Standing the Test of Time (3)

I’ve been writing here at Pens! Paper! Pencils! for almost four years now and in that time I’ve reviewed 138 inks, 67 pencils (wooden and mechanical), 177 pens and 66 other items (notebooks, cases, etc).

As I did around this time [last year][l16], and the year before, I thought it would be interesting to look at what I reviewed a year or more ago that I’m still enjoying. What has stood the test of time?

Pencils

I’m doing a lot of drawing still and I’m slowing moving over from Tombow Mono 100s to Mitsubishi Hi-Unis. This is sheer indulgence on my part, the two pencils are very similar and the slight edge the Hi-Unis have over the Mono 100s doesn’t really justify spending little short of twice as much on each but I use pencils all the time so why not treat myself to using the ones I like the most?

Mitsu-Bishi Hi-Uni blunt end

On the mechanical side of things, last year I was using the Staedtler 925 25-07 and while I still enjoy this from time to time I now use the Pentel Graphgear 1000 daily. This pencil has a robust construction, a retractable tip, a comfortable grip and a strong sprung clip. It’s pretty much perfect as far as functionality goes and it doesn’t look too bad either.

Pentel GraphGear 1000 clip

Fountain pens

There have been quite a few changes in the last year at least in part because of a change in my working circumstances. I used to use a Pilot Vanishing Point in meetings but I haven’t been to a meeting since April. Literally the only thing I miss about that is not being able to use that pen as much. I’ve also stopped carrying my Kaweco Liliput around in my pocket because I’ve been at home pretty much all the time, where I have a whole host of pens to hand. My Kaweco Brass Sport still gets a lot of use though, with one of Kaweco’s medium gold nibs. It’s a gorgeous pen and wonderful with a steel nib but the gold nib makes it extremely special. Although I don’t carry it around as a pocket pen, it’s so lovely I use it just as I’d use any other.

Kaweco Brass Sport review

My Twiss Marmalade remains one of my favourite pens and I now have a couple of broad gold nibs from FP Nibs (one a stub, one a cursive italic) that I swap into it. It’s been joined by two other Twiss pens but I’ve not reviewed them yet. (Soon, I promise.)

Twiss Marmalade swirly cap

Likewise, my Platinum #3776 Sai is still my favourite off-the-shelf pen. I’m not sure that will ever change. I love how it looks and it was the first luxury-bracket pen I ever bought so it will always be special because of that. What I have done, though, is swap its fine nib with the broad nib that came with my Yamanaka, as my taste in nibs has changed (some might say it’s broadened) over the years.

Platinum 3776 Sai capped

The Sai has been joined by several other pens in the same range: Chartres Blue with rhodium trim, music nib with rhodium trim, classic black and gold, Yamanaka, and also a President (different range but very similar). I’ve not quite worked through the reviews of all of those and some I’ve only reviewed in the last year but I mention them here because day-to-day, these Platinum pens and the Twiss pens are pretty much all I use. I throw in something different as a matter of routine, to keep things mixed up, but they’re the pens I like the most. From the other pens that I reviewed a year or more ago, I very much like the Diplomat Aero, Faber-Castell Ambition (a favourite for almost four years now) and Pelikan M215.

Pelikan M215 fountain with cap

Out of the many pens I’ve reviewed but have returned or given away, the [Yard-O-Led Grand Viceroy(http://penpaperpencil.net/yard-o-led-grand-viceroy-victorian-fountain-pen-review/), reviewed almost a year ago, is the pen I’d most like, if there ever came a time when I could afford to buy it without feeling guilty.

Yard-O-Led Grand Viceroy Victorian hallmark

Standard pens

Quite a few changes here.

I now use fountain pens to draw and so have stopped using any specialist drawing pens altogether. I use the fine nib that used to be in my Sai in my Yamanaka, along with a Platinum Carbon Desk Pen.

The Ateleia Brass Pen is my daily carry. I stopped using the Ti2 TechLiner as much because the magnets used to hold the cap in place caused the pen to stick to all other pens close to it, the novelty of which eventually wore off. The Ateleia isn’t the most practical every day carry pen, the cap is small and doesn’t post and is just begging to be lost (though I haven’t lost it yet) but I just love its simplicity.

Ateleia Brass Pen uncapped

I still have my Blank Forces X1 on my key ring. I don’t need to use it often but it’s handy when I do and it’s such a lovely object in its own right I like to have it with me. Blank Forces recently fulfilled their Kickstarter campaign for a pocket bolt pen and I’ll be reviewing that soon.

Blank Forces X1 X2 on keyrings

Inks

Pilot Iroshizuku Kiri-Same and Pelikan Edelstein Topaz are still firm favourites, along with the wonderful Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin. The healthy organicness of Chiku-Rin is joined by the sheer joy of another green ink, J. Herbin Vert Pre.

J Herbin Vert Pre ink review

I enjoy the dark blue with a touch of green of Rohrer and Klingner Verdigris and still very much enjoy Diamine Monaco Red. However my favourite red at the moment is one I reviewed fairly recently and so you’ll have to wait until next year to see what it is, if I still like it of course. As far as oranges go, I have a new favourite, again recently reviewed, but I still enjoy Sailor Jentle Apricot very much.

Paper

My adventures with paper over the last year could be called There and back again. Thanks to the great support of Pocket Notebooks (under new ownership but still looking good) I was able to try out lots of different pocket notebooks. There are many great notebooks in the world. However, it only served to confirm that I like Calepino notebooks the best. They are a reasonable price, look good and, most importantly to me, cope with fountain pens well.

Calepino notebook

This time last year I was all on board with the Midori Travelers Notebook and I do still think it’s fantastic but I don’t use it so much because I just can’t settle on one thing for that long. I had been using my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter all the time at work but, again, that hasn’t been necessary so now I swap between that and my Start Bay cover. I’ve tried many many A5 notebooks to use as refills but liked none of them as much as the Rhodia Webnotebook for journaling. The trouble with that notebook, and the reason for my search for a replacement, is that it’s got a thick hard cover and when you stuff one in a leather cover it makes it a little bulky. Then Rhodia went and released a soft cover version and my quest was complete. I was able to go back to using my favourite notebook again.

These are the items that have remained my favourites after the initial excitement of being new. What are yours? What do you keep picking up to use?

8 Comments

  1. Pencils
    I’ve just finished another lot of panto scenery, and it’s the Caran D’Ache blackwood that I’ve come back to for marking out the scenery cloths. Not quite as good as the discontinued RowneyBlack Beauties I used to use, but a good dark line, and a comfortable “Jumbo” casing for working large (18ft x 10ft!)

    I don’t work in graphite like you do, so mostly my other pencils are used for outlining, and I tend to grab whatever I have to hand (I did the last lots of artwork for the panto with various eraser tipped Ticonderogas)

    In terms of mechanical pencils, I love the simplicity of the P20x range, but lately have used a 0.9mm Platinum “Pressman” – a simple, round barrelled plastic pencil that feels great in the hand.

    Fountain Pens
    I’m quite strict about rotating through my collection, but I have an Esterbrook LJ that I always look forward to using – the nib on it is just so nice. The Italix English Curate I won in one of your drawings gets a lot of use too, although the nib shows up the defects in my handwriting mercilessly, like any stub!

    Standard Pens
    Faber Castell Broadpens, an inexpensive fibre tip with a wide, fairly flexible tip – they feel quite expressive, and I really enjoy them. Also the Pitt Calligraphy pens, which I think are really fun for drawing.

    This is my third year of using the large tipped POSCA markers for lettering scenery – nothing is as convenient.

    Inks
    Pelikan Blue-Black for writing on dodgy paper, and Diamine Amazing Amethyst for fun.

    Paper
    Rhodia Dot Pads / Clairfontaine Graph-It pads (in Dot Grid).

  2. Did you mean to say than the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni pencil is twice as expensive as the Tombow Mono 100? At Jetpens, the Tombow is ten cents more expensive. I must say that I think both of them are superb pencils, and I would be hard pressed to choose between them. I look for excuses to use them, since I basically am a fountain pen person. A word to the wise: get one of the Caran d’Ache desktop pencil sharpeners. I bought the last red one at CW Pencil Enterprise (because, red) and it not only sharpens beautifully, but also brings back memories of school days.

    1. Hi, yes sadly here in the U.K. the Hi-Unis are really expensive and almost twice the already expensive Mono 100s. I might treat myself to a desktop sharpener one of these days. You’re right, they bring back memories of school.

  3. I really enjoyed this post, Ian — always interesting to see which products “stick” and which fall out of favor. Amazed you keep that Sai looking so clean! 😉 I love all your green inks! As for me? I’m so fickle, I rarely stick to one thing for more than a year. A few exceptions of things that have stayed with me for several years: My Sailor fountain pen with the fude nib, Platinum Carbon Black ink, Caran d’Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils and Rhodia journals.

    Tina

  4. P.S. It’s worth it to switch over to the Hi-Unis! The Tombows just aren’t the same, and life is short! 🙂

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