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The Ultimate Penultimate Pen

People who’ve known me for any length of time know that I like pens, especially fountain pens. I have been this way for a long time and in fact, Carter and I coined a term, SPIP. Standard Pen In Pocket. I have, over the years, discovered a new term that is used, not only by pen collectors but also knife and gun collectors and many others. The ubiquity of the term “Everyday Carry” or EDC abounds all over the internet and there is even a website called, interestingly enough, which is full of reviews of items that you might need to, um, carry every day. But today I want to talk about my EDC SPIP.

A caveat stating that I do not present myself as any sort of expert is necessary because I know people who own far more expensive and precision pens than I could ever afford. I have never spent over a hundred dollars on a pen, let alone seven or eight hundred or even much more. Pens in that price range are for a different class of people than I belong to. I do know people who have five and six hundred dollar pens in their collection but they can do it. As much as I love fountain pens, rollerballs and even a couple of ballpoints, I just can’t picture myself spending that much. Maybe I just don’t have the love I claim to have? Although, on a practical note, a $47,000 limited edition pen that is appointed in gold and platinum may not write a whole lot better than its $400 counterpart from the same company.

My first favorite in my collection is one that I loved before I ever wrote with it. I saw the Retro 1951 Tornado Fountain Pen P-51 Mustang and thought, “That’s an awesome concept and a cool-looking pen with a great storage box to boot.” If you click on the link and look at the photo you can see that it looks like the historical plane. Well, without the wings, but wings don’t work well on a fountain pen, hahaha. In fact, when it came and I opened it up, I immediately knew I was going to give it as a present to a man I know who enjoys World War II history, planes and fine writing instruments that would absolutely be thrilled by it. I left it untouched and gave it away and then reordered one for myself, making it the pen I have ever spent the most money on. It writes nice, making a fine line and if you are journaling and can’t think of what to write you can make some zooming and rat-a-tat-tat sounds and pretend you are in aerial combat flying your pen all over. If you are a person who sits in a cafe or coffee shop to write you may want to do this quietly.

My second favorite writing instrument of all time is a Parker IM Core Fountain Pen Blue-Grey that I bought from Colorado Pen Company. It’s tough and long-lasting, clean and easy to fill with either a cartridge or a converter to use bottled ink. I prefer permanent blue-black but blue is good and black is okay. Writing with a fountain pen with brown ink looks really nice and very old-fashioned on a page, though, and as I am typing this I am thinking that the brown is actually a closer tie with the blue-black than anything else.

My least favorite pen and nethermost on this list is a ballpoint. Now, don’t misunderstand, I like some ballpoints. For example, I have a nice set of Parker Jotters that write great and look good and I do use them. But they are not really my EDC ballpoint either. My EDC ballpoint is a pen that is sold at the Dollar Tree under a brand called, rather punnily, to my idea, Inc. The idea of carrying an Inc. Pen just cracks me up every time. Not only that, but they often come in packs of two or more, making them really inexpensive and they write okay, too. This is really handy if you are like me and often get the request, “Say, can I borrow your pen for a minute?” It’s kind of shocking, the number of people walking around EDC SPIP-less. Before I wised up I used to loan my Parker Jotter. These can run between $8 and $25 and I realized I needed to find something else to do when someone came up to me and said, “Hey brother, my kid took your pen apart. I couldn’t find all of the pieces but here you go.” Fifty cent loaners now all of the time.

The second to the last pen on the list is one that I really do carry every day and really, I don’t know why I give it this appellation except that the first two are nicer pens. The Zebra V-301 Fountain Pen is really a workhorse. It writes every single time I pick it up until it runs out of ink and even then if you open it up as though you were going to change the cartridge and flick it a little, it will give you enough ink to finish your sentence. I like the sleek look of it and the way it feels in my hand while I am writing with it. I’ve never really liked hooded nibs, but this works. This pen just works. The worst thing about it is the cap. It doesn’t stay on and a loose, uncapped fountain pen floating around in your pocket is not something you want which is another reason for its place on this list.

Remember, the Good Bok says, “I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:”

In case you were wondering, I used to know this word but had forgotten it until Margaret used it the other day and I thought myself extraordinarily witty when I came up with the droll title for today’s entry.


3 responses to “The Ultimate Penultimate Pen”

  1. Tony Laplume Avatar

    You…are very knowledgeable…about pens. I always have pens (yes, plural) with me, sometimes far too many. These days I also have a selection of sharpies, because I need those at work, and for some reason no one at work decided it was important enough to have any readily available, despite the fact that they’re used all the time…But anyway, I frequently need a pen to write in a notebook, so that’s why I have pens (plural) in my pocket. Sometimes I’ve had way too many. According to other people, anyway.

    1. Herb Avatar

      I have had those comments about my pens, too. “What do you need all those pens for? You can’t write with them all at once.” But I know the purpose of each one.

  2. […] readers of this blog will be aware that I really love pens and have a small but nice collection of them. Most of mine I paid under one hundred dollars and […]

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