Anyone who knows me (or who has followed this blog for any amount of time) knows I have a thing for the color green, particularly in the yellow-green hues but any green is better than the finest red or purple or blue in my world. So I, of course, will buy any green pen that crosses my path. Some I like, some I love, some not-so-much. Here’s the most recent array.
The Muji pens are described as “gel ballpoint” on the website but I’m fairly convinced they are what most would consider a liquid rollerball ink. The line widths are considerably thicker than comparably sized gel ink pens. The 0.38 was almost more of an aqua blue and the 0.5 is a deep forest green. I’m not a fan of either color in my search for “the perfect green” but both pens write smoothly and are priced so that I leave them on my desk for visitors to use as I wouldn’t be devasted if either of them walked away. I’d be curious to see what some of the other colors in the Muji line look like though.
There are two felt-tip pens in the running, the Marvy Le Pen in Olive Green and the Stabilo 88 in Apple Green. The Le Pen is quite a dark green but considerably less blue than the 0.5 Muji which is closest in color. I love the simplicity of the overall look of the LePens — they have not changed in 30 years but I prefer some of the other colors in the line over the green, The Stabilo 88 is a lovely shade of green but it behaves so much like a felt tip pen as to be a challenge to use very often (it has a tendency to feather and bleed). The Stabilo pen itself is really long too, almost unwielding, even with the cap unposted. But I am quite taken with the color!
The rest of the pens in the running are of the gel ink variety. The Signo Bit 0.18 (no longer available in green) is so pale and micro that it basically disappears on the page. The other Signo models write nicely and the color of the 0.38 in Lime Green is quite fetching. The color of the Uniball DX is a bit to emerald for my liking. The last three are my go-to gel pen brands: Pilot Hi-Tec-C, Zebra Sarasa and Pentel Slicci. The Zebra Saras color is a tiny bit too light but its one of the more comfortable disposable pens and I get a twisted satisfaction clicking the retractable point. I own several of these and they can be found on just about every working surface. Maybe I need to get a Zebra Sarasa multi-pen?
The Pilot Hi-Tec-C is a lovely color and fits into a lovely lime green mulit-pen body. Replaceable ink cartridges mean that if or when my fascination switches to purple or blue or some other color combination, I can still use the same pen body.
I always want to like the Pentel Slicci — they really are slick-y when I write with them, but for some reason I just find them a bit too insubstantial in my hands. I think they have a narrower barrel than a LePen, if you can believe it.
My final tally:
Uniball Signo 0.38 in Lime Green
Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.4 in Apple Green
Zebra Sarasa 0.4 in Light Green
Does anyone else have a favorite color pen? Have you found the one true blue to rule them all? Or purple? Or red?
If you had asked back in November what planner I would choose as my planner for 2012, I’m pretty sure that the Peanuts Moleskine weekly planner would not have even made it on the list. However, since I waited until the first week of January to actually commit to a planner, my options were not only limited but almost nil. That’s not to say I haven’t ended up being quite pleased with the hand that fate dealt me.
I scoured around looking for a week-at-a-glance planner in a size approximately 5”x8” (give or take) preferably with a hardcover. I am choosy about the fonts used for the dates, the color of the lines or presence or said lines (I tend to avoid them if at all possible) and that left my options fairly limited even before my procrastination.
I finally just had to make a decision and it was getting to be well into the first and then second week of January. Lo and behold, I found the Peanuts large weekly planner with no lines on the date side of the page and then a full lined page for notes each week. Perfect. And somehow, Charlie Brown’s mopey face on the cover was just the sort of humor I needed for work.
But the best surprise was found tucked into the back pocket: a small address book, prefect for keeping all my correspondents information handy.
For every couple letters of the alphabet nicked into tabs is a simple lined page with plenty of room for not just addresses and phone numbers but also an array of additional information as suited to your needs.
Despite my normal reticence to Moleskines somewhat thin paper, this creates a thin volume that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to my day-to-day bag and still leaves plenty of room for meetings, notes and reminders.
I would definitely consider another one of these planners for next, with or without the Peanuts gang gracing the cover.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve collected a small collection of modern, budget fountain pens. When I say budget, I mean under $50 and in most cases even under $25. Right now, this collection includes a Lamy Al-Star (a step up from the Lamy Safari with an aluminum rather than plastic body) ($45), Pilot FP 78g ($14, no longer available via Jet Pens but listed by several ebay sellers), Sailor “Clear Candy” ($16.50) and a Kaweco Classic Sport ($23.50).
All four fountain pens are listed as “F” (the Sailor is an “F-2” but listed as “Fine” on Jet Pens). As many other sites have mentioned, there is a difference between what Japanese pen manufacturers list as a fine nib and what European manufacturers list as a fine nib. Japanese nibs are much finer overall. The Lamy and the Sailor are silver steel nibs while the Kaweco and Pilot are gold are gold plated. The Kaweco has an iridium tip as well which makes it a super smooth writer.
Pilot FP 78g
By far, the Pilot FP 78g is the finest nib I’ve used. I would compare the nib size to a 0.3 or 0.4 gel pen. As a result, the Pilot can feel a bit scratchy on the paper but for such a fine point, that is probably to be expected. Overall I think the gold nib helps keep this pen flowing smoothly despite its fine nib size.
The overall look and size of the pen is probably the more consistent with what people imagine a fountain pen to look like with its gold stripes and clip and classic tapered lines. This could be a pen purchased in the 1950s or today.
The Pilot 78g comes with an aerometric filling mechanism, you squeeze the metal frame around the rubber sac to create suction to fill the sac. This is probably the most challenging methods to fill a pen and probably not recommended for someone’s first foray into fountain pens. The sac is black so its difficult to tell how full it is, if its full at all and if its been cleaned out properly. I think over time this could be potentially finicky, especially at the under $20 price point. Alternately, this is quite a nice writing tool at the price.
Kaweco Classic Sport
Many men I know complain about the size and weight of the Kaweco because of its short length. Even with the cap posted on the end when writing, the length of the pen in larger hands is short. Most women I know love the Kaweco as it is a lightweight, diminutive pen. For short notes and a portable fountain pen that easily fits in a pocket, the Kaweco is a pen I would recommend to just about anybody. I believe the folks over at Fountain Pen Geeks have mentioned that the Kaweco will need priming (scribble, scribble, scribble) to get it going if its been sitting overnight. Of these “fine nib” pens, I find the Kaweco the broadest, probably comparable to a 0.5 gel pen. Because of its diminutive size, the Kaweco is sold as a cartridge-only pen. While this is perfect for the first-time fountain pen buyer, if you are someone who has been bitten by the bug for lavish fountain pen inks, you will need to get creative to use them with a Kaweco. Thanks to a tip from Kathy at Letter Writers Alliance, I have been refilling old cartridges with various fountain pen inks using a Goulet Pens syringe.
Sailor “Clear Candy”
I suspect that Jet Pens is responsible for the “Clear Candy” name for this line of inexpensive fountain pens. Between the candy colors and the budget price point, I suspect that this line was designed as a school-grade fountain pen for the Japanese market. But that is no reason to dismiss this pen as a great entry level fountain pen. The pen comes with one Sailor-specific cartridge but for an additional $8.25 you can purchase the Sailor fountain pen converter which uses piston filling mechanism (twist the screw post to fill with ink). The steel nib is ever-so-slightly scritchy on paper but its writes consistently. I would compare the line width to a Pilot Precise V5. While I can’t seem to wax poetic about this pen, I do like it.
As the most expensive of the lot by budget pens standards, I expected a lot from the Lamy. This is the budget fountain pen I’ve owned the longest, going on three years, I think. It is the largest of the pens and the only one with a click cap mechanism (all the others have a threaded twist-off cap). It has a window cut into the sides to see the ink reserve which is convenient. The Lamy takes Lamy specific cartridges or can be used with the Lamy converter which also uses a piston mechanism.
The Lamy also features a grip that is grooved to help users hold it properly. This however is my least favorite aspect of the pen. As a leftie, my grip can be a little unconventional so this grip is actually more of a hindrance to its use than an improvement. I can still write with it without any problems its just that this grip is not comfortable for me in the long-term. I am purchasing a Lamy Studio which has a smooth rounded grip that I hope will be the key to winning me over to Lamy.
The steel nib is smooth and fairly consistent. Lamy nibs are offered in a wide array of widths from extra-fine to broad and there are even calligraphy nibs in 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9 mm. Many fans have compared the 1.1mm calligraphy nib to the coveted vintage Esterbrook fine stub. Overall, this is the budget pen that most often gets recommended because of its larger size and many options.
I just jotted out a few lines with each pen in whatever ink they were loaded with currently. This is by no means a thorough testing of each of these pens, the ink or the paper I used, I just wanted to be able to provide a visual comparison of the line weights. Notice how tiny I could write the word “Hello” with the Pilot FP 78g.
I did mislabel the ink used in the Kaweco, its actually a Kaweco blue-black cartridge.
Of all these pens, I consistently reach for the Kaweco. It is smooth and effortless on paper and fits in any pocket, purse or bag I choose to carry. I added the gold tone clip to match the logo which accentuates its vintage good looks. The Sailor tends to stay at work. Its nice enough to use everyday without looking too fancy for a staff meeting. The Lamy and the Pilot are least used at the moment. I think the Pilot is actually a tiny bit too fine for my taste (I never thought the day would come that I would type those words) and I’ve mentioned earlier my complaint with the grip on the Lamy.
** All pen tests are done by an over-writing left-handed writer. Yes, that’s right, all of these pens get the left-handed stamp of approval!
I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me sooner but just like every other hobby or interest, pen lovers have podcasts. Thanks to Brad Dowdy starting his Pen Addict Podcast, I’ve discovered a couple other options to keep you entertained and informed.
The Pen Addict (only two episodes so far but lots are planned for the future)
Upon the recommendation of one of the fine readers here at Well-Appointed Desk, I purchased the Uni Style Fit, a direct competitor to the Pilot Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi-pens.
The model I purchased is a black body with white polka dots (though there were other more sedate options available) which holds five different writing tools. Oh, joy! Choices!
I chose four ink colors in 0.38mm size and the mechanical pencil in 0.5mm. The ink cartridges are avaiable in sizes from 0.28, 0.38, 0.5, 0.7 and 1.0mm. There are 16 different gel color options available for the three smallest diameter pen sizes and just three at the 0.5 and 0.7mm sizes (red, blue and black), which are ballpoint ink. The mechanical pencil is only available in 0.5mm.
To load the pen body, I needed to unscrew the clear tip from the body and then press the ends of the pens into the top until snug. Through the clear tip, I can see the colors and the sizes written on the cartridge bodies. Clicking one of the white levers on the pen halfway will cause the pens to retract for easy transporting.
When organizing the pen and pencil inserts, I put the mechanical pencil on the clip so that it is easy to find. Pushing down on the clip repeatedly advances the lead as you would expect.
The pen body is fairly substantial as a result of holding five tools and completely smooth plastic on the outside which might not be comfortable or conducive for long-form writing. I favor this pen for meeting notes as the different colors allow me to embellish my notes and create call outs with the various colors. I did discover quickly that the ink flow is super smooth and requires the lightest touch to flow which is quite lovely.
In comparison to the Hi-Tec-C ink quality, I would say that the Uni Style Fit ink is silkier and less likely to dry out or jam when left unused. Alternately, the Coleto multi-pen bodies have soft rubber grips to make them more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. My favorite pen body to date in the Lumio 4-color which is very comfortable to hold and not much wider than my Kaweco fountain pens.
Overall, I quite like the Uni Style Fit. Its sturdy for a plastic pen, the inks are smooth and creamy on paper and the colors and sizes available are enough to suit just about any taste. I may try the smaller, 3-color body which might be more comfortable for me to hold though I hate to give up those extra color options.
Uni Style Fit Pen body $3.30, mechanical pen component $3, individual cartridges $1.65 each. Total investment: $12.90.