We discussed the challenge of thinning the pen herd on episode #161 of The Pen Addict Podcast and the difficulties that come along with it. I commandeered the phrase 'Tier 1' when describing how to determine what pens to sell and what pens to keep. Has tiering resulted into any action for me thus far? Not yet, but it all starts with a list.
The way I chose to think about this list was to select the pens I would miss the most if they were gone. They generally represent the best of the best, the most meaningful, or, most likely, both.
I went into the task of naming my Tier 1 pens with no restrictions. I could select as many or as few as I wanted, and for any reason whatsoever. Here is my list, in no particular order:
My first Nakaya and easily my favorite. I worked hard to choose the right one for me, reading anything and everything about the brand and all the options available. I bet it took me at least a year to come to my decision, and I'm ecstatic with the result.
You will see Thomas Hall's fingerprints all over this list, and this is one pen you might literally see them on. Thomas gifted this pen to me towards the end of my fountain pen education, and it may be my single favorite pen I own. Not just for the meaning either. It fits my visual aesthetic and performance requirements perfectly.
My first Pelikan and still my favorite (mine is the blue stripe model, the one in the review is Thomas'). While the 600 and 800 series fit my hands better, the nib on this 405 is killer. Mike Masuyama ground this down to an 0.2 mm Japanese EF nib for me a few years ago and it writes like a dream. I don't ink it up as often as some other pens but when I do it never fails to put a smile on my face.
This on makes the list not only for its great feel and performance, but for the story behind it as well. This pen was custom made for me secretly by Jeff Bruckwicki and Brian Gray and knocked my socks off when I got it. This pen gets me.
Recency bias? Maybe. But in the few weeks I have had my Shinobi it has never been more than an arms length away. The feel when I write with it is so unique and hard to explain. I'm having a hard time seeing when this pen might get cleaned and stored away. Not gonna happen.
In a lineup of cool looking pens this one is arguably the coolest. Black from head to toe, this VP is a blast to use and always gets a reaction from others. This one might be the hardest to replace of the bunch.
Using this PO nib was one of the first wow moments in my fountain pen education. If there was ever a stock nib that was built for me this is the one. That's the key here. I wouldn't recommend this nib to many people but for me it is perfection.
There you have it. Seven pens in my arsenal that I find irreplaceable. That seems like a pretty good number to me. "But Brad, what about [insert pen here]?"" I hear the questions now, so let me try to explain some of the obvious ones:
-- Lamy 2000: There is no doubt the 2000 is one of the best pens on the market. And that's just the thing. It's always available. I have two of them currently, and if I lost them both it would be quick and easy to buy another one. A huge number of pens fall into the same category.
-- Three other Nakayas: A second one nearly made the list - my Piccolo Writer in Kikyo Blue. And it still may creep into Tier 1 eventually. That's the good thing about this list. It's always subject to change.
-- Vintage pens: I don't have many and I love the ones I do, but I tend not to use them quite as much as other pens. I'm not sure exactly why, although they are slightly more finicky than their modern counterparts. My two Vacumatics are solidly in Tier 2 territory.
-- Any non-fountain pen: I was thisclose to adding my gonzodized Ti2 Techliner to this list because it is always with me and you can't buy this exact one anymore. But, there are other Techliners that are equally as good, and the same goes for some of my other favorite machined pens like the Render K. I can always get another one.
This has been a fun exercise that may eventually turn into action. I imagine my Tier 2 of pens would be enormous for a litany of reasons, and anything left for Tier 3 would be the pens I should consider selling and moving on from. If nothing else it's food for thought.