2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Thanksgiving is over, so the Holiday season has officially begun. It's time to start thinking about what to give the pen lover in your life. I've prepared a guide to assist you. 

Pens for Beginners

Retro 51 Tornado - The Retro 51 Tornado is one of the first pens I purchased for myself when I seriously started collecting. It is reasonably priced (typically between $20 and $25) and comes with an excellent Schmidt liquid ink rollerball refill. The Tornado comes in many colors to fit the recipients taste. 

Caran d'Ache Original 849 - An excellent ballpoint for those starting a collection as well as a seasoned collector. It is extremely well-made and has an impressive design. The 849 comes in an array of colors and has a long lasting refill. 

Lamy 2000 Ballpoint - A little more expensive than my other suggestions; however, it is the nicest. An all-around great Bauhaus designed pen with similar looks to the fountain pen. The barrel is made of beautiful brushed Makrolon which gives the pen a unique texture and style. It is one of my favorites! 

Pilot Metropolitan - The best beginner fountain pen period! The Metropolitan writes quite well for a fountain pen under $15. At that low price, you get the Metropolitan, ink cartridge, and ink converter. What a steal! Oh, I forgot to mention, it has an all-metal body too! 

Lamy Vista - The Vista is another great fountain pen for beginners. It is actually the clear demonstrator version of the Lamy Safari. The Vista has a reputation for reliability and smooth writing. 

Mid-range Pens

TWSBI Vac 700 - The Vac 700 is my favorite TWSBI model to date. It comes in multiple color options and holds a massive amount of ink! You won't have to worry about running out of ink again! 

Cross Townsend - If you're looking for a clean and wet writing experience, the Townsend is for you! The shiny, luxurious, and executive styling is sure to catch the attention of others. 

Pens for Avid Collectors

Pilot Vanishing Point - The Vanishing Point is design genius! It is known for its retractable nib and durable metal barrel. With its 18k gold nib, you will experience an incomparable writing experience. 

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen - The Lamy 2000 offers one of the most classic designs on the list and provides a buttery-smooth writing experience. A must have for an avid collector! 

Edison Nouveau Premiere - A fantastic collaboration between Edison Pen Company and Goulet Pen Company. It is beautifully designed and lightweight pen. Ink flow is very consistent with little to no pressure. New designs are released seasonally and are made in the USA. 

Faber-Castell Ondoro - Faber-Castell has been making quality writing instruments since 1761, so you know the Ondoro is a quality fountain pen. It has one of the best stainless steel nibs I've used to date. It is buttery smooth and lays down a clean wet line. Its hexagonal design is unique and contemporary. 

Pilot Custom 74 - The Custom 74 is absolutely gorgeous! It is offered in many color options to fit your taste: blue, orange, purple, smoke, and clear demonstrator. It has a 14k gold nib and holds a substantial amount of ink. The Custom 74 is the perfect upgrade for those looking to upgrade to a gold nib. 

Pocket Pens

Kaweco Brass Sport - The Brass Sport is solid and extremely portable. The body is made of brass, so the pen is on the heavier side, but due to the smaller size, the added weight feels comfortable. The raw brass will develop a patina over time meaning the color will evolve as you use the pen. 

Schon DSGN - The best pocket pen around! Made in the United States and based just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Ian Schon created a durable and long-lasting everyday pen. Although only 4" capped, it extends to a full-sized pen when posted. Each Schon DSGN model uses a pressurized Fisher Space Pen refill, so you can write virtually anywhere.

Lamy Pico - I've been using the Lamy Pico for the past few months and I am absolutely impressed. The Pico's ability to retract and extend to a full-size pen has given it an edge over its competition. Its Lamy M22 refill is very smooth and does not blot. See a comparison of the Lamy Pico and Fisher Space pen Bullet here

Fisher Space Pen Bullet -  A beautifully designed pocket pen that can write virtually anywhere. The cartridge is pressurized with nitrogen gas so that it does not rely on gravity to work. It can be used in freezing cold, extreme heat, underwater, and upside down. 


Palomino Blackwing 602 - The Blackwing 602 is made of firm, yet smooth Japanese graphite which makes for an enjoyable writing experience. It is one of the smoothest and darkest writing pencils I have used to date. I'm not an expert on pencils, but after testing several other brands I've come to the conclusion that the Blackwing 602 provides the best writing experience. 

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Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV IPO Classic Black Review

The Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV ("FC45") is the fourth Franklin-Christoph pen to enter my collection.

Franklin-Christoph Family - Serious nibbage! Model 66 Stabilis, Model 20 Marietta, Model 45, Pocket 40.

Model 66 Stabilis, Model 20 Marietta, Model 45, Pocket 4

I got the IPO version in Classic Black. Since I got in on IPO (Initial Price Offering) pricing, I decided to upgrade the nib to the Masuyama medium italic 18K nib. I've been writing with this pen for over almost 3 months now.


Although the FC45 does not hold the "pocket pen" moniker, it is a diminutive pen. It is just a touch longer than the Pocket 40 and the Kaweco Brass Sport.

From right: FC Pocket 40, FC45, Tactile Turn Gist, Pilot Vanishing Point, Edison Nouveau Premiere Lilac, Platinum 3776 Century Sai, TWSBI 580, TWSBI Vac Mini and Kaweco Brass Sport

FC45 is a well-proportioned, slim pen.

The body is straight and tapers just slightly at both ends. Both the cap and tail ends are flat.

The cap end features the laser-etched Franklin-Christoph logo.

FC45 in the middle of the front row with the Franklin-Christoph logo

About 1/2 inch from the cap base are the laser-etched words "IPO" and on the next line down in smaller font, "Franklin-Christoph 45".

The concave grip section is made from the same material as the body. Through a bit of engineering genius, the grip flares out at the end to a lip that houses the wide-cut threads used to hold the cap. The design and construction are so well-done that the threads are just a natural part of the section and are not noticeable.

Another clever feature relating to the threads is that it only takes 3/4 turns to uncap the pen. It is a quick-release twist cap which makes it useful in those settings requiring frequent capping and uncapping (for me, this is taking meeting notes). Therein is the reason the threads are so unobtrusive - there's barely one full thread.

There is a slight step up from the grip to the body. Franklin-Christoph has round the step off towards the grips which results in absolutely no discomfort.

The straight body tapers gently towards the finial. This subtle taper area is where the cap pushes to post. It is merely friction held but it seems to have just enough grip to hold in place. In practice, the cap has not got dislodged although I still harbour an irrational fear that it will.

Writing Experience

Overall, I find this pen very well-balanced.

It's a small pen but it's very comfortable. I can use the pen unposted. Just barely. Since the cap is so light, posting does not shift the balance noticeably. I tend to be a non-poster, so I often use it unposted. It's a habit from how I write. I tend to pause to think frequently. When I stop writing, I feel compelled to cap. It's just more handy for me to hold the cap in my left hand. Having said that, I've found it somewhat liberating to write with the cap posted without worrying about where it is.

Writing the review for the Franklin-Christoph Model 45

Now, on to the pièce de résistance: the NIB.

As I mentioned, I splurged on a gold nib since I got a great deal on the pen with the IPO pricing. The 18K Matsuyama medium italic nib is a real beauty. It writes smoothly with a gentle softness. They say that italics are more finicky to use than stubs but I did not find that to be the case. I do find the nib to be crisper than a stub but not overly so. The line variation I can get from the nib is lovely. Due to the softness of the gold, I can flex the nib out some to get even more line variation. Of course, caution is needed as it would be sad to spring this nib. I think this nib is easily my favourite nib.

If I can say one negative is that the pen does not have a clip. That in itself is not a flaw. I know the clip would detract from the simplistic beauty of the pen. It does, however, mean that the pen is a roller as it does not have any flat edges or a roll stopper.

Getting this shot was a nerve-wrecking experience...lots of rolling action!

All in all, this Franklin-Christoph pen is undoubtedly my favourite of the Franklin-Christoph's that I own from the design aesthetic, comfort and nib perspectives. Everything about this pen works in my favour. the form factor is perfect. It's small but comfortable for long writing sessions. Most importantly, writing with the Masuyama italic nib is downright dreamy.

The FC45, second from right is in good company. 

The FC45 is now available as a regular model. I feel the price is still excellent for the quality of pen that is offered. It is now available in a choice of colours including the swirly Coco Pearl, fun Cherry Ice and sunny Amber. I would consider adding another one in of these beautiful materials but I've got my Wish Listconsiderations and I'm also on the wait lists for the FC45 in Antique Glass acrylic and P66 in Italian Ice. Oh, Franklin-Christoph, why do you have to make such desirable pens???

(This is a guest post by Kate Wai. You can find more from Kate on her blog Pendora's BoxTwitter, and Instagram.)