2007’s Top Ten Pens, Modern.

Actually, it’s eleven, but one of my pens is back at the shop, waiting for a nib exchange.

I bought more than ten modern pens this year, many pre-owned, and while I liked them all well enough in the first place to buy them, inevitably favorites emerge.

The Pilot Bamboo didn’t make it to the list. Neither did the Pelikan Niagara Falls. I think they are both well-made and dependable to a fault. They’re just not sexy enough. The pen equivalent of family vans, perhaps. The Pilot Capless Orange LE (limited edition) didn’t make it into the list as well, edged out by a Stipula.

From left to right:
Stipula 22 in black with gold trim. I picked this up on eBay. There are many 22’s out there with unpleasant quirks. This one filled easily, wrote without hesitation, and the titanium nib felt responsive and semi-flexible. It is currently inked with Penman Ruby.
Sailor 1911 with Cross Music Emperor nib. This pen has a wicked nib, and I mean that in the most complimentary sense. It is the soul of a brush infused into metal. I admire the mind that invented this nib, and it reinforces my opinion that Japanese pen makers are the benchmark for writing performance.
Danitrio Frog Maki-e. This might be the only frog maki-e pen in the universe! The art of maki-e is highly exacting and it tends to be used to depict grand or iconic themes, like mountains and dragons and gods. I have a croaker. It is a breathtakingly beautiful croaker. The pen has a flexible extra-fine nib.
Omas Bologna Autunno. Bought from the Pentrace Green Board. I like celluloid, and this, I think, is a subtly rich rendition. The nib is a fine, and it is a wet, springy writer.
Stipula Etruria Volterra. I acquired this from Pengallery. It came in a huge Fedex box. The nib is a 1.1 mm italic. The celluloid is rust and orange and an occasional flicker of spring green. It is light in the hand, for all its substantial looks, and easy to grip.
Nakaya Shu Chinkoku. My first Nakaya, and not my last. (The pen that didn’t make it to this shot is the Nakaya aka-tame gin bokashi Ascending Dragon.) Fitted with a super elastic nib in fine, this pen never leaves my bag.
Tibaldi Iride. I love the power filler! It feels like I’m giving my upper arms a workout every time I fill this pen. The celluloid is a variation on the warm theme I gravitate towards, and the nib is a workhorse fine.
Laban Snake Pen. My other favorite material is ebonite, and this pen comes in blue, brown and green. I took the blue – the snake clip has blue eyes. The pen came in a humongous box, with a certificate and two other clips, which one of my art directors insisted would make cool rings. The nib is a boring medium, saved by a barely noticeable amount of flex.
Molteni Antonella. I have long been curious about Molteni, the “house brand” of eBay seller outletline. I took a chance on the Antonella in green ebonite and was very happy when it arrived. Bexley makes Molteni pens and the build quality is very good. I chose a fine nib.
Stipula Iris. Another celluloid, and I can’t help but notice there are three Stipulas on my list.

I am working on narrowing my collection in 2008, to focus on Italian celluloid, Japanese artistry and astonishing nibs. I will keep a couple of check writers and document signers, though. It’s good to be past the “buy it and see if I like it” phase.