By Michael W. Harris
This post is part of a series documenting the stories behind my pen collection. To see the first post in the series, with links to all the other posts, click here.
- Pelikan M200, Green Marbled, 14K Medium (M600 size)
- May, 2013 – Graduation Gift from Friend
- Lamy Studio, Brushed Steel, 14K Medium
- c. 2014 – Two Hands Paperie, Boulder, CO
- Diplomat Aero, Sunset Orange
- August, 2018 – Two Hands Paperie, Boulder, CO
This is a natural, but motley assortment. There is nothing really connecting them except for how they fit into my pen history, and as such they sort of fall into the categories of: The Father (Pelikan), Son (Lamy), and the Holy Ghost (Diplomat). These categories not only work in terms of German writing instrument history (to a certain extent), but also how I got them. These pens were my first and second fountain pens, plus a major acquisition (first at that price level and first that I largely bought because of reviews). However, the more important through line with these pens is the where: Boulder, CO. This city is an important place to me personally, and key to my history (see these two posts). Also, as a special treat, all three of these pens have been upgraded to have gold nibs! While these may not be grail pens to many (though will be for some), they are sacred objects to me.
Pelikan M200 (The Father)
My “Pen Zero.” A graduation gift from a dear friend upon completing my PhD. By gifting me this pen (which cost an amount that shocked me then, but now seems reasonable), she was including me in her family’s tradition of gifting pens at special moments in life, which meant the world to me, and still does. She is a very special person to me, and I wish I could repay and relay how much her and her gift has meant to me.
It was, though, a gift that, in my fountain pen ignorance at the time, I probably wrecked the original nib of, and at the very least the original gold plating is completely gone. I eventually replaced it with the much larger and lovely M600 nib, truly one of my favorite easy pen hacks. It makes the pen, in use, just a bit longer, and a lovely writer.
The M200 may not ever be my most used pen, and is certainly not my most expensive, however it will always be my most precious and special pen. And as far as “Pen Zeros” go, it was a hell of a starting point.
Lamy Studio (The Son)
My second pen, bought some time after the Pelikan, but I have no idea exactly when. It was most likely some time in 2014 when I wandered into Two Hands in Boulder and took my tentative first steps down the rabbit hole and into Wonderland. Paying around $80 for a pen then was insane to me, but I did it. I was not in love with the Lamy initially, but it was what I could afford at the time, and the clip was quite cool.
However, much like the usually subpar entry in a trilogy (Empire and Godfather, Part II notwithstanding), the Studio is the forgotten middle child of the set. And yet, it was also the first to get a 14K upgrade, which occurred early on in my true Fountain Pen Journey, while I was still living in Williamsburg, VA, and courtesy of the Goulets. It is a wonderful pen, though a bit nicked and scratched in the finish thanks to kicking around in a pouch before I knew any better.
And despite being the forgotten child, it remains in my collection and I now look forward to every time I ink it up.
Diplomat Aero (The Holy Ghost)
I will admit, this one initially felt a bit forced into this collection, but the more I thought about it, the more correct it became. Yes, the Diplomat was not my third pen, far from it (though it is one of the few that I bought in 2018 that has hung around), but it is, however, the only other pen in my collection that has a tangible Boulder connection, being purchased at Two Hands in August, 2018. Furthermore, this pen was bought during a special trip. It occurred right after I moved from Williamsburg to Memphis to start my new job, and was taken in conjunction with my 38th birthday. It was a chance to see friends I had not seen in a year since leaving in September 2017, and it was also when I climbed my first two 14,000 foot mountains (Greys and Torreys). And while it was not my official “new job pen,” it has unofficially and retroactively become such since the one I bought for that occasion I eventually sold. So in this way, it is a “ghost” because it marks a time and place in my life sadly past.
This pen is also important in others ways: 1) it was the first pen that I bought almost exclusively because of reviews I had seen, and 2) it also marked a me crossing a price threshold.
However, it is also just a bit too heavy for me to use for longer writing sessions, and feels a bit clunky in the hand. Yet, I love the design and color, and I enjoy it every time I use it! The original nib (which was truly sublime, just as the reviewers said) now lives in another pen after I upgraded my Aero to a 14K for my birthday in 2019, thus completing the trio.
P.S. – I also eventually sent the pen back to Diplomat to have the cap upgraded to the newer version (no more spinning or rattling) along with having the 14K nib tuned at the factory. I sent the pen back early 2020 and it took a rather long time to get back due to shipping delays caused by the Pandemic. However, it was worth the wait!