Goulet Q&A Episode 193: Carrying Pens, Those Dang Converters, and Choosing The Right Nib Size

In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about how to carry your pens, keeping track of various brands’ converters, and choosing the right nib size for you!

**Due to some technical hiccups, this week’s Q&A is audio only. We’ll be back to the full video format next week.**

This week:

  • Just got back from Heidelberg, Germany this week visiting the Lamy factory!
  • I recorded this on Nov 22, before my trip
  • I wanted some slightly more evergreen questions, and went with covering some of the fundamentals


Pens/Writing

1) kingofpop771- Instagram
What is the best way to carry an eyedropper pen?

  • there is a lot of appeal for eyedropper pens, it’s a romantic idea
  • if I can carry a ton of ink that’d be amazing!
  • there’s an inherent risk of leaking or burping, so just be aware
  • basically, follow the same rules you would if you were flying/changing altitude
  • the less ink/more air you have in the pen, the more likely it is to burp and get ink in your cap as you carry it
  • it’s best to carry it nib-up
  • try to minimize the jostling, like carrying it around in a purse or backpack that’ll be thrown around a lot
  • Be cognizant of if it DID leak, where it’d leak! keeping it inside a pen sleeve, pocket, back, etc so it is contained somewhat
  • it’s not like these things leak all the time, but the risk is higher with an eyedropper pen so just be aware of it


2) yogatoride- Instagram
What are some of the best ways to carry your pen on your person if you only want to carry one? Many of the cases I see are for multiple pens, but often times I only want to carry the one pen.

  • you don’t have to use a case at all, it depends on your level of comfort
  • clip it into your pocket/shirt, etc
  • pen sleeve works GREAT, this is what I use
  • there are individual pen cases, but they often aren’t popular because they actually cost as much or more to make than larger ones, believe it or not
  • a lot of the cost with pen cases is in the labor, and it’s harder to work on smaller objects than big ones
  • there are some manufacturers that make individual cases
  • We carry Aston slips for $13.90, Visconti single cases for $85
  • I’ve seen a lot of handmade cloth and denim cases on Etsy and other craft sites at a reasonable price, too
  • if there’s a lot of interest in these I can explore, but the leather options have been pretty expensive and hasn’t generated a lot of interest in the past
  • If you carry around a notebook all the time too, consider a pen holder for your notebook, and carry them together
  • Leuchtturm pen holder, Midori


3) suepertonic- Instagram
What makes a flex nib able to flex? (e.g. shape, material, thickness, the way that it’s made, etc.)

  • all of the above!
  • sounds obvious, but flexibility is the key here
  • that can be achieved in multiple ways
  • softness of the material itself, like gold or palladium being softer than steel
  • the shape of the nib, like the Aurora 88 flex having less material than the regular 88 or Optima
  • you can achieve flex by removing material, either by cutting it out (Aurora, Edison) or by shaving the underside to weaken the metal
  • the inherent challenge is in having metal that’s weak enough to flex but strong enough to bounce back to it’s original form
  • that’s where the real artistry comes in!


4) arachnesthreads- Instagram
I bought a Stipula Etruria and it came with a registration/warranty to fill out and send back to Stipula. I did but I never heard back from them. What is this for? What can you tell me about it?

  • I don’t know about hearing back, I don’t know how common that is from any manufacturer, let alone Stipula
  • I don’t have any specific insight into what Stipula’s doing with this information, but I’ll speak in more general terms based on my understanding of why companies do warranty cards
    • better understanding of who their customers are
    • more efficient process in place if warranty service is ever needed
    • ensures legitimacy of the purchase through an authorized retailer (no knock-offs)
  • manufacturers will make their products, and maaaaybe sell direct sometimes, but often sell to different distributors throughout the world, who then sell to retailers
  • the reason there’s this distribution channel is because the world is a big place, there are a lot of regulations, laws, and knowledge required about how to service customers in that region most effectively
  • by the time pens work their way all the way down the distribution chain, manufacturers could be completely out of touch with the end user
  • this is especially true for B&M stores, because they don’t always have the ability to keep record of who their customers are
  • online, you can create an account and save your information, so there’s already a record of your purchase, which serves the purpose of the warranty card (unless the retailer goes out of business)
  • still MUCH of the world is brick-and-mortar, and the manufacturer likely will prefer to have your proof of purchase directly
  • other manufacturers I’ve seen have used these cards to try to gather information about their customers for targeted service or marketing efforts, so there will be demographic information or other questions about which products you’re interested in
  • given how easy it is to do more targeted marketing online these days, this isn’t likely extremely effective
  • most pen companies don’t even do warranty cards
  • when they do, it’s totally up to you whether you want to do them, I haven’t yet heard of someone having warranty service denied because they didn’t fill out the card, but it definitely doesn’t hurt


5) amo21mn- Instagram
How does one refrain from inking up all their pens? I’m asking for a friend.

  • you’re asking MEEEEE?
  • I don’t know, I keep between 20-40 pens inked at any one time, and pen cleaning is basically a second hobby of mine 😉
  • it depends how many you have and how often you use them, you may never have to worry about having less than all your pens inked up!
  • When you get to more than 1 pen cleaning per day, it gets a bit much to manage
  • the best technique I’ve found is to put an arbitrary limit on it, just pick a number that makes sense
  • if you have a physical pen case like an Aston Case 10 or Girologio 12 case, say you will only keep inked pens in there and after that it’s a 1-in-1-out policy there
  • it’s really up to you though, whatever the heck makes sense for you


6) Jim P- Facebook
I have dozens of FPs from a variety of manufacturers. Most of them have converters. Except for my most used pens, I’ve lost track of which converter goes with which pen. Is there an easy way to figure out which converter goes with which pen? Most converters don’t seem to have a company/mfr name etched into them. Thanks

  • easy might be a relative term here
  • We do have a cartridge/converter guide here
  • that’s probably the best way, and you can look up which converter is which on the product pages on our site (I wonder if we could link to them from this guide, I’ll look into that)
  • not all companies put their names on the converter, that’s true
  • when in doubt, take a picture and tag my team on Instagram, FB, or Twitter, or shoot us an email at info@gouletpens.com and we’ll help you out!
  • Also, forums like FPN or FPGeeks can be a resource for help, especially if it’s an older pen or one we don’t carry


7) Roshan- Email
I have a question on nib sizes and speed of writing. I have a Parker Vector F nib and a Sheaffer Safaris M nib. While writing with the F nib I am able to write slowly and produce more beautiful letters than when I write with the M nib. My handwriting is not too small and not large. Does the nib size make the pen a slow or fast writer ? Would you advise buying F nib pens or M nib pens ?

  • I don’t know that inherently the nib size itself slows down or speeds up anyone’s writing
  • it will really depend on the individual
  • physically speaking, the only thing “slowing you down” would be additional friction on the page between the nib and the paper, and that’s going to be so minimal that it’s insignificant
  • there will be a felt difference (super fine nibs feel scratchier than broads, usually)
  • you may feel more comfortable writing with some nib sizes over others, so the answer to this is that yes, it will be factor, but it will be different for every single person and you don’t really know how it’ll impact you until you try different nibs


QOTW: How many pens do you keep inked up at one time? 

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-12-08T12:01:48+00:00 December 8th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|39 Comments
  • Samantha Crabtree

    I tend to have all 15 of my pens inked. The only time I don’t have a pen(s) inked is when they run out, and even then, they are not empty for long.

  • Zeeman Choo

    QOTW – Between 2 to 4 pens at a time. It used to be a lot more, but after various misadventures with dried ink in pens I decided a good dose of discipline was in order! Nowadays I split ink into three categories – “work”, “journaling/correspondence”, and “fun”. The work ink (almost always Sailor Sei Boku) goes into my workhorse pens (Pilot Custom 91 + Muji Round Aluminium FP, only the former inked if heavy work is not anticipated, both inked otherwise). The journaling/correspondence ink (could be anything) goes into a piston filler of some kind. The “fun” ink (always something with an interesting property – shading, sheen, fluorescence, etc. ) goes into a pen with a wet nib that shows off the ink well.

  • Bob L

    Actually, Brian, if you have several Edison double-ended pens you could carry 7 pens and 12 different colors of ink! 🙂 QOTW – I currently carry 8 inked pens at a time. I will rotate them every day when I make a journal entry. It makes for a very colorful journal.

    Looking forward to stories of your trip to Germany. Hope you got lots of pics.

  • Michelle Morin

    All 23 of my regular fountain pens, and all three of my Pilot Parallels and one Rotring ArtPen stub nib, are always inked. And when my Conklin Duragraph Merlot arrives I expect it will stay inked as well…. Thanks as always for the great Q&A.

  • Larina

    QOTW – I usually keep a rough average of 6 nice pens I like inked up at a time, and I won’t ink another up unless it’s to swap out with one of those 6. But I’ll also have cheap pens that I’ll ink up too, because I don’t care if those sit unused for a while, and I also have a few eyedropper pens I don’t use very often, so they don’t quite count as one of my 6, even when they have ink in them. Pens with an ink cartridge, rather than a converter, don’t count as ‘inked’, cause it’s cheap ink I could flush if anything goes awry. 😉 Soooo….I SAY 6….but it’s more than that…. XD I carry all my pens in individual sleeves, so I try not to have more inked pens than sleeves, though, which limits me to about 10.

  • Shubh1

    Hi… Your voice only .. but I can picture whats going on visually .. very interesting …. The GPP … The Goulet Pens Podcast !!!

  • Lacey

    QOTW – I usually keep 8-10 pens inked, with 5 in my daily carry. But when life gets busy, I end up with a handful of pens laying on my desk that need cleaning (like right now). For reference I have about 50 fountain pens currently in my collection.

  • Shubh1

    I try to keep between 6 or 9 as I like to carry 3 pens daily for everyday use and this number helps to mix and match and also suits the 3 slot pen cases I have at present… But currently I have about 15 inked ..
    I’m not writing enough it seems

  • Lisa Vierra

    I suppose I have 30 pens. Not really sure. People ask me all the time, and I still haven’t counted. I might have a problem. I usually have about 10 inked up.

  • KarenS_923

    QOTW: Well yikes! You had to make me count… 😶
    I have 75 pens, most being on the very low-price end of the spectrum, comparatively speaking. (My most expensive pen to date is the new Platinum 3776 Nice Lavande.)

    And I currently have about 35 pens inked up. But in my defense, I’m in the “testing different ink colors” stage of my FP journey, soooo…. (Is that a good enough excuse? 🙄)
    And somehow I use many of them every day; I bullet journal with color (meaning different colors are different categories of tasks/events), and I journal all the time. I guess I have too many thoughts rattling around in my brain and like to do brain dumps. 😉

    Yep…. reading everyone else’s responses, I’m definitely outside the norm. Oh well. That’s nothing new! 😆

  • Scott Raun

    I’ve lost track of how may pens I have, but I keep about 10 inked at any given time.

    On FB, you asked about my nib size of choice – I was a fan of fine / very fine, but have gone to the other extreme and am now using italic nibs nearly exclusively.

  • peter hofmann

    QOTW – In order to keep things “under control” I currently keep two pens inked up and they live inside the Visconti 2 pen case:-) Total collection at this point is about 30.
    Why only two at a time? Just gives me the enjoyment concentrating on those two particular pens.

    Regarding the converter question, I just find it easier to keep them inside their respective pens (clean of course). I had a situation where I had 3 Caran D’Ache converters which were not interchangeable, so once I got everything sorted out they now live inside their respective pens:-)

  • johnmeadows

    For a single pen case, that could be a project for a wood turner, just saying 🙂

  • pspoteet

    5 pens currently inked today with five new samples from Goulet

  • Rita McGregor

    OMG! You gave me a reason to count how many pens I have inked up in my four little portable trays that stack. 35! I rotate through them and keep track of which one I used last for both my daily journaling and for my letter writing. I have a spiral notebook to keep track of which pen has which ink. Needless to say, I am a huge fan on ink samples–LOL!

  • Uniotter

    I have around 60 pens, and used to keep at least 20 inked at a time. But like yourself, Brian, the cleaning got to me! So now I have about 4-6 inked at a time, and because I take them to work, they are not my most expensive pens. However I must admit to looking over my collection and wondering why I’m not using my most loved pens more. So there might be a greater number inked up in the near future. 🙂

  • Robert Dašek

    Currently 8, but would like to bring it down to 5: a pocket pen, fine nibbed pen, and three workhorses in a pencase to take to work.
    I so much look forward to what you’ll share with us from your trip to Lamy!

  • MP

    Usually 3-5 inked pens at a time. I don’t have the opportunity to use up the ink in a lot of pens. But I always want more colors inked up.

  • David L.

    QOTW: I keep all but one of my pens inked at the moment. This is not a big problem, seems how I have eight pens. I see that my collection is drastically smaller than most everyone elses, but no matter. I’ve been in the hobby for only a year and a few months. I hope you had a great time over in Germany!

    • Tom Johnson

      David, when I’d been using pens for a year, I only had three pens or so, all used at work. It was 3 or 4 years before I had climbed to 5 or 6. Most of the rest of my pens were purchased over the following 15 years. Of course, most of those were bought after I discovered Brian Goulet and Goulet pens 4-1/2 years ago.

  • Stephanie Jung

    QOTW: Right now I have 8 inked pens, with two piston-fillers dedicated to one ink each and the others rotating through different colors. 8 is good, I use a different color each day of the week for journaling!

  • effika

    2. One for work, one for home. I do change the ink in the home pen about every week, though, so I don’t get bored. I also rotate the inked home pen every month or so.

  • Melinda Smith

    I have somewhere in the 25-30 pens at this point, I keep probably 12 or so inked up, and around 6-8 of them are carried in a case in my handbag most days. I might swap 1-2 pens every couple of days depending on mood, color of outfit I’m wearing, or desire to write with a particular pen/nib.

  • Janice

    I have almost all my pens inked: 10 pens, 8 inked.

  • Hannah

    I have three fountain pens, and they’re always inked up. I’ve been wanting another pen so I can have more inks at once

  • Tom Johnson

    Great Q&A! I have several notebooks. One is a log of all my pens and it says I have 46 pens as of two days ago when I added the Nightfall Nouveau Premiere. Another notebook lists all my pens and what ink is in them. Looks like I have 46 fountain pens and 36 are inked. Some pens that are rarely used are dried and need to be flushed out and put in storage, maybe 10 to 15. I can always ink one up whenever I need to.

    I don’t leave converters lying around. They are either in their matching pen or in a small zip lock bag with a label specifying which pen they fit.

    • Beth Miller

      That’s a good idea to list what ink is in what pen! I have a pen and I’m not sure what ink is in it right…it’s not a huge deal, obviously, because it’s going to write the same, I just can’t figure out which black ink is in it!

  • Angel

    I usually have 4 of my 5 fountain pens inked and I use those every day. I discovered fountain pens this past June when I got into bullet journaling. Lately I’ve been focusing on ink samples. For what it’s worth, here’s how I typically use my pens: My Pilot Metropolitan (F) always has Noodler’s Heart of Darkness for bullet journal points and I use my Lamy Al Star for the headers and writing on nicer paper. My Pilot Met (M) is for journaling and for writing on cheaper paper. I just got another Pilot Met (F) for Spencerian handwriting practice. I ink up my Pilot Met stub when I want to write on cards or need another color. 🙂

  • Sue Anderson

    I have about 20 pens, and I inked them all up as soon as I bought them. Eventually I had pens that had dried out. I gave them a good cleaning, and put them away for awhile. Now I am rotating about seven, which I use often, so I keep them inked.

    Looking forward to hearing about the trip to Germany.

  • I use eyeglass cases. They usually hold 1 – 3 pens, & only costs $1.

  • Jarrett Mosley

    Question for next Q&A: has gouletpens considered accepting bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for payments?

  • themadpenciler

    An inked fountain pen for each of these colors: Noodlers Rattler Red or Noodlers Swans in Australian Roses; Noodlers Ottoman Blue or Kingfisher Blue; Noodlers Forest Green, Polar Green, or Army Green; Noodlers Habenero; Kyoto Stone Road of Gion; Noodlers Burma Road; Noodlers Heart of Darkness; Noodlers Blue Black; Noodlers Lexington Grey. I also use a Preppy Highlighter with Noodlers Yellow.

  • Michael Winn

    I carry 12 daily: 10 in an Aston carrier and two in my shirt pocket:
    TWSBI Eco 1.1 w/ Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine;
    Wing Sung 698 F w/ Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses;
    Wing Sung 698 F w/ Diamine Syrah;
    TWSBI Eco 1.1 w/ Noodler’s Beaver;
    Kaweco Sport EF w/ J. Herbin Lie de Thé;
    Platinum 3776 Century M w/ Namiki Black;
    Pilot Custom 823 F w/ Noodler’s Gruene Cactus;
    Pilot Vanishing Point 1.0 w/ Pilot Iroshizuku kon-peki;
    Pilot Falcon SF w/ Pilot Iroshizuku kon-peki;
    TWSBI Eco 1.1 w/ Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black;
    Platinum 3776 UEF w/ Pilot Iroshizuku kon-peki

  • themadpenciler

    I almost exclusively use eyedroppered preppies. I don’t think I would ever risk putting one in pants pockets because body heat does cause leaks. I have had them leak while I held one in my hand to just carry it. And, I have found posting helps minimize burping as well.

  • One more note on eyedroppers. I always put them in a sealed plastic bag to be sure….

  • I have about 30 inked pens. Once a week I make sure I use them…

  • I forgot my image… I love their colors, like Christmas tree balls! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/10f9c488a7bd10f1cc7e6bd6c6ffa0790540dd5286bfc087991edeb6f1c005de.jpg

    • Amanda

      Gorgeous Photo!

  • MotherOfSwonk

    I’m only a few months into the hobby. I’ve got 9 pens and all but one are inked. The one not inked is the yellow Platinum Preppy because I didn’t want to use the yellow ink. My lovely wife bought me my first set of samples from Goulet for Christmas and they are expected to arrive tomorrow, so I plan on eyedroppering the empty Preppy with the most irresistible sample.