Which Is The Best Pen?

One of the discussions taking place in FPG at the moment is “which is the best pen?” Of course there can be no right answer to that question – too many people and too many pens for too many purposes but that doesn’t deny us the enjoyable debate on the qualities of pens that has ensued.

For me, the first divide would be between vintage and modern. Vintage is always going to win out for me, principally because of the nibs. Among all the splendid old nibs – and I restrict myself to British pens here, just because – Onoto, Swan, Parker, Waterman, Mentmore and so many more, it would have to be Swan, whether flexible or firm. Mabie Todd also made the very fine pens to back up their glorious nibs. I have a Leverless 1060, quite firm but capable of some line variation without effort. That’s the pen, the very best pen!

I don’t entirely ignore modern pens. Many Italian and German pens are really out of my price range. I can buy them to sell but not to keep and, in all honesty, I’m not tempted. Japanese pens are another matter. I have a Capless that is not only a wonder of convenience but it has a truly splendid fine nib. I have a couple of inexpensive Platinums too with very pleasing nibs. They seem to be kept inked a lot. Sailors, to my regret, have not worked out for me. They look good, sit well in the hand, but seem to have an irritatingly small sweet spot. That’s just what I have found, others love them.

When all that is said and done, I return to what I said earlier: the Swan is THE pen.


7 thoughts on “Which Is The Best Pen?

  1. couldn’t agree more Deborah – but sssshh please – if you keep lauding their qualities I shan’t be able to afford them.
    Your mention of The Swan being most desirable is a coincidence, as the postman today brought me an e.d. model 200 – on the rear of the barrel is stamped ‘200 BRD’ – not only is the nib a good broad but has considerable flex too – so lays down a line like a paintbrush. The rear end of the feed – the part that protrudes from the back of the section, has a cone shape – I forget if there’s a reason for this. I’m also ignorant of the meaning of u/c letters G.P. on the barrel – so grateful if you able to help. thanks in advance.

    1. The 200 is a very nice pen. I’m sure I’ve written about that one before. The cone-shaped rear part of the feed is not uncommon in pens of that time. Perhaps one might intuitively feel that a cone would lead ink in better than a flat surface though we now know that not to be true. I can’t think for the moment what the GP would mean. Sorry.

  2. Deb hi. I totally agree ….Swan it is . I have a Swan minor #2 with a wet noodle and come the apocalypse, I’m taking that one with me ….but some of my onotos and old watermans and conways are so very fine too. Sigh
    Keep up the good work .

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I am a recent Swan convert and have yet to find one that wasn’t solidly made (I have a 330/63 and 64 which are such a pleasure to write with). On the other hand, my daily pen is a Pilot Capless, and my reference pen a Pelikan Sovereign 800 which my wife bought me as a present in a moment of love and madness . You are quite right in your view that the question of “best” can never be resolved because there’s a mystery and romance in used vintage pens which have their own quality beyond mere function as writing tools. It’s like the classics, modern or old time: Leanard Rose or Yoyo Ma, Yehudi Menuin or Maxim Vengerov. How you gonna choose?

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