Welcome back to Pennen er mektigere, and happy new year, as we say in school and university circles! I hope all of the blog’s readers have had a lovely summer. I myself have spent a large part of the summer working on things for the blog, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone throughout the fall. To begin with, let’s start the autumn off with a little easy reading, and let our international readers get to know me a little bit.
Earlier this summer, well-known stationery blog The Well-Appointed Desk published a list of 21 pen questions that they encouraged other pen bloggers to answer. I didn’t get around to doing it myself before my summer hiatus from the blog, but thought it might be a fun and casual way to kick off the fall, so here are my answers to #21PenQuestions (All links lead to blog posts in Norwegian, but they also include lots of pictures of the mentioned pens, if you want to take a closer look at some of them):
1: What is the pen they’ll have to pry out of your cold dead hands?
I’m not sure if any of the pens in my collection have enough emotional value for me (yet) that I would phrase it like this, but I have several that I at least expect I’ll never get rid of voluntarily: Pan Diplomat, the crown jewel of my Pan collection, is a good example. Of the pens i use more regularly, I think that Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog , Montegrappa Extra 1930 Shiny Lines/Dove , Leonardo Cuspide Blue Sea and Conklin All American Sunburst Orange all would fall into this category.
2: What’s your guilty pleasure pen?
I don’t feel guilty about the things I like, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s say the Aihao Pug Addict. In general, I have little sympathy for the Chinese pen industry, which has no qualms about shamelessly copying well-known brand pens, but this was an original design. The pug pen was in a class of its own. It had a pretty unique nib with an architect-ish grind and an amazingly smooth glide, and NEVER dried out, even after the cap broke and wouldn’t stay on (it started projectile-bouncing off the pen). It was a real pleasure to write with, and even several years later I’m still a little sad that it broke.
3: What’s the pen you wish existed?
The pen I want to make from an old marimba bar I have lying around. I have a master’s degree in marimba playing, but I haven’t played much since I finished my studies, and a few years ago I sold my marimba. The only thing I have left of it is a bar made from Honduran rosewood, which I had to replace after it cracked. I had a knife made from another cracked marimba bar a number of years ago, and my dream is to get a pen made from the one I have left.
4: What pen would you give to a new enthusiast?
Definitely Pilot Metropolitan. It has everything a good starter pen should have: beautiful and stylish design, very good nib, low price, it’s comfortable to write with, easy to fill and easy to clean. In my eyes, it beats all other starter pens by a long shot.
5: What pen do you want to get along with but it just never clicked?
Pelikan Souverän. I have a Pelikan M800 that I use every now and then, but it has never quite gained the favorite status with me that it perhaps deserves. I don’t really know why. In theory I should love the Pelikan pens, but after having owned several of them in various sizes, I’ve just had to realize that Pelikan is simply not my brand.
6: Which pen do you only keep because it’s pretty?
Waterman’s no. 52 Red Ripple. It’s a shame to say it, but for normal use I’m not too fond of writing with vintage pens. They sweat a little ink here and there, have old and brittle materials that can easily crack, and are oftentimes difficult to clean properly. They are simply a little too impractical for everyday use. This was the first real vintage pen I bought. I hardly ever use it, but it’s too nice for me to get rid of. Plus, it has a certain sentimental value to me, since it was my first vintage pen.
7: What pen (or stationery item) did you buy because everyone else did?
The Lamy Safari pens. I’ve never found Safari to be particularly beautiful or stylish pens, nor do I think they are comfortable writers (which has to do with the way I hold the pen when I write). But I still owned three of them at different times, because they were pens that “everyone had to have”. It’s kind of the same with the J. Herbin 1670 inks as well. Amazing shimmering inks that took off on social media when they came. Of course I had to have them! But after a while I realized that I don’t really like shimmering inks that much.
8: Which pen (or stationery product) is over your head or just baffles you?
Visconti Iopenna. I never really understood what the target audience was for it. It looks like a pen for children, but it sits at way too high a price point for that. And perhaps some BBB nibs and other specialty nibs which aren’t really useful for anything other than leaving a small lake of ink on the paper.
9: What pen (or stationery product) surprised you?
Quite a few, really. Pilot Falcon (my first experience with a flex nib), first time trying an Onoto (sooooo smooth!), Leonardo Cuspide (which is the perfect pen I thought I’d never find). I was surprised at how solid the Jinhao 992 was (it looks way more fragile than it is), or how fragile Aurora 88 was. I was also surprised at how ridiculously good the nib on the Caran D’Ache 1010 Timekeeper was, and that I felt a noticeable difference from their most expensive standard models and up to this special edition pen, when I had previously assumed that they all had the same nib. I could probably mention many more, but I think I’ll stop here.
10: What pen (or stationery product) doesn’t really work for you but you keep it because it’s a collectible?
Several of my old Norwegian pens from Pan , Dorn and College are in this category. I have them primarily as collectibles. Some of them don’t work as they should, and most of them are a little too small for me to write comfortably with. But they are beautiful pens. Those that are restored write really well, and they are an important part of my collection. They are a way for me to focus the “collecting” part of the hobby, and every pen I acquire for this part of the collection gives me a new small insight into the Norwegian pen industry, which has basically been like a research project for me since I started this blog.
11: What is your favorite sparkly pen (or ink)?
I almost never use shimmering ink, but of the few I have, Herbin 1670 Caroube the Chypre is at least high on the list. I can hardly think of any pens that sparkle, apart from some of the (garishly fabulous) Benu pens. Could one say that Montegrappa Extra 1930 Shiny Lines/Dove sparkles? If so, that’s my pick!
12: Which nib do you love – but hate the pen? (or vice versa)?
Hate is a strong word, but I definitely like the nib on the Aurora 88 better than the rest of the pen.
Vice Versa: Maybe ASC Gladiatore Medio? I think it’s a fantastic pen, but the nib – although a good nib – isn’t very exciting. This is extra annoying when I hear about other people who have this pen, and who describe a soft-ish nib that I would probably love, but then the nib on mine is not like that at all. It’s actually pretty rigid. I use this pen quite often, and I do like it a lot, but with a more expressive nib it would have been absolutely amazing.
My Parker Vacumatic certainly also falls into this category. I think it’s a very nice pen, with a cool filling mechanism, but the nib is very stiff and boring, and it writes like a nail.
13: What pen (or stationery product) gives you the willies?
My answer for this question is a pencil, namely the Bic Evolution HB. It’s made of a synthetic material, and has so-called “extra-resistant” graphite. And it writes absolutely horribly! Extra-resistant indeed! It’s as if the pencil point is smeared with glue. This attrocity is the paper straw or bamboo spoon of the pencil world.
14: What is your favorite pen for long form writing?
Leonardo Cuspide. It’s one of the most easy-writing pens I have. It has the perfect size and shape for my hand, and a large ink capacity. What more can one say? I wrote about 25,000 words with it in a two-week period during National Novel Writing Month right after I bought it, so I quickly had a good experience writing a lot, and for long sessions, with it.
15: What pen (or stationery product) do you love in theory but not in practice?
Organics Studio Nitrogen/Walden. These inks, oh my… They have a wonderful sheen and lovely color combinations, but oh my god they are notoriously impractical! They’re hard to clean out, they never dry completely (at least not on Tomoe River paper), and no matter how careful you are when you open the drawer the bottles are in, you’ll find blue ink stains from them all around your house for several weeks afterwards. I finally just had to get rid of them. As soon as I looked at them, I had ink stains all over every imaginable and unimaginable place.
16: What pen (or stationery product) would you never let someone else use?
I’m quite generous with letting others try my pens, so this one is a bit difficult to answer. I think I will turn the question around, and answer in a slightly different way than what’s probably intended: I would never let anyone else use the Kaweco copies from Søstrene Grene. Simply because I don’t wish these awful pens upon even my worst enemies.
17: What pen (or stationery product) would you never use for yourself?
I think it must be one of my old Norwegian ink bottles that are over a hundred years old and still sealed. It feels wrong to open them. Beyond that, I try to make it a point to not use Chinese copies of more famous brand pens such as Lamy Safari, Parker 51 or Montblanc Meisterstück. I don’t want to support that kind of plagiarism.
18: What pen (or stationery product) could you NOT bring yourself to buy?
Montblanc Writer’s Edition Hemingway. I traveled to the London Pen Show back in 2019, and had decided in advance that I would look for one, and buy it if I found it for under NOK 20,000 (whatever that was in British pounds back then). I found it and the price was just within my limits, but then I chickened out and bought other pens instead. It turned out I wasn’t (and still am not) ready to spend that much money on a pen, even though I ended up spending more than what it cost at the pen show. I just couldn’t bring myself to use everything on just one pen, even though I considered it a grail pen.
19: What’s your favorite vintage pen?
Of the ones I have in my collection: Montblanc Meisterstück 144 Green Striated. Unfortunately, I’m having problems with the piston on it, and haven’t been able to use it for a while. I think it’s a very nice pen, and probably the best flex nib in my collection, so hopefully it will be possible to get it repaired.
20: What’s your favorite EDC/pocket pen?
Fisher Space Pen Bullet. I never leave home without this pen in my pocket, and I use it for various small notes and scribbles almost daily. It’s small enough that I don’t really notice it in my pocket, and it writes in any condition. It’s also decently affordable, so I’m not as worried about breaking it or losing it as I might be with a more expensive pen.
21: What’s the pen (or stationery product) that got away?
Delta Magnifica Amalfi. It was one of the last special editions Delta came out with before they went under, and I’ve been regretting not getting it. I think it’s a gorgeous pen, and I had my finger on the “order” button several times while it was still available, but it was on the expensive side, and I eventually had to let it go.
Another pen I missed is the Montegrappa Amiragglio. These were on offer at 50% off at Fountain Pen Hospital for a short period. At the reduced price I could perhaps persuade myself to buy one, but they are too expensive for me at the ordinary price. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to pounce when they were on sale. However, Montegrappa launches new versions of these now and then, so hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future.
How would you answer these questions? Feel free to leave a comment!