When A Pen Falls Out Of Favor


Sooner or later most of us trade or sell fountain pens but which ones to keep can be tricky. So I’ll share my criteria if you’ll share yours. Deal?

No doubt my pen preferences are evolving. Over the past ten years my tastes have expanded from a fixation with tiny Asian nibs to an infatuation with chunky Western ones. Consider me an equal opportunity pen fancier. Lesson learned is to maintain a varied collection and hang onto the odd ones. With the right ink and paper, almost any pen can be fun.

Another criteria is size. Thin or short pens can cause fatigue and are best suited to brief sessions. A heavy pen must balance well or it will flip out of my grip making it a poor choice unless I don’t mind a little ink flung here and there. Medium to large, light-weight pens work best these days though there are exceptions.

Filler mechanism is important and with few exceptions, levers are out unless the nib pops out easily. I like getting a pen really clean when changing inks and lever fillers are too much work. Most of mine have been sent to more appreciative collectors.

How often I use a pen is less relevant than whether another pen is similar. If two nibs are virtually identical, I might let one go if I’m not thrilled with it. Not foolproof but helpful.

Here’s a case in point. A couple of years ago I gave up on Pelikan pens. Nothing wrong with them. Good build quality, swappable nibs, etc. When I sold or traded them, those nibs and exuberant flow didn’t suit me. Now that I’m exploring wide nibs, Pels are a much better fit and the few still here are getting renewed interest.

So despite modifying my criteria for re-homing pens, I still make mistakes. Put all that together and it makes a lot more sense to keep pens that have potential than it is to let them go.

A keeper, the navy gray Parker ’51’ Aero, though with Noodler’s Zhivago today…

Moleskine, a Parker '51' and Herbin Vert Empire Ink

Moleskine, a Parker '51' and Herbin Vert Empire Ink

Remember that deal we made? Now it’s your turn to share how you decide which pens to give the boot when they fall out of favor.



  1. I’m new to pens, so obviously my criteria is evolving. The big thing for me right now is writing comfort. I’ve got 2 Esties, love the material, love the color, and can’t write for any span of time with them. My Lamy Safari M doesn’t quite give me the line I want when I write. The Lamy Safari F is a more comfortable writer, but it’s narrow.

    The TWSBI M is a bit more comfortable in terms of section size, but it’s not long enough and doesn’t have enough back weight. It’s going to stay because I bought it as a personal memorial after a loss.

    If I can’t write with it, it’s not going to last overly long. Pens are to be written with. Otherwise they just gather dust. 🙂 The Esties will rehome, and the Safari M will as well. I’m looking to try the Lamy 2000 and an Edison Collier next to see if I can get the right balance and feel.


  2. I don’t have quite the extensive collection of fp’s. For what I have, comfort in writing both in the physical form of the pen and with the nib itself is the prime criteria. I keep 3 pens in my Pel leather pen case for work. A Sailor Pro Gear in a broad nib, Sailor Sapporo in a medium nib, and a Pilot Custom Heritage 92 in a broad nib. I mostly do note writing at work, so broad’s are fine. Also, when I write more extensively, my handwriting enjoys having a bit more space and takes more room on the paper, so I like Japanese broad nibs.

    The Heritage 92 is new to the collection as of last week. I sought it out as a higher-capacity fp for long session writing, when those converter pens don’t quite make it through a long afternoon session of writing on the weekends. It replaced a Lamy 2000—yes, admittedly a pen with substantial ink capacity. The thing is that I enjoy writing with that pen less b/c, while smooth, the nib/pen combo transfers little paper feel to the hand plus the nib has no spring to it—a characteristic I rather enjoy.

    I have a Waterman Expert that hasn’t seen the light of day for quite some time b/c it was a cheap acquisition off of eBay, but never took hold with me. The Lamy 2000 will be joining the Waterman Expert in the drawer for now. I’ll be selling the Expert at some point in time when I get around to it, but the Lamy I will keep holding through sheer admiration of the visual form.


  3. […] Pens / Writing. When A Pen Falls Out Of Favor Who will save Roald Dahl’s writing shed? (more here & here) Sailor HighAce Neo […]


  4. Your handwriting is GORGEOUS!!! And the ink in the photo is one I’m adding to my list.
    My pen criteria are few: they have to be inexpensive, if not cheap, they need a medium or broad nib and they need to have a converter. Aside from that, we’re all good.


  5. I don’t have many pens so this hasn’t come up much yet. Once I realized I don’t like really fine pens, I regifted my Levenger Seas XF to my sister in an attempt to draw her into the obsession. I also have a Parker Sonnet that has a scratchy nib–I just put that in the back of the drawer and try to pretend it doesn’t exist. Finally, I have a Levenger Verona that I keep because it’s pretty even though the nib is kind of dull. Not too bad!


  6. After years (too many to recount) of collecting fountain pens I now probably have a better idea of which I like and what works for me, and contrary to your experience I went through a “B” and “BB” stage thinking wider and broader suited my handwriting to now seeking out finer and finer pen nibs.

    But it is the use of the pens that has changed my collecting. Where once I only wrote, wrote, wrote, now I write, draw and doddle.

    I also prefer pens that work for me rather than pens I have to work for and don’t do vintage well, nor the new Noodler’s flex. But, flex would be ideal for my idea of the perfect pen.

    I don’t regret selling any, but I do regret the instant buys I’ve made of inexpensive but impractical pens. In some ways, less is more and after all I can’t write or draw with the 50-odd fountain pens I own.


  7. I have several pens that while may be perfect for someone else, are not quite write for me. I require a light, well-balanced, budget-friendly (less than $50) pen with a smooth flow. Stylewise, I prefer “nontraditional” looking pens such as the Parker Urban and Lamy Safari. I do love my Bexley Fun Time Broad nib, too. Having said that, I would love to sell or trade those pens that just don’t work for me, but FPN hasn’t worked for me and I haven’t gotten around to eBay.


    • Such a variety of replies! Seems most of us have made purchases that disappointed. Re-homing pens isn’t easy whether it’s the decision or the lack of a suitable if not perfect venue. Oh, and less is more. My sentiments exactly.


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