Tom Answers #21PenQuestions

Call it a challenge, a trend, or a writing prompt, the #21PenQuestions is a fun way to share your unique collecting habits with the pen community.

These questions were originally conceived by Ana from the Well Appointed Desk stationery blog. You can find Ana’s questions (and responses) here.

Here, I (Tom) will do my best to answer all of these questions to the fullest degree of honesty and integrity. I haven’t looked at anyone else’s answers because I did not want to color my thoughts.

1: What is the pen they’ll have to pry out of your cold dead hands?

Leonardo Momento Zero Mediterranean Celluloid with a 1.3mm 14kt gold stub nib. To put it in terms that a Brandon Sanderson fan would understand, it’s my “shardblade.” This Leo is my weapon of words that looks as visually impressive as it writes.

The pen is a rare one in that it is made of gorgeous, Italian turquoise celluloid. Also, contrary to most pens made in the Momento Zero standard size, it’s a piston-filler instead of a cartridge converter.

2: What’s your guilty pleasure pen?

I always feel incredibly indulgent when I write with my Sailor 1911 Realo which has been customized with urushi and raden by the illustrious Studio Bokumondo (not affiliated, just a happy customer).

Why write with a plain black fountain pen when you can have a true artist use it as a canvas for stunning, handmade artwork?

I presently have a Montblanc 146 that is getting the full Bokumondoh treatment.

3: What’s the pen you wish existed?

The self-cleaning fountain pen. Once you want to change your ink or clean your pen, you set it and forget it. Come back in 5 minutes and it’s ready for more ink.

Mark my words on this - I’ll make it happen one day. If you’re reading this and stealing this idea - I will come after you!

4: What pen would you give to a new enthusiast?

A Platinum Preppy. It’s a virtually no-risk pen to try out. Yet, it gives you the full experience of owning and using a fountain pen. Even if the new writer loses or destroys the pen, it can be replaced at a low cost.

5: What pen do you want to get along with but it just never clicked?

One pen I really wanted to like was the Kaweco AL-Sport. I had one in the RAW aluminum fountain pens for some time, removing it from my collection for a few reasons:

  1. I don’t like how the front grip section sometimes loosens from the barrel when using the pen.

  2. I like using bottled ink and the Sport converter leaves something to be desired.

  3. If I’m going to carry a pocket fountain pen, I’d like it to be lighter like the original classic or Skyline Sport pens made of resin.

6: What pen do you only keep only because it's pretty?

All of my pens are pretty, that’s why I keep them. Yet, they also must be pens that provide an excellent writing experience. I won’t keep a pen just for aesthetic purposes. It has to be a pen I enjoy using.

7: What pen (or stationery product) did you buy because everyone else did?

I try to resist jumping on the bandwagon, but I couldn’t help myself when Sailor introduced the Kure Azur (now sold out) fountain pen to complete the 10th-anniversary Cocktail collection.

Now, it seems that Sailor figured out we all like the cocktail-themed pens and has since drowned the market with scores of tequila and gin-infused pen designs.

So, instead of one special edition pen a year, Sailor now drops 5 cocktail pens at a time.

8: What pen (or stationery product) is over your head or just baffles you?

Maybe someone could help clue me into why Conid pens are so highly desired.

9: What pen (or stationery product) surprised you?

I’m shocked at how long it took me to embrace the Lamy 2000.

It’s a staple in many pen collections and arguably one of the greatest of all-time pens. It took me a decade to finally buy one for my collection and I can’t fathom why I waited that long.

The pen's design is unassuming, taking on the Bauhaus philosophy of “form follows function.” Once you get the chance to write with one, you’ll get it.

10: What pen doesn’t really work for you but you keep it because it’s a collectible?

I used to have a Platinum 3776 Century Kumpoo fountain pen. Don’t get me wrong, this pen is gorgeous and one of the greatest limited edition colors in the series. However, the pen and I did not get along.

Most of the problems stemmed from the converter system. It would be difficult to get a good suction started to draw ink into the pen. Then, I’d find myself priming the feed every once in a while to keep the ink flowing. I actually hacked the converter to add a ball agitator (the same that you’d find in the Platinum cartridge) which seemed to help a bit. Yet, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the pen and people were paying incredible sums of money for this particular edition. So, I let it go.

11: What is your favorite sparkly pen (or ink)?

I have a lot of shimmer inks (in sample form), yet only one pen that shimmers in the Sailor Pro Gear Kure Azur. I can’t pick just one favorite shimmer ink, so I’ll give you one of my current faves, which is Colorverse Iris Nebula.

12: Which nib do you love – but hate the pen?

I used to have a Waterman 352 Stalwart vintage fountain pen that had a soft, flexy nib. It was a user-grade pen that wasn’t a “looker” when I bought it on eBay, but it wrote beautifully. I eventually sold it because the lever-filling system failed (probably the sac).

13: What pen (or stationery product) gives you the willies?

Montegrappa limited editions like the Tutenkamen and the recent Barbie release. Not to mention the Sylvester Stallone Chaos pen.

14: What’s your favorite pen for long-form writing?

This is a tough one because many of the pens I have are all suitable for long writing sessions. The one that feels most comfortable and most satisfying is my Lamy 2000.

The seamless shape of the barrel, the brushed feel of the stainless steel grip, the lightweight Makrolon material, and the smoothness of the 14kt gold hooded nib - the Lamy 2000 checks so many boxes for me.

15: What pen (or stationery product) do you love in theory but not in practice?

I love flex nibs and have tried a number of pens in search of the perfect flex nibs. Along the way, I’ve “kissed a lot of frogs” which just did not work out well.

In that process, I’ve found that the best flex nib options on the market are the SCRIBO 14kt gold Feel the Flex nib, the Pilot Custom 912 FA (with the ebonite feed from Flexible Nib Factory - not affiliated), and the 14kt gold Jowo elastic nib.

16: What pen (or stationery product) would you never let someone else use?

I would never let just anyone handle my fountain pens. If I know the person well and they know how to write with a fountain pen, I’ll let them use any of my pens.

If a stranger off the street asked me to use one of my fountain pens, I might let them borrow my Kaweco Sport or Lamy Safari. Definitely not my Montblanc 149.

17: What pen (or stationery product) would you never use for yourself?

Although Namiki Emperors are considered the superior, top-tier status fountain pen, I could never see myself wanting to write with a pen that large. Even the Montblanc 149 is a bit too big for my taste. The 146 is my Goldilocks size.

18: What pen (or stationery product) could you NOT bring yourself to buy?

A Visconti Homo Sapiens.

Although we try to thoroughly check each Visconti pen that goes out to our customers, I’ve seen way too many quality control issues that are shocking for such a costly pen. Many issues of which, thankfully, are never seen by our customers.

I know the Homo Sapiens ranks highly for many fountain pen enthusiasts. Yet, you won't ever see one in my pen collection.

19: What’s your favorite vintage pen?

I’m a sucker for Parker Vacumatics.

At one point, I had at least 5-6 Vacs in different colors but I cut it down to one blue pearl pen in a fine point. I love the ringed, stacked celluloid and the pump vacumatic filling system is such a unique mechanism that isn’t easy to find these days.

20: What is your favorite EDC/pocket pen?

The Kaweco Sport in Iridescent is my go-to if I’m out and about. I put a pocket clip on mine so I can attach it to a pen loop, notepad cover, or my pants pocket. Its lightweight resin doesn’t weigh me down. The steel broad nib on it writes as smoothly as a gold nib.

Using the Sport piston converter, I frequently fill the pen with shimmer inks because I can easily take apart the nib and feed to thoroughly remove any remnant particles.

21: What’s the pen (or stationery product) that got away?

Back in 2019, Leonardo released the first edition of the Momento Zero Grande in Brooks Primary Manipulation 1. I was too late in placing the order and had to settle for the second edition Brooks in Stromboli.

I won’t make that mistake again. I’m jumping all over the new Momento Zero Grande 2.0 in PM1. Now, if only I could make a decision on which finish and nib size to get…

If you’d like to read more #21PenQuestions answered by other members of the online pen community, please feel free to explore the links below. This is not an exhaustive list, as more people are adding their posts every day.

The Gentleman Stationer

The Pen Addict


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