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.
- TWSconti 580AL, “Purple Rain,” Visconti Steel Fine
- December, 2018 – Pen Addict Slack
- Parker Sonnet Chinese Lacque Ambre, 18K Fine
- August, 2019 – Peyton Street Pens
- Date Code Y, fourth quarter 1996
- Papier Plume “Blues” Pen, Stylosuite Extra Fine Xwing-Harpoon Flex
- December, 2019 – Papier Plume
This set came about mainly because while the Holy Trinity is a very sentimental set of pens, the next question is: “what is my daily pen ideal carry?” I have often said that the TWSconti is probably my favorite writer, basically perfect and could be my “one pen,” however there are others whose writing experience I also love and would not want to be without.
The Sonnet was a natural addition because, once I had the nib worked on by Mike Vanness, it was smooth, and the pen was perfectly balanced. A true “Writer’s Pen” as Parker’s ads at the time proclaimed.
That leaves the Papier Plume, truly the oddball of the bunch, being a pen that is attempting to mimic a classic flex nib, but one that I truly enjoy the bouncy feel that normal writing with it has. I was a bit iffy when I bought it, but loved the color, and once I got it on the page, I knew I had made the right choice.
This was my beginning with pen tweaking and frankenpenning. I bought the pen from a friend via the Pen Addict Slack sell-trade channel, the same friend who I would buy many more Visconti pens from, and its weirdness was truly the draw for me. It was a TWSBI pen, but had a Visconti nib. Say what? Additionally, I had recently read a blog post (linked in the articles above) about dyeing TWSBIs bodies, and so I decided what the hell. The price was unbeatable, and I took the plunge. The pen itself, after dyeing, turned out a dark, royal purple whereas I had originally wanted something dusty to match a favorite ink: Soft Snow of Ohara. Oh well, now I just use Montblanc Lavender Purple.
What was even more clear once I started using it, though, was just how remarkable the steel Visconti nib was. It had been set in the TWSBI and tuned by none other than Ralph Reyes, the Madman of Stacked Nibs. It simply glides across the page, and every time I write with it, I question why I need any other pens? And when I do match it with the Lavender Purple, there is no other perfect combo.
I bought this pen for $50 (plus had some other goodies thrown in for free), modified it myself for color, and now hold it more dearly than any other pen I own outside of the Holy Trinity (though a few recent acquisitions may challenge that spot).
It is truly a one of a kind. An edition of one. And it is mine.
This pen was purchased during my deep dive into ‘90s Parker phase, and of the four Sonnets I bought, it is the only one to have stuck around. It is funny since the nib was also almost unusable out of the box. It was tight and scratchy, barely writing at times, but nothing I could do would fix it. I took it with me to a Vanness Pen Open House in Fall 2019 and Mike sorted it right out like it was nothing (and he also charged me nothing for his magic touch!).
Part of the reason why it has hung around my collection over others, besides the now perfect nib, is that the finish is truly stunning, with lovely amber and orange-beige stripes. The gold trim, which I am normally blah on, matches it perfectly. The Sonnets, as a model, are one of my favorite as they are very well weighted, balanced, and, when the nibs are tuned, are truly perfect writers for long sessions. This is why this pen is collected within my Perfect Carry as opposed to others from my“Parker Posse.” And while not one of a kind, it is highly sought after and unique.
Papier Plume “Blues” Pen
There is no other way to say it: this is an strange pen. It is a three-way collaboration between the New Orleans stationery shop Papier Plume, pen maker Hinze Pens, nib maker Les @ Stylosuite. The pen body is nothing truly exciting though well made, but what made me curious enough to spend the money (the most I had spent on a pen up to that time), was the material and nib…and the story Papier Plume was trying to tell about music in New Orleans. I initially resisted, but in the end I caved and called up the shop to preorder, reserving number 8 (my birth month) of 40.
Delivery of the pen itself was delayed massively, but it finally arrived in December, complete with matching ink and laser engraved tin box. The whole presentation was a bit underwhelming when compared to some of the packing dreamed up by the big pen manufacturers (Pelikan and Pilot jump to mind), but any buyer’s remorse evaporated once I put nib to page. The flex is a joy to use, and even though I have pretty bad handwriting by any metric, it makes even my chicken scratch look good. It is fun, the material is lovely, and the matching ink is also great.
Buying this pen, spending the money I did, broke a price barrier in my thinking and also kicked off the “consolidation” (or, as I call it, “refinement”) phase. I reasoned, if I am going to spend that kind of money, I will have to be more careful and also sell a bunch of pens to build up funds!
A landmark pen, indeed, and a perfect one.