What I Bought in 2017: Fountain Pens

2017 fountain pens purchased

Lamy (3): I bought three Lamy pens this year, making Lamy the champion.

Last purchased but first in all other ways was the Lamy Dialog 3 in Piano White. It’s a great pen, and I love writing with it.

I could not put the Dialog 3 in those group photographs, however, because it’s now in Lamy’s Pen Infirmary. I heeded the advice of a Lamy dealer, who said the clip is really supposed to be centered on the nib, and I sent mine in for service. That was the sensible thing to do.

(Aka, big mistake. I don’t care about the clip. I miss the pen.)

Here’s a nostalgic photo of the Dialog 3, in its “set for jabbing or writing” mode.

Lamy Dialog 3 Piano White

Lamy Number Two was less of a success, for me. This was the 2017 Lamy Safari in Petrol. Bless its heart.

Now, I know many people made the Petrol their first Lamy Safari, and I am glad. I’m also glad for those who love theirs. The following is just my own personal opinion. Go ahead, drag me.

I don’t like this color for a Safari.

Clearly, it sold well, which is nice. Also clear is that the Petrol appears to have been the perfect Safari for people who don’t like Safaris. Almost everyone I read announced their purchase of the Petrol Safari with words to the effect of, “I have always disliked the Lamy Safari, but I gave in and bought this one, because it’s so subdued and business-like it doesn’t look like a Safari.”

Well, yes.


I happen to like the Lamy Safari. And I already have a plethora of subdued, business-like pens. Nearly every other fountain pen on the market is subdued and business-like. In fact, there are many subdued and business-like Lamy Safaris already available (charcoal, black, white, Dark Lilac).

I happen to like a fun and colorful annual Safari. Because what I like about the Safari is that it’s a Safari. It was designed as a fun, colorful pen for people who like fun and colorful things — aka, middle-schoolers. Aka, me.

Now, of course fun and colorful can be taken too far. (Let us now shudder silently, remembering the ill-advised, nay whackadoodle, Neon Safari Years.)

Further, the Petrol may be dark and dreary for a Safari, but it’s not a bad color. It’s fine. I’m fine. The Chicago Cubs spent 108 years losing. I’m conditioned to wait till next year.

Thus, for next year, I will root, as always, for Lamy to wake the heck up and reissue the Terracotta Orange and Savannah Green Safaris. This is a free idea, Lamy, and it would make lots of money. Also, those would make a nice set with the Dark Lilac, the Petrol and the Charcoal: good for Instagram. Get on it.

In better news, my Lamy Purchase Number Three was excellent. That was the 2017 Lamy Al-Star in Pacific Blue. Attractive, and even a little fun.

And along the same lines, the 2018 Al-Star is supposed to be Vibrant Pink, which looks very nice. I’m not as much of an Al-Star fan, but whoever is in charge of that line has been hitting it out of the park. I mean, fun colors. That works? Who would have predicted that?

2017 fountain pens purchased

Sheaffer (1): I bought another Sheaffer PFM I, this one in blue.

I like this pen very much, and it was a good price. On the slightly negative side, I still have my green PFM I, so I don’t need a second PFM. But, my green PFM has a medium nib. This blue PFM has a fine nib — better for me. Also, it’s blue, and blue is good.

Franklin-Christoph (1): I bought a dark blue Franklin-Christoph Model 03 from the “prototypes” tray at the Chicago Pen Show, with a medium stub. It was my first Franklin-Christoph. Now, I, too, am in the cool kids club. (Don’t tell them.) This pen was just under $200, so it was one of my pricier pens this year. Great nib, perfect-sized pen. Also, it’s blue, and blue is good.

Parker (2): I bought two used Parker 75s, one in Thuya Laque and one in plain Sterling Silver, both with fine nibs.

I love these pens; and I love writing with the Parker 75 fine nib. I’ve kept both pens inked since I bought them. That’s only been around two months, sure, but I have the attention span of a housefly, so that’s far longer than any other pens I bought this year.

Pelikan (1): Pelikan M605 in White Transparent.

Pelikan pens are expensive in the US, but luckily for my finances, Pelikan doesn’t bring out a lot of M600-size pens. I think the M605 in White Transparent was the first since the M600 in Pink. It’s the most expensive pen I bought this year, a total splurge. It’s a knockout.

The speculator in me predicts that this one will rise in price on the secondary market. But the speculator in me can just stomp her feet in frustration. I won’t sell mine.

So, that’s the Great Eight from 2017.

2017 fountain pens purchased

These are all over the map. Three used and vintage-y; five new. Six have silver-colored trim, which is my favorite, but the two Parkers have gold trim, and I lived. Four are blue — obviously, the best color. Two are white (egads). One is silver. One is brown, which, ick. But I still like it.

Three pens were expensive, to me (the Franklin-Christoph, the Dialog 3 and the Pelikan). Three were moderately priced and great values (all used). And two were cheap-ish (the Safari and Al-Star). Almost all, by the way, look subdued and business-like, including the Safari. Only the Pelikan and the Al-Star bring some pizzazz. Existential question time: Did those two and I wander into the wrong party? Can’t we spike the punch and crank the stereo? What is wrong with everyone in 2017?

I find it interesting that my purchases were evenly split between metal and acrylic pens, at four each. People often say they don’t like metal pens. Yet I appear to like metal pens. In fact, looking at my pen cup, I also see a Kaweco AL-Sport and a Pelikan Toledo inked up right now. Obviously, metal pens are good.

I didn’t stretch much outside my comfort range in 2017: six of the eight pens I bought were models I already had. The Franklin-Christoph was new to me, but it’s a very standard pen. Plus, I was able to try all the models and all the nibs, to find the best one for me. The real exception was the Dialog 3. I had only held the Dialog 3 a few times, so that was nearly a blind buy.

Since this question came up in the comments, I’ll try to do more of a “real blog” here. I think the Lamy Dialog 3 is far and away the “best” pen I bought this year — it has the best combination of features, price and looks. I think the Pelikan M605 White Transparent is the “most attractive.” But my favorite is the plain sterling silver Parker 75 with fine nib.

The Parker 75 wasn’t expensive; it has zero bling; and it isn’t sought after. In a room of pen collectors, no one wanted it. Except me, from the moment I saw it. So, my humble suggestion to fellow pen-users is to go with your gut. Buy the pen that grabs you.

Maybe that’s the lesson of 2017. Along with: “metal pens are really in.”

I actually do this annual “what I bought” survey to try to learn something. The lesson from 2015 was “quality, not quantity.” In 2015, I bought not many pens, but mostly expensive ones. Though I spent too much, I still like those pens and I would do it again. The lesson from 2016 was also “quality, not quantity,” but in a “ZOMG, stop yourself, girl” way. I bought way too many pens in 2016, though the average cost was far lower than in 2015. That was a mistake, for me. As always, everyone’s mileage will vary.

For 2017, I did okay on quantity, with eight. I wasn’t really that into pens this year. Also, I sold more than I bought, so I ended up, monetarily, in the black. However, I can’t help but feel like eight was still too many, for me. Ideally, I’d be at two, or three. But ….

I mean, as if. Even I can’t say that with a straight face. Sure, that could happen next year. But only if I’m hit by a bus in April.


Which…. I mean, actually, that would be a fair tradeoff, as long as I’ve already cast an early ballot and I’ve just left the hairdresser, so my hair looks great.

I am quite serious about my hair. Even though I know I should add “seriously” as a segue here. Fine.

Seriously, I’m slightly worried about prospective pen purchases in 2018. The only two that are certain are the excellent 2018 Al-Star and 2018 Safari (whatever fresh hell it brings). But we have some great pen makers coming to the Chicago Pen Show in May, and I am really tempted, already.

Once again, I’m probably going to sell off or trade more pens. The budget is tight. It’s time to get creative. And I’m determined to pretend that will be fun. A motto for 2018.

13 thoughts on “What I Bought in 2017: Fountain Pens

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. You have done well, to have such self-discipline to acquire just eight pens and to sell more than you bought. Like you I got the Safari and Al-star. But I got way more others too, (mostly cheap) which I will struggle to justify when it comes to summing up my year. I hope your Dialog 3 is returned soon so you can resume jabbing people. Thanks for all your wonderfully entertaining posts all year.😊

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Terracotta Orange and Savannah Green? Oh wow, I wonder if Ms. Fountain Pen Manners could be consulted for a preferred way of saying, “The designer should have been painted in molasses and fed to a column of driver ants”?

    Love your round-up, I don’t even want to start counting my 2017 pens… and the most colorful I got was a turquoise TWSBI 580AL. Mostly I remained black, silver, or black and silver, or even black and gold 🙂

    I am jealous of your Franklin Christoph medium stub… I love italicised stub nibs, and I have been contemplating an FC Model 31 with a Masuyama medium italic nib for a while. You have tempted me a great deal. I am also very jealous of your access to good pen shows.

    Thanks for your posts, I’ve loved reading your blog this year (as ever). Looking forward to 2018!

    All the very best!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you!

      For a pen show, heck, just come to Chicago. Remember Crosby, Stills and Nash: “no one else can take your place.” 🙂 Honestly, I resisted for a long time, but it’s really fun, and worth it, even if you have to travel to a pen show. Cubs are in town after the show this year. Also we have Field Notes, if you like that, and if you don’t, someone will. We have world-class restaurants, museums, theater, dance, music. The whole ball of wax. Like, I’ve read pen show websites that brag, “We’ve got a zoo.” Now, I don’t even like zoos, but we have two. Two baseball teams. Two botanic gardens (at least). Two of almost everything! It’s twice as nice here. 😉

      The Franklin-Christoph nibs are a great, affordable way to buy a Masuyama grind. Another option is to buy a pen from the Nibsmith, because at some price level, he’ll throw in a free grind. Now, I usually buy my pens from him with no nib modification, but that’s because I’m cranky and irritable and don’t like change.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You are an enabler… I love zoos too (a past career as ranger, then a warden working with lions and the like)… THEN you go on to talk about the Nibsmith–a site that has been on my favorites list for soooo long I just can’t remember.

        I’d love to make it to Chicago, but I can just see the look on my wife’s face…

        “You’re going to Chicago… for pens?”

        “No, no my love, pens and two zoos.”

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Wow! Only 8! I think I bought 8 pens in just the last 2 months…. I was a monster that could not be stopped. Hopefully there will be far fewer tealy pens that I MUST have or DIE. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oooh! Parker 51 makes a lovely aerometric in teal, and you can get both the standard and the demi sizes.

      I have gone through many stages of buying a lot of pens. Just last year I bought 19. And then there are inks. As I never dared say to my kids, when they reached the teen years, because I didn’t want them to know — “No matter what it is you do, rest assured that I’ve done worse.” 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have the new Parker Urban in the Peacock and I LOVE it when it works. By far my favorite pen to write with. But it’s got weird issues with the converters. The plastic is staticy or something, and sometimes just refuses to feed unless I empty and refill it.

        That Parker 51 aerometric teal is a hooded nib! I don’t have one of those yet ….

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Bummer about the converter. In case you haven’t, try filling the converter with warm, soapy water, and flush and refill that a few times — converter only, not the nib and feed. Then flush the converter with water, and dry it. Sometimes a converter is balky because there is some sort of manufacturing residue in there. I tend to do this now with every new converter except for Lamy Safari ones.

          If that doesn’t work, try the soapy water cleaning technique on the pen itself, to get at the feed and nib.

          Finally, you can try a more lubricated ink. Some possibilities are KWZ, Pelikan Edelstein or Waterman Serenity Blue.

          Good luck!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I liked your pen choices for the year. I am not a Safari fan, but I will admit the Petrol color did catch my eye! You have always got a cool flair going on with your pen and ink choices. I always enjoy reading your blog. I haven’t bought any pens or ink in quite some time. As far as the Dialog 3, it is interesting. I would have to write with it myself to really come to a firm conclusion about it though.

    Liked by 2 people

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