Is A Limited Rotation Evidence Of Bias Or Balance?


My ten pen rotation has grown rather limited and might be showing signs of bias. Or maybe it’s balance in some way.

  • Noodler’s Tahitian Konrad flex with Diamine Teal
  • Black marble Levenger True Writer fine with Noodler’s Purple Martin
  • Red marble Levenger True Writer fine with Noodler’s Tiananmen
  • Kyoto Levenger True Writer Matsuyama stub with Noodler’s Beaver
  • Mink Levenger True Writer Matsuyama cursive italic with Noodler’s Golden Brown
  • Pelikan M215 (silver rings) Binder italic with Noodler’s Ottoman Azure
  • Namiki Falcon soft broad with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses
  • Platinum Century Chartres Blue broad with Platinum Pigment Blue
  • Platinum Century fine flex with Noodler’s Golden Brown
  • Platinum #3776 music nib with Diamine Sepia

That’s four True Writers, three Platinums, and one each of Noodler’s, Pelikan, and Namiki (Pilot) pens. The inks are even more lopsided with seven Noodler’s, two Diamine, and one Platinum. My most expensive (Iroshizuku) as well as discontinued (Montblanc Racing Green) inks get less use so they last longer. That does sway things a bit.

The nibs are more varied and even more so when a Lamy Vista 1.1mm joins the lineup in the near future. The Sapporo fine is asking to play with one of the Iroshizuku jewels and that is always hard to refuse.

A dozen pens is excessive but it’s also a lot of fun. Yeah, maybe I’m biased toward some ink brands and pen makers but I’m an equal opportunity employer when it comes to nibs. How about you? Do you gravitate in one direction more than another? What gets you excited? Er, that applies to pens and inks only, okay?

Pen and Ink Rotation for January, 2013

Pen and Ink Rotation for January, 2013



  1. Wow, great shading on all of those inks!


    • Agreeable tools make shading easier but my inconsistent pressure causes some of it. Downstroke = slightly more pressure. Upstroke = less pressure. It gives my hand a bit of a break during long sessions as does soft, absorbent paper. I practice with /\/\/\/\/\ and joined loops. These doodles are good at getting the rhythm started before the real writing begins. 🙂


  2. Yours might feel limited but it takes me almost 6 months to get through my full pen collection, some of the Pelikan pens have 29 nibs that can be used with them so the combinations run to the thousands. It is the price I pay to give all pens, nibs and inks the same opportunities. 🙂


    • Mind-boggling!


  3. Only the truly-obsessed — of which all of us reading this are members, mind you — would even get the question, let alone venture an answer. I think a more interesting question might be what did/will the equivalent list look like a year ago/from now?… My guess is that it was/will be substantially different. So one week’s “limited” may be another year’s “expansive.”


    • No crystal ball here to see the future but I can look at the past. With certainty my rotation grows to a range of 10-12 unless there are a lot of tests in progress. There are several pens that are always in that rotation unless they need cleaning or repair. Inks come and go but some colors are always represented like teal or turquoise, burgundy, and a slightly greenish blue.

      My rotation for January, 2012:

      Parker ’51′ Aero F with Noodler’s Zhivago
      Parker ’51′ Aero Special XF with Noodler’s Black (pen test)
      Sailor 1911 F with Noodler’s Red-Black
      Lamy Vista 1.1 with Iroshizuku shin-ryoku
      Levenger Mink True Writer Masuyama CI with Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
      Montblanc 220 OB with Rohrer & Klingner Magenta
      Pilot Elite Socrates F Pocket Pen with Diamine Presidential Blue (ink test)
      True Writer Masuyama stub with Diamine Teal

      At that time I did not own a Platinum pen or ink or Noodler’s Beaver, Tiananmen, or Purple Martin. The MB 220 and Lamy Vista will go back into rotation when I settle on inks for them. Kiowa Pecan will replace Golden Brown and Sepia when those pens are empty. Perhaps an Iro or Rohrer & Klingner will catch my interest for the Sapporo that is clean and ready to rumble.

      So much for a “small” rotation. How do you keep yours manageable?


      • Hmmm, I thought the topic was the limited variety of brands, and not the total number of pens. From that perspective, you had:
        * 8 pens from 6 brands a year ago; and
        * 10 pens from 5 brands now.
        So the number of pens expanded but the brand diversity contracted. Your reply suggests that both numbers will grow in the near future. Nothing wrong with that!!

        As for managing my own rotation, until five years ago it was about 15 or 16. Then I bought what I still regard as the closest-to-perfect pen I will probably ever own, a Pilot Custom 845 (M nib; urushi lacquer, even on the converter!) Within six months, I sold all of my others to John Mottishaw, with the exception of a Pilot Bamboo (F nib, burgundy), which I kept for pen-and-ink drawings. Rotation management in one simple, albeit briefly painful, step.

        Of course, a couple of others have crept back in recently, but that’s another story, as they say.


        • Your perfect pen is an admirable achievement. My penchant for a variety of nibs precludes a single pen or ink being satisfying. My post and long reply meandered but limited brands was my first thought though the limited number of pens and inks in rotation is valid, too.

          For several years, I have had a preference for Levenger True Writers and to a somewhat lesser extent Lamy 1.1mm nibs. Platinum pens have earned my respect, too. Several Noodler’s Inks have invaded my ink rotation over the past two years though I’ve used Black and a few others for close to ten years. So whether I’m biased or not, my preference for certain brands has become stronger. Add to that Rhodia notebooks, Apica A610 journals, G. Lalo stationery, and Stillman & Birn sketchbooks, my preferred papers, and the picture is complete.

          Hopefully, my future reviews will be fair but in my personal pen/ink/paper use, certain brands reign. Yes, the list could be very different in a year but then I am easily smitten should a retailer or distributor or manufacturer wish to court my fancy. If not, I am delighted with my current objects of affection and sincerely thank those who have contributed to my brand bias.


  4. I have 4-5 pens in my work bag. The same pens.. My others stay at home. I don’t know why I do this.. But maybe it’s a comfort thing? We like to have these with us?


    • Whether it’s a comfort thing or a habit, there are just some things one shouldn’t be without. There is always a book in my bag and a pad with a fountain pen. I’ve walked out of the house without realizing I was wearing slippers but I never forget my book, pad, and FP.

      Would you miss those pens if your bag were lost or stolen? Generally, I carry ones I could replace easily. My besties stay at home. They are happy to see me return and always ready for duty. 😀


      • Good point but, no. The most expensive pen in my bag is a vanishing point and yes, that would upset me but I rotate those I have a pink and a black. The black wouldn’t fuss me. The rest are standard noodler’s flex pens, a true writer, a ohto and a lamy. I would stress more about my lost tablet device really.
        My best pens sit at home 🙂


        • While I don’t take my most expensive pens into the outside world very often, those with terrific custom nibs are even less likely to go out. They would be too difficult to replace. A good off-the-shelf pen is less valuable to me regardless of the price.

          Losing a tablet device would be in an entirely different realm. Perish the thought!


  5. Each week, I find that I start with one or two pens, and then I end up inking more pens as the days go by because I get a whim to use a particular ink. And then, before I know it, I have 10 pens going all with different inks. Occasionally, I will ink up several pens with one specific ink to decide which pen/ink combo works “best”, but that is only when I find an ink that I’m completely smitten with. Truth be told, I’ve been trying to limit my rotation because I really don’t like cleaning pens.

    I am all over the place when it comes to nibs. I would say that the different nib sizes are fairly well represented in my collection. On balance, I find that I do tend to gravitate towards “medium” sized nibs, but I really enjoy italics too.


    • I don’t like cleaning pens either. Now if the little suckers would just learn to clean themselves…


  6. You have lovely handwriting, by the way! I must get some Diamine Ink. I discovered the product quite recently, despite living near the factory for some years in blissful ignorance.


    • Thank you, David. Yes, do try Diamine. If you are uncertain about which color would suit you, the 30 ml bottles are large enough to provide many refills. So much the better if you can purchase several and experiment with a good sampling of their colors.


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