Thinning the Pen Herd


My collection needs more focus but it can be a challenge to select which pens must go. Four criteria help me with those decisions. Maybe they will help you, too. In order they are nib, comfort, functionality, and appearance.

Each nib is unique and a customized one even more so, just like a tiny work of art. Even within the same model and size, stock nibs are different. So when I find one I like, especially if it has a large sweet spot, I keep it knowing a replacement might not be half so nice.

Next comes comfort. Occasionally, a pen will write a beautiful line but only if I hold it in a very upright position. That’s the sort of pen that seldom sees ink. Weight, girth and length are the other components. Except for pocket pens, no posting allowed. I have learned my range and seldom buy outside it. Still a really fantastic nib will trump comfort on occasion so this criteria has some flexibility.

Functionality includes ink capacity and filling method. Pistons and converters are my preference so most of my lever-fillers need to find new homes. Nibs that can be swapped are a plus but not essential.

Appearance comes last. Not that I don’t like a pretty pen but if all of my other criteria are met, then I’m fine with an abused or boring one.

If a collection is like a dragon’s hoard count me in when it comes to nibs. Those I will hang onto forever if they are just right. The whole writing experience does matter so comfort is essential, too. Everything else is optional.

Soon some of my pens will go to people who will appreciate their stellar qualities and enjoy or at least won’t mind things that are negatives for me. Those pens that remain behind will get lots of opportunities to strut their best stuff decorated with the most lovely shades of ink. Now isn’t that the best fate for a fountain pen!



  1. Excellent check-list. I’m in the process of doing the same thing myself. Thanks for the tips!


  2. Solid criteria for making the most of your pen collection. I’m thinking of it as a “bottom up” approach to evaluating the pen : nib, grip, filling system then the cap, or the outer surface of the pen.


    • Ha! Bottom up fits your criteria descriptions perfectly. 🙂


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