Great Minds: Pens & Tea: Top 5 fountain pens I recommend but don’t use myself

I have been a fan of Pens & Tea on YouTube for many years now. While we have never met, we have similar perspectives on pens, though sometimes our reasons differ. Her recent post: Top 5 fountain pens I recommend but don’t use myself was remarkably similar to a list I would make, though we have slightly different reasons for making these decisions.

Kerry’s list of Top 5 Pens she recommends but doesn’t use/own are as follows:

  1. TWSBI
  2. Lamy Safari/AL-Star
  3. Kaweco Perkeo
  4. Diplomat Magnum
  5. Conklin Duragraph

I 100% agree with the first two in her list. I recommend TWSBI  fountain pens frequently to people but I have a TWSBI curse (every one that has ever passed into my hands has been weirdly scratchy) so I tend to give away or sell any that I buy. But when I know someone particularly wants a pen to use with bottled ink, it’s the first pen I’ll recommend. Every other member of the Desk staff loves their TWSBIs (whether its the Swipe, the ECO or a Diamond) so I am definitely an outlier when it comes to TWSBI pens.

While I do own several Safari/AL-Star pens, I don’t often reach for them nor do I plan to add anymore to my collection. I mean, c’mon, how do you top an Urushi Lamy? Seriously, though, as a lefty, I find the triangular grip section tends to dig into my fingers. Aesthetically, I prefer other pens, even at a similar price point (the Kaweco Sport line immediately comes to mind).

As for the Kaweco Perkeo, it is actually a pen I do recommend. The color combos are a little odd but the ability to accept a full-sized converter or standard international cartridge makes it a great starter pen. The low price point makes it also within the reach for a lot of people.

As for the Diplomat Magnum, I have to admit that I don’t own or have even tested the Magnum. I guess its time to put it on the list for future reviews.

And as for the Conklin Duragraph, I don’t own nor do I ever really recommend it. I think its name and its history is what often brings it to people’s attention but the current production quality is not something that makes it consistently good writer or aesthetically all that appealing.

So, if I were to write my own list of Top 5 Pens I recommend but don’t use/own:

  1. TWSBI
  2. Lamy Safari/AL-Star
  3. Pilot Vanishing Point
  4. Diplomat Aero
  5. BENU

I’ve already explained my feelings on the TWSI and Lamy Safari/AL-Star above so I’ll just go over the last three on my list.

I often recommend the Pilot Vanishing Point because it appeals to gadget-heads and fidgeters. The classic VP is too big for my hands but I do own a Decimo which I like but I’m disappointed that Pilot doesn’t offer the Decimo in more color options.

The Diplomat Aero is a beautiful pen with unique aesthetics and really good build quality. For eme personally though, it’s anther pen that is too big for me. In this way, Kerry and I are very different. My hands are tiny so many of the pens I use personally are often too small for most people so I recommend other, interesting and unique pens that I know are well-made and beautiful.

Citrus Diplomat Aero
Photo from Vanness Pen Shop.

Finally, I often recommend BENU pens even though I don’t own one. They are just eye candy that it is often the gateway for people looking for a very unique, eye-catching pen. The quality is excellent and BENU offer an array of colors and sizes at reasonable prices so its often a pen people choose when they are wanting to upgrade beyond the under $50 pens. I haven’t found “the” BENU pen for myself yet though. I often love a finish but not the shape or vice versa. So maybe someday I will own one but for now, I will continue to recommend them and see the delight in someone’s eye when they hold the gem that is a BENU pen in their hands and know that it is their new favorite pen.

Photo from Vanness Pen Shop.

I hope Kerry doesn’t mind me hopping on her proverbial coattails but I was so tickled when she said she recommended TWSBI but didn’t use them that I felt a kinship and spent the rest of her video thinking what list I would make. So I did.

What pens do you recommend but don’t own or use?

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9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I think it’s good for people to have a wide range of recommendations, so thank you for sharing Kerry’s list and your own.

    I have 2 Conklin Duragraph pens with 1.1mm stub nibs. They work for me. It’s funny, Monteverde gets lots of grief on Fountain Pen Network, yet I’m happy with the many Monteverde pens I own.

    It’s good people like you and other bloggers and vloggers (or is it YouTubers?) review pens to help people who are new to fountain pens.

  2. I am using a TWISBI knockoff only because I have shimmer inks and it’s great with them. The hooded nib and piston filler combo is interesting. Definitely the Lamy safari is one I recommend but hate for my own use. Parker is a brand I have never been a have never been a huge fan of. Also, Online and Manuscript.

  3. I have very small hands, too. Maybe we’re hand twins! lol Anyway, my favorite on your list is TWSBI. Luckily, I’ve been blessed with great nibs on all the TWSBI pens I’ve ever bought. But I also usually use either a Broad nib or a Stub. I own several Lamy pens, but seldom use them. I think maybe because they’re so large, and the triangle grip thingy. Pilot – I don’t care for a vanishing point fountain pen. To me, it defeats the purpose. I like to show off pretty nibs. Anyway, just rambling on all the thoughts you sparked in my brain about pens.

  4. Lamy Safari. I can see why they’re irresistible, but maybe because I’m left-handed (?) they are impossible for me to hold properly and they are kind of bossy about how they want to be held. I have bought and then given away several, because I don’t seem to learn this lesson. They make good gifts!

  5. Funny, I’m left handed and I love Lamy Safari FPs. It’s probably because of the hand position, but they were the core of my collection at one point. Now I mainly use a Pilot VP — but that one is awkward sometimes because the clip gets in the way of my large hands. The clip bumps against my index finger in a way that gets uncomfortable over time.

    1. Interesting! I guess it’s not the left-handedness but something else.
      Re Pilot VP: there’s another kind of pen I would recommend to others but don’t like to use myself.
      As Miss Jean Brodie says: “for those who like that kind of thing, that is the the kind of thing they like.”

  6. Great article; very fun! I love my Diplomat Aero, even though I usually prefer smaller pens. Love my TWSBI mini. And I agree with you on Safaris, though I started using one again when I bought the “calligraphy” nib, which works well for me. My Perkeos are great writers, though I haven’t used them in quite awhile.

  7. Tisk tisk tisk,, you guys kill me! For all the twiddling going on, you can EASILY TWEAK your nibs, and should know how to do it.get a couple different pieces of super fine polishing paper and a very thin exacto.. enables me n you to adjust the tine shape and gap…You dont need to discard a pen you like or hire a nib meister. This ain’t rocket science! So c’ mon people!

    1. I believe the context was to recommend pens for novices who may not be at the “tune your own nib” stage. For many of us, it’s hard to imagine a time when we didn’t tweak our pens but think back to those early days when fountain pens felt exotic and dangerously delicate and expensive compared to those 12-for-$1 stic pens on the counter at the bank. “I spent $25. On a pen!!! It should write perfectly right?”

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