See what I mean? 52gms is a seriously heavy pen! Unposted at 36gms, the pen was well-weighted and pretty comfortable overall though I suspect an aluminum model might be lighter.

Namisu Nova Titanium

In writing, I discovered that the Nova with a titanium nib has a little bit of softness but also a little bit of feedback and squeak. It was like there was a little hamster in a cage living inside the pen for me, running on its wheel while I was writing. I don’t know if this was just me or if others have had this experience but by the time I’d written a few pages, I was ready to switch to a pen that had less back talk. I suspect I’d get less “small pet” noises with a standard, steel nib as I’ve had experience with Bock nibs in other pens. The flexibility had some appeal but I couldn’t get past the squeak.

Overall, I really like the look of the pen. The sleek, modern look is very appealing and I loved having a chance to try a titanuim nib though I wish my experience had been better overall. Squeaky but flexy.

You can pre-order a sandblasted version of the titanium design now or purchase the Orion (the same shape with bands engraved out around the center of the pen) in aluminum or titanium with prices starting at £70 with a steel nib. There is also a stonewashed titanium Orion for £60. All versions are available directly from Namisu.


Special thanks to Kasey for loaning me the pen, my own personal enabler. Safe travels and thanks for keeping us safe.

Pen Review: Regal Alice Fountain Pen

regal alice fountain pen title

The Regal Alice fountain pen is a slender copper body pen with a shimmer metallic finish and silver tone hardware. The pen is pretty, inexpensive and feels nice in the hand. Everyone who sees it compliments its looks and asks about it because the color is unusual and the slim understated design is something not often seen in modern pen designs. Originally, the pen only shipped with a medium nib but is now designed to accept an EF fountain pen nib ($10) or can be retrofit to accept a rollerball refill if you change out the grip section..

The pen ships with standard black ink cartridges and there is an option to use a cartridge converter. A cartridge converter is available directly from Regal for $3 or the Monteverde Piston Converter which is more widely available.

regal alice fountain pen

regal alice fountain pen EF nib

I swapped out the medium nib for the EF nib which is quite fine and perfect for everyday office writing since its fine enough to stand up to inexpensive copy paper and the like. I also went ahead and got the cartridge converter because I wanted to be able to use lots of ink colors easily.

regal alice fountain pen writing sample

Fountain Pen Weights

The pen is fairly long and slender but because of the brass base material it has a nice weight. The cap does not post because of a plastic lining material inside the cap that helps seal the cap and keep the pen closed tightly. It reminds me of the cap on the Pelikan Stola III in that way. I didn’t mind that it didn’t post but I know this might be an issue for some folks.

regal alice fountain pen close-up writing sample

I normally write pretty small for notes and daily writing so the EF nib on a small, slender body fits my writing style nicely. The Alice is a bit drier writing pen overall so it felt more like a needlepoint rollerball or gel pen and may feel more familiar to people just starting in fountain pens than a wet writer. It also makes it a good candidate for mucking about on everyday office papers where you don’t get a lot of say on the types of paper it is on but would still like to use a fountain pen.

regal alice fountain pen writing samples

I tested the Alice on a bit of Moleskine Cahier paper, Tomoe River Hobonichi and some cheap 20# office paper just to prove my point. There was no feathering and very little show through with the light turquoise ink color I was using. YMMV.

The Alice is available for $20 from Regal in black, white, pink, turquoise,  and champagne pink (fuchsia). It’s also available as a rollerball or ballpoint. At a price like this, if the colors appeal to you, its a fun pen to add to the collection and one that may intrigue non-fountain pen users into the hobby. It definitely catches attention.

regal alice fountain pen

The Alice got to visit my very own Wonderland… in my backyard this weekend. I think it looks right at home.

regal alice fountain pen

Pen Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

Once again, my dear friend Kasey was kind enough to loan me a pen. This time, it was his beloved Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. I laughed when I pulled it out of the box because it is the absolute antithesis of the only other Sailor pen in my life right now. Where the Sailor Imperial Black is matte black finish with ruthenium trim, my Sailor Pink Love Pro Gear Slim is ridiculously vivid pink with metallic sparkles embedded in the material. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting Imperial Black and Pink Love next to each other in a strange “opposites attract” sort of way. And to be honest, its totally true.

Fountain Pen WeightsFrom a purely technical standpoint, I was delighted to have an opportunity to try out a full-sized Pro Gear and discover that it is not nearly as large or heavy as I anticipated. Compared with the Slim model, its really only about a half an inch longer and only slightly wider. Weight-wise, the Pro Gear is only 4 grams heavier at 24 gms than the Slim which weighed in at 20 gms, capped and filled with the converter. Compared to a Lamy AL-Star, which is a bit longer than the Pro Gear, the weights and width are quite comparable so really, the Pro Gear is a a fairly light but solid feeling tool. I’d almost describe it as compact. Especially with the Imperial Black since all the design elements are understated making the pen feel very clean and functional but at the same time very classic and elegant.

Within minutes of putting the pen to paper, I started researching how much it was going to cost me to get my own Imperial Black. Seriously. Fo the record, there are not many of these beauties left in the wild. Anderson Pens still has some in stock with a broad nib for $472.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Part of the expense of this Imperial Black is that this particular model of Pro Gear came with the 21K nib instead of the more common 14K nib. Wow. This particular pen has the medium nib. And as is common with Sailor pens, the medium nib is actually quite fine and actually a bit crisp so the line has a lot of character. Its not often that I get excited about a medium nib, but this one is quite something. There’s nothing “medium” about it.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

When I put it next to the music nib on the Pro Gear Slim Pink Love, the Imperial Black looks slim, delicate and all business. The Pink Love looks a little bulbous. It does show the vast range of nib size differences within the Sailor line though.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

In writing, the medium nib 21K is absolutely buttery. It was conducive to writing at any angle and as a left-handed writer this is a big deal. I could write over-handed, under-handed, or side-writing with the lightest of touches and the nib glides on the paper. The medium nib handled my small handwriting with no issues, I seldom had the counters of my letters fill in even using 6mm guide sheets.

I really was blown away by this pen and am seriously considering purchasing, if not an Imperial Black Pro Gear, than at least a Pro Gear, in the near future. It is a beautiful writing tool and the Sailor medium nib should be renamed something more poetic. Maybe the “majestic” nib. That’s what that “M” really stands for.