Top Ten Pens 2015

I miss a year or two, but it never fails to surprise me that there are more than enough new pens in a year for me to be able to pick ten. My shock, your gain. 😉 Presented, not in any strict order:  

(Fine, there’s probably some kind of subconscious preference revealing itself…)

10. Franklin-Christoph Model 20 and Pocket 20

This was the year my pen wraps and Franklin-Christoph pens became BFFs, hearts, sparkles. The bare-bones elegance of the Marietta/Model 20 spoke to me of the classic eyedropper shape, and in a modern material that wouldn’t oxidize with time and sunlight. It seemed fitting to slide on an accommodation clip, like the early hard rubber pens of the 1900s wore. Slide off the cap to reveal a tuned nib, ready to ink your thoughts into paper. Jim Rouse tunes Franklin-Christoph nibs, even the ones specially ground by Mike Masuyama. The pocket 20 is the chibi version, with the #cokebottlepen material sending pen people into squealings of cute.

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 and Pocket 20


9. Nakaya Pernambuco
Urushi-coated ebonite accents frame a pernambuco cap and barrel, in a way that  is gracefully, unmistakably Nakaya. I would not expect this kind of design thoughtfulness from other pen makers. There are little secrets to the way the pen is put together that make using it even more of a pleasure.

Nakaya Pernambuco on Bags by Rubbertree billfold
8. Scriptorium Pens “Read Between the Lines” Long Idyll

Renee Meeks is the talented maker behind Scriptorium Pens. The striped Evergreen (Conway Stewart) material looks amazing in an almost-deskpen length, with a specially-commissioned book stopper cast in bronze. The pen wears a 1.5 stub and is rarely out of use.


Scriptorium Pens Long Idyll
Renee sent a matching pen rest, too. These small touches mean a lot.

7. Desiderata Pens experimental model in wood and ebonite

Pierre made only a few of these – they fill with a syringe through a self-healing sac. I love the feel of this one in the hand; there’s something about its length and weight that lends it the feel of a calligraphy holder. Certainly the generous flow of ink to the vintage-style ebonite feed helps that impression. And thanks to the timely introduction of titanium-coated Zebra G nibs, more than a month can go by without replacing the nib due to wear and tear. G nibs are an affordable, readily available solution for pen users who love flex. I hope this and other Desiderata models go into regular production – I’m sure I’m not the only one impatiently waiting to snap up more of these “flex on demand” pens.

Desiderata Pens on an EXB furoshiki wrap

6. Conid Minimalistica FPR

This isn’t my last Conid. I asked Mike to grind the titanium nib to a needlepoint and the pen graduated to daily carry. It is always loaded with Platinum Carbon Black. 

Conid Minimalistica FPR
5. Nakaya Dorsal Fin 2 in heki tamenuri

There’s nothing like announcing a product delisting to push it to the top of people’s lists. That’s what happened to the Nakaya Dorsal Fin 2 in 2015. This one has an elastic broad nib that practically bounces with joy at every downstroke. Delightful, and now much harder to come by. (Also delisted: the shiro tamenuri finish and the Piccolo Decapod.)

Nakaya Dorsal Fin 2 on stoneware by Sonny Cruz
4 and 3. Tokyo Quill’s Pilot 823 and 845 with FA nibs
My frustration with Pilot’s FA nib runs long and deep. I still keep a 742 carcass as a memento mori. Who knew all I needed were Tokyo Quill’s versions? The 845 in vermilion urushi is exclusive to Tokyo Quill. The red mesmerizes from afar and the FA nib never skips or stutters. The 823 went on Mike Masuyama’s table and emerged a semi-flexible needlepoint. 

Tokyo Quill’s clear Pilot 823 and 845 in vermilion urushi, both with FA nibs; pen wrap by EXB

No matter how beautiful the pen, how rare the material, how masterful the workmanship: if the nib underwhelms, the pen doesn’t sing. A lesson well learned with this nib. 

FA nib ground to a needlepoint by Mike Masuyama
2. Danitrio Sho-Genkai in kamakura-bori 

It’s not too big as Genkais go. 😉 And it is unusually restrained for Danitrio. The kamakura-bori is classic, and the styling of the ends makes me smile. The nib is now a Masuyama needlepoint. It’s an eyedropper with a shut-off; aligned correctly, the seam is practically invisible. 

Danitrio Sho-Genkai
1. Newton Pens Shinobi with Romillo nib

The pen I wrote about the most this year, and even witnessed the making of. It is wearing well.  It holds so much ink that I’ve refilled other pens with it. (Take that, Visconti Travelling Inkwell!)  More importantly, it’s always in use. 


Newton Pens Shinobi

Which of your 2015 pens made it to your own top list?