2012 Top Ten Pens.

This year was lopsidedly more Japanese than vintage.

From left to right:

Danitrio baby octagon in the kuro-keshi finish, reviewed in November. This now sports the flexible EEF nib that used to be in the Ninja.
A recent experiment from Nakaya, the classic Piccolo machined from titanium. This has a BB nib ground to a stub.
A Platinum 3776 in Black, with a soft fine nib.
Nakaya Piccolo in jidai nuri “Bamboo,” with a rose gold nib in soft fine.
Nakaya Long Piccolo with matte gold clip, araishu finish, sporting an EEF nib.
Nakaya Long Piccolo in aka-tamenuri, soft fine nib.
Nakaya Decapod in AO tamenuri, with a music nib ground to a sharp-ish stub.
Nakaya Piccolo in black string rolled, rhodium clip, two-tone elastic music nib.
Moore Fingertip Demi, fine nib.
Parker Duofold Junior, silver repoussé overlay, gushy medium nib.

2012 Top Ten Pens

2012 Top Ten Pens

Every year has themes. This year is the year of the Piccolo, it seems. Portable, petite, just right in my hand – in different striking finishes, each with its own charm. The jidai nuri Piccolo has an organic, uneven surface, calling to mind bark and wood textures. The black string rolled Piccolo displays a sharp contrast between shiny body and matte string, punctuated by a shiny rhodium clip. And the titanium Piccolo is a surprise – heavy metal married to Nakaya’s aesthetic, it is a delight to use. One of the only two vintage pens to make it to the list this year, the Moore Fingertip Demi feels as airy as a Piccolo when uncapped. Its unusual inlaid nib skates over paper. I cleaned and restored it myself. I highly recommend digging out sticky sac remnants as a form of meditation.

3 Piccolos and a Demi

3 Piccolos and a Demi

Another theme for the year is facets. They do work to keep your pen from rolling off the table. But mostly, they just make a pen look delicious.



Nakaya’s tagline, “for your hand only,” isn’t just a line. Each nib has its own way of interacting with the motion and pressure of the hand. Even a Nakaya EEF is nuanced.

Long Piccolos

Long Piccolos

I love the soft fine nib on this Platinum 3776. I’m sure its provenance has something to do with it. This is a pen worthy of the #dailycarry tag – unobtrusive, ready to write at a moment’s notice, with enough line variation to make dashing off quick notes a pleasure.

Platinum 3776 soft fine nib

Platinum 3776 soft fine nib

The last theme of the year is sometimes, you just can’t help it. This pen falls outside my usual collecting zones. It’s a Parker. And the nib isn’t flexy. But the one-of-a-kind jeweler’s ornamentation on this petite pen makes it a keeper.

Parker Duofold Junior

Parker Duofold Junior with silver repoussé overlay

No top ten pens list would be complete without writing samples, and here they are.

Writing samples

Writing samples

I last did a top ten list four years ago. Of those ten, only one has left me. (And it didn’t go too far away, right, Jenny?)

What were your top pens this year?


  • http://themisterbaks.wordpress.com/ Nikko Panti

    Hello, Leigh!

    I’m hooked in reading your blogpost about pens! I cannot wait to buy my first Lamy fountain pen this week! By the way have you heard of the new Parker pens? The 5th Technology?

    I have a blog also and I wrote about it, here’s the link: http://themisterbaks.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/parker-sets-a-revolution-in-making-pens/

    Thanks! 🙂

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1342171896 Jenny Ortuoste

    Yep, the kuro-tamenuri is right here and waves “hi” to its new siblings :
    Love this list for all the Nakayas! The jidai nuri is splendid!

  • http://leighreyes.com Leigh Reyes

    The Parker 5th is a glorified felt-tip, IMHO. 😀 But, for people who want the look of writing with a fountain pen without messing around with ink and nibs and physics and chemistry, it’s definitely an option. I have one that I keep on my desk for emergency check signing purposes. 😀

  • Marie Z. Johansen

    Whenever I read one of your pen posts I – especially about Nakayas – I get a serious case of pen envy! Another great post! Happy 2013

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  • http://sketch-books.blogspot.com/ Gentian

    Hello pretty pens! I love your photos as always 😀 Thanks for letting us look at them.