The results are in from last month’s poll.
Fountain Pen vs Nib Poll
You folks really like your nibs. Looks count but nibs count more.
I’m with you. Not that a pretty piece won’t turn my head but if it’s got a stinky nib, all the looks in the world are wasted on me. Better the pen should go to someone who will appreciate it. Actually, comfort matters more to me than appearance but that’s a subject for a different post.
86% of you want good if not great nibs. Thus companies that fail to make quality nibs a priority are missing what makes fountain pens worth buying. Some companies think so little of their pens that they offer nibs in one size only. Do they really think we all love the ubiquitous, generic medium? Perhaps they smugly think looks are all that count. How horribly shallow of them.
Worse are the nibs that come in a variety of sizes but need repair just to be useful. If you get stuck with one of those turkeys, do return it. One would hope a manufacturer or two will get the message. Or maybe they should stick to roller balls and ball points. Those instruments are far better suited to a one-size-fits-all manufacturing and marketing strategy.
Which pen makers are doing things right?
For those of you who demand beauty as well as a great nib, which pens make your best of the best list? Not to make less of a single great pen, but it would be great to hear about companies and pen models that consistently deliver what matters most.
My nominees are the Sailor Pro Gear, 1911, and Sapporo Series. I currently have three and sold a fourth a year ago. Not one has been disappointing. My preference is the rhodium trim but the fit and finish are beautifully done on the gold models as well. Light heft, quality and consistency make these pens true winners.
More pens worth considering
There are many brands for which my experience is too limited to make a recommendation or my collection does not include enough new pens to put them on the list. I’ve eliminated used pens for lack of certainty that the pen I own is truly representative of the model.
Pilot Elite Pocket Pen
Pilot "Isaac Newton" Fountain Pen
Pilot Custom Black Strip Fountain Pen
My Pilot pens are a good case in point. I have five of various finishes from the 1970s and early 1980s. All are fine nibs (not script nibs) and write very well for me. However, I was not the first owner so I don’t know if the nibs were repaired or modified. I just know they are excellent now.
There are two other brands for which I own multiples of a model but inconsistent nibs keep them off my list. That’s an indictment as well as a disappointment but it certainly does make the really good ones stand out.
Lastly, there is another good pen but it is not an out-of-the-box favorite. It’s the original version of the Namiki Falcon with a soft fine nib. The build quality is not quite as nice as the Sailors but good nonetheless. The new metal version may be quite different but I have yet to get my hands on one. Unlike the Sailor pens, in my experience the nib requires a period of breaking-in to become all it can be. I am hesitant to recommend a model that has a caveat but it’s a good pen if you are willing to give it enough time. Some people like the soft medium better than the soft fine and I can see why though I think a soft broad would be even more fun.
Ink counts, too.
12% of the people who participated in the poll are more excited by ink but terrific pens make using those fabulous colors even more fun. So if you have a favorite or two, do include your pen choices in the comments. Inkophiles need pens, too.