In my own collecting, I’ve had several pens that I like to call “milestone pens”; that represent a shift, or the transition into a new stage of my fountain pen hobby.
These are the pens with special significance in my fountain pen journey; the pens that changed me, or changed my perception of fountain pens, or the way I approach pens as a hobby.
I think it’s good to be aware of these milestone pens, to sort of mark out the route I’ve navigated on my pen journey, and how I ended up where I am with this hobby today. This is also a healthy exercise in other aspects of my life: what choices did I make, and what events transpired that ended up with me in this exact job, in this home, with these hobbies, and with these people in my life? What was due to luck or opportunities that more or less randomly fell in my lap, and what was due to specific choices and goals I made? What was the result of hard work, and what did I achieve just by reacting and adapting to whatever happened around me?
Mapping out the milestones in my life journey is a bigger task, but for now, here are the eight pens that I consider my milestone pens:
This was the first fountain pen I bought, and it was an impulse purchase. I didn’t do any research beforehand. I just walked into a store that sold art supplies, and bought the only fountain pen they had. This wasn’t the pen that got me hooked, but it opened my eyes to the existence of fountain pens, and made me curious.
The Pilot Falcon was my second fountain pen. I was looking for a pen with a flexible nib, and at the time, this was the only one I could find. It’s soft nib made me an enthusiast. After the Falcon, I quickly started accumulating the typical starter pens, such as Pilot Metropolitan, Lamy Safari, TWSBI Eco and Noodler’s Konrad, to explore what was out there. In many ways, I bought the Pilot Falcon out of sequence. It’s usually a pen you get to a little later, but in my case, it ended up being the catalyst for the whole hobby. It got me started.
Conklin All American Sunburst Orange/Lapis Blue
The Conklin All American was my first forray into more interesting acrylic materials, and also among the first (after the Pilot Falcon) that was a step up from the typical starter pens. I fell in love with the beautiful materials. The pen had a certain heft to it, and a weight and feel that I really liked. It felt “just right” in my hand, with the perfect balance and fit, and it had the smoothest-writing nib I’d tried at that point. I’ve always said that it was the combination of the Pilot Falcon and the Conklin All American that made me a full-fledged pen enthusiast, but the pens I go for today are much more like the Conklin than the Pilot. I bought these two around the same time, and they’ve both had a special place in my collection ever since. Nowadays, I tend to go for more expensive pens, but I still have these inked up regularly, and they are still among my absolute favorites to write with. And I still think they are drop dead gorgeous!
Pan Formpoint/Pan 27
When my grandmother heard I was interested in fountain pens, she gave me these two, which belonged to my grandfather and my great grandfather. Besides the fact that they are part of my family’s history, and inherited pieces, they also made me aware, and interested in the Norwegian Pan factory. Researching the historic Norwegian pen industry has later become one of the most important aspects of this hobby for me.
Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog
This was my first really expensive special edition pen, and also the first pen I bought in an actual fountain pen store. I was in New York City, and visited Fountain Pen Hospital. I had considered buying the London Fog earlier that year, but decided it was too expensive. I did however plan on buying a standard Homo Sapiens Bronze Age, but when I got to the store, it turned out they didn’t have it in the nib size I wanted. The salesman I talked to let me try a London Fog with the Fine nib size, to give me an impression of how it wrote, and I more or less spontaneously ended up buying it, in addition to a couple of other pens. It was way more than I had anticipated spending on pens at that point, but I’ve never regretted it.
The Leonardo Cuspide elevated what a good fountain pen can be for me. Until I bought it, I didn’t think the perfect pen existed. There was always something, some little detail, that didn’t quite hit the mark flawlessly, but this pen just hit it out of the park for me. I have used it a lot, and still haven’t been able to find even a single small detail that I don’t love with it. It’s just perfect. This pen has made it a hell of a lot more difficult to buy new pens, because it just lifted the standards so much higher. I also haven’t really felt the same need to buy new pens after I got this. It just fulfilled whatever I was looking for, and still does. I have bought other pens after this, of course, but the Hunt For The Perfect Pen kind of ended with the Cuspide.
What are your milestone pens?