One Pen to rule them all…
This is my Master Pen, a Sailor Professional Gear Realo. I bought it from www.nibs.com and it is tuned by Mr. John Mottishaw. A pen can’t be much better than this. It writes like a dream. It’s built like a tank. It holds a decent amount of ink. Perhaps it lacks a bit of a personality, but it’s like comparing a Mercedes to a Austin Healey Sprite 1959.
PS: As you can see in the ink window the pen is filled with J.Herbin “Perle Noire”.
As a blogger at WordPress.com you get a lot of information “behind the scenes”. I can see statistics regarding from where my readers are coming, what they are reading and how they have found my blog. One thing is clear. I just have to mention a fountain pen, and it attracts readers, more than my other writings. I assume that many of my readers are looking for their first fountain pen, but don’t know where to start. I’m not a pen-expert but I have found my path in the jungle and that is what I would like to share with you in this post. Different pen-users may have different preferences, but I personally stand behind these recommendations, which I also try to motivate and discuss.
As I’ve said before, you can never go wrong with a Sailor Professional Gear Slim, (aka Sailor Sapporo), with H-M, (medium), nib! It is a medium-sized pen of good quality, with a smooth gold nib, that can take ink in Sailor cartridges, or with the supplied converter, just any fountain pen ink from a bottle. Later you may find that you want a bigger pen. Fine, but still you’ll find that the Sailor PG Slim fits perfectly in your shirt-pocket and is easy to bring with you both at work or when you are travelling. As a novice you may find it a bit pricey, but remember, it is going to serve you for many years, perhaps even for the rest of your life.
Sailor Kiwa-guro, black is a prefect ink for general use. It is pretty fast-drying, non-smearing, light- and water-resistant and will work just fine on any kind of paper without feathering or bleed-through. You may later want inks in other colors. Fine, but this is a very good ink to start with for general use. (If you can read between the lines you’ll understand that not all inks are fast-drying, non-smearing, light- and water-resistant, non-feathering and non-bleeding.) It is regarded as a high-maintenance ink, which only means that you should not leave the pen with ink for a long time as the ink in the pen may dry and cause clogging. (But that is a general rule for any pen and ink.) It is also good practice to rinse the pen with plain water between fillings from time to time.
Now that you have a good pen and good ink, and are thus able to write on just any kind of paper, even cheap office-paper or Moleskine. But if you haven’t used good quality writing paper in your entire life I have a couple of hints: For note-taking and general scribbling, Rhodia is a very good choice. For my personal journal-writing I use Quo Vadis “Habana”. When it comes to writing letters and personal notes I rely on Clairefontaine “Pollen”, paper, envelopes and folded cards. I am especially fond of the ivory color.
Thank you for your attention. Comments and questions are welcome.
If someone would ask me to recommend a good fountain pen that wouldn’t cost a fortune but last a lifetime, two pens would come to my mind: Pelikan M200 and Sailor Sapporo, (also called Professional Gear Slim).
You can never go wrong with a Pelikan M200, F nib, or a Sailor Sapporo, M nib, as a first serious fountain pen! Period.
Here on this first picture you see the two models together. Mine are black, but remember there are a lot of colors to choose from, especially with the Sapporos.
First a disclaimer:
- The opinions expressed in this post are my own, and based on my own observations.
- I’m not affiliated with any pen manufacturer or seller.
Pelikan and Sailor are two of the most respected pen-makers in the world. No one would disagree with that. The Pelikan pens are made in Hannover, Germany and the Sailor pens in Hiroshima, Japan. The hallmark for Pelikan is the piston filling system that is used in Pelikan pens from 1929 and the Sailor pens are famous for the quality and performance of their nibs.
Both pens are the entry-level pens in their series of “fine writing”. The emphasis is on what they are made for, writing, and not on “bling” and flair.
Both pens have a shirt-pocket friendly size.
Both pens have very good and sturdy clips.
The Pelikan has a more cylindrical shape.
The Pelikan clip has the shape of the beak of a Pelican.
The nib is made of steel. Here you can see the ink level and get a hint of its big ink capacity.
One big feature with Pelikan is that the nib and feeder is in one unit and could easily be exchanged by the user. You can buy nib-units separately!
Not so good picture but the Sailor’s body is somewhat wider and has a slight torpedo shape.
The famous Sailor gold nib. On this model it is 14 K Gold. It writes like a dream.
I’m currently using the M200 on the go as I’ve found the Sapporo’s ink capacity too low so I had in fact to carry two Sappororos.
The Sailor nibs are generally, out of the box, better than the Pelikan nibs. Wet and smooth and with controlled ink flow. But Pelikan nibs can, with or without adjustment, be just as good as a Sailor nib.
Sailor fountain pens, made in Hiroshima, Japan, are among the best available in the world. This is a fact and not an opinion. Emphasis is on the nibs and their writing properties, and Sailor fountain pens are in quality and “out-of-the-box-performance” second to none in the world. The product range is huge from everyday workhorses to very exclusive pens that are manufactured on special orders. Writing with pen, ink and paper, is serious business, both for me and for the Sailor Company of Japan.
From a Sailor catalogue:
A fountain pen in the hand becomes an extension of body and soul and is evidence of a well-developed human culture, with written words not born from a keyboard composition. Raising above the times a fountain pen will forever remain the highest quality means of human self-expression.
- This blog-post was originally written Dec 2010. During this autumn, 2013, I’m going to edit this post gradually. I have glued it to the top. I’m going to add links and videos etc. I’m also going to stress my own opinions a bit more. This is a work in progress…
- If you have a comment, please post it in the comments area.
- If you have a question that you want to put outside the comments area, please e-mail me using the address seen at the bottom of this page.
I’m not affiliated with the Sailor Company, or with any of the dealers that are later to be mentioned. I’m just a happy Sailor-user willing to share my experiences, observations and opinions.
If you are looking for a first serious fountain pen but do not know where to start, look no further:
You can never go wrong with a Sailor Professional Gear Slim (aka. Sailor Sapporo), with H-M nib! It is a medium-sized pen with a perfect 14 K gold nib. If the price seems too high, remember, this pen will last a lifetime. (There are cheaper Sailor fountain pens with steel nibs which are said to be good. I have not tried any of those yet and therefore I’m not going to comment on them.)
Do not order any of the specialty nibs, Zoom, Music Stub, Naginata togi etc., unless you know exactly what you are doing, OR are willing to pay the extra money to have the nib exchanged or modified. (I’m absolutely not saying that these nibs are “bad”, but they can be hard to master by a novice, especially if you are writing on non-premium paper as these nibs deliver much ink, which can cause feathering or bleed-through. It is like a Ferrari Testarossa should not be your first car, especially not on bad roads…)
Why you should be very conservative when choosing nib to your first Sailor can be illustrated by this informative video…
In this article I’m going to discuss Sailor fountain pens in the segment $100-500 USD. Above that segment there is nothing making the pen write better, and below that segment you get steel nibs. (I’m not telling that they are inferior in being pens made for writing, but as an investment for life, a nib of gold will give you more satisfaction over the years, at least emotionally.)
- A very nice review of the Sailor Sapporo: http://edjelley.com/2013/08/27/sailor-sapporo-fountain-pen-handwritten-review/
- Sailor Pen Company, official English site: http://www.sailorpen.com/index.html
In this post I’m going to show you some of my pens. (If you click this link you’ll find a very beautiful but expensive Sailor that belongs to a colleague of mine in Singapore. Have a look and start drooling! http://ela123a.wordpress.com/2010/06/05/sailor-dragonfly-maki-e-fountain-pen/ )
The first pen is a Professional Gear Ivory with a H-F nib. It’s filled with Noodler’s BP Black and I use it for my edited journal, Quo Vadis Habana.
These two Professional Gear Slim, (also called Sailor Sapporo), one in gold trim and the other in silver/rhodium trim are always in my shirtpocket, filled with J.Herbin “Perle Noire”. Both have H-M nibs. One of them was almost lost some time ago. I had lost it and later found it on the bottom of a paper bag while recycling waste! I think that the Sapporos have the perfect size for wearing in shirt pockets.
When you are flashing with a Sailor Fountain Pen, the admirers will gather!
Here you can see the difference between writing with an italic nib and an ordinary H-F nib:
A nice Family picture:
From the left you have first the red Sapporo Mini (Professional Gear Slim Mini) that now is in the hands of a dear friend of mine. Then you have my two Sapporos mentioned above. A couple of 1911M follows. They have Richard Binder italic nibs, ground from Music Stubs. They are filled with J.Herbin “Lie de Thé” and “Perle Noire” respectively. To the right two Professional Gears, the wthite with H-F nib and the black with H-M nib. (Later I have acquired one PG with Naginata-togi NMF nib and one PG Realo Maroon with H-M nib.)
The pen and the fly: