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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Brian Goulet's Top 3 Daily Carry Fountain Pens



Though I have a rather extensive pen collection by most standards (100+ pens, I haven't counted recently), I have three that have pretty much become my standby pens that come with me everywhere I go. I'm sure I have different preferences than you might, but here's at least my reasons why my favorite pens to carry around are the Lamy 2000, Pilot Custom 74, and Pilot Metropolitan.

Lamy 2000

Lamy 2000, my favorite pen for quick notes and understated elegance.


This is an understated yet elegantly simple pen. It's large ink capacity and ease-of-use piston filler make it good for writing for slightly longer sessions, and the snap cap make it more convenient to use for quick notes than other pens that you need to twist to uncap. It's not cheap ($156), but it is a good value for the build quality, writing quality (14k gold nib), and balance of the pen. It's no wonder this pen has been a mainstay in Lamy's lineup for nearly 50 years.

I use mine with a medium nib because I like a little shading in my ink, but I also appreciate the finer nibs, especially when working on cheap paper. The pen has a reputation for having kind of a narrow 'sweet spot', and that's most noticeable on the fine and extra-fine nibs. For that reason, a few people just don't like it, and that's okay. But for the ones that do get the hang of it, this pen easily becomes a staple in their pen lineup, just like it has in mine.


Pilot Custom 74

Pilot Custom 74, my top go-to pen for the last 2+ years


At the time I started using this pen, it was the most expensive pen I'd ever owned ($160). I love blue, so that one was an obvious choice for me. But what really sold me on this pen really had nothing to do with the features, color, design…it was all about how it felt when I wrote with it. The 14k nib has just a bit of softness to it, which I often call 'spring', that acts kind of like a shock absorber when I write. It makes the already smooth nib just glide across the page and gives me a responsiveness in my writing that is hard for me to explain except by saying that this pen just 'feels right' to me.

It is cartridge/converter, but it uses Pilot's Con-70 which is the largest converter they have. It's a bit of a pain to clean when changing colors, so I tend to break my normal habit of changing inks every 10 words (or so it seems) and I seldom change what I keep in this pen. In fact, with rare exception I have only used Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, Noodler's Blue, Noodler's Liberty's Elysium, and Noodler's 54th Massachusetts. Liberty's Elysium is my mainstay these days, especially because it so perfectly matches the pen! That's something I never used to care about, but has been more important to me in the last year or so.


Pilot Metropolitan

Pilot Metropolitan, my 'workhorse' pen that I keep with me for knockabout purposes


So this one might throw you off a bit, as the other two pens are much more expensive and have gold nibs. Why the Metro? Well, it's just a workhorse. It's solid, writes well, holds a decent volume of ink for a cartridge/converter, and is just a great knockabout pen. I throw it in my bag, my pocket, whatever, I don't care. I just beat it up because it can take it, and at $15 who cares if I scratch it (haven't yet), drop it, or lose it. This is one of the first pens I recommend for new people getting into the fountain pen hobby, because it's an insanely good value and it is a great introduction into what fountain pens have to offer.

There are a couple of compromises with this pen. The nib only comes in medium (though it's really more of a fine), and there's no ink window so I don't really know when I'm about to run out of ink. But despite all that, I love this pen and keep it inked with either Diamine Red Dragon or Diamine Ancient Copper.

My experience is my own, and though I've objectively used many, many pens for reviews and work purposes, these three pens have been the ones that for me have stood the test of time and continue to have a dedicated place in my laptop case. But it's not only limited to these three, I often carry at least four or five, rotating out the newest pen I just got in, or something particularly special to me like the Monteverde Nighthawk that is a cool story for me to tell if I bump into someone who asks me 'what I've been up to lately'. But my Lamy and Pilots are the ones that are always there, inked up and ready to go.

What about you? What are the pens that are always with you?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

44 comments:

  1. Kind of surprised an Edison Nouveau and Twsbi didn't make your list.

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  2. Hardy Joseph Pottinger IVSeptember 18, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    OK, I'll bite, my daily carry pen is currently a Sheaffer Balance, with a fine point feathertouch nib, in red/striated, with a matching red/striated mechanical pencil. I do keep a few other pens in my "bag of papers", a Twsbi 540, a couple of Heros (200A and 100), and an Osmiroid 65 fitted with an Esterbrook 2284 (bold signature stub) Renew Point nib. I like carrying a vintage pen that I've restored, they make me happy, and I have very little money tied up in them.

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  3. Lamy Al-Star with a fine nib and whatever color of ink happens to amuse me from day to day.

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  4. I would totally carry a Lamy 2000 every day if I could afford one; some day! I'd also probably carry a TWSBI Vac 700 for its ability to avoid "burps" when it's properly stowed.


    What I do carry daily are my Lamy Safari (graphite with Noodler's black; my first fountain pen), at least one of my TWSBI 540s, preferably with the 1.1 mm nib and Australian Roses loaded, and then my red TWSBI Safari filled with English Roses if I'm marking up my manuscript. I don't have a lot of pens (I tend to want to be more frugal), but the two I mention up top are on my wish list, and would likely stay in my satchel.

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  5. Two pilot metros (one with a "work appropriate" colour for signatures and the like), and a TWSBI Vac 700. I usually carry at least one flex pen (right now I'm rockin' the Creaper).

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  6. I have a Pilot 78G today; the ones with silver-colored trim have softer nibs. Same nib as the awesome (but finer) $8 Pilot Penmanship. Also have a 1950s Pelikan today, but I change my users every few days.

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  7. My exact pens usually change every few months but, the one pen I always have with me is an OMAS new style Paragon in either black or the Arco Bronze. I also always have a Pelikan and for the last few months I have been using a 400NN in Tortoise. Lastly, since it came out my Montblanc Heritage 1912 has always been in rotation. I love my vintage MBs but since the roads in my new area are rather bumpy, the feeds on the 30s, 40s and 50s MB tend to spurt ink in the caps. So I like the vintage look of the 1912 but with today's technology.

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  8. I'm with Brian for two out of the three...the Lamy 2000 with a Medium nib and the Pilot Metropolitan. My third (for the moment ) is a Sheaffer Statesman (Snorkel).

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  9. great pens to be sure but I would go with a Lamy Al-Star, a Waterman Phileas, and a Pelikan M200. all are smooth and easy writers and can be maintained easily! no fountain pen choice can be wrong unless it is a pain to write with!

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  10. For me nothing tops a Waterman Philleas fountain pen. I've collected six or seven of these over the years. The medium and broad (my personal favorite) write like silk. Best value for the money.

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  11. I rotate several and never really settle on any standard group. Today was Ahab (Diamine Majestic Purple) and Hero 616 (cheap, fine, and never fail, and never weigh down a shirt pocket) inked with X-Feather Black. Tomorrow, we'll see. I don't like choosing until just before heading out the door...

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  12. Yeah, I know. Don't get me wrong, these make it in my rotation as a 4th and 5th pen quite often, but I most often use these as desk pens. The 3 I mention here are the ones I carry with me.

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  13. Nice, my Ocean Blue Al-Star often makes it in my bag as well.

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  14. Hey, I didn't have a pen that cost more than $20 for basically the first year and a half I was into fountain pens! Even the L2K, it was only about a year ago I sprung for one in my own collection. But I'm glad I did, it's been a standby ever since.

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  15. Rotating them out, nice! I often carry 4 or 5 pens at a time, and rotate out the 4th and 5th.

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  16. Nice collection! Thanks for sharing, no doubt you're enjoying all of those.

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  17. Thanks, while I wouldn't probably put them as the 3 'best' pens you can get, they are what I have naturally gravitated towards over time, at least for what I transport back and forth from home and work.

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  18. I agree, there really isn't a bad choice, it's strictly a matter of personal preference.

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  19. Oh, I love the Chartres. That blue is so stunning! I'm a total sucker for blue, if you hadn't noticed. I do have one myself, and use it every so often, but it's one of the pens I keep at my desk. I treat it as if it was actually made out of the Chartres blue stained glass :)

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  20. Yes, the Vanishing Point should absolutely get an honorable mention. I actually don't know why I don't carry that pen around more...it just doesn't end up happening. I use it more at my desk, clicking away for quick notes and whatnot.

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  21. Glad you're enjoying it! I do love this pen, for a lot of the reasons you mentioned.

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  22. It's made by Tauri...? I got it at Target (I'm a pretty frugal shopper for all things besides pens!). I just got the Justus 95 in today, what a sweet pen!

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  23. Yeah, I wish these were still made. That's one of the pens that I was really excited about carrying when I first started selling Waterman, but they discontinued it months before I picked up the brand. Sigh.

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  24. Keeping it spontaneous, that's awesome!

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  25. You are so nice to reply to everything!

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  26. I used to use my Vanishing Point as a daily carry pen for well over a year, until I decided to switch things up. One that has always been in my rotation is my Sheaffer Valor since the day I got it. I have two nibs for it, a fine and a medium. Lately I've been using my Sheaffer OS Balance from the late 30s/early 40s and a Sheaffer Snorkel Special (has one of the best nibs I've ever used). For exclusive Noodler's Black usage, I use my Sheaffer TipDip Craftsman.

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  27. I have two pens that are almost always with me. One is my personally restored Esterbrook J in green with a 9556 nib. It's pretty fine for an American nib, but writes more smoothly than just about any other fine point in my collection. It's got a mismatched (ever so slightly) cap from the previous owner. Who knows, it's a fleaBay pen. But it writes every time and the flow is good enough I can sign with it. Oh yeah, Noodler's black lives in this one.

    The other pen that's always with me is a Fisher Bullet Pen (Desert Tan) with a black clip and a fine black filler. Yeah, it's a ballpoint, but it writes on almost anything and is built like a (brass) tank.

    If I have my pen roll with me, there are usually a couple of Parker 51s in there, another Estie or two (different color inks and all restored by me), a Sheaffer Clipper with the Triumph nib, maybe my Pelikan 400, my Lamy 2K (of course), and maybe a Sailor Reglus.

    I'm also enamored with different colored inks and generally change my journaling ink color every day.

    Love it!

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  28. I have a couple of those pens that moved out of rotation. Those are great little pens!

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  29. I only have a couple Safaris, so that's what I carry. I guess you could say they are the nicest pen I could afford, and luckily, it wouldn't be too terrible if something untoward happened to one of them. Love my Safaris. Look forward to having a job again someday so that I can come by a Lamy 2000. That looks like one sweet pen.

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  30. I carry a VP with a wonderful nib courtesy of Greg Minuskin, and my Sailor Lame

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  31. Love the choices especially the Pilot Metro as I beat mine around as well with little worry. My daily carry is two TWSBI 540's. At $50 each not a big gamble and love the way they write.


    BTW quite dressed up today there Mr. Goulet

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  32. I only carry one pen of a day. Either:

    (1) Noodler's Konrad, black, flex nib. Usually Diamine Registrar's, Australian Roses, 54th, or Zhivago.
    (2) Noodler's Konrad, roaring 20's, Goulet 1.1 nib. 54th, Zhivago, or O. S. Manganate (wish this ink would come back!)
    (3) Sheaffer's No-Nonsense, black, ca. 1970's, italic fine nib. 54th, Zhivago, or O. S. Manganate (wish this ink would come back! It bears repeating :)


    If the line don't vary, I don't carry!

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  33. I'm pretty new to the world of fountain pens. So far the only one I'll actually carry with me is a charcoal Safari EF w/ R&K Salix, along with a 0.4mm Zebra Sarasa gel pen and a 0.5mm Kuru-Toga mechanical pencil, since my laptop bag only holds 3 pens and sometimes you just need a regular pen or pencil. 95% of the time I'm at my desk, though, where I always always always have my TWSBI 580 F w/ R&K Scabiosa close at hand.

    Definitely agree about the Pilot Metro. I picked one up just to nib swap with a Penmanship EF, but the M nib was so nice that I regularly use it in the Penmanship body as my dedicated "testing out new ink/paper combinations" pen.

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  34. By the way, that Goulet 1.1 nib is delightful. Very smooth and looks good too.

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  35. Most days I will have my TWSBI Mini Fountain Pen (Classic, Broad; inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai) as my utility pen. Then I might also have one of the following with me: Edison Pearlette Aztec Gold Flake (Goulet M nib; inked with Nooder's Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia) or either blue or black Pilot Custom 74 (medium; inked with Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo & Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun, respectively).

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  36. I generally carry the following: 1) Pilot Namiki Falcon with soft medium nib and black Pilot cartridge; Pelikan m200 with a Binderized medium nib, Iroshizuku Asa-gao; and one of several pens that I keep filled with colored inks (either a Safari or another Pelikan most of the time). If I'm going to be sketching, I carry a vintage Waterman flex-nib restored by Richard Binder, filled with black Waterman ink. I often write a LOT at work, so I need the Pelikan whole-body ink fill system or I end up running out halfway through the day.


    I have some beautiful looking pens with so-so nibs, but they just sit in a drawer. I am all about the smooth nib and the balanced feel in my hand. Life's too short to write with a skippy nib!

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  37. Dear Brian,

    For my regular use I am keeping Sailor's Fountain fitted with Nagahara (H-M) Nibs and also keep one Lamy Linea with 1.1 cut nibs, it helps me in my calligraphy pursuit. What I am looking forward is a Fountain pen with real Flex Nibs which will enable me to learn spencerian script. I will appreciate if you can help..

    Thanks for regular updates through mail.

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  38. Great idea for a topic, this one is always interesting.


    I actually only ever carry a white Lamy Safari with blue ink. Never skips, never leaks, never does anything it's not supposed to. Been thinking about picking up another Vanishing Point, though -- I had one and somehow I misplaced it. I'm sure it will turn up as soon as I buy a replacement.


    On my desk as my daily writer is a beautiful Nakaya urushi cigar I just got from Mottishaw, with a custom narrow stub nib, loaded with Visconti Blue. Bliss.


    I also keep a Namiki Falcon (with a custom Mottishaw extra flex nib) with Legal Lapis, and a Pelikan white tortoise (nice older pen) with Noodler's Australian Roses -- that has a Mottishaw narrow custom stub also.


    And then I always have various different Safaris (and the cheap Pelikan that looks like a Safari) lying around, loaded with bright inks for editing, making notes, etc.


    I just got my son (aged 8) into pens, and his daily carry is a Nib Creaper demonstrator with Baystate Blue!

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  39. BTW, just added the Metro to my wish list.

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  40. Interesting choices. And this from the man who could carry just about anything he wanted. My EDC? 1) Pilot 78G; 2) Parker Jotter flighter; 3) Wahl-Waterman hybrid semi-flex.

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  41. Interesting selection. I'm a recent convert to fountain pens, having ignored them since I was at school. I started thinking about using a fountain pen for sketching, and then it kind of grew from there. I have a bright neon yellow safari with fine nib as my general purpose carry everywhere pen. This is teamed up with a slim OHTO Tashe which is the only pen I have that's small enough to slip into the carry loop on my organiser. All kinds of inks get tested in this. Then on my desk I have a TSWBI 580 with F and 1.1 italic nibs, and another safari with a 1.1 italic nib. I also have a Kaweco ice which I have yet to ink up and is in kind of reserve - I like small things generally and this extends to pens as I have small hands. Oh and that pen for sketching is a Rotring artpen with an EF nib - near permanently inked with Diamine dark brown, and the long handle cut down. I love the light weight of it for sketching. Now I set it all down it seems so well thought out...but I've already started looking at the pilot range of pens prompted by the nice things that people here say about them. I think I have already moved from the rational to the afficionado and now the slope is starting to get slippery....I blame you guys entirely..

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