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  1. Now that I've had 7 months of experience and many pens later I wanted to share my overall impression of the piston fillers I've acquired thus far in case some may find it useful. The Family http://i.imgur.com/dbNjOz8.jpg Pelikans - They're every bit as good as their reputation. At full retail pricing, they're a little over priced, but at $250 and under they're a decent value. However, beyond the value aspect, these pens have great history and a classic design that just resonates with me. I like them a lot more than Montblanc pens from a design standpoint. The removable nib design is fantastic and the nib performance is incredibly smooth. These are my favorite overall pens. Especially the blue/black and red/black which were my grail pens. Pelikan nibs have a reputation for writing broad and wet and I can confirm both attributes. The EF nib on my Pelikan writes like a Japanese FM and it's wetter than my Pilot nibs. This isn't good or bad, just different. Some inks look better with a wet nib and some look worse. So matching inks with the nib is important. Something I'm growing more and more aware of and appreciative of as I obtain more inks. The writing experience is very pleasant if somewhat lacking in character. It works great for my purposes of journaling and jotting notes. The nibs have a small amount of give/softness to them, but not as much as my Pilot nibs. All 4 pens wrote perfectly out of the box. No adjustments needed. I'm going to be looking to get an M800 and 400/N/NN at some point to complete my Pelikan experience. I don't think I'll get an M1000 anytime soon since I prefer medium sized pens. I may get an M600 in white tortoise as well if I can find them at a reasonable price. Nib performance - ***** Value - *** (at full retail) ***** (what I paid) Construction - ***** Looks - ***** Nib consistency out of the box - ***** Bonus Points: easy to remove and exchangeable nibs. Wide variety of pen sizes and nib options currently (BB and above nibs are being discontinued as well as specialty nibs, but not an issue for me since I don't like super broad nibs) These are my #1 overall pen. http://i.imgur.com/udj97oH.jpg Pilot - Their reputation for consistent nib quality and value for your money is an accurate assessment. The CH 92's offer incredible value. They have a piston mechanism that's every bit as good as the Pelikan design. Only time will tell which is more durable, but I have a feeling both will outlast me. The nibs are also incredibly smooth just like the Pelikan but offer a finer line and a slightly more soft/springy feel. From a feel standpoint, I think the Pilot nibs are better than my Pelikan nibs because I prefer that springiness. From a smoothness standpoint, they're on equal grounds. The Pilot F nib is great for bad paper or when you need a really fine line. It has a touch of feedback which is to be expected given the size of the nib which is closer to a western extra fine or finer, but it's still very smooth. The FM is buttery smooth and on par with the Pelikan nibs. It's my preferred line width and currently my favorite nib from any manufacturer. It's pretty plain looking compared to Pelikan nibs, but it gets the job done very well. My only wish is that Pilot would introduce some non demonstrator designs to this lineup. I really like demonstrators, but it would be nice to have something more classic in design as well. In a professional/business setting my Pelikans or Lamy 2000 fit the part better. I will preface that I purchased my orange one for only $51 and my black one for $100 which are insane deals at those prices. At the going rate of $130-140 from Japan they're still excellent values. Nib performance - ***** Value - ***** (probably 6 out of 5 stars really) Construction - ***** Looks - **** Nib consistency out of the box - **** (I returned an EF Vanishing Point which had a scratchy nib) http://i.imgur.com/4hYitpP.jpg Lamy 2000 - Ah yes. The classic Lamy 2000. They currently have a reputation for nib consistency issues, but my EF was perfect out of the box so I lucked out. The makralon finish has an interesting texture. The construction is top notch. The parts are precision fit and leave very small seams which are hard to notice unless you're looking for them. It's constructed like a BMW. I will say however, that the piston nob has a little more give before turning in comparison to my Pelikan and Pilot pens. The pen has a classic and understated look. I love it. It was the first fountain pen I wanted to acquire. The history of the pen also adds to my overall impression of the pen. I still can't believe it was designed in the 1960's. It's such a futuristic looking pen. The only knock I have against the Lamy 2000 now that I have other nice pens to compare it to is the semi-hooded nib. I tend to rotate my pen slightly as I write and it makes it difficult to visually see if my nib to turn it to the proper direction. It wouldn't be a huge issue if the sweet spot wasn't so much smaller than my other pens. Again, this is a comparison against other "end pens". Compared to my TWSBIs or Lamy Safari it's a huge upgrade. Nib performance - **** (Took off a * because of the semi-hooded nib, writing performance is equal to Pilot or Pelikan. The limited sweet spot coupled with the hooded nib affects my overall experience) Value - ***** Construction - ***** Looks - **** Nib consistency - ***** (based on my single experience. based on what I've read, probably a ****) http://i.imgur.com/WjWKXgu.jpg TWSBI When I first got my TWSBI's my impressions were very positive. But I didn't have anything other than my Lamy 2000 to compare them to. Now that I have a few more pens to compare, I'll say my experience is mostly positive, but not as much as before. The plastic used in these pens has a noticeably cheaper feel to them than my Pilot and Pelikan pens. Not all plastics are created equal. It's only to be expected given these pens are 1/3 to 1/5 the price. Before I had my Pilot and Pelikan pens, I wasn't sold on the fact that pens that are that much more expensive could give a noticeable enough difference to justify the cost. Now speaking from experience I'll repeat what many have said before. There's definitely a difference and it's worth it's weight it gold both figuratively and literally. For the price of the 3 TWSBI's I own, I could've gotten another Pilot or Pelikan. I don't necessarily regret buying the TWSBI's, but if I had to choose, then I'd put the money towards a Pilot or Pelikan in a heartbeat. TWSBI is well known for their excellent customer service. This is a double edge sword. They're known for their service because their pens have problems. They're just quick to resolve them. My TWSBI Mini's rose gold plating started coming off my nib last week. TWSBI has promptly sent me a replacement nib, feed, and section but that doesn't inspire confidence that this pen will last the test of time compared to my Pelikan and Lamy 2000 which are known quantities in the durability department. I once thought the nibs are quite smooth. Which they are compared to my Lamy Safaris. But compared to my 14k nibs, it's a big difference. I've smoothed out the nibs with micromesh and whatnot which has improved the feel, but it's still not as good. Value - *** Construction - **** Looks - **** Nib consistency - **** Hopefully that gives you an idea of my overall experience so far. Let me know if I left out any details that you still have questions about or want further feedback on. Writing Samples http://i.imgur.com/Ak5V9en.jpg TL;DR - Pelikan > Pilot > Lamy >>>>> TWSBI
  2. Hi all! ​Here's my review of the TWSBI 580 Rose Gold. There is a bit copy and paste from my review of the TWSBI Classic, as in most ways the pens are similar. Appearance + Design 5 / 5 Like all TWSBI fountain pens, this is a lovely, well made pen. The design is well thought out. To be able to fully take it apart and service it, is a bonus. I have a 540, which I love. Then TWSBI released the Rose Gold version of the Mini which I thought was nice, but I preferred the look of black and gold, rather the Mini's white ad gold, so I ended up buying the 580 Rose Gold version. I love the look of the pen. It looks at lot more expensive than it is. Quality 5 / 5 For £60, great value. I haven’t had in long enough to ascertain durability, but it ‘feels’ it will last a long time. The piston moves smoothly and there’s a feeling of quality. It looks and feels more expensive than it is. It’s heavier than my Pelikan M200. Nib 4 / 5 I bought the pen with a Fine nib. It has some flex, which was a nice surprise. This Jowo nib is finer than the than the Bock nib in my 540. The nib was a bit dry to start with. I had used Noodler's Apache Sunset, which looked great in the pen but not so much in the writing. In the ink needs a 'fatter' and wetter nib. I then tried Mont Blanc Limited Edition Daniel Dafoe. Worse. Very Dry. I made some adjustments to the nib, which helped. Next ink was Diamine Sepia. Wow. The pen came alive! It's was now a wettish, smooth nib. The short writing sample in the photos show the shading the ink can give, even with a fine nib. Compared to my 540, the 580 is not there yet, but then I've had the 540 for 2 years longer and had time to 'bed' in. It's early days for the 580. Value 5/ 5 £60 on a quality piston filler. What’s not to like! My M200 was almost double the price. The TWSBI feels more expensive/substantial.
  3. Introduction My journey began on a fateful day a few months back when I finally hit my limit with using crappy pens. I was so fed up, in fact, that I began an obsessive quest to find the "perfect pen" to accompany me through the rest of graduate school, a job that requires progress notes, journaling and (hopefully when I have time to breathe) letter writing. This search inevitably landed me in your midst, where I was confronted with a well of pen knowledge I had hardly fathomed, and a den of insidious enablers who would spurn a new addiction. (I'm looking at YOU) And addiction it became. As I researched and learned and spiraled into the fountain pen abyss, my ebay account began blowing up and my bank account swiftly drained. I wanted to find the best starter/every day carry pen for me, so of course the logical thing to do was to buy all of them! And once the dust had settled and I sobered up enough to clear the kitchen table of pen paraphernalia and scrub the ink off my fingers, I had to make sense of it all. Yes, I thought, perhaps there are those who can learn from this experience. OK. Melodrama aside, I figured that perhaps I could contribute a little something to this community for those who also have OCD and are new to "the scene" and are looking for the "perfect" EDC pen. Of course, it all comes down to personal preference and fit, so in the end everyone must embark on their own journey down fountain pen lane. And then there's the unfortunate fact that "perfect" is an illusion and that every time you think you've bought your last pen there's another one right around the corner, waiting in the shadows, ready to sabotage your delusion of fiscal responsibility, and the cycle continues until you find yourself drawing spirals in the ground of a padded cell muttering to yourself.... but hey, at least the spirals have some nice flex to them! I digress. Bottom line: maybe I can help folks narrow down their choices. Bear in mind this is not meant to be all inclusive by any means, more so just a random smattering of pens that fell into my lap before I found a few I really liked, which I will briefly compare here. My Criteria 1. Under $100 · This wasn't really premeditated, it just ended up this way. Somehow I justified spending hundreds on pens as long as each individual pen didn't go over $100. Ok then! At least my strong sense of denial is satisfied! This includes used prices. 2. Suitable for Every Day Carry · This one was really difficult to stick to. I caught the "collecting" and "vintage" bugs very quickly and had to stage an intervention on myself to stop. I reminded myself that a: I'm a broke grad student who really just needs “on the go” utilitarian pens, and student loans are not, in fact, monopoly money, and b: I am going to be traveling and not settling down any time soon, so starting a collection of pens that will sit in a storage unit is silly at this point in my life, and the ones I keep need to be able to travel with me. 3. Larger and/or Heavier Pens · This also wasn't premeditated, but ended up being the result of me figuring out exactly what I like and don't like in pens. I have large hands with long fingers, so small and/or light pens don't settle well in my grip. There have been exceptions (especially in the "light" category) but overall these preferences might differentiate me from many readers. The Pens Modern Pens 1. Lamy Safari Appearance: 7 Nib & Performance: Variable – 7 for my EF, 9 for my F, 10 for my 1.1 Design: 10 Filling System & Maintenance: 7 (with converter) Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 10 Weight & Dimensions: 9 Conclusion: 9.5 What can be said about the Safari that hasn’t already been said? Between the easily swappable, butter-smooth nibs, the intuitive design that results in a light, comfortable writer that never skips and always flows even when left uncapped, and a durable and no-brainer maintenance pen, what’s there not to like? OK, some folks don’t like being put into a box when it comes to the grip section, and I personally prefer the more classic look when it comes to fountain pens so the Safari isn’t what I’d call a “beautiful” pen, but it gets the job done. Makes the EDC cut? YES I was originally planning on grabbing an Al Star, but really liked the texture of the matte black Safari – has that satisfying rough-but-smooth feel to it that lends aid to gripping it. While this pen is certainly light, it is rather large and long, and fits and balances nicely in my hand. The converter is a must to open up the world of bottled inks, and with that and a range of nibs – there’s really no reason to not have one of these lying around. Of note – the 1.1 nib in particular is amazing – utterly smooth and transformed my writing for the better with some nice line variation and expression. I take this pen with me every day and am never worried about whether it will write well or if I’m going to damage it by banging it around. My only gripe besides the QC on their nibs is the small capacity of the Safari converter, but it’s a minor gripe. Call me converted to the cult of Safari/Al Star. 2. Pilot Metropolitan Appearance: 8 Nib & Performance: 9 Design: 8.5 Filling System & Maintenance: 7 (with converter) Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 10 Weight & Dimensions: 8 Conclusion: 9 The Pilot Metro is the pen I would give to someone as an all around representation of a quality entry-level fountain pen. It’s got a subtle, classic design, an incredibly smooth and wet nib, a lovely balance and weight, and it just feels high quality despite its dirt-cheap price. Pilot certainly could have charged a lot more for this pen and I would have been happy to pay. The downside is the pilot converter situation with its small capacity, and the fact that it only comes in one size (M) with little room to customize unless you swap nibs from other pens. Makes the EDC cut? YES I love the Metro. I recommend it to pretty much everyone. It’s just a great pen at an amazing price level. The nib is buttery smooth and produces a consistent, wet line, it’s got some heft to it so it sits well in my hand, and it’s just a pleasure to write with. I have found, however, that I’m not as drawn to write with it as I am the Safari and it often sits unused in my briefcase. It’s just not as interesting of a pen as the Safari, and I like the grip and length of the Safari and the finer nib sizes and stubs. I will be purchasing a Plumix to swap its stub nib onto the Metro, and see if I can work it back into my regular rotation. 3. TWSBI Mini Classic Appearance: 9 Nib & Performance: 7 Design: 9 Filling System & Maintenance: 9 Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 8 Weight & Dimensions: 6 (for me) Conclusion: 8 This pen is a little badass. TWSBI has become associated with a big bang for your buck, and for good reason. A solid piston filler with swappable nibs and easy customization that will fit in your pocket and is nicely posted that costs around $50? Awesome. I LOVE the look and design of this pen. It’s just so freaking cool and NIFTY. My main gripe besides the fit is that the fine nib I had did not impress me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything to write home about either. I would definitely recommend some custom nib work or a nib change. The other gripe and the deal breaker for me, which I realize is a personal issue as a lot of folks love this pen, is the balance and weight did not work well for me. I have also heard about issues around the quality of materials and the plastic cracking, though I did not own mine long enough to experience those. Makes the EDC cut? NO I really really wanted this pen to work for me. So much so that no matter how sure I was it wouldn’t work for me I kept coming back to try it again. However, I have very large hands with long fingers, and the bottom line was it just didn’t fit well for me. It didn’t balance well in my hand, and because of that, the lightness of it made it slip around in my grip. I found that I had to grip tighter and tighter to hold on to it which led to sweaty fingers and even more slippage. Just wasn’t a pleasant writing experience. A little too small and too light for my tastes. I think for many, though, this can be the EDC pen. You’ll just have to try it for yourself. 4. Namiki / Pilot Vanishing Point (used) Appearance: 9 Nib & Performance: 9 (for my F) 10+ (custom ground) Design: 10 Filling System & Maintenance: 7 Construction & Quality: 10 Cost & Value: 9 Weight & Dimensions: 9.5 (for me) Conclusion: 9.5 Ah the illustrious VP. OK, so yes, this is cheating as the VP exceeds the $100 price mark (at least the versions with the 18K nib), but I picked up a VP on a whim used for $75. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. The whole capless click fountain pen thing seemed like it could be a big gimmick. Oh how I was mistaken. More and more I am finding that Pilot = consistently high quality. This pen is really “all that” and more. An incredibly innovative design that works and works well without sacrificing any quality in materials, a very nice nib (as pilot’s tend to be), wonderful weight and dimensions (for me – I love the extra heft, and the clip location I like as a grip aid and guide for keeping the point straight)… if you like modern fountain pens at all, you just gotta try this pen at some point. The filling system is a little lacking, using either a pilot converter or refilling cartridges by syringe, but hey, you can’t have –everything- in one pen… (or can you?). I will say though that I wrote a long letter to a friend and started to feel the pen’s weight as a possible detractor for the first time, so if you tend towards light pens this may not be for you. Makes the EDC cut? YES The ability to click a pen and have a lovely fountain nib come out might seem trivial, until you carry it around with you and use it in action. You can’t really beat this as an “on the go” fountain pen, whether for signatures or for impromptu longer writing sessions. Add a custom ground nib by a reputable nibmeister and you’ll be hard pressed to be wanting for anything in your pen. This pen balances very well for me in my large hands, and again I really like the weight of it. I love the Fine nib that came with my VP – a true Japanese fine that's finer than western EF's – with the preciseness of the point and those thin lines it just feels… tantalizing. However, I wanted a more versatile nib in addition and I took my VP to the next level after installing a custom ground Medium stub-italic by Pendleton. I now have a full on love affair with this pen. So much so that I’ve bought another (this time matte black), and will be putting a Binder CI in it this time! Modern Flex 5. Noodler's Konrad Appearance: 7 Nib & Performance: 8 (when it works) Design: 6 Filling System & Maintenance: 7 Construction & Quality: 2 Cost & Value: 7 Weight & Dimensions: 7 Conclusion: 4 What I will say about the Konrad is – great idea, poor execution. A modern flex pen that –really- flexes that’s cheap and customizeable? Yes please! I recognize that this pen was “made to be tinkered with”, but there is a fine line between “needs tinkering” and “bash my head against a wall in frustration”. When I first took it out and attempted to pull the back cap off to access the twist nob for the filling system, the cap, nob, and stem that leads down to the plunger came with it. Looking closely at the internals, I could tell right away that this was a CHEAPLY made pen. Also, a pen should work. Mine dripped from the feed and I could not, or perhaps I simply did not have the patience to, remedy it. Makes the EDC cut? NO Bottom line: I love Noodler’s ink, and I love the idea behind this pen, but I found the reality of it to be an incredibly low quality, frustrating pen that smells like vomit (yes, vomit), and not worth my time. Even if it worked perfectly the smell alone made me want to toss it. Back to the drawing board with this one. Vintage Pens 6. Parker 45 Appearance: 9 Nib & Performance: Variable, overall 8 Design: 9 Filling System & Maintenance: 8 Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 9 Weight & Dimensions: 8 Conclusion: 8.5 I have a huge soft spot for the 45. It’s a classic, it’s my favorite thin pen, and one of my favorite vintage pens. It’s not fancy by any means, but I just love their look and design. I binged on collecting a number of these very quickly right off the bat. Each one has had its own personality, and the nibs have been variable in their writing, but overall if I had my druthers I’d own about 50 of these. They’re light, well balanced, durable, easy to clean and maintain, as well as swap nibs, and like most Parkers, they just work! The squeeze filler is.. well... let’s just say it’s “classic” as well. I didn’t have a heart to rate it low because it really does its job well for this small but mighty pen. Makes the EDC cut? NO (barely) The 45 is a perfect pocket carry vintage pen. I have, however, sold off all of my 45’s save for the first one I bought. The reason being? I just don’t see this pen being in rotation as my EDC when I have my other modern pens as options. This is partly because of the fit, it being a thinner pen than I like, but also because, to be honest, functionality-wise, as well as quality of materials-wise, my modern pens offer more, with better quality plastics and metals, easily gained nib sizes (especially stubs and CI’s, which I am obsessed with now), higher ink capacity, and an overall more comfortable writing experience. But, again, I love the 45. And having a vintage 45 in one’s shirt pocket is so much cooler than having a modern (save for maybe the VP). 7. Parker 21 Appearance: 7 Nib & Performance: 9 Design: 8 Filling System & Maintenance: 8 Construction & Quality: 7 Cost & Value: 9 Weight & Dimensions: 7.5 Conclusion: 7 I know the 21 is the red-headed stepchild of the Parker line, but this was a $4 pickup at the flea market and I’ll be damned if wasn’t one of the most buttery writers I have ever experienced. It seems to me this is the cheaper version of the legendary 51, and I gotta say, cheap or no this pen writes and works great! Quality may be a little lacking (I’ve heard about issues in cracking), and it was a bit too light for my tastes, but it’s still a fine writer, and that’s the most important part, eh? No need (or really ability) to dissemble, piece of cake to clean and maintain, simple squeeze filler. Parkers are really no-brainers that do their job well. Makes the EDC cut? NO “I’m just not that into you” would be phrase here. This pen could make a great EDC. It never skipped or had trouble starting (the hooded nib does wonders for functionality), wrote buttery smooth, no leaking issues, and was light as a feather. However it just didn’t jive with me, felt a bit too cheap, and to be honest (and I know I’m in the minority), I don’t like the look of the P21 and 51’s hooded nib style. 8. Sheaffer's Sovereign Snorkel Appearance: 8 Nib & Performance: 8 Design: 10 Filling System & Maintenance: 10 / 3 (awesome but complex) Construction & Quality: 8.5 Cost & Value: 8 Weight & Dimensions: 8 Conclusion: 8.5 Snorkels are pretty standard buys when it comes to quality vintage pens. It can be a standoff between these and P51’s (I think "both" is the correct answer here) and for me it came down to the fact that I preferred the look of the Snorkels better, plus who doesn’t want to try out that rad filling system!? I rated the system and maintenance 10/3 because its complexity comes at a price – it is not the type of vintage pen that you can feel comfortable with just picking up used and filling – restoration is almost a requirement before use to make sure you don’t gum up its works. This, to me, is a significant detractor for those who are not well schooled in restoration work or don't want to have to ship their pen off to be restored. However, restored and in working condition, these pens are fantastic – smooth, high quality gold nibs, an nice weight and balance, and overall some serious style points. Makes the EDC cut? NO I opted not to keep this puppy because I found it too thin for my tastes, as well as a little on the light side. Also the complexity of its filling system can border on being a boon if the pump malfunctions or the seals give out, and this system did seem a little fragile to me. Again, this comes back to my personal preferences and criteria as listed at the beginning of this post. I recognize that Snorkels are spectacular pens, and would be well suited for many as EDC pens. Just not for me. 9 & 10 Waterman Laureat & Pro Graduate Appearance: 9 Nib & Performance: TBD Design: 8 Filling System & Maintenance: 7.5 (converter) Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 7 Weight & Dimensions: 7 Conclusion: TBD Some of you Waterman folks may have a fit, but I am going to lump these two pens together for convenience, as they are similar (to me) both in design and in quality, with the Lareat edging the Pro Graduate. Overall, I find these thin waterman pens (laureate, pro graduate, executive, etc.) to be very pleasing to the eye, and they are pretty high quality too, with a nice weight to them and gold or gold plated nibs and 23K gold accents. I can’t yet speak to performance (which I realize is the most important factor), as one arrived new and I wished to keep it that way once I decided I wasn’t going to keep it, and the other arrived with a bent nib. I will update this with performance once I receive the new nib for the pro graduate in the mail. However, while I love their looks and their weight and balance, and I like their grip sections, they are simply far too thin for me to use comfortably. Makes the EDC cut? NO (see above) Vintage Semi-Flex 11. Eversharp Slim Ventura Appearance: 7.5 Nib & Performance: 7 (needed adjustment) Design: 8.5 Filling System & Maintenance: 8 Construction & Quality: 8.5 Cost & Value: 8 Weight & Dimensions: 8 Conclusion: 8 This was a chance pickup at the flea market that turned out to be a little piece of gold. A sterling silver and gold cap, a nice 14K semi-flex nib, and a quality design made for a cool vintage semi-flex pen. The filling system was a squeeze filler with a large bladder. Overall this pen didn’t make the cut because of its thinness (hence slim), and because this pen’s nib was very toothy. Looking back it clearly needed some work to write smoothly, and if performed, I think it would make an excellent keeper. Makes the EDC cut? NO (see above) 12. Garant Alkor Appearance: 9 Nib & Performance: 9.5 (nib) 7 (feed prior to work) Design: 8.5 Filling System & Maintenance: 9 Construction & Quality: 8 Cost & Value: 8 for what I paid (rare) Weight & Dimensions: 9 Conclusion: 8.5 This was another chance pickup, this time on ebay. And wow what a catch! A rare pen from East Germany, this is a sharp looking piston-filler with an ink window, a huge ink capacity, and a sweet buttery smooth and semi-flexible 14K gold nib. It’s a solid design with a wonderful weight and balance and a surprisingly high quality. I am convinced this buy was a steal. The one issue I’m having is the feed is not keeping up with the nib when flexing. I have not had the time to do a thorough soaking and/or adjustment of the feed yet, and if it came down to it, this pen is so rad that I would definitely send it to a ‘meister to have the feed adjusted professionally. Makes the EDC cut? YES This was a surprise joy. I really like this pen – its looks and style, its incredibly smooth and silky nib, its flexibility, its piston filler and large ink capacity, its weight and balance, and I gotta say, I like knowing that I’m one of the only folks on the block with this pen. A keeper for me, though I will most likely be sending it in for some work, before filling it with some Diamine ancient copper and having some fun! Conclusion So of course I couldn’t choose just one. I wholeheartedly believe that that is simply impossible when it comes to fountain pens, and to force oneself to do so is a form of masochism. I had a fun little journey exploring pens on my quest to have a solid lineup worthy of EDC, and it was very hard to narrow it down and “get real” about which pens would really be used and travel with me, and which pens I wanted to keep from a collector’s standpoint. I still haven’t completely gotten “real” in this regard and may unload more pens before I travel, but hey, it’s a start. Needless to say the journey is not over. I am still purchasing custom nibs for my keeper pens (I am in love with stubs and CI’s), and admittedly still considering adding a few more to my collection, because it ain’t a proper addiction without a relapse! But nonetheless, here is my current lineup that survived the trials: And the winners are..... #1 #2 #3 #4 A note about EDC Ink: By far the best and most obvious EDC ink I've sampled would be Noodler's Black for its bulletproof, fast dry, and well behaved qualities in every pen I've put it in. It is the ink best suited for every every use and all conditions you might find yourself using a FP. However, leaving it at that is boring, so I'm going to add Iroshizuku Shin-Kai as my second EDC ink for a wonderful and well behaved blue black. I am still on the lookout for other "bulletproof" blue's and blue blacks, and have not ventured very far into the ink world as of yet. Untested Honorable Mentions / Wish List 1. Parker 51 Yes yes YES! I hear you! I realize the P51 is perhaps the biggest gap in my sample, and even though I’m not a fan of the look of the hooded nib, I still would like to give one a try. I looked around for a 51 for a long while, but fate simply didn’t deliver one for me. Having liked the 21, if the 51 is as big a step up from the 21 as I understand it to be, I can see why folks love this pen. Some day, perhaps. 2. Chinese Pens There a ton of quality Chinese pens out there that can offer a great EDC writing experience. However, as a personal preference I steered clear of them. 3. TWSBI 580 I would have liked, and still would like, to try a 580. I am thinking that perhaps with it being a larger pen, I would have a different experience in regards to the fit problems I was having with the mini. However it is not on the top of my priority list at this point, the main reason being I’m afraid I’ll have the same issues around weight and grip (it’s actually lighter than the mini unposted), and I really prefer to post my pens. 4. Parker Vacumatic I absolutely love the look of this pen. It has been on my wish list for a while, but I am hesitant to pull the trigger on one, simply because I am going more for utility and subtle looks now considering I would like to be able to bring my pens to foreign countries without worry of them being stolen. I think if I purchased a restored Vacumatic, I would inevitably have nib work done on it to make it the perfect pen, then I would never take it out because I would be too protective of it. First-world problems, eh? 5. Lamy Al Star It’s a Safari, except aluminum and a bit heavier. Like I said in the Safari review, I was originally planning on an Al Star but really liked the texture of the matte Safari. An Al Star, either Blue or Purple, is currently at the top of my wish list, and will most likely be swiftly purchased considering its affordability. 6. Lamy 2000 I tried a 2000 at a pen shop, and was put off by its lightness, but am now leaning back toward giving it another chance, especially after I found the VP to be a bit heavy in longer writing sessions. With its low key looks, its excellent design, and perhaps most notably its huge ink compacity, the 2000 is a prime candidate for EDC. I can’t say I’ve really done my homework without at least giving it a shot. My plan is to purchase one, give it a trial run for a couple weeks, and if I end up liking it enough, having the nib reground by Pendleton. The end (for now..)
  4. I became disillusioned with TWSBI when my Diamond 540 developed numerous cracks in various places. The final indignity was when the cap split in half above the chromed band right in the middle of an important meeting at work… TWSBI with its excellent customer service replaced all the broken parts of the pen - and it is now a 540/580 hybrid. I get attached to objects such as fountain pens, and not being convinced that the cracking issue is solved (even the 580 has this issue, although to a much lesser extent), I decided to try and find another clear demonstrator pen of higher quality. After extensive research on this Forum and elsewhere I decided to buy a Pilot Custom 92… It arrived a week ago and I must say I am rather disappointed: the nib is much scratchier than the TWSBI Schmidt nib, I don't like its appearance as much as the TWSBI, there is excess silicone grease smeared in the barrel above the piston, and the pen simply feels of lower quality (though it almost certainly isn't) - the plastic is thinner and the pen is lighter and more 'plasticky'. I guess I will try to smooth the nib, and who knows, I may get to like the pen more with time… What I wanted to ask readers on this Forum is what in your opinion are the best ever, most beautiful and highest quality piston filling clear demonstrator pens ever made? I would prefer to have one machined out of resin, rather than injection moulded, but I guess all of these will be very costly… Please indicate the price bracket e.g. less than $100, $100 - $200, $200 - $300 and $300 and above (i.e. unaffordable for me!). Also don't restrict the suggestions to pens currently in production - older pens are also of interest. Thanks!
  5. TWSBI – Vac 700 (Goulet M nib, Blue) http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3732/11346039556_ec1b75cfde.jpg Specifications: Length (capped): 145mm Length (uncapped): 134mm Length (posted): 174 (!!) mm Width at grip: 10mm Widest width: 15mm Nib material: Stainless steel (Stock Jowo), gold plated stainless steel (Goulet) Nib length x width: Jowo – 23 x 9mm, Goulet – 24 x 9mm Introduction My personal experience with TWSBI has been interesting. A Taiwanese company that has made impressive and rapid improvements in a somewhat slow moving and increasingly overpriced industry, TWSBI set out to make modern, well writing pens that are good value. My first TWSBI was a Diamond 540. I loved it – it was cheap, looked great and was a large capacity piston filler. But as time wore on, issues began to arise – a bone dry nib that went out of alignment too easily (Two issues that I see far too much with the other Bocks in my collection), a filling mechanism that required far more maintenance than my trusty Pelikan, and small cracks around the grip section. Towards the end of our relationship, the Diamond no longer set my heart aflutter whenever I picked it up like it used to. This all came to a head when the metal ring on the cap abruptly broke off when I twisted the pen too tightly. I guess some romances are doomed from the start. This experience slightly soured my view on TWSBI, so I wasn't exactly eager to try the Vac 700. After all, it was awkward looking, had a similarly dry nib, and was a relatively expensive purchase from a company that I didn't have much faith in. One TWSBI Diamond 580, a Jowo nib change and a price drop later, the Vac 700 was suddenly a much more appetising proposition. How could I say no? I decided on the blue version. Presentation Unabashedly Apple inspired, the the Vac700 shares the same box with the Diamond series and my iPod Nano: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2894/11346049716_56103e3ea7.jpg Underneath the white plastic insert, you get TWSBIs famous wrench, a bottle of silicon grease and spare O rings. You know, the kind of stuff that more expensive pens should include but never do? http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7455/11346070424_c5b16924fa.jpg The presentation is nice and fits with the overall modern impression of TWSBIs pens. Appearance http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7331/11346047636_2db1bb3ef8.jpg TWSBI set out to make the Vac 700 clash as much as possible, and boy did they succeed. The cap jewel is TWSBIs usual bold red logo. On the business end, the clip clashes nicely with the smooth chrome of the rest of the pen: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3673/11346069094_75c585d4ca.jpg The body gently tapers down to the end. Having a bulbous middle section means when you unscrew the pen, the barrel width clashes with the grip: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3784/11346065674_b8a3fabb4d.jpg The faceted turning knob and cap are designed nicely to clash with the body, which is smooth. And finally, if you chose the clear demonstrator version, the dark ends of the pen clash with the clear middle of the body. In case you haven't picked it up, I'm not a fan of the appearance of this pen. Placing the Vac next to the Diamond, it's clear the Vac was intended to be the complement of the Diamond's design, to the detriment of the resulting overall look of the Vac. The plastic itself is a dark blue, much darker than my Pelikan demonstrator is. Build quality While the jury is still out on the long term durability of TWSBIs current generation of pens, I have high hopes for the Vac. Like the Diamond 580 now does, it has metal rings to reinforce the plastic, including a ring in the grip section which was a hot-spot for cracking on my 540. The rest of the pen is thick, sturdy plastic that has no give when twisted or otherwise forced. Then again, Pelikan M2xx series do without the metal rings and do not suffer cracking issues, so perhaps TWSBI is using cheaper plastic? Either way it's difficult and pointless to speculate this early. When closed, the pen is a sleek shape with a bulging midsection (Kinda like a pen version of my father then). When opened, the pen assumes it's awkward pose - The abrupt gradient from the middle of the body to the grip means I have to hold the pen tighter to get a more secure grip - and this means I'm pinching the already sharp threads very tightly. Annoying. And posting the cap just makes the pen look ridiculous: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3721/11346040006_6874634d3f.jpg One curiosity of this pen, and vacuum fillers in general is that you must unscrew the blind cap a little to allow ink to flow through freely through the feed. While a minor inconvenience, it does mean that the pen is totally safe for flying. And as a bonus, TWSBI said you can remove the rubber seal at the end of the piston rod if you don't like unscrewing the blind cap. Personally, I've found the nib leaks ink into the cap when the ink reservoir isn't sealed, so I'll leave it on for the time being. One issue I should point out is that I'm naughty, and frequently return unused ink to its ink bottle when I wish to change colours (I'll slap myself on the wrist later I promise), this is a very, very messy operation with a vacuum filler, with the feed section literally squirting droplets of ink all over the place, not an issue if you have good fountain pen hygiene, but I don't. Nib I received a predictably good Jowo nib on my unit. What interested me however, was comparing it to the Goulet nib. The Goulet nibs are also made by Jowo and I expected the Goulet nib to be a rebrand of the Jowo nib that shipped with my Vac 700 – but to my surprise they are definitely different nibs. http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5529/11345965045_6acb0990dc.jpg http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7407/11346112203_605c1a327c.jpg Not that the visual differences really matter, but both nibs taper to the same angle. The Goulet nib appears to be the same width Jowo nib, and the flares are cut differently too. The Goulet nib also has a flatter top section where the nib rests against the of the feed – the Jowo nib on the other hand is uniformly round, and fits the native Vac feed better: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2879/11346110103_d6cdcbb301.jpg Writing with the nibs is different too. After much comparison, nib swapping, and getting a friend to double check to confirm that it wasn't a figment of my imagination, I feel confident to say the Goulet nib is stiffer, and is wetter. Neither nib has any hard start or skipping issues (anyone else find it depressing that in 2013 it's a pleasant surprise to find a pen that never does either of those things?). Overall it's impossible to say if I prefer one to the other – the stiffness of the Goulet nib means you need to be more judicious about how you hold the pen to get its sweet spot, but when you do the pen is smooth, lush and wet (I swear I don't write erotic literature for a living). The Jowo nib, as pretty much everyone who owns a Diamond 580 will tell you, is lightly springy, reliable, and also smooth. So if the Goulet nib doesn't necessarily write any better than the stock nib, why buy the Goulet nib? Well aside from having a spare, very reliable #6 nib, consider the fact that we are living in the fountain pen equivalent of a post apocalyptic world. When was the last time you physically saw another fountain pen out in the wild. Not often? If wearing the Goulet Pens logo on your pen can help raise some awareness of fountain pens and support a fountain pen retailer, then I think that's a fine reason to use this nib. Drag Test/Writing sample: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5548/11346107933_7e67f2b433.jpg Overall 3.5/5 A vacuum filler for around $65? With a good Jowo nib? Bargain. However, as a flagship for TWSBI I find it lacking – your more expensive pens should not be so thoroughly upstaged by a cheaper model. But with this and TWSBIs speed of innovation in mind, I can confidently say that the next version of the Vac will probably be an extraordinary pen. The Good: + Flushing a vacuum filler beats the hell out of flushing a cartridge converter. + Well made. + Includes extra seals and silicone grease. + With recent price drops, it's great value. + Able to post the pen deeply with the blind cap unscrewed a little. + Can seal up the ink reservoir for flying. + TWSBIs customer service is second to none. The Bad: - Awkward looking, made somewhat embarrassing by the fact the pen is large and noticeable. - I found the pen uncomfortable to hold, but others do not, so be aware this may be a problem. The Ugly: - The TWSBI Diamond looks better, is more comfortable to hold, has a similar ink capacity and is $30 cheaper. Comparison With the TWSBI diamond of course: http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3787/11346067324_7bba01b735.jpg http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7293/11345967275_216fd3751d.jpg http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5525/11346068464_4cab0109bb.jpg
  6. vishwaskrishna

    Twsbi Diamond 580

    My first review here at FPN. After reading a lot about the TWSBI pens on FPN, I was really tempted to try one of them. So, I purchased the recently released TWSBI Diamond 580 with a medium nib (and later on bought an EF nib too) directly from TWSBI. The pen cost me $80 ($50+$30 for shipping). An aside, noticed today that the TWSBI website has increased the shipping cost by $10, which means, you may have to shell out nearly as much as the pen if you are from India, like me. Edit: as pointed by hari317 below, the shipping rate is still $30 (when not logged in through a mobile) Coming back to the pen, the first time I wrote, I was blown away by the smoothness of the pen. The medium nib is really that smooth. And though I feared that the pen might be huge, looking at the images, but never felt so after actually handling it for a while. Also, I found the grip of the pen very pleasing and now, I am really comfortable with the length, grip as well as the weight of the pen. But my initial pleasure of using such a smooth nib vanished very quickly as the nib skipped a LOT and got dry very soon. I wrote to TWSBI and Philip Wang was quick to respond, asking me to press the nib using my thumb and index finger to stop the skipping issue. I followed that but didn't find much of a difference, but when I followed what TWSBI has demonstrated on their , I was surprisingly able to correct the issue and pen never skipped afterwards. With regard to the drying of the pen, unfortunately, the issue still persists, The solution, though not entirely pleased with it, is turning the piston knob to push the ink and then do it again after about a page. Meaning, if you are using the pen for longer periods, this might be bit of an irritation. When it comes to the extra fine nib, I had requested Philip Wang to test it and make sure that the nib doesn't skip, and then ship it. Thanks to TWSBI, my EF nib never skipped, but unfortunately, even that faced the same drying issue. After about a page, the nib/feed started getting very dry. Apart from that, the EF nib is, naturally, not as smooth as Medium and was too dry for my liking. So, followed the same method suggested by TWSBI, mentioned earlier, to make it wet and it worked and now, happy with the ink flow. (I separated the nib from the feed while following their method) Have to mention that I have changed the ink lot of times and it is a very easy and quick process to clean the pen. Overall, my experience with TWSBI, if I have to summarise in just a line, is it gives one of the smoothest writing experiences, except when it gets dry. I like the look of the pen a lot (pardon my photography skills) [original image] Writing sample of EF nib [original image] Writing sample of Medium nib [original image] Initial skipping of the nib (M) [original image] You can notice the difference between the dry nib (EF) and the wet nib immediately after turning the piston ring [original image]
  7. So recently I went to Greece on Holiday. I wanted an fp with me, so I decided to experiment with my new Eco. I inked it full before the flight with Noodlers Black. The nib was kept up during climb to the cruise altitude of ~35,000ft(obviously the cabin pressure has a significantly lower 'altitude'). During the 4hr flight I used the pen in the cruise and saw no leakage in the cap or ink on the nib. After descent and landing into a hot climate (33C) I saw no troubles. After my stay in Greece the pen had been used a fair bit and a good amount of ink had been used (1/3 ish). This is where I was hoping for some leaky fun on the plane. I decided I'd go all out; I'd be brave and go against my morals and my guy instinct. I went nib down. And, well, and. Nothing happened. No spontaneous combustion, no high energy explosion, not even any ink spillage. The TWSBI Eco is a pretty good flyer, and didn't get air sickness and spill everywhere.
  8. merrycitrine

    Namiki Blue In A Twsbi 580?

    Hello FPNners! I have a question regarding Namiki Blue. I am buying a TWSBI 580 and want to make this my everyday ink. However, I was wondering if it would stain it. Also if so, has anyone tried bleach/ammonia solutions on it? I really don't want to permanently stain my pen. Thank you!
  9. Portamenti

    Lubricating A Vac 700

    Good Morning Everyone, Sorry if this is covered anywhere else... I haven't found it anywhere in my searches. I have a Vac 700 that is getting stiff to plunge for refills. I'm wondering where exactly I should be applying the grease that came with the pen? Do I pull out the plunger, and lubricate the shaft? Do I need to lubricate the o-ring, and if so, how do I go about doing this? Thanks so much in advance, -Portamenti
  10. GlennPen

    Twsbi Vac-700 Airplane Flight Test

    Hello, I just recently received my TWSBI Vac-700 Demonstrator in Medium, and although I am leaving already (oh bittersweet, to receive a pen and not use it immediately right after) from Japan to California, I'd thought it to answer my own question: Can the TWSBI Vac-700 truly withstand leaks on an airplane, be used on-board, and not leak when landing (or even when in use)? http://i.imgur.com/7n1HaOi.jpg To answer this question I've filled my TWSBI with bottled water (so that should it leak or heaven-forbid, explode) to the brim using the technique shown by Brian Goulet, and will have it in my jacket pocket nib up, then when the airplane reaches a constant altitude, I'll begin scribbling first with the water inside the feed with the blind cap closed until it starts to dry out, then open the cap so that water flows to the feed. Hopefully nothing happens other than continuing to write. After about half of the water has been used, I'll close the blind cap, cutting off the water flow, then place it back in my pocket again nib side up. Once I land, I'll check my pen, if there's no water, then we''ll know this pen is perfectly suitable for Airplane carry and use. I'll let you know the results as soon as I get home, and take pictures if possible.
  11. ConnorGasgarth

    Twsbi 580 Al Fine Or X-Fine

    So i have a metropolitan with a M nib. This nib is great for me, so what would be more like that a fine or x-fine nib, thanks!
  12. I tried to disassemble my TWSBI Diamond 580, which actually went pretty smoothly. I then inserted the entire piston back into the pen. The problem is that the piston knob does not fully unscrew now. I can't fit the TWSBI wrench into the slot because it's too slim. Any thoughts on how to go about fixing this?
  13. GhostAsset

    Best (Dry) Ink For Twsbi Classic?

    Hello! I just purchased my first TWSBI, the Classic EF, My research told me the EF nib would lay a line just slightly more fine than a Lamy Al-Star, but it's more like a European medium and very wet. As I tend to write very small, I had hoped that perhaps a different ink might help compensate. De Atramentis Indigo is the only ink that seems to work well; other De Atramentis inks (Plum most notably) and a few Noodler's inks were a disaster. I didn't have this issue with either my Lamy or Pilot Metropolitan. My paper quality varies, I prefer Rhodia but a lot of my notes are on cheap Staples notebooks so the bleeding and feathering make the writing almost illegible. I'm relatively new to fountain pens so I do apologize if I'm repeating a question or I'm unclear in my terms, but any help or advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time!
  14. For anyone interested in a fairly comprehensive description of the pen, and what comes in the box with it, Brian Goulet has put up a Q&A-style post on his blog - well worth reading (even if, like me, you've ordered yours from somewhere else!). My one caveat: swapping nibs between the Eco and the Classic or Diamond Mini is NOT a trivial exercise: the nib and feed are fitted so tightly into the 'nib assembly' casing that there's a non-zero risk of bending or breaking fins on the feed. I'm very comfortable disassembling my Diamond 580 nib assemblies - but after a near miss with my Mini (a few slightly bent tines that I was able to re-straighten), I'm no longer game... Anyway, here's the link - happy reading! http://blog.gouletpens.com/2015/07/answering-your-twsbi-eco-questions.html
  15. kermitthefrog.jc

    Nib Swap For A Twsbi 580?

    I have a TWSBI 580 with an EF nib, but even that is not fine enough for me. Does anyone know of a finer nib, like a Japanese EF nib, that can be swapped with a TWSBI 580 nib?
  16. This is my first post and I already read the awesome FAQ looking for answers, but haven't seen much in the way of what I was wanting to know. Small background on me. I'm a writer and I write at least 2-3 pages a day, front and back, in a Miquel Rius notebook with my Pilot Prera in a M nib. I've found a happy spot with the pen, I love the size and feel but I want something a little flashier that might last longer. I have recently tried other a number of other pens, mostly Jinhao, but also a Nemosine Singularity, which wrote very wet and caused a bit of bleedthrough on my notebook. I'm looking for a pen that will write relatively dry, possibly in a Western Fine nib. Current front runners are the TWSBI Eco in F (Giving it a second chance, hated my Mini to the point of returning it) and the Pelikan M200 (Demonstrator). Open to any other suggestions, preferably small and chunky pens for someone with small hands that will write similar to a Pilot Prera in M that is a bit more forgiving with paper. MiquelRius is pretty great for FP, but the real swanky paper is a bit out of my price range, especially since I write so much. Thanks!
  17. shrey

    Tswbi Classic & Fpr #5.5 Flex Nib

    It works! and works well! I'm not very good with Flex nibs yet, but my son has been using dip pens and flex nibs for a while. I will have to get him to provide some better writing samples. He's only almost 14 and has been writing with fountain pens since he was 8 and he's a lefty. So there's hope for us all! Enjoy
  18. OhMyCar

    Conklin Duragraph Vs. Twsbi Classic?

    What are your thoughts on each pen and which would you recommend buying first? They are relatively equally priced so I wanted to know which is better overall. Thanks!
  19. TWSBI "Tweeted" these photos a few days ago which show prototypes of a new inkwell they are developing to replace Inkwell 50. I think they're both very interesting designs. Here's what they said: "R&D drew up some samples of possible bottle looks. What do y'all think?" Moderators...please feel free to move this post if it belongs in a different section. Thanks.
  20. I recently sent my broad Diamond 580AL to TWSBI because it was skipping a lot of would not write unless I laid down quite a bit of pressure. Since it was sent back, the problem persists. Anyone have a recommendation for a good nibmeister to send my pen to? I had also sent in my fine Vac 700, which I now regret because I put quite a bit of work into it to get it to write well. I thought it could be tweaked to write wetter, but it came back drier and scratchier than before. But I'll just swap it out for my Goulet 1.5mm, which writes a lot better.
  21. CJ_ung

    Twsbi 580 Or Vac700

    Hello all, I was thinking of buying a new pen. After researching a bit, I settled on getting either a TWSBI 580 or a Vac700. The problem is deciding which one. I've read a lot of reviews and whatnot, but I want to hear from you guys on the topic. Any info/advice is much appreciated. Thanks!! -CJ
  22. Hello all, I'm thinking of getting a new fountain pen, but I've recently run in to some trouble. I thought I knew what I wanted, but I'm not so sure now. I thought I would post on here and try to get some opinions of those that are in the fountain pen community. The pen I thought I wanted was the TWSBI 580AL http://www.gouletpens.com/tw-580al-silver/p/TW-580AL-Silver I really like the look of this and I enjoy the idea of having a demonstrator style pen as I do not have one. The new-comer to this is the Faber-Castell Ambition http://www.gouletpens.com/faber-castell-ambition-black-resin-fountain-pen/p/FB-Ambition-Black I feel like this style is more of a classy and adult look and seems to be a bit sturdier. I haven't used either of these pens and would love to hear what people have to say about these two. Thanks in advance! Alex
  23. iamthequickbrownfox

    My Impressions On Twsbi

    Why the heck should I pay fifty dollars for a cheap plastic pen?—those were my initial thoughts as I fresh review after review raving about how magnificent a pen the new TWSBI was. This was 2011, when the TWSBI Mini had just flooded the market, generating a parade of followers with size rivaling those of Pelikan’s and Lamy’s. Twenty-eleven was about a year after I had begun my fountain pen collecting journey, a time when I still put my fullest beliefs in solid, heavy brass-barreled cartridge/converter pens, when I believed every-bit that weight represented quality. So I brushed TWSBI aside as a fad, partly because I didn’t believe in lightweight pens, and partly because I was scared away by the numerous pictures and posts about cracking issues, and slowly waited for TWSBI to eventually disappear, bound to the obscure edges of the fountain pen world. But it always stayed, looming so strong in the distance, reviewers raved about the fantastic pens, and TWSBI’s pens showed up on list after list of must buy pens. It would not be until 2014—a good three years later—that I would finally give in. By then, I had warmed to the idea of plastic pens. I had owned a couple plastic pens—namely a Pelikan and a Pilot 823—which I absolutely loved. I had slowly begun to understand the long-term value of a pen that was light and easy to wield, a pen that could beautiful dart between the purple lines of crisp Rhodia paper. It was November 1, 2014—that was the day I ordered my first TWSBI, a clear demonstrator 580. I had $50 in my Amazon account that was burning a hole in my pocket, and my qualms about the cracking issues had finally been set aside slightly by the commensurate posts about TWSBI’s great customer service. I figured there was nothing to lose in purchasing a TWSBI, and I figured if all went to hell, I could just return the pen on Amazon. The pen arrived just two days later, peeking out at me with its yellow envelope. And I was blown away. Reading the reviews, I had always expected the TWSBI to made of cheap Bic pen plastic. I had expected the pen to be something that I would have to replace in about a year—a consumable pen, which I so much abhorred. But the TWSBI 580 was something of a next level pen. It’s plastic bore a sort of familiar heft, and the way the plastic was molded on the barrel—the absolutely striking diamond design—blew me away. I was startled by the creativity behind TWSBI, the idea to cut the barrel a certain way so as to add some depth to the basic cylindrical design that plagued so many other demonstrator pens. In the light, it resembled the crystal bases of whiskey glasses, creating a dance of light and reflections as I slowly turned the pen in the sun. And then I lost my TWSBI 580. Just a week later, it was gone. I set it down somewhere, and that was it. It was the first time I had lost a fountain pen, and the fact that it was a TWSBI, made it that much more heartbreaking. It felt as if I was just beginning to discover a pen that could very well be everything I was looking for—and then, it just disappeared. Later that year, and into 2015, I would order a couple other pens—a Lamy 2K that was way overdue, a Visconti Homo Sapiens, among others—but I always felt my mind coming back to the TWSBI 580. Both the Lamy and the Visconti were absolutely fantastic pens—don’t get me wrong—but I always had this sense that TWSBI could do better—TWSBI could easily make the same pen at a far lower price. But I couldn’t bear—at the time—the thought of owning another TWSBI 580. The wounds of my loss were too fresh, the TWSBI was like a dog that had passed away—I couldn’t just go out and get one that looked just like it. June 3rd, I finally ordered another TWSBI. This time it was a TWSBI Mini with an extra-fine nib. I knew I would love the TWSBI Mini because it had everything I loved about the 580 in a smaller—and postable—form factor. Like last time, the TWSBI Mini came two days later. I can confidently say now that the TWSBI Mini is my favorite fountain pen. Expensive pens like Viscontis and Pelikans are fantastic, but I’ve always been plagued with the fear of losing them, and thus those pens rarely leave the house with me. Chase Jarvis has said that, “The best camera is the one that’s with you”. Similarly, my great Holy Grail pens are fantastic, but—unlike the little TWSBI—they are never with me, and therefore the TWSBI is my best pen. It is pen that is available at a price point where it will always be with me. Furthermore the absolutely stellar customer support at TWSBI means that I don’t need to worry if any problems ever arise. I can’t think of a single other fountain pen brand—not even Pelikan or Omas—where I can personally e-mail the owner and immediately get a problem fixed. If purchases are a union of trust between the seller and buyer, then I have every reason to trust the people at TWSBI. In a way, I feel inspired by TWSBI’s story. TWSBI began as a manufacturer churning out uninspiring, cheap unbranded ballpoint pens for other brands. But then TWSBI decided that it would create its own brand, that it would manufacture absolutely fantastic fountain pens at a low cost. TWSBI to me represents the classic story of trading financial security for passion. The people at TWSBI decided that they wanted to create something that absolutely delights and inspires its customers, instead of basic cheap ballpoint pens. Today, I would purchase a TWSBI fountain pen even if they weren’t good, knowing that I would be supporting a company that seeks passion. But TWSBI pens aren’t just good, they’re fantastic, which makes purchasing that much easier. And every time I pull out my TWSBI, I am reminded of the great quality and writing experience, and I’m reminded that if the desire to pursue a passion can create a fountain pen this great, then I have every bit the reason to pursue what makes me happy. In a way, TWSBI inspires me to ignore the basic securities and pursue—throw myself head-first—into whatever it is I love. And perhaps, just perhaps, I can create something as great as a TWSBI fountain pen.
  24. suchan271

    Some Vac700 Love

    Just showing off my new VAC700 1.1mm with Apache Sunset. http://imgur.com/FuxG5SR I can't believe how nice this pen is for the cost
  25. mlmlmlml

    Twsbi Vac700 Vs 580?

    Hi all, I am coming of of my first pen (Lamy Safari) and I was wondering which of the two you would recommend and why. The price of the 580 is much more appealing to me ($60 vs $85), and I don't know if the Vac is worth the extra cost. Thanks!

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