What I Bought in 2018: Fountain Pens

Here are the pens I bought in 2018:

Carolina Pen Company (Jonathon Brooks): (2) I bought two awesome pens, one in a starry acrylic, and one in a modern urushi with gold flakes, at the Chicago Pen Show. Huge splurge, but love them both.

Carolina Pen Company fountain pen closeups

Kanilea Pen Co.: (1) I bought a Kanilea Hanauma Bay, another huge splurge, but never regretted. Plus, now I’ve learned how to spell the word “Hanauma.” Education is priceless.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Kaweco: (2) I bought two AL-Sports, one in red and one in black, called the Night Edition. Kaweco also came out in 2018 with an AL-Sport in rose gold, which I probably would have chosen instead of the red, had I seen it in person first. But no worries. The black one is my favorite, anyway: a matte black finish on such a small, metal pen seems very stealth.

Kaweco AL-Sport red and night black

Lamy: (2) I bought both 2018 releases, the Vibrant Pink Al-Star and the All Black Safari. I very much like the Vibrant Pink Al-Star, and I’ve used it regularly. It’s fun.

The All Black Safari went straight into the pen drawer. Not that there’s anything wrong with the All Black. It’s just not that exciting. But it was “for the collection” anyway.

Lamy Al-Star Vibrant Pink, Lamy Safari All Black

Parker: (2) I bought two vintage Parker 45s with gold nibs. Screaming buys, good user pens. Couldn’t find them for the photo.

Pelikan: (2) I bought the M205 Olivine with medium nib, and the M600 Vibrant Orange with broad nib. These pens are lovely. Very expensive, but worth it.

Pelikan M205 Olivine and M600 Vibrant Orange closeups

Platinum: (1) I bought a Plaisir in Bali Citrus, because it was $12, and also to use Platinum Carbon Black ink without worry. For $12, it’s a darn good starter pen. I love the Bali Citrus color.

Platinum Plaisir Bali Citrus

Sailor: (2) Early in the year I bought the Professional Gear Earth with extra-fine nib. This is the best work pen I’ve ever had, because of that extra-fine nib, and it’s been inked and re-inked since I bought it. The color was my only qualm: I’m no fan of brown. But it’s a warm brown, and a translucent material, and it’s grown on me. Big fan, now.

Then, well, I bought a Professional Gear Shooting Star of Jonuma. It’s possible that “Jonuma” is the Japanese word for “debtor’s prison.” I blame someone else for this, someone who bought an extra by mistake and then showed it to me, like that was a good idea.

When I showed a photo of this pen to my friend Rick, he asked, “Where did you get that?!” and I answered truthfully: “Satan.”

To this day, I call it the Satan Pen. But it was Shakespeare, in Hamlet, who pointed out that the devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape.

The Satan Pen has sparkles, and clear plastic, and a Sailor nib — the Trifecta of Awesome. I could have done without it, but then I saw it. That is how temptation works.

Sailor fountain pen cap ends

Woodshed Pen Co.: (1) I got a super awesome demonstrator with orange and red ribbons from the awesome Mike Allen, and I am very happy with this one. It’s fun, it’s well-made and it’s nicely priced. It’s also a really good pen to write with, and it takes the same Jowo nibs as my Brooks, Edison and Kanilea pens.

Woodshed Pen Co demonstrator

So, the 2018 pen purchase total is 15. Yikes.

I bought a lot of pens this year. And I’m only counting those pens I bought intending to keep.

It was an exciting year in pens for me, I guess. As I’ve done for a while, though, I balanced purchase with sales, by selling pens to pay for what I bought. It’s more like a shuffling of the pen roster, if I look at it that way.

I just wish I hadn’t bought quite so many, that’s all. I’ll slow it down in 2019.

I’ve still got three of the 2018 pens inked up, in use, which is pretty impressive, considering I’ve only got five pens going right now.

Lamy Al-Star, Sailor Professional Gear, Pelikan M205

My favorite pen purchase? None. I like almost all of them.

My most used? The Sailor Professional Gear Earth, for the amazing extra-fine nib that’s perfect for me.

Were there any pens I almost purchased in 2018, and wish I owned? Yeah, kind of. My favorites not purchased were the two Lamy Studios, in Terracotta and Olive. And Lamy’s gold nib for those pens is very nice. Those were the pens I would have bought if I’d had extra money in the pen fund, and if I had room for two more pens in the pen life. And earlier in the year, I was extremely tempted by the Sailor Professional Gear Ocean, which I didn’t buy for the same reasons.

Are there any pen purchases on the radar in 2019? Well, kind of. I’ll definitely buy the 2019 Lamy Al-Star in bronze, which sounds nice. Other than that, I haven’t heard of anything else that’s tempting. I’m hoping that sticks. I would not, however, bet the house on that.

21 thoughts on “What I Bought in 2018: Fountain Pens

  1. Thank you for this detailed listing of your 2018 purchases. It’s reassuring for me to know I’m not the only one who succumbs to fountain pen temptation. I haven’t dared to look closely at how many pens made it into my collection in 2018 — the gauntlet is down now and I shall dutifully examine how many times Satan pushed me.

    The Pro Gear Shooting Star of Jonuma is absolutely gorgeous—if I’d seen it in the Sapporo / Pro Gear Slim (small hands) I think I would have had to have it… or at least visit it obsessively while counting pennies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Does the Bali Citrus Platinum look a lot like that Chartreuse Lamy Al-Star from a few years ago? Colorwise, I mean.

    The Kanilea pen gets my vote for Best of the 2018 Haul! What a beautiful pen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sailor has just been floating on a high tide of excellence for so long now… designs, nibs, colors have all been pretty much faultless, and mostly at a reasonable price point for what you get. That SE Earth is beautiful, and I’ve just discovered their medium-fine nib, which is my new favorite.

    Have another great year! I always look forward to your posts, thank you so much for another year of effort!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think that’s also true of the US

      But, as I just wrote on another post, I actually think Sailor has been overwhelmed with demand over the last two or three years, on many fronts, and they are aware of it — unmet demand for inks, special nibs and probably the larger size pens with fun and unusual materials, like the clear sparkly one I got. Sailor already has fixed the ink situation. They’re probably trying to handle the bespoke nib problem next. I’m going to guess that the voracious demand in Japan for these larger sized special edition pens in clear colors with sparkles, like the Jonuma, has clued them into the fact that they could probably sell many more worldwide. From Sailor’s point of view, they can only manufacture so much, and if they expand too quickly to meet a demand that proves temporary, or was overestimated, that could lead to huge problems. It’s a very small company. It’s obvious that they are conservatively run, when it comes to expansion. I can’t blame them for staying conservative on that, though. It’s a strange time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks. That’s a really interesting perspective. I’ve always thought of Sailor as one of the ‘big three’ Japanese manufacturers, without giving any consideration to their actual size. At least in the US you’ve had a series of 1911 limited editions! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been wanting a gold Platinum Plaisir. My preferences in nibs are italic and stub. But there is something about the look of the Plaisir that makes me want it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Go for it, then! I think it’s a pretty good value. Even if you decide you don’t love the nib, you can always use it as a carry-around pen, or a pen you can hand to friends and family to show them how to use fountain pens.


  5. I wish Satan would show up and offer me a gorgeous and rare Japanese special edition Pro Gear! Though even without that, I managed to buy 3 Sailors this year, including a BunguBox special edition. (Does this imply that I am my own Satan?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean yeah, you alway think you want that. It’s just that it doesn’t really work out in the long run… Goethe’s Faust, and all. 🙂

      Maybe Sailor is Satan, for all of us?


  6. A great roster of pens for the year and it is so lovely that you have good things to say about them and still find them exciting. I am a big fan of having a story to go with the things I own and it is fun to hear the stories about the pens you have added to your collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I think that’s a really great point: Joan Didion famously said that we tell ourselves stories in order to live, and I do think that we have stronger associations with those things that work their ways into the larger story of our lives. I think that’s one reason I like to look back at the end of the year, and see what I bought that year — not just “how many,” but why, and how that worked out. There is, however, another chapter I need to write, to sum up 2018 in pens and inks — I’m working on that.


    1. Thank you! It’s a really nice pen, and the owner Mike Allen is awesome. I met him at San Francisco, and then bought this pen at Ohio. He is coming to the Chicago Pen Show for the first time this year, too. I really like the materials he uses, and how carefully he makes everything. There is so much interesting work by so many small pen-makers these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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