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High-quality writing utensils?

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    High-quality writing utensils?

    I'm interested in seeking out high-quality writing utensils to carry in my Super Ego briefcase. It's really important to me to have reliable, quality pens and mechanical pencils carried with me.

    I've already discovered discussions on this forum about the Space Pen. I'm interested in checking out other possibilities.

    For the mechanical pencil, I'm looking for something with a brand name that has a reputation for superior durability, quality and reliability. I would prefer to find something with a "fat grip" section near the writing point and a good mechanism for installing replacement leads. I like mechanical pencils for taking notes; they're erasable and glide on paper easier than ordinary wood pencils. But cheap mechanical pencils aren't reliable. Replacing the leads in them is problematic at best.

    Are there any really good mail-order sources for high quality writing instruments? If so, I would appreciate it if links could be posted here.

    Thanks in advance.
    Owner of: Brain Bag backpack (Black), Field Journal Notebook (Blue), Snake Charmer (Small, Orange), Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.

    Pilot G2 gel pen, available by the box load at office supply stores in blue and black with a fine point .

    I tried a Space Pen and it was awful.

    Those pages have reviews for pretty much all current production mechanical pencils

    Dave's Mechanical Pencils
    pencil talk » Mechanical pencils

    It would help to know if you like thin or less thin pens.

    Good classic thin ballpoint are the Parker Jotter and the classic Cross ballpoint (both available in big brands office stores)

    I have to add that my personal preference is for fountain pens, then mechanical or colored pencils; rollerballs and ballpoints sharing the least favorite slot.

    I love Lamy Safaris and have a matching set 1 medium nib foutain pen, 1 bold nib fountain pen, mechanical pencil, rollerball and ballpoint in one classic color.
    Safaris are school pens available in an array of lovely colors, some of them limited edition, just like Tom Bihn Cordura.
    They also have a particular grooved grip guide which help children hold pens correctly, that grip guide is not for everyone as it conforms to the classic european tripod handgrip taught at school.

    I also own 2 Lamy Studios fountain pens which have a more professional look, Tom is holding a blue Lamy Studio in the Field Journal Notebook pictures.

    My Pilot G2 with a bold point replaces fountain pens on travel.
    Last edited by backpack; 08-27-2011, 04:24 PM.


      You might look at mechanical drafting pencils. My best pencils have been the ones I got for a drafting class in high school. You can guess how long ago that was that we didn't us computers.


        I'm not fussy on the pens; I suppose that "less thin" would be best.

        Thanks for the feedback thus far. Very informative!
        Owner of: Brain Bag backpack (Black), Field Journal Notebook (Blue), Snake Charmer (Small, Orange), Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.


          Pentel Sharp Kerry for sure on the mechanical pencil
          As for the pens, I carry around an assortment of fountain pens in my zephyr... it's an addiction much like TB bags!


            If you don't mind spending a small fortune, check out Tom Anderson's work.


            SuperEgo in black/steel/wasabi; Aeronaut 45 in cardinal/steel; Horizontal Cache (2M) in charcoal; Travel Tray in Ultraviolet


              Levenger always has a selection of above average choices.

              I prefer and use the Rotring models.
              Simple bulletproof and enduring.
              I have had a few of them for 30 years and they are better than new to me.
              Also if you buy the authentic pen refills they seem to be superior ink as well.

              rotring - home

              Just another obsession? I mean need!



                I used to use expensive pens when I started working but these days the only somewhat fancy pens/pencils I use are my old Rotring pen/pencil. The 600 series pen and pencil are very durable. +1 on the Pentel Sharp Kerry mentioned above too - I like that capped mechanical pencil design. Jetpens.com has a great selection of pens and pencils, including many from Japan that aren't available in many U.S. stores.
                Empire Builder | Cadet | Synapse 25 | MCB | Sidekick | Side Effect


                  Over the last year, I've revisited fountain pens. I used them for a bit when I spent a semester in France while in college and decided to go back to them. Frankly, using them prevents folks from borrowing the pen straight out of my hand -- the nib just freezes them and allows me to quickly retrieve my writing utensil.

                  I have found that The Goulet Pen Company (The Goulet Pen Company) is an amazingly good resource. I'm not in any way related to the Goulets. I've just had fantastic experiences via mail order -- and Brian & Rachel Goulet are into pens and writing materials much the same way as Tom and Darcy are into good bags.

                  My personal preferences are for Japanese-sized nibs (very thin so that one can theoretically write Chinese characters) and Waterman (made in France) pens. I have a Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point pen, which is a clicker fountain pen. You can click the button and the nib appears and disappears. It's very convenient when you jot down notes sporadically.

                  Goulet has an amazing selection of inks and they allow you to purchase samples, which means you can see if you like the flow, color, etc. before getting 3+ ounces of it. I've found that Pilot Iroshizuku inks and Noodler's inks are pretty cool.

                  As far as pencils, my preference is entirely Japanese. I have several Papermate PhD pencils which are made in Japan.

                  Ballpoint pens: Papermate all the way. They have less ink "goop" than other brands.

                  Erasers: Japanese plastic erasers. Nothing else. Pentel Clic Erasers are very convenient.

                  Paper: If available and practical: Clairefontaine.


                    WOW! Glad I started this thread! Keep 'em coming!
                    Owner of: Brain Bag backpack (Black), Field Journal Notebook (Blue), Snake Charmer (Small, Orange), Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.


                      For non-fountains I like the Uni-ball Signo with a size 0.5 tip. I enjoy the .38 tip also, but it's a bit fine for some tastes. They come in a mind-boggling array of colors, with the brown-black and blue-black being my favorites for writing, and hot pink for editing.

                      My Pelican Demonstrator (fine nib) is my favorite of all, though I don't take it on the road. I'm terrible at losing (and accidentally walking off with) pens, so it lives at home.

                      Great to know someone who uses the Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point, pw1224. I've been considering asking for one for my birthday. Thanks for the link, too!
                      Ego in Cardinal/Steel, Ristretto in Plum/Wasabi, Side Effect in Plum/Wasabi, Imago in Navy/Cork/Wasabi, Cafe Bags in Azalea, Turquoise, and Linen, TB Wallet, misc. pouches, and son's Brain Bag in Steel


                        I'm a fountain pen user. Like PW1224 - I appreciate the Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point for the convenience. Not too expensive as well.

                        But my real treasure - Sailor Pro-Gear Mosaic fountain pen. So smooth. I too swear by the Japanese nibs. From all the pens and nibs I've tried - Sailor is the smoothest, and a wonderful price point compared to the higher end pens of equal quality.
                        THE SAILOR PEN CO., LTD.
                        - this one stays safely at home, no one is ever allowed to "borrow" it, and I go through withdrawal when I am away from it!

                        For ball point - I use a Caran d'Ache - Ecridor "Chevron" style:
                        CARAN d'ACHE > Les Instruments d'Ecriture et Accessoires > Les Instruments d'Ecriture > Ecridor > Chevron > argenté rhodié
                        - note the mechanical pencils are high quality too!

                        For paper: Clairefontaine is lovely. I use Rhodia note pads as they are high end quality and the paper is exceptional.
                        Rhodia Writing Pads | Official U.S. Distributor
                        - note that the hardbound books do NOT use the same paper. Nice yes, but not as nice as the regular pads.

                        Speaking of paper, I use the Leuchttrum1917 hardback notebooks to carry with me in my bag every day. MUCH nicer than the same Moleskine books, higher quality paper (can handle fountain pens), and cheaper too!
                        Startseite | Leuchtturm1917
                        _ I believe they are made in Germany vs. made in China (strung together in Italy)…something like that.

                        I buy my pens, paper, ink for Laywine's in Toronto. I know some places on the internet can sell pens for less. But for the kind of money I have shelled out on a fountain pen - I really prefer dealing with experts and being able to try out every pen and nib to find the exact match for me. At least for the higher end pieces. I can get a cheap Ball point at the office supply store if need be after all! also, as I live in Canada, buying pricey items on-line can be much worse when Canadian customs gets them, if they happen to be in a bad mood. (Ask me how I know!)

                        There are several fountain pen fan websites, with links to on-line stores that such members prefer too. http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/

                        For anyone who asks to borrow my fountain pens - I just look / sound rude and say "no". Nibs tend to conform to one writer, and like a manual gear shift on a well engineered car - they tend to like one driver / writer! I do carry a small Bullet Fisher Space Pen in my hand bag for such - better than a cheap ball point, can write at any angle, does tend to glob every once in a while. Although I did get mine engraved…for fear someone walks off with it! I had to order this one from the website actually.

                        Fisher Space Pen Co. - Bullet Space Pens

                        (I have no connection with any of the above companies, other than being a rather rabid fan of quality pens and paper…)
                        Last edited by Maria; 08-27-2011, 04:07 PM. Reason: Customs and duty charges
                        "Buy the best, cry once" - Pasquale


                          Interesting selection of fountain pens.

                          I have only a little bit of experience with fountain pens, and that dates back to junior high, about 30 years ago.

                          Where did you gain experience with these pens, and how long have you been using them?
                          Owner of: Brain Bag backpack (Black), Field Journal Notebook (Blue), Snake Charmer (Small, Orange), Super Ego briefcase (Black / Indigo / Steel) with Reflective Strip, Brain Cell (Steel), Horizontal Freudian Slip, various Organizer Pouches and Key Straps, and a Side Effect (Black / Wassabi) worn as a belt-style hip-pack.


                            I used ballpoint pens in school, and yet my parents always used fountain pens. I liked the different colours of ink that one could get, and my mother has exquisite hand writing - she says it's easier to write with a fountain pen. Once I researched, and found one I liked (obsessed with?) - I too prefer it. I tend to press very hard and have tight hand writing when using a ball point pen, but a fountain pen glides and is so smooth - that is not a problem for me now with such a fountain pen. I also find my hand writing is easier to decipher with a fountain pen. The catch - difficult to transport a fountain pen without having to worry about it. For my Sailor pen, I use bottled ink - better selection of colours. But the cartridge filled fountain pens are so convenient, tend to hold more ink, and less messy to refill obviously. I really like the Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point as it's like a retractable ball point pen, and has cartridge ink. But a fine nib fountain pen! People look curiously at it when I write with it. It's got a "reverse" clip, so if one were to carry it in a shirt pocket, the nib would always be upwards. It's actually very comfortable to hold too.

                            I thought I'd try "cheap" disposable fountain pens for starters, to see if I could handle them. You can get nice ones for around $5 at office supply stores. But once I tried the fancy nibs…well there was no going back. I consider myself quite spoiled, and grateful to have such a writing treasure too. (And when I tried the Sailor - I knew within test-writing a few letters that I found the pen for me!)

                            I still carry around and use my Caran d'Ache ball point - it too is lovely and smooth. The convenience of a ball point can far out weigh a fountain pen, even the above retractable, when you don't want to worry about smeared ink, or when you have to press hard to write on a carbon type duplicate (cannot recall the name of such right now.)

                            Good luck with your search!

                            (Apologies if I rambled on…)
                            "Buy the best, cry once" - Pasquale


                              great...I love pens and pencils....
                              1. Pencils: try the ones made by Levenger. I have found them to have a good selection of mechanical pencils. Rotrings are very durable, but they are thinner to hold; and have an industrial feel to it. Great if you like that kind of feel. I also have an excellent pencil by Pelikan---really good. Other than that, my every day use favorite ones are Pentels or Staedlter's.

                              2. Pens---fountain pens occupy a full range. A good source is Fahrney's pens. Reliable; reasonable.

                              3. paper: yes to Rhodia and Clairefontaine. Their paper is 95gsm and far superior to any else. I found a good source that is relatively cheaper than other places: shopwritersbloc.com. Recently, Levenger carries Rhodia in their Circa. I use Circa--and so it is a great match.