In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about good pens for writing fast, stuff for newbies on a tight budget, and why people are so passionate about fountain pens.

This week:

  • Taking next week off
  • Lamy Al-Star color got leaked, it’s VibrantPink and it’s up on our site now to sign up for email list
  • Won’t be available in the US until Feb, it will have an accompanying ink
  • Wrapping up the holiday season, been really busy but crushing it
  • Conklin Duragraph Merlots, Purple Nights
  • Restocked Stipula Tocco Ferros
  • TWSBI 580 AL Rose
  • shoutout to Pamela Harrison


1. eraye9- Instagram (9:02)

How can the inexpensive Pilot Metropolitan be, in many respects, a superior product to some gold nibs I have?! Do they keep costs down by mass producing the body and using the money saved to maximize nib performance? Are there known percentages in the industry to guide manufacturers on how to weigh design, pen material, and nib quality?

  • the Metropolitan is really a phenomenal value, I’ve been saying that for 5 years
  • Pilot has their own proprietary process for making nibs, and their quality is phenomenal, on all models of their pens, really!
  • Industry standards? not exactly, probably the way you’re asking
  • those who’ve been around in the industry for a really long time are aware of all the engineering and physics involved with pens
  • it’s really kind of individualized from one pen company to another, even one model to another
  • different factors are important to different manufacturers
  • Japanese and Germany brands really prioritize quality
  • Italian and American brands feature aesthetics and excitement
  • Pilot takes the nib performance really seriously, it’s less so with other companies

2. sarah_z_33- Instagram (16:33)

Any recommendations for (reasonably priced) fountain pens that work well with writing fast? I have a Noodler’s Nib Creeper Flex, which I love, but it writes best when I write a bit slower than my normal pace.

3. s_barve3098- Instagram (22:30)

What’s the thing that makes people so passionate about fountain pens?

  • how can you NOT be passionate about them?? :)
  • part of the beauty of fountain pens is it’s a very personalized interest, people are drawn to them for different reasons
  • some people, it’s purely a tool, and the flow of the ink, ink color choices, and utility of the pen as a tool is the appeal, maybe even drawn to the cost effectiveness or environmental impact of the pens, very utilitarian and pragmatic
  • some love the way they write, and connect with them as physical objects because of the cadence it provides them as they write…might be students in school, authors, illustrators, etc, it allows them to perform in a specific way that other tools don’t
  • others get excited about the technology, the physics, really nerd out on the “gear” aspect of it, the filling mechanisms, materials used, methods of manufacture, design components, etc
  • some are attracted to the history, especially if they get into vintage pens, there’s 150+ years of history there that spans the globe
  • some are collectors or art aficionados and appreciate the design and artistry with pens more as the medium (particularly with LE pens), but might also be more casual collectors who latch onto a particular color or model of pen and just go nuts
  • some view them as financial investments (this group is small)
  • for some, it’s community, that other passionate people are really into them and they connect with those individuals
  • it’s often a blend of these for people, but whatever the reason, it’s awesome to see and the passion is pretty universal because no one HAS to use these pens!

4. @ayesha52413828- Twitter (34:12)

What fountainpen products; pen, ink and paper, would you recommend for a newbie on a really tight budget?

  • fountain pens aren’t necessarily in and of themselves inexpensive to start, it takes a little bit to get set up and the economy comes over time with use
  • top 5 pens for newbies, for sure
  • Pilot Varsity is a great start, it’s disposable but can be hacked to refill
  • Platinum Preppy is really inexpensive to start!
  • Jinhao
  • Pilot Metro
  • Lamy Safari
  • Noodler’s is very economical ink, consider Diamine or Monteverde 30ml bottles
  • paper is tough to be economical, and I frankly just don’t have the cheapest brands out there
  • the more economical paper is often sold it greater bulk, and is difficult for me to sell economically so I don’t really carry it
  • Black N Red, Staples Sustainable Earth, HP Laserjet copy paper


5. thisisbs808- Instagram (52:25)

Aloha Brian, we’ve so much enjoyed your showing us your pen and ink collection. Do you have a system for cataloging or keeping track of all your pens, ink, and samples? I have on more than one occasion made orders only to find duplicates in my collection upon arrival. Would love to see how others manage their growing collections. Mahalo for all you and the whole Goulet team does!

  • I do have a system for organizing my pens
  • I store them in my cabinet or pen cases
  • I keep a spreadsheet with all the facts
  • ink and samples I don’t catalog, but I’m realizing that might not be a terrible idea…
  • I’ve honestly never really bought any pen of significant value that was a duplicate, even just from my memory


6. Liz M.- Facebook (1:00:41)
Have you ever considered stocking things to improve the flow of ink in converters without an agitator, such as gold keyboard compression springs; also, things like glycerine or other flow aids? Seems like these would fall into the same category as o-rings and silicone grease – made for another purpose, but very useful to FP folk.

  • I haven’t heard of the compressions springs before, I’m going to have to look more into that
  • glycerine I’ve heard of being used, haven’t had a lot of people asking for it, but is something I should probably mess around with
  • there are some things I get asked about, but it takes time to source out, package, list, and educate around these things, and I literally just haven’t made the time for them
  • I’ve ALWAYS felt like I waited too long to develop each product we’ve developed here, so it’ll likely feel overdue for me by the time I can implement anything
  • I’d love feedback!


7. Nikesh J- Facebook (1:03:49)

I saw Matt Armstrong’s recent Currently Inked, and he talked about how he would deal with losing an expensive pen. How would you or your wife or someone you know deal with it?

  • I watched Matt’s CI #51, which I think is what you were referring to?
  • his context was more about attachment to physical objects (pens), and he went down an interesting route talking about his grandmother’s hoarding tendencies, I respect his openness there
  • I have 500+ pens and you can guess that it’s a challenge sometimes to manage that many and not lose them
  • I don’t lose a lot of things for good, in general, especially when they matter to me
  • I do get a bit forgetful sometimes, I’m quite busy, and I’ll lose things for short periods of time
  • last week in Q&A I “lost” my Visconti London Fog, which I love and would be SUPER bummed if I lost it for real!
  • I didn’t actually lose it, but just misplaced it for a few minutes there
  • as much as I love my pens, I also have a really good perspective on what they are and what they do for me
  • I don’t have any pens that if I lost them, I would be crippled…bummed yes, a little bit broker, yes, but emotionally I know about the things that are truly important in life, and physical things just aren’t worth getting devastated over
  • that said I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I never want to voluntarily part with any of my pens, so go figure, I’m a complex person!


QOTW: What are some cool fountain pen hacks, alterations, tweaks, or adjustments you’ve heard about or done? (1:20:49)

Write On,
Brian Goulet