Welcome to the first blog of 2021! I hope that this finds you all well, and that you had as great of a New Year’s celebration as possible! As we set forward into a much better year to come, I’d like to start with the 2020 Recap: Adam’s Top Ten. It feels like the biggest part missing from the pen world is attending pen shows. We’ve greatly missed seeing each other at pen shows all year. And we were fortunate to at least have the Baltimore Pen Show 2020 as the last in-person show of the year. As we all know, there’s nothing quite like being able to touch, hold, test out, and write with various pens, inks, paper, etc. while considering your next acquisition. That’s why I take great care and responsibility with these reviews, since many of you rely on blog reviews to decide on your next purchase.
We’ve collectively found a new way of living since the pandemic hit. Our writing instruments and related accessories are important as ever since many of us don’t have a home office setup equipped to do all your daily work tasks. It seems like pen manufacturers realize this as well since I don’t remember the last time so many new products have been created and released in one year. These are functional tools for us that are made with great quality and aesthetic beauty that makes the day to day mundane tasks at work more bearable. I know I’ve enjoyed using all forms of my writing instruments (fountain pens, rollerballs, ballpoints, pencils, and even sketch pencils) ever since the pandemic hit. This isn’t just via using specific items for these blog reviews either. It’s getting to take notes, write out drafts, sending out plenty of “snail mail”, journaling, and much more.
I hear countless stories both inside and outside of the pen community from people using writing instruments more than ever, and the importance of what using them means. For many, it’s a silent escape being able to journal about the chaos surrounding us. It’s also being able to write down all the things we wish we could say to those who passed away. Getting creative with daily tasks is also helpful – not just work-related, but also in terms of household things. Making lists, quick notes, and leaving nice messages lying around are some of the many ways we use writing instruments to improve our situation.
That being said, it’s important to note that I realize my reviews are subjective. In fact, this 2020 Recap: Adam’s Top Ten list is also subjective as to which pens, paper, etc. were my favorites to review. It was quite challenging to choose only ten favorites that I had the pleasure of reviewing. Out of 57 blog reviews (most of which I own in my own collection), here are my favorites:
The Homo Sapiens pen collection continues to innovate and grow to be an essential part of your collection with the Lava Colors. The three color choices of Inferno, Blizzard, and Sandstorm look perfectly matched for material that comes from a volcano. Continuing with the legacy of being virtually indestructible makes this pen collection very attractive to me. The magnetic cap vs. the twist and lock mechanism of its predecessors still takes getting used to. The functionality of this pen goes above and beyond what you might expect.
Blackwing pencils continue to be in my list of favorite wooden pencil brands. Their limited editions are fun and creative, with some great color combinations and great inspiration behind their subject choices. The Ravi Shankar makes this list for me because I love music so much. I also love the color scheme of the brighter, uplifting yellow (Turmeric Yellow as they call it). It’s a quality pencil that I love using so much I bought two boxes of this Volume 3 Ravi Shankar edition.
Adding this limited edition Kaweco to the list was a “no brainer” for me. I love the Kaweco Sport, Al-Sport, AC-Sport, etc. because of its compact nature, durability, and customizable options. And now that they have a slide converter that’s so much better than the squeeze converter, I’m able to match this coffee themed pen with a similarly themed (Monteverde Brown Sugar) ink. The profile of this pen is very classic and classy, while still retaining its modern feel. And not to mention the functionality – this pen writes like a dream. The ink flows smoothly and consistently.
- Conklin All American Courage Limited Edition Pen Collection (see the full review here)
The All American model pen is comfortably sized and shaped for everyday use. I love the Conklin All American pen in all its color options. Yet this particular one, the Courage, is extra special. Conklin contributes a portion of the sales to organizations that help feed families in need. The Courage collection honors First Responders. It comes in three color choices: Graphite, Red, and White.
- Conklin Duraflex Demo Limited Edition Fountain Pen (see the full review here)
Conklin was on a roll this year with several favorite new releases. As evidenced by the several in my collection, I truly enjoy the Duragraph/Duraflex model. This Duraflex Demo was the first time I got to use the new JoWo Omniflex nib. I’m impressed thoroughly with the nib as well as the pen. The Demo is crystal clear – not a single imperfection on the pen. I love seeing the inner mechanics of a pen, and this is no exception. Also, the O-ring allows filling directly into the pen without needing a converter. I was happy to see how well this performed using the included dropper.
While the Lamy 2000 is one of their older models, I feel like it’s withstood the test of time to stay relevant. It’s an incredible, functional tool that has great value for what you pay for. The fountain pen was fun to review, and is one of the few pens that I want one of each nib size in my collection. It’s also one of the least expensive pens to carry a 14k gold nib and have a piston filling system.
- Monteverde Ritma Fountain Pen and Ballpoint Collection (see the full review here)
The Monteverde Ritma is a game changer for everyday “workhorse” pens. Whether you get the fountain pen or the ballpoint, it’s direct competition for the Lamy Al-Star series (which is a similar price point). And as much as I love the Al-Star, the Ritma is so cool. I love the heavier weight on this pen. Also, the new JoWo nibs on all Monteverde pens make this a great writer. You’ll enjoy form, function, and design.
Carbon fiber is one of my favorite materials to see pens made with. The Innova 20th Anniversary Collection has a carbon fiber cap and barrel, and was available in rose gold, chrome, and gunmetal finishes as a limited edition. They employed a snap cap (friction fit) on the Innova. This pen pays homage to the original Innova that was one of the first pens from Monteverde.
One of the smoothest click-action retraction mechanisms made adorns the Caran d’Ache Alchemix ballpoint. It’s a dream to write with, and uses the ultra-smooth Caran d’Ache Goliath refills. The Goliath refills boast a large capacity of ink, keeping you writing for extended periods of time. Not to mention the great ergonomic design of the pen itself. A rounded triangular body provides comfort to write with. The Alchemix comes in a carbon fiber finish, as well as a wooden finish called “Wenge”.
The Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen fountain pen brings back the classic “J” model with a modern take. Three great colors are available: Capri Blue, Carmine Red, and Tuxedo Black. I got the Carmine Red, and I’m looking at the Tuxedo Black next. Fitted with a JoWo nib, you know you’re getting a great writer. I like that it uses a standard international size cartridge/converter filling system. And even though words can’t do this pen enough justice, I’ll try. The subtle swirls deep in the resin are gorgeous. I love the shape, design, and how great it feels in my hand when writing with it.
What I hope you take away from this 2020 Recap: Adam’s Top Ten is that whatever you’re writing with, make it count. Make it enjoyable. Make it something that helps improve your life in some way.
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