2017 Cheers and Tears

In my yearly round-up, I thought I might pick my favorite pens, inks and other stationery items for the year. There are so many amazing things this year, it was really hard to narrow it down.

I can’t thank Tina and Laura enough for coming on board and making this blog even better this year! I can’t wait to see what they’ll add to it next year.

There are not quite so many tears this year, thankfully.

Favorite Pens for 2017 (in no specific order):

Karas Pen Co. Decograph
The boys in Arizona took a chance on acrylics and made some absolutely beautiful new pens with the Decograph that are both reminiscent of the past while maintaining their modern machinist vibe.

Caran d'Ache 849 Fountain Pen

Caran d’Ache 849 Fountain Pen
I may be alone in my adoration for the Caran d’Ache 849 fountain pen but it has become one of my everyday carry pens. Some find the nibs a little too feedback-y or scratchy but I like the friction. Its reminds of a pencil and the snap cap make it great for quick notes.

Platinum 3776 Shungyo Fountain Pen
I fell in love with Platinum fountain pens this year and the 3776 Shungyo was my gateway drug. Technically, a series of Platinum Carbon Desk Pens were my actual gateway but the flood gates were opened with the Shungyo. I bought the 3776 Shungyo with the soft fine nib after a series of trial and error with several different pens at the San Francisco Pen Show. The soft fine nib is particularly finicky and a pen show is a great place to try several different models of the same pen until you find the right one with a pen like this. Any other nib on this model is not quite so fussy but the soft fine behaves differently. At a pen show, there is the advantage of having nibmeisters on site who can tune the nibs well. I lucked out in finding one that didn’t need additional tuning.

Carolina Pen Co. Matte Petal Pink Fountain Pen (Zaxxon Rule breaker)
I had the opportunity to buy my first pen from Jonathan Brooks at the San Francisco Pen Show. And while he is becoming wildly well-known for his Primary Manipulation resins and Urushi work, I fell in love with a pastel pink, matte finish resin with a slight hint of silver dust. It looked almost vintage. So while this is not necessarily the exact resin finish you could get from Jonathan, you could request something totally different from what you’ve seen in his Instagram feed. He is a man of unlimited talent and creativity.

Favorite Inks for 2017:

Robert Oster Fire & Ice

Okay, technically Robert Oster Fire & Ice burst onto the scene at the end of 2016 but I sold so much of it at pen shows this year that it was THE ink of 2017, hands down.

Robert Oster Viola

This was the year that I delighted in the inks that were not the standard colors and there were so many to choose from it really is hard to pick just a few. Oster Viola is not one that caught many people’s attention but I loved it.

Robert Oster Caffe Creme

I have a hard time finding brown inks that rock my world but one stroke across the page with Caffe Creme and I was sold. Sorry, Pelikan Smoky Quartz. Caffe Creme had so much more depth and variety going for it.

Kyo-No-Oto No. 1 Nureba-iro

I finally discovered a black ink I love. Kyo-no-oto No. 1 Nureba-iro is it. I not only fell in love with a ridiculously expensive Japanese ink but a whole line of inks that come in a beautiful bottle. No one ever said this hobby was was cheap or decisions were made logically.

Organics Studio Nitrogen Royal Blue/Thoreau Walden Pond

Organics Studio came back on the scene this year with a sheen! Nitrogen and Walden Pond was all anyone could talk about if they liked sheening inks. The color is fabulous but if any of the ink dries on the cap of the bottle, you will end up with sheen flakes lingering on your desk or counter for days. I recommend a protective layer of towels.

Other Favorite Stationery-Related Items:

Rickshaw Pen Sleeves
Rickshaw Bags plush-lined pen sleeves, available in 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-pen configurations, have become some of my favorite pen carrying accessories. The vast array of sizes and color options make them a great addition to your next pen purchase. Get one to match your favorite pen or pen collection.

Not to toot my own horn but I sure am glad to finally have a replacement for the discontinued swatch cards I had been using, even if I did have to make the Col-o-ring myself. I’ve filled over 400 cards this year for myself as well as making cards for demos and shops. Col-o-rings have truly been a labor of love and I’m so glad other people have liked them too.

NockCo Fodderstack Petite Card + Pen Holder
The Fodderstack Petite Card Size doubles as Col-o-ring card holder and the pen holder slot will hold a travel dip pen and a couple cotton swabs. This version of the Fodderstack is only available at pen shows (not quite a Zaxxon Rule breaker but close). It’s the perfect travel swatching kit for taking to pen club or to a pen show, which I frequently do. Keep an eye for one next time you’re at a show.

The Pencil Perfect

Caroline Weaver created an absolutely page-turning book about the history of pencils. The Pencil Perfect is full of intrigue, history and so much more. The illustrations and conversational tone make it readable and enjoyable.

Favorite Non-Stationery Things:

Lucy (The other Zaxxon Rule-breaker, but you are welcome to come over and per her anytime or visit your local shelter and adopt your own furry companion)

On the day of the eclipse, a kitten wandered into our backyard and into our hearts. El Presidente of the house, Rosie, hasn’t warmed to her yet but everyone else in our house thinks she’s pretty keen.

Sphero R2-D2 Robot

My new Sphero R2-D2 Droid is a licensed Star Wars product done right. Take notes, Sheaffer and Cross. By far, the best Christmas gift I got this year. He can be controlled with my phone, chase my cats around, do patterns on my kitchen floor, watch movies with me and generally entertain the hell out of me. He also cost considerably less than a Cross Century Chewbacca fountain pen.

Nerdette Podcast

While there were two great new stationery-related podcasts added to my podcast catcher this year, I was also thrilled to add Nerdette to my line-up as well.


(Image from the Long Island Pen Show Web Site, circa 2009)

Susan Wirth

Real tears were shed this year at the sudden passing of pen show fixture, Susan Wirth. She was someone who made a real impact on me and her passing was too sudden. The community lost great knowledge and a compassionate, caring person who took no crap from anyone. I raise a gin and tonic in her honor.

Montblanc Velvet Red Writing Sample

Montblanc William Shakespeare Velvet Red Ink

To start with, I hate that the round bottle is used some of the time with Montblanc special releases. The artwork on the William Shakespeare Velvet Red bottle was awful and the ink color was downright lame. One should not proceed half-cocked if you intend to take on the Bard. For shame, Montblanc.

Some of Montblanc’s limited edition pens also made me say “Hmmm?” this year too. The Beatles pen was close… until you see the mustache clip and then I had to wonder who phoned in that design decision. And the overtly curvy Marilyn Monroe pen was clearly designed by a man who only knew about Monroe from reading her Wikipedia page and not the deeply troubled, multi-faceted woman that she was. She was more than a curvy, red dress. If they ever do a Grace Kelly pen, I shudder to think what they might do.

The Star Wars Collection from Sheaffer (and Cross)

If Sheaffer thought it was going to escape my wrath, it clearly didn’t get the memo from Cross from last year. The Sheaffer line of Star Wars pens and accessories left me wanting. Get it together, folks. If you’re going to do an entry level novelty pen with printed graphics, then price it under $20. It looks cheap. Or up your game.

And while I’m on the subject… really, Cross? The Chewbacca pen? WTF were you thinking?

Looking Forward

I’m hoping that 2018 will bring even more collaborations and projects from the community. There are small ink manufacturers popping up, Kickstarter projects and other new ventures everyday that get me excited to see what the pen community worldwide will unveil in the coming year. New collectors are coming into the community with a love for vintage, modern and everything in-between. There’s no telling what wonders will be created, saved and rebuilt. And maybe, we’ll all meet over a drink at the bar at the next pen show or pen club meet-up? If you see me out, please say hello, okay?

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I promised myself a col-o-ring this year and I love Lucy. Thank you for the end of year post. May 2018 be a great year for all of us. Happy New Year.

  2. 2017 .. the year that was.. Happy New Year Ana and all the readers here. May 2018 be filled with happiness, good health, prosperity and literary masterpieces of every flavor!

  3. Montblanc has done a Grace Kelly pen! I’m not very knowledgeable about Montblanc, but it’s the same shape, basically, just different colors. My friend has the purple version of it, and it’s really a beauty. There’s also a black Marlene Dietrich.

    That said, for some reason the Marilyn version felt off-putting to me. I’m not sure why. Not that I’m opposed to a Marilyn pen, but the other versions of it look so much more classy.

  4. I love your year-ending post – I almost want a fountain pen! Haven’t said that for many years! And your spouse-and- Lucy photo was a heart melter.

  5. Very fun list– thanks for a year of great content! The Caran d’Ache is almost too scratchy for me, but thinking of it like a pencil helps. And it is a great combination of useful and classy!

  6. Great post–my only disagreement is that I really like MB Velvet Red. It shades beautifully. Keep up the great work. See you in DC and Dallas.

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