I first had two lists: top ten modern pens and top ten vintage pens. That I had acquired enough pens in 2008 to make two lists plus have others that didn’t make it to either list gave me pause.
I decided to stick to one list. That was harder than I’d expected. What about the Well Koi and the Sterling eyedropper, my flex-nibbed surprises? Or the Visconti Mazzi Dragon with the stub nib? None of those is in the list, because – well, as much as I treasure them, they do have minute issues. The Visconti is a hard starter (but flows very well once it does start), the Well Koi has a crack at the bottom of the barrel (a definite minus for an eyedropper) and the Sterling’s nib has hardly any iridium left, and so must be used sparingly.
What did make it to the list:
1) Danitrio Silver Wave – an aesthetic delight to use, and once I adjusted the flow, the flexible extra-fine nib can now handle the pressure I inflict upon it in the name of line variation.
2) Nakaya longer Piccolo in the ishi-me kan-shitsu finish – a direct order from Nakaya, placed during my visit to the Platinum table at the Hong Kong Stationery Fair in January 2008. Its nib is an elastic extra-fine.
3) Nakaya Piccolo in kuro-tamenuri – with a stock flexible fine nib, this seminal Nakaya pen sees regular use.
4) Sailor Hannya Sutra – wards off evil spirits and signs checks at the same time.
5) Sailor 1911 Demonstrator – I just wanted one. This has a music nib which, like all Sailor nibs I’ve encountered, lives up to Sailor’s reputation as the smoothest nibs on the market today.
6) Pilot Custom 742 – not the most original in looks, but definitely the most flexible modern factory nib I’ve used.
7) Oldwin, classic ebonite marbrÃ©e – bought in Mora Stylos in Paris, my largest pen and one of my most used.
8) Waterman 7 in red ripple with Pink flexible nib – it’s vintage Waterman, it’s a 7, it has a wonderful, expressive nib, and I am a sucker for red ripple.
9) Frankensnork! – the only Sheaffer that’s ever made it to any top ten list of mine, this Snorkel is here because it is made from five different Snorkels, is fitted with a rare flexible stub nib, and most of all because it’s from a dear friend.
10) Wahl Pen 3 – A small beauty, not in any way difficult to find, but this one is a most elegant writer.