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/ppg/ - Pen & Pencil General

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4chan has for years had a Pen and Pencil General. This entry is a compilation of the insight and experiences from this general. Past discussions can be found on Desuarchive. This general goes back to 2013.

/ppg/ Recommended writing implements


Ink Refills

Small variety of different refill types

When talking about pens normally, one would often talk about both the pen body and the ink as a package. Indeed the following recommendations assume this as it's the easiest approach when advising, however it is often possible to buy inks separate from their normal pen bodies (called refills). For example one can use a Rotring 600 ballpoint body with a Fisher space pen refill, so functionally it would have all the benefits for a Fisher space pen (pressurized cartridge, write in space, etc) but in a different body. Pen refills come in a extensive variety of types and you must selecting one compatible with your pen if you plan on using refills.


  • Uni-ball Jetstream - A rather generic term, this refers to a variety of pens that are a part of the same line produced by Uni-ball. Almost any Jetstream pen will be good and use a quick-drying, hybrid ink.
  • Fisher space pen - Typically refers to the Fisher AG7 or CH4. The former is the iconic space pen whilst the later is used on space flights. They also make very cheap pens that will do good enough if just want to use the Fisher PR4 pressurized refill.
  • Lamy Pico - A small form factor ballpoint pen. Can be extended into a comfortable writing length when in use.
  • Bic Crystal/Baux - Sucks real bad but it works and it's not bottom of the barrel like some Chinese pens are (but it's pretty close).


  • Uni-ball 207 - A very popular and well established model. Archival quality, pigmented ink that is water and fade resistant.
  • Pilot g2 - Typically babies first good pen experience due to being abundant in the average office. When compared directly it's not as smooth and has a worse writing experience then it's competitors, as such it's not too highly regarded by enthusiasts but nevertheless it's an excellent pen.
  • Pilot Hi-Tec-C - Best needle-tipped pen. Smoothest and best performing if you need that extra fine sized writing tip.
  • Zebra sarasa - This is Zebras answer to the Pilot G2 and Pentel Energel. Very smooth writing and quick drying times. In the series, "Dry" is considered the best.
  • Sakura gelly roll -
  • Pentel Energel - Arguably the best pen in this category for general writing. It's ultra smooth and quick dry ink slightly nudges out the others.


  • Pilot Precise V5 - Best needle-tipped rollerball. Excellent for Journals or small notepad sized paper where space is at a premium.
  • uni-ball Vision Elite - Best rollerball that isn't a needlepoint. No real reason to buy anything other then this in this category since you'd be buying an inferior gel pen otherwise.


  • Sakura pigma micron - Typically more of a drawing pen, they're rather good for writing provided that you don't write too heavy handedly. This is really the standard when it comes to fineliners. (ESDK Is the version sold in Japan domestically, Aside from appearance they are identical)
  • Pilot Razor Point I/II - Much cheaper then the above with a cheaper build. Tip breaks down faster then the above. It's ink has more bleedthrough and not as good as the above option.
  • Sharpie Pen (original) - It's a sharpie.


Wooden Pencils

Pencils with attached erasers are marked [E]. [R] for pencils with replaceable erasers. Costs are per dozen.



  • Palomino
  • Golden Bear [E] - Made by Musgrave pencil company. Has their distinctive sharp edge but at less then $3 a dozen it's hard to complain and hard to beat.
Mid priced


  • Mitsu-bishi
  • 9800 - 75% of the Hi-Uni for 50% of the price. If you like the Hi-Uni but they break the bank for you these are a workable alternative. "EW" is the natural finish version
  • 9850 [E] - Despite what others may tell you, these aren't the same pencils as above, they use a different core that does feel different when compared. These are slightly harder.
  • Palomino
  • Blue HB pencils [E] - A great all-rounder.
  • Tombow
  • 2558 [E] - Competes directly with the Mitsu-Bishi 9800. Better eraser if that matters to you.


  • Mitsu-bishi
  • Hi-Uni - A truly incredible pencil. The lead is widely considered the smoothest of any pencil out there with it's only rival the Tombow Mono 100 just a touch down.
  • Tombow
  • Mono 100 - Cheaper then the Hi-Uni but just as good. A hair less smooth.
  • Palomino
  • Blackwing 602 [R] - Based on the legendary original vintage Eberhard Faber Pencil. Designed to maximize point retention whilst sacrificing as little smoothness and darkness as possible
  • Blackwing Natural [R] - Just as dark as the 602 But with an Extra Firm core.

Wooden Art Pencils


  • General Pencil Kimberly Graphite Drawing Kit


  • Mitsubishi Hi-Uni art set - One of each Hi-Uni pencils from 10B to 10H in a nice looking tin.
  • Caran d'Ache Grafwood set

Mechanical Pencils

The world of mechanical pencils is still surprisingly innovative, with a huge range of options to suite anybody in the market. Options vary from drafting mechanical pencils to ones for general writing as well as niche choices that will suite any occasion.

Drafting pencils

Typically these have a metal outer body with knurling on the section for grip. The inner mechanism is commonly plastic however and is often a weak point, many drafting mechnical pencils malfunction or break due to a failure in the plastic components that make up much of the inner body.



  • Pentel
  • p205 - Famed for being a reliable and study pencil. Excellent value option if you just want a mechanical pencil with no frills
Low priced


  • Rotring
  • 500 - Pretty much a plastic Rotring 600 and their cheap entry level option.
  • Pentel
  • GraphGear 500 - Knurled Metal grip alternative to the below.
  • GraphGear 1000 - A hybrid rubber metal grip that some find strange feeling. Otherwise it's an excellent pen with both a spring loaded clip and retracting lead sleeve.
Mid priced


  • Rotring
  • Rapid Pro - Often compared with the Rotring 600 (and always losses). It's only advantage is it's wider grip section which adds more to grip and comfort if you've found the 600 to be too thin. Otherwise inferior option.
  • 600 - All metal construction unlike the above Rotring Rapid Pro. The great classic that's hard to fault.
High priced


  • Rotring
  • 800 - A Rotring 600 but with a retracting lead sleeve. A common complaint is that the sleeve wobbles causing lead breakage issues.

Writing mechanical pencils

There are self rotating mechanical pencils, AKA auto lead rotating mechanical pencils, that rotates the lead in such a way that the point is always sharp.

  • Uni
  • Kuru Toga - Not a meme, it actually works. The Auto rotating function works best if you write in print or italics obviously but it should works decently enough that it can be recommended for semi-cursive writing.
  • Alpha Gel - These pens have a very nice grippy, soft (but not particularly squishy) section that makes a comfortable hold. They have a larger grip diameter then normal pencils and has a bit of a step into the barrel.
  • Pentel
  • Orenz Nero - Looks like a drafting pencil but no it isn't. Only pencil here that can be called "strange". The gimmick here is that the lead is only ever extended out of the pipe by a minuscule amount to prevent lead breakage. The lead extends automatically on pen lifting. Some complain that the pipe scrapes the paper at times.
  • Lamy
  • 2000 Mechanical pencil - A favorite for many due to it's clean cut appearance and reliability.

Leads for drafting or writing

  • Pilot Neox
  • Pentel Ain Stein - Buy this if your in doubt or you don't care much about lead. It is the most consistently positive lead still in production and virtually unanimously highly regarded in all lead testing factors (Erasability, darkness, smear resistance etc.) commercially available almost anywhere.

Lead holder

  • Staedtler Mars Techo 780c

Leads for leadholder

  • Mitsubishi uni

Fountain Pens

Considerations & General Advice

Disassembly of a Rotring 600 Fountain pen

Prior to purchasing your first fountain pen, you should try to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How large or small of a pen would be comfortable for my hand, Material?
  • what sort of writing characteristics am i looking for?
  • User experience beyond overall writing

The first point sound obvious but can be tricky to get correct without physically being in a store. A larger pen will typically be easier to grip and relax wrist issues much more then a thin stenographers pen. Weight isn't generally an issue unless it's oversized or if the construction is all metal.

  • Plastic quality increases with price.
  • Pens with metal grips may cause grip slipping if it doesn't have knurling or flared stoppers.
  • Pens made from ebonite or HBR has an odor that some find unpleasant.

Second point involves the writing itself. The nib takes center stage here together with the feed. A steel nib will always be as hard as a nail (unless otherwise stated) when in contact with the paper while gold nibs will have a slight softness that cushions your writing. Contrary to what is commonly told, a gold nib will not be smoother nor have magical penmanship increasing powers as the tipping material that actually contacts the paper, iridium, is the same as on steel nibs.

The feed regulates in ink flow coming out of the nib, the two polar ends being called "wet" (higher ink flow) and "dry" (low ink flow).

  • A wet pen will typically feel smoother, and showcase inks better, although a direct consequence is that more ink is placed onto the paper. More ink = higher drying time / pools on paper
  • A dry pen will typically have a pencil-like feedback when writing and channel less ink which may result issues with ink skipping.

Inks also come in "wet" and "dry" which can have a further multiplying effect.

Experience beyond writing involves how easy the pen maintenance/filling is and can extend to warranty as well has customer service of the company. As general maintenance practice, pens should be flushed with water every six month to clean out the feed though this frequency will change depending on situation. If you're changing inks or use certain inks such as permanent inks, they will need to be flushed with water sooner.

For the filling system considerations include:

  • how well does it flush?
  • how much ink it fills?
  • how easy it is to fill?

Company warranty and overall customer service can be summed up as follows:

  • Italian bad
  • American generally good
  • Japan is above average to very good
  • Europe is hit or miss

Companies may not provide services for purchases made from non authorized retailers.


These pens are a good starting point. Japanese pens will be cheaper if you import directly from japan and if you're on a budget remember to factor in ink costs.

[S] - Cartridge and/or converter (Standard International), [P] - Cartridge and/or Converter (Proprietary), [L] - Self-Filling (Any built-in filling system aside from the two mentioned), [-e] - Eye Dropper convertible


Pens starting from $0 to roughly around $15, You get what you pay for in this category, plastic will feel a tad flimsy.

  • JinHao
  • 777 [S] - A Lamy safari clone
  • 992 [S] - Pilot Piera clone
  • 100 "Centennial" [S] - Parker Duofold clone
  • Wing Sung
  • 3008 [L] - A piston filler similar to the TWSBI eco, but available for about $3.50. Compatible with lamy Z nibs. Anecdotally less likely to crack than a TWSBI, but even if it does, it's $3.50. There is a second version with larger pilot style nibs. Avoid these.
  • 3013 [L] - Direct TWSBI Vac700R clone. Does not post, but fully functional. EF nibs are smooth writers.
  • 6359 [P] - A $5 Lamy Al-Star clone that does not work with any cartridges, only the supplied converter.
  • Platinum
  • Preppy/Meteor [P-e] - First choice for many when it comes to a cheap non-chink pen. Meteor is the Chinese market variation in a better plastic body.
  • Plaisir [P] - A Preppy but with a metal body.
  • Prefounte [P] - A slightly nicer preppy. Can be considered a cheaper alternative to the Plaisir or an upgrade to the Preppy.
  • Pilot
  • Varsity - A disposable fountain pen and the cheapest in this category. Surprisingly useful in certain situation but for most people the accumulating costs don't make it a worthwhile long term writing instrument.
  • Kakuno [P-e] - Arguably has a better price to quality compared to the Preppy as a first pen. Be forewarned that if you plan on using a converter, you will have to deal with Pilots infamously horrific CON-40 converter.
  • Penmanship/Plumix/Pluminix [P/P/S] - A Kakuno with differing section and body type.


Very good value for money with pens starting from $15 to roughly $75

  • Wing Sung
  • 698 [L] - Like the 3008, but slightly better made. Accepts standard #5 aftermarket nibs.
  • 699 [L] - Pilot 823 clone, postable. Consider this for 1/3 the price of a TWSBI VAC700R.
  • Lamy
  • Safari/Vista/Al-Star [P] - Pretty much the same pen but with different finishes (plastic, transparent and metal respectively). Triangular grip does not suit everyone.
  • Twsbi - TWSBI pens are known to crack after several years of usage or as little as several months. There are high levels of stress in the injection moulded parts, especially the grip section of the Eco, the cap of the Vac700R, the threads of the Vac mini, and the entire Diamond 5801. Disassembly and normal use increase the risk of parts failure. To ensure a TWSBI lasts, keep these pens at home.
  • Eco [L] - Piston filling demonstrator. In fact it's the only piston filling option at it's price point. These pens are known to have crack or snapping issues after a few years of usage
  • Diamond 580 [L] - a better and bigger Eco with slight design changes.
  • Vac700R [L] - Unique filler at it's price point. A large pen with some comfort complaints from people. Unlike most TWSBI pens, which use #5 nibs, these use #6 size nibs.
  • Vac Mini [L] - Slightly smaller and more comfortable than the Vac700R with similar capacity.
  • Pilot The Pilot Con-40 converter is horrifically bad.
  • Metropolitan [P] - Neat and classic looking pen. Timeless cigar shaped design, good nib and price makes this a solid safety choice. Considered sterile by some but don't let that turn you off from this dependable writer.
  • Piera [P] - Considered more well balanced then the Metropolitan, More comfortable for people with smaller hands but requires posting for larger hands. Added benefit of not looking like a child's toy like the Kakuno.
  • Moonman
  • A1 [P] - Pilot Vanishing Point clone
  • M2 - A clear acrylic eyedropper fountain pen. Very well regarded nib.
  • Kaweco
  • Classic Sport [P] - A pocket sized pen, pretty much requires posting to be usable. The biggest pro is that it'll fit anywhere including shallow shirt pockets or small space.
  • AL Sport [P] - Scraping in right at the top, the Kaweco AL is a premium beginners pen. Well-built, Well-balanced, and portable, what more could you want. German quality and precision.

Mid tier

There is a huge step up here in terms of pen body material quality and overall feeling in your hand. one thing here is that outside of the Japanese brands you should seriously consider purchases from trusted retailers whom you can request a check on your pen for defective nibs. $75 to $300

  • Lamy
  • 2000 [L] - "a good pen but it’s not a great pen. Useful but not special. A good buy for the price and if you were only ever going to own a single fountain pen, it would probably be your best pick."
  • Dialog 3 [P] - Considered by most to be of poor value but listed because it's the sole retracting competitor to the pilot vanishing point (that isn't the A1).
  • Pilot
  • Vanishing Point [P] - Competes with the Lamy 2000 as the most popular pen to get as a first pen in this price range. It's biggest selling point is the retracting function. Very audible and distinct "click" sound in use.
  • Pilot custom 74/92 [P/L] - Transparent/semi-transparent pens, the 74 is the smaller size and uses Pilots Con-70 converter. 92 is a piston filler and is the more popular of the two, particularly well regarded.
  • Sailor
  • Pro Gear [P] - Popular for the huge array of colors they produce as well as the LE's. Many weeb tie-in products if your into that kind of thing.
  • 1911 [P] - Same as the Pro Gear but with a different style and aesthetics


Although there are material and quality improvements to be had here, most if not all brands claim craftsmanship as a primary factor here. For a prospective buyer however you should rely more on the pens appearance and style. $300 ~ $1000

  • Montblanc - Their "Precious Resin" gets quite a bit of flack but if you've ever handled a Montblanc for an extended period you'd know it not just some ordinary material
  • 149 [L] - Skims the top of the price range if you plan on buying new . Extraordinary price cuts on the used pen market, just don't buy a fake.
  • Nakaya - Japanese Urushi pens that are custom made by artisans. These pens are hand made to order so about a 6 month wait after placing the order is needed.
  • Regular Edition - [P] - A category of Nakaya products. These are the standard pens and most can be had under $1000. Plain Urushi coated but nevertheless a quite masterful product.
  • Visconti - It is absolutely essential that you ask the retailer to check the nib prior to shipping as Visconti is particularly well known for their nib issues.
  • Homo Sapiens [L] - Visconti's design here is the sole claim to fame, uses lava rock as part of the pen material. As a result it has a porous and rough texture that matches the temperature of your hand.
  • Sailor
  • King of Pens [P] - Basically an oversized 1911. Very similar to a Montblanc 149 appearance wise, just a tad larger.
  • Pelikan
  • M600/M800/M1000 [L] - Larger versions of the M400. M600 is considered to be the sweet spot for size.


Pens at this price point are almost always limited/exclusive edition, possess some form of artistic merit, use expensive materials or all of those combined. $1000+

  • Graf von Faber-Castell
  • Pen of the Year [L] - Limited edition pens that as the name suggests come out yearly, each one with a different design that celebrates a particular theme. GvFC keeps a certain design philosophy so the pens may appears similar at first glance. List of PoTY pens by year
  • Nakaya
  • Special Edition [P] - Urushi pens that feature artworks, inlays and/or relief patterns made using special Nippon-jin lacquer techniques
  • Montblanc
  • Writers Edition [L] - Another limited edition pen that's released annually. Pen design is inspired by a famed writer. Unlike the GvFC PoTY, these pens vary immensely in design year to year so you either like one years or you don't. List of Writers Edition pens
  • Patron Of Art [L] - Same as above but paying homage to figures in history. List of PoA pens

Fountain pen ink

When purchasing ink, prices are highly subject to location. For example whilst Noodler's ink may be a very cost effective ink when purchased in the US, Diamine is significantly cheap enough in the UK to make Noodlers redundant for general use. This is because Diamine is manufactured in the UK, similarly in France you would consider J.Herbin as your best option price wise. Virtually all Japanese products are cheaper in Japan and inks are no exception.

Try to store your inks in a cool and dark environment, this is to prevent fungus and bacterial growth. Although inks have preventive measures such as a base pH (with Japanese inks) or fungicide (with most western brands) it is possible for them to exhibit fungal growth under the correct conditions, albeit very rare.

  • Pilot/Namiki fountain pen ink is the standard line of ink pilot produces. Comes in blue, blue-black, black. 70ml in the standard jar but you can buy a 350ml bottle for drinking.
  • Pilot Iroshizuku is the premium line of inks. They were among the highest priced inks when first released but these days they're the cheapest Japanese inks. Large variety of colors and shades to chose from. 50ml standard size jar with sample sized 15ml bottles.

WARNING: Document black and Drafting black are for dip nib only and should not be used in a fountain pen.

  • Sailor Ink Basic line with no frills. In blue, Blue-black, and black 50ml, same with the Pigmented inks (permanent).
  • Shikiori and Manyo are the sailor equivalent to the Pilot Iroshizuku. Shikiori come in 20ml only and Manyo in 50ml only.

In addition to the two lines, Sailor produces a large amount of other inks and inks not under Sailors name (Bungbox for example is made by Sailor). Any old reference to sailor Jentle inks should be ignored, it's a discontinued line with some of the colors absorbed by the Shikiori.

A reasonably priced and high quality brand. Their regular line of inks has over 100 different colors which should be more then enough for most people. However certain colors need additional care as they cause staining on plastics and do not pair well with certain pens.

  • Regular line of inks come in 80ml bottles. These are their standard inks as the name would suggest.
  • 150th Anniversary line comes in 40ml bottles. Half the size of the Regular line bottles for the same price. Not that special and really only worth getting for a specific color that you really want.
  • Shimmering line comes in 50ml bottles. Shimmering inks are inks that have a sparkle additive. They require special attention since the inks are rather fussy such as shaking the bottle prior to filling and not letting it sit too long in the pen otherwise the additives will settle.
  • Inkvent line comes in 50ml bottles. A rather interesting line that changes per year. The idea is that it's a different ink color for every month.

There are also 30ml tester bottles for purchase.

Oldest ink manufacturer. Based in France and most well known for their shimmering line of inks.

  • Regular/La Perle des Encres/The Jewel of Inks - Three names are interchangeable, the third being a translation of the french (second) name. Well behaved and pH neutral with a great range of colors. Comes in 30ml,10ml and 100ml bottles
  • Anniversary which includes the 1798 collection and 1670 collection - Shimmering inks. Comes in rather nice 50ml bottles with wax seal and wax dipped cap.
  • Scented - Self-explanatory and serves a very specific purpose mostly for letter writing. The scent will fade after several days of being written. 30ml bottles only
  • Calligraphy and Dip Pen - Don't buy these, obviously for calligraphic usage only. Listed for reference only

Made by Nathan Tardif as a solo operation, these inks are most well know for their variety of properties compared to other inks as well as cost to performance. Extraordinarily large catalog of inks so it can be difficult to know what's what. In addition Noodlers inks can be a bit fussy with paper, their Bulletproof line for example doesn't pair well with Rhodia paper. ALL inks come in 3oz bottles but a few select inks come in larger sizes.

  • Standard - These are their normal inks. Normal meaning they don't have special properties that most people know Noodler's for. Some very nice colors for a standard line compared to most manufacturers with the most well know ink being Apache Sunset
  • Bulletproof - Noodler's signature line of inks. They use colored dyes that chemically burns itself to the paper fibers making the result archival and Fade/UV/Humidity/Solvent resistant
  • Warden - Same as the above but also laser proof. Nathan Tardif offered a $1000 reward for anyone who could remove his Bulletproof inks from paper without damage and at MIT they were able to remove the ink by carefully blasting it away with a laser. This line of inks were created in response to this potential forgery method.
  • Partially Bulletproof - These inks will protect the contents of your writing and remain legible but the colors will fade or change.
  • Eel - These have a lubrication additive to supposedly assist with maintaining moving parts that can't be disassembled (Piston fillers for example). Not a regular use ink, also incredibly wet
  • Fast-Drying - Penetrates paper faster resulting in an ink that drys faster at the cost of feathering and bleed.
  • Highlighter - highlighter ink
  • Invisible - Transparent inks that glow under UV light. You can mix them with other inks to make them glow too.
  • Polar - Why you'd need an ink to be usable at -20°F is beyond me but here it is. It should be noted that these inks feather very badly.
  • Russian & UK Series - Inks originally intended for the Russian and UK markets. The unusual dyes can cause performance issues if the ink isn't lightly shaken prior to use.
  • Vintage-Style - Includes the infamous Baystate line, these are a range of inks that are reverse-engineered or inspired by vintage inks.
  • X-Feather - Anti-Feather range. Not really, there's better options if you want to prevent feathering and using this line of inks should only be a last resort.
  • Waterase - More of a sign-writing ink then a fountain pen ink. These can be used to write on whiteboards, glass etc. then wiped away with a damp cloth. Bulletproof when written on paper.

Most famed for it's Watermans Serenity Blue which together with Lamy blue hold the title of most well behaved, safest and low maintenance ink to use. Works in virtually any scenario. Come in 50ml and available at most retailers. Waterman also has a FAQ.

No special inks, just regular plain and boring blue, black and blue-black. Lamy blue is in particular the dry version of Watermans serenity blue. An interesting note is that all Lamy pens are tested at the factory with Lamy blue which is why it is possible for a brand new Lamy pen to contain traces of blue ink.

  • Other

Ink or ink related items that don't belong elsewhere

  • Vanness White Lightning Ink Additive - Increases the flow of dry inks. Quite a miracle worker for certain inks that just can't seem to flow well or are a tad too dry.

Miscellaneous goods

Pair your nice pens to some nice things. Some of the following is pretty important depending on what you've got. For example you'd really want some nice paper if you got yourself a wet and sloppy medium nib fountain pen (and fountain pens in general really).


People will tend to associate gsm with paper quality and that's not wrong but it gives the impression that low gsm is bad which isn't always the case. All the paper listed here can take ink with neither bleedthough nor feathering even under thick shades but do note that paper soaks up moisture and that will cause feathering. Although this can happen under high humidity it's more commonly caused by sweaty hands.

  • Rhodia - Very popular option. Quality has gone down for a while but it's still a solid paper. Has a wax based coating that makes it ultra smooth and able to take bucket loads on ink. Downsides are that ink takes a long time to dry as it doesn't absorb into the paper, rather it just pools and drys eventually. It's heavy reliance on the coating to provide it's properties poses some problems when it comes to certain applications but you shouldn't encounter them for just general writing.
  • Clairefontaine - Rhodia's parent company but the two brands are distinctively different, most importantly the paper coating is slightly different. Has more options when it comes to binding styles (notebooks, scrapbooks etc.)
  • Maruman mnemosyne - High quality nip paper. Smooth and highly recommended, arguably more so compared to the above two these days. Slightly on the thin side when it comes to paper but should have no problems.
  • Strathmore
  • 500 series writing - Wove Finished (Very, Very textured). Otherwise a great paper, nicely thick and heavy (compared to the other options here) and fairly absorbent.
  • Canson
  • Pro Layout - Not a particularly great paper for general use but has specific applications. It is particularly great for handwriting practice. Due to it's translucency you can lay over guidelines and grids. Severe downsides include it's thinness (Very, Very thin) and the fact that it's not double sided, well you can write on both sides it's just not designed to.


Some nice pen cases, consider them if you have some better quality pens that you don't want to just throw into a bag.

  • Pilot Pensemble - Leather pen wrap
  • Pen tray - A static storage solution for your home. Typically just a felt lined box with grooves cut to hold pens but are surprisingly expensive for what they are.

Dip Nibs

For modern readily purchasable nibs, it is heavily recommend to buy only Japanese nibs especially if you're a beginner for a smooth pain free experience to ease you in. All current non Japanese nib producers, that is manuscript pen company (who owns Gillotts, Leonardt among others), Hunt and Brause all have varying QC issues primarily concerning misalignment tines. Minor Tine misalignment issues are difficult for a beginner to assess and can have a huge impact on the behavior of the nib. The ideal options is to try a nib sampler first which is available from virtually all reputable online nib retailers. The following guide can be used to give a rundown of avaliable nibs and provide some help with what to purchase.

Purchasing/usage guide - For both modern and vintage nibs

From the manufacturer, dip nibs have a thin coating of oil to prevent rust and to preserve the metal. This must be removed prior to use, of which there are a variety of ways this can be done. To prep the nib one can do any one of the following

  • Apply a small amount of toothpaste and brush lightly with a toothbrush. Then wash off the paste.
  • Put the dip nib in your mouth for a few seconds. Your saliva will dissolve the oil and then take the nib out of your mouth and use a tissue to wipe it off
  • Stick it into a potato. The acidity of the potato juice will dissolve the oil.
  • Place it very briefly over an open flame. The heat will evaporate the oil
  • Certain iron-gall inks will eat the oil. You need to just have it dunked in for a little longer then usual. Only high acidity iron galls will work, so an ink like McCaffery's will not work but Old World will.

For recommended nib holders, it is best to buy a cork-tipped pen holder. These take standard sized pointed and broad nibs, exceedingly cost effective and can be found as low as $3. These is no discernible difference in quality with these holders when it comes to brand name or price and as such it's a case of buy the cheapest.

It may be worth checking out the Tachikawa T25 or the T40. These are ONLY intended to hold japanese G-pens and crow nibs and thus can't fit other nibs that don't match their profile.

Oblique Pen Holders are beyond this guide but do know that they exist (and that the Speedball ones are kind of rubbish,you should only consider ones with metal flanges).

External Links


1.^ "Interesting Blog On Why Some Twsbi's May Crack", FPN thread about using polarizing filters to view stresses in plastic pens. Post #5 demonstrates the stress lines in a TWSBI 580 and compares it to a Pelikan M200.