2017 Recapped: Top Pens and Inks of the Year

As 2017 comes to a close, we look back and "recap" the year that was in fine writing. In this post, we're looking at all of the best pens and inks that were loved by writers around the world. To create this list, we took into account sales velocity, customer feedback, likes, shares, and other activity on social media.

In this list, we show products from brands that we carry in our online shop. As for other writing brands that we do not carry, we cannot make an informed decision about their popularity since we are missing the crucial sales data and feedback from our customers.

TOP 10 PENS of 2017

In June, we looked at the Top 5 Pens of 2017 thus far and see a couple of those pens had made it to the list for the entire year. The theme behind the top picks this year seems to be a triumphant celebration of vibrant colors. Sure, you could argue that a traditional black & silver or black & gold style of pen is evergreen, but we are noticing a shift toward more expressive colors in pen design. Since a fine writing instrument is an outward expression of its owner, designs are trending toward being as unique and dynamic as the people who use them.

Now, onward to the list, starting with number 10...

NO. 10 - Parker Jotter London Architecture Special Edition Ballpoint Pens

The Parker Jotter ballpen is an iconic writing instrument that is as popular now as it was back in the day. However, besides coming out with a new set of colored barrels every several years, Parker doesn't actively add new and invigorating designs for this everyday pen on a consistent basis. After seeing the success of the Jotter Architecture, we sure hope to see more special designs that infuse color and engraved patterns. SHOP HERE > >

NO. 09 - Retro 1951 Tornado Popper Limited Edition "Zodiac" Rollerball Pen

We could have picked a number of the limited edition Tornado Pens that Retro 51 released this year, including Winter Wonderland, Tiki Kona, and Shark Alley as candidates for this spot on the list. However, none of them sold out quite as quickly as the Zodiac. Printed with the constellations of the zodiac that also glows in the dark, this was an edition that met with instant success. If you're looking for one, unfortunately it is going to be difficult and expensive to purchase in the secondary market.

NO. 08 - Platinum 3776 Century "Shungyo" Limited Edition Fountain Pen

A dawning of a new limited edition, the concept of the tinted demonstrator is one that continues to hit with writers, pen addicts and collectors. Like we mentioned at the top of this list, the love for bold color is stronger than ever by the writing community. The Shungyo's dawn red color can only be bested by another "Sunrise" that we'll talk about later in this list. SHOP HERE > >

NO. 07 - Caran d'Ache 849 Collection Fountain Pens

It is great to see another respected pen manufacturer reach out to the mass audience of pen enthusiasts with an affordable "starter" fountain pen model. Swiss manufacturer Caran d'Ache is known for their quality tools and materials for art and writing. Their 849 collection ballpoint is just as iconic as the Parker Jotter. They take the same hexagonal, faceted design approach with their new set of fountain pens. Equipped with a stainless steel nib, cartridge / converter compatible and available in an array of colors, from conservative to bright and bold.  SHOP HERE > >

NO. 06 - Sheaffer Pop "Star Wars" Collection Fountain Pens and Rollerball Pens

It seems that any year one of the new Star Wars movies come out, fans are treated to a plethora of Star Wars "everything," including Star Wars pop chips, cereals, toothbrushes, razors, and, for our purposes, pens! Sheaffer introduced the super-affordable Pop entry model earlier this year and quickly expanded on the concept to include the beloved Star Wars characters Darth Vader, Yoda, and R2-D2.  SHOP HERE > >

NO. 05 - Sailor Professional Gear Slim Purple Cosmos Fountain Pen

It wasn't even fair. Sailor essentially teased us on this pen. This special edition was so limited that all the US retailers were limited to a small amount per store. The design is similar to the popular Galaxy Starburst that quickly sold out a couple years back. The deep purple barrel is infused with a random pattern of glittery specs and particles submerged into the lustrous resin. Fitted with a 14kt gold nib that is an absolute pleasure to write with.  S EE IF IT IS STILL AVAILABLE HERE > >

NO. 04 - Aurora 88 Anniversary 14kt Gold Flex Nib Fountain Pens

"Modern Flex" is somewhat of a unicorn in the pen world. Anything that claims to be close to flexible usually pales in comparison to the capabilities of vintage flex nib fountain pens. Italian pen-maker Aurora made a splash in early 2017 by introducing the 14kt Aurora flex nib. Aurora is in an unique position in the fine writing world in that they have the capabilities of making their own nibs. This 14kt gold flexible nib is their first fory into flex. Following the now-defunct OMAS extra flessibile nib, this 14kt flex nib was introduced only on the 88 Anniversary limited edition model which has seen a long stretch of popularity throughout 2017 with several colors released in limited quantities. It's capable of the line variation that Spencerian cursive writers crave while providing the bounciness that draws a finer line.   S HOP HERE > >

NO. 03 - Pelikan Souveran 805 Ocean Swirl Special Edition

Pelikan has stepped up the boldness of their special editions in recent years, introducing swirling, perlescent marbled vinishes in their flagship 800 designs. A departure from the striped cellulose acetate and straight-laced black caps, Pelikan dives in beak-first with the Ocean Swirl special edition for 2017. A chatyoant, teal blue swirling marble finish it complimented with palladium trims and rhodium coated 18kt gold nib on the fountain pen. This pen is so gorgeous, we had to put on the back cover of our annual catalog!  SHOP HERE > >

NO. 02 - Lamy Safari Petrol Special Edition

Lamy follows up the tremendous success of their Dark Lilac special edition of 2016 with another dark color Safari in a matte finish with black clip. Petrol's dark teal appearance was a runaway success from the very start and continues to be a popular pick for collectors and those who are looking for a quality starter fountain pen.  SHOP HERE > >

NO. 01 - Pilot Vanishing Point 2017 Limited Edition "Crimson Sunrise"

All of the pens we've written about up to this point are great contenders for this number one spot, but the 2017 Limited Edition Pilot Vanishing Point takes the cake! Each year, collectors get excited for all the new yearly editions they've come to expect. The two most notable editions are the Lamy Safari and the Pilot VP. Each year, collectors and enthusiasts eagerly await when the new color design is announced. The buzz starts to build to a fever pitch until the pens arrive from the manufacturer and are finally available for puchase. The Crimson Sunrise beat out every other limited edition, special edition and new release on this list in terms of how quickly it sold and how passionately customers reacted to this highly desireable limited edition.

The ombre gradient style effect was last seen a couple years ago with the blueish-purple Twilight limited edition, which was a wildly popular color. Pilot went away from that design with the Guilloche pattern of 2016, which wasn't nearly as well received. Coming back to the ombre style was an excellent choice for Pilot and I, for one, hope that they continue with new color variations in the coming years. "Noon-Time" for 2018, anyone?


TOP 5 FOUNTAIN PEN INKS of 2017

What are your favorite pens of 2017 without the inks to use with them? A fountain pen without ink is just a glorified desk paperweight. Here, we celebrate the top 5 noteworthy inks of 2017 that have writers inking up with delight.

In general, fountain pen enthusiasts are looking for special editions that not only have an interesting name or concept, but also produce an unique color that is both pleasing to the eye and distinguished. Shimmer is still in, but SHEEN is all the rage these days. As we spoke about the bold colors evident in pen design, we see the same affection for vibrant hues in ink choices as well. Blue inks tend to be the perennial best sellers but they are challenged by other parts of the spectrum.

As you will see in the list below, writers are not afraid to go outside of the traditional black or blue.

NO. 05 - Robert Oster Signature Inks

Although Robert's inks have been in the USA since last year, they are new to Goldspot in 2017 and have been widely embraced by fountain pen and ink enthusiasts around the world. Mixed and bottled in Australia, these inks provide the brilliant hues, shading, and sheen that writers love. SHOP HERE > >

NO. 04 - Bungubox, Kobe & Sailor Inks

Similarly to how Sailor has a nib master that oversees the production and quality control of their fountain pen nibs, they also have an ink master that does the same for their fountain pen inks. And the level of quality shows in every bottle. A number of exclusive inks that are retailer exclusives in Japan have made their way over to the United States this year, including Bungubox and Kobe colors. Sailor made inky waves earlier this year with the reintroduction of their original set of Jentle inks including Grenade, Epinard, and Apricot, etc.

SHOP BUNGUBOX INKS > >
SHOP KOBE INKS > >
SHOP SAILOR JENTLE INKS > >

NO. 03 - Pelikan Smoky Quartz Fountain Pen Ink

The "Ink of the Year" color for 2017 was Smoky Quartz. The latest addition to the Pelikan Edelstein line of premium fountain pen inks, the chocolatey, smoky brown ink was distributed as a free gift at the yearly Pelikan Hubs worldwide meetup in September. Its delicious brown color was matched with a frosted demonstrator fountain pen released later in the year. SHOP HERE > >

NO. 02 - J. Herbin 1798 Anniversary Amethyste de l'Oural Fountain Pen Ink

As eager pen fans await the announcement of the new, yearly limited edition from the PIlot Vanishing Point collection, ink lovers wait with baited breath for the yearly Anniversary ink from French manufacturer J. Herbin. This year, they switched things up and made an ink with silver shimmer and redesigned the bottle with a wider mouth to make it easier to fill. The rich purple is a lovely color that shades and shimmers beautifully. SHOP HERE > >

NO. 01 - Lamy Petrol Fountain Pen Ink

The rich purple with gold sheen of Lamy's Dark Lilac was a hard one to follow up, but the German pen manufacturer did it again with this year's Petrol. The dark teal blue has a heavily saturated tone, exhibiting some reddish sheen. What is most notable about this ink is that it was only available in short supply. Similarly to Dark Lilac of 2016, Lamy simply did not make enough of this ink. It sold out quickly and saw prices climb to 5 times the regular retail price within months of its release.

Things to expect in 2018

As we put the cap on 2017 for good, next year is already shaping up to be another exciting time for fine writing. We've already seen a preview of the Lamy AL-Star special color for 2018 - Vibrant Pink.

Following the trend from the past several years, we can also expect another new Lamy Safari to make its appearance in the early part of 2018, also accompanied by a matching fountain pen ink color.

Also, you could expect a new Pilot Vanishing Point to come, as well as a special, limited edition in celebration of Namiki's anniversary year.

As Pelikan has done in the last several years, they will announce the "Ink of the Year" in early 2018 and should have a matching color demonstrator to go along with it as well.

All other news is still considered to be "top secret" at this point. Stay tuned!


39 comments

  • Thank you for the giveaway. I’m hoping to add an Edison pen to my collection this year. My dream would be to bring home the Edison Pearlette Sonoran Sunset 18kt Gold Nib Extra-Fine Point Fountain Pen.

    Stephanie Smith
  • A real fan of Edison pens and Retro 51s.

    Janis Forehand
  • It’s tough to choose, but I love the Pearlette in Cappuccino Swirl, with a Fine nib. What an amazing giveaway!

    Alison Greene 
  • Thank you for the giveaway! So many beautiful pens: my choice: Edison Pearlette Sonoran Sunset Fine Point.

    Diane Lee
  • I must admit that Brian Gray is one of my favourite pen makers. The most beatiful and balanced pen he and is small team make is, IMHO, the Menlo. I would love to have an Edison Menlo in Amber Translucent Swirl and with EF nib. ? Happy 2018!

    José Manuel LACLETA

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