Posts filed under Pilot

Big Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Giveaway

Image via Goulet Pens

Image via Goulet Pens

The Pilot Metropolitan is the best fountain pen for beginners, and it's pretty awesome for experienced fountain pen users as well. I have SIX of the latest release, the Retro Pop Series, to giveaway courtesy of the fine folks at Goulet Pens.

To win one of these pens, follow the instructions below, but add one thing in your comment: Tell me what color is your favorite Retro Pop. You can see all the colors available here. I can't guarantee you will get the color you selected, but if I have a match available I will certainly send it your way. Otherwise, enjoy the surprise when you open it!

The rest of the details:

  1. Leave one comment on this post anytime between now, and Friday night at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. You are limited to one entry. This contest is open to US and International readers.

  2. For this contest, I will pick six winners at random from the comments section of this post. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at will be used to pick the number of the winner.

  3. The contest winners will be posted on Saturday, January 30th. The winners will have one week to email me via the Contact link at the top of the page.

Thanks and good luck!

Posted on January 26, 2016 and filed under Giveaways, Pilot, Metropolitan, Fountain Pens.

Pilot Vanishing Point Raden Water Surface Fountain Pen: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Most fountain pen people are familiar with the Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen, even if they don't own one. It's a fountain pen with a retractable nib. And, it's a pen that some people love and others hate–largely due to the location of the clip.

My first Pilot Vanishing Point did not impress me. I bought a blue carbonesque with an EF nib from Amazon, which, in retrospect, may have been my primary mistake (buying it from Amazon, that is). The pen itself was gorgeous. I loved the carbonesque design and found the click mechanism fascinating. But it was a horrible writer. The nib was ink-stingy and scratchy. Plus, I found the clip annoying and the pen too heavy. I eventually sold it and thought I was done with Vanishing Points forever.

But then Pilot came out with the Vanishing Point Metallics. Oh! That Mountain Blue called to me. I thought the black clip and nib looked terrific against the metallic colors. This time, I bought my VP from Classic Fountain Pens. I got a broad nib and had it ground to an italic/stub. What a difference! I loved this pen. It wrote beautifully, and, though it took some time, I grew accustomed to the clip.

Now, to the Vanishing Point Raden Water Surface. I wasn't really considering this pen at all because it retails for $640.00. But I wanted a Raden pen, and I found the Platinum Galaxy Maki-e at Classic Fountain Pens with tons of Raden for just a little more than the VP, so I bought it. When it arrived it was . . . well . . . too blingy. I called it my "unicorn pen." My daughter told me it looked like the floor at Mr. Gatti's. And, sadly, she was right. I returned it.

About that time someone on Fountain Pen Network posted a Pilot Vanishing Point Raden Water Surface in the classifieds. It was half retail price, so I jumped on it. A few weeks later, I was the proud owner of a like-new Raden Vanishing Point.

My Raden VP came in a wooden box lined in yellow satin (though I believe my pen was packaged in Japan; American packaging may differ). Included with the pen is a converter, a cartridge, and a cartridge adapter for international cartridges.

The pen is absolutely gorgeous, with just enough Raden to make the surface sparkle, but not so much that it looks like glitter glue. The Raden comes from abalone shells. On this pen, the shells are arranged in straight lines to evoke light reflecting off the surface of water. The pen is coated in urushi lacquer, and the effect is mesmerizing.

The Raden Water Surface is just like any other Pilot Vanishing Point form-wise. This one sports rhodium-plated accents and an 18K rhodium-plated nib. The click mechanism works just like all the other VPs.

The pen uses a proprietary cartridge/converter system. The converter holds a minuscule amount of ink (0.82ml), requiring lots of refilling. That's really my only criticism of this pen. I wish the converter held more ink. Cartridges hold 1.05ml of ink.

The pen is heavy (30 grams), but I've grown to like more substantial pens over the years. It is a large pen, 9.07mm at the grip and 140mm in length. The pen is well-balanced in the hand, and even though many people complain that the clip gets in the way, it helps me hold the pen steady. I no longer even notice it.

The nib on my Raden Water Surface is a fine. It writes like a Western EF, and though it's smooth and writes beautifully, I will eventually get another broad nib ground into an italic/stub for this pen. I love how my other VP writes, and the fine is a little too fine for my tastes, though it works great as a grading pen. But really, who wants to use a pen this beautiful for grading? I should be writing Haiku!

You can purchase this pen from Goulet, Classic Fountain Pens, and Goldspot Pens for $640 (many other retailers also carry it). That's an awful lot for a Vanishing Point. If you love this pen, I hope you'll luck out like I did and find it on sale.


  • Absolutely gorgeous pen. The abalone shells reflect the light and contrast beautifully with the black urushi finish.
  • If you like Pilot Vanishing Points, you'll love the Raden Water Surface. It has all the perks of a retractable nib fountain pen and is one of the most elegant models.
  • The nib writes smoothly with no scratchiness, hard starts, or skipping.
  • The retractable system works flawlessly and with one hand (unlike other retractables that require two hands to twist the nib in and out).
  • This is a great choice when you need to start and stop writing often (such as in meetings). The click system is fast and keeps the nib from drying out.


  • This is one of the most expensive Pilot Vanishing Point models at $640.00 retail. You really have to want this pen.
  • The converter holds so little ink it's almost laughable. I don't mind refilling, but I wish Pilot would figure out a better converter system.
  • The pen is heavy. If you prefer weightless fountain pens, this one isn't for you.
  • People tend to have a love or hate relationship with the Pilot VP. Some can't stand the clip or they think the design is ugly. If you've never tried a Pilot VP, I suggest finding a retailer and trying it out first. Keep in mind, that first impressions can change. I hated my first VP. Now I love them.
Posted on December 11, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Pilot, Vanishing Point.

Pilot FriXion Ball Slim 0.38 mm

We all love to have friendly arguments over our favorite pens. The Pilot G2 is better than the Uni-ball Signo 207! The Uni-ball Jetstream is better than the Pilot Acroball! The Sharpie Liquid Pencil is better than…well, it’s better than a rock I guess. Maybe.

The basis of all of these conversations is that as individuals, we all have specific needs that need to be met with our writing instruments. A pen that may be perfect for you won’t work at all for someone else. I like to use the phrase “That’s why they make more than one pen” all the time to show it’s ok no not like the same pen as someone else.

While erasable gel ink pens are a highly specific category, they are the only category where it is not ok to like a pen besides the Pilot FriXion. It is at the top of the heap, and nothing else is close in quality or performance. You may not like or have a need for erasable gel ink pens, and that’s fine, but if you do, the Pilot FriXion is the only consideration. Arguments otherwise are not being accepted at this time.

The latest FriXion to cross my desk is the Pilot FriXion Ball Slim 0.38 mm and it is as good as ever. Writing with this pen, you wouldn’t know that the ink is any different in formulation from any standard gel ink pen. That is key. It’s a gel ink pen that happens to be erasable. By friction, no less.

If you aren’t familiar with the FriXion, the ink is thermosensitive. This means the heat caused by the friction of the firm rubber eraser removes the ink from the page. It’s also possible for the ink to disappear if your paper is left in too hot of a location, such as in a car in the summer. Your notes aren’t lost forever though. Pop your notebook in the freezer and your writing reappears. It’s like magic!

I love the slim barrel design of this model. It’s very comfortable to write with for me, and the 0.38 mm tip is right up my alley. The eraser work perfectly as well. The only negative is that the refills are smaller than the 0.5 mm Ball Knock, which uses a G2 sized refill and is only slightly more expensive.

Answering the question “What is the best erasable pen on the market” is the easiest question I get in my inbox. It’s the Pilot FriXion, and nothing else is close.

Posted on November 30, 2015 and filed under FriXion, Pilot, Pen Reviews.

The Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

When I first saw the Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop pens advertised, I was excited about them. I loved the vivid colors, and I had heard good things about the Metropolitan pens before. So, as soon as I could, I ordered a turquoise Retro Pop from Goulet Pens for $15.00.

I've been using it non-stop since it arrived because, as a university professor, I have a mountain of grading this time of the semester. I figured the Retro Pop would make a great grading pen, and I was right.

The Retro Pop is a metal fountain pen, but it's not at all heavy (26 grams/0.92 oz). It comes nicely packaged in an oval clamshell box with a clear top, so you can see the colorful pen.

The metal is shiny and sparkles in the sunlight. Each pen has a different retro design on one portion of the barrel.

The only other embellishment is the clip which has a few decorative elements on the sides, but is otherwise plain. The cap is a snap on.

The grip is black plastic which is always easier for me to hold than metal since my hands get sweaty, especially while grading research papers.

The pen comes with a squeeze converter and one cartridge, but if you prefer twist converters, you can purchase one for $5.50 more, which I did. Squeeze converters are messy and I don't like the limitations of cartridges. The Con-50 holds a teeny amount of ink, though. I blew through several fills as I graded. But, it's not like the pen is difficult to refill.

The fine steel nib on my Retro Pop is smooth but hard (no bounce or flex). As with most Japanese pens, the fine writes more like an extra fine. I like this size for grading because I tend to write lots of notes all over my students' papers (which I'm sure they love). The nib has been a champ–no hard starts; no skipping. I'm very impressed since this pen is so inexpensive.

The Retro Pop is a relatively small pen. It is 5.43 inches capped; 5 inches uncapped; and 6.02 inches posted. The grip (0.33 inches) is pretty narrow, and my hand gets fatigued after long grading sessions.

The Retro Pop comes in six colors: grey, orange, purple, turquoise, red, and green. At $15.00 (plus $5.50 if you want the twist converter) from Goulet Pens, this is the perfect stocking stuffer or holiday gift for anyone interested in fountain pens. Add one of the mini bottles of Diamine or Iroshizuku ink and a Rhodia pad and you've got a terrific starter kit for someone special. If you want all the colors, you can purchase a set for $84.90.


  • A smooth-writing, steel nib fountain pen at a terrific price.
  • Lots of bright colors from which to choose.
  • Several filling options (cartridge, squeeze converter, twist converter).
  • Comes in a nice clamshell box that is perfect for gift-giving.
  • Lightweight and suitable size for most people.


  • Neither the squeeze converter nor the twist converter hold much ink. Plan on re-inking often.
  • The pen is light and thin. People with larger hands may find this pen too small for comfort.
Posted on November 27, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Metropolitan, Pen Reviews, Pilot.