How I use my pens

Autumn has arrived, temperatures are starting to drop below freezing, and I need things to do inside. So, inspired by Brad’s pen log idea, I thought it might be interesting to catalogue how I’m using my pens and stationery, and see how this changes over time.

Work pens

  Graf von Faber-Castell Classic, Guilloche, and Pen of the Year (2009)

 Graf von Faber-Castell Classic, Guilloche, and Pen of the Year (2009)

The core of my work setup are three Graf von Faber-Castells. I use the Classic as my main writer, it has a medium nib and is usually filled with Diamine Oxford Blue or something similar. The Guilloche is my markup/editing pen; it has a wet, smooth fine nib and is usually filled with Montblanc Poppy Red. The Intuition is for notes, signatures, internal meetings, etc. It’s got a stubby broad nib and gets Sailor Epinard or GvFC Moss Green. It doesn’t get a heap of use so I’ve been thinking about retiring or selling it.

I often have client meetings where I need a carry pen which is portable, nice to use, and doesn’t draw attention to itself. While there’s plenty of pens in this category, I’ve struggled to find one that also doesn’t set off the metal detectors at work (which go through an x-ray and slow things down).  The latest attempt is a Lamy 2000 which has been good so far. (Fine nib with Iroshizuku Take-sumi.)

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2009 and Montblanc Firenze.

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2009 and Montblanc Firenze.

For variety, I often bring in a nicer pen like my GvFC Pen of the Year (POTY) or MB Firenze. The POTY is the 2009 model and a really pleasant writer (though I might swap the medium nib for a broad). It’s currently inked up with Bungbox Sapphire but that changes with each fill. The Firenze has an double broad oblique nib which I love using and is currently inked with Kobe #38 (something Night).

I also keep a Caran d’Ache Ecridor rollerball in my briefcase. There are times when you just need something other than an FP; for those occasions you might as well have a nice RB with some sentimental value (this was a souvenir from my time at the University of Oxford last year).

On the non-pen front, I use an A5 Hobonichi, some Lucrin accessories, and various Rhodia and Clairefontaine pads.

Home pens

Omas 556S (predecessor of the Ogiva) and a sterling silver-capped   Ogiva.

Omas 556S (predecessor of the Ogiva) and a sterling silver-capped Ogiva.

First up are my diary pens. I use an A6 Hobonichi as a to-do list and for scheduling. It lives on my desk along with a silver Ogiva (medium nib, Diamine Regency) and a black Omas 556S, which is a slightly smaller, older Ogiva model. It’s got a fine nib and is inked with J Herbin Rouge Hematite. These get used for all the little household tasks: diary entries, shopping lists, etc. Muji paper products are great for this stuff.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about going back to uni. I did philosophy as an undergrad but abandoned it when I realised careers in the field were so limited. It’s been calling me again lately, so I’ve been buying texts and making notes. This has been most of my writing lately — maybe an hour or so each morning, with more on weekends.

  Omas Ogiva demonstrator and Visconti Homo Sapiens

 Omas Ogiva demonstrator and Visconti Homo Sapiens

This is workhorse stuff and I’ve been really happy with the combination of an Ogiva (blue Vision with a medium nib and Iroshuzuku Tsuki-yo) and a Homo Sapiens (fine nib, MB Desert Brown). They’re a solid pairing, though the Ogiva is crying out for a more interesting nib, maybe a stub or cursive italic. I’ve also been very happily using Mnemosyne notebooks.

 Omas collection

A long while ago, I posted about how I wanted to keep myself to 10 pens so I didn’t become a collector. Well, I failed at that and ended up collecting anyway. There’s something really nice (and irresistible) about Omas demonstrators, both visually and in use. I’ve ended up with a bunch of them (and am on the lookout for a black, ribbed Ogiva with the silver trim).

These have a range of nibs, typically get inked up with a colour matching the pen, and get used regularly for a whole bunch of stuff (particularly letters and notes).

Omas Ogivas, Omas Arte Italianas, and a couple of high-enders

Omas Ogivas, Omas Arte Italianas, and a couple of high-enders

Vintage Omas Ogiva Arco and Pearl Grey.

Vintage Omas Ogiva Arco and Pearl Grey.

I also ended up with a couple of vintage Ogivas: an Arco (flexible, fine nib and Athena sepia) and Pearl Grey (with a flexible, EF nib). These are really attractive pens — particularly the Pearl Grey, which has a seductively subtle celluloid — but I don’t find myself using them and will move them on at some point (along with my Hemingway which is up for sale and has been discounted).

Wrapping up

So that’s the collection. It’s a big change from a year ago, when I replaced my MBs with GvFCs and Omas. I’m really happy with the change though i still feel like I’ve got too many pens.

There aren’t many other pens I’m looking to acquire. Other than a black Ogiva, there’s another POTY I will eventually bag (the 2017 model) and I sometimes think about picking up a Conid or a Pelikan M1000. The desire isn’t especially strong right now though. Maybe I’ll pick up one for Christmas.

I’ll try to do another catalogue in 6-12 months to see how things have changed.

Omas Ogiva Maintenance

The Omas Ogiva is an excellent pen. It's a great size, very comfortable in the hand, lightweight, and some Omas nibs can blow your socks off, time and time again. Unfortunately, the demise of Omas means that these pens are not only difficult to acquire but they are difficult to troubleshoot when things go wrong. This is a short post that might help if your Ogiva is leaking or if the piston is stiff/stuck, information which I haven't found elsewhere.

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The Collection

Last year, I posted about my plan to limit myself to ten nice pens and, since then, I’ve had plenty of people get in touch to say they’re imposing their own limits – sometimes more than ten, sometimes less – and talking about their experiences. Just as often, I have people asking how I manage my collection and the decision about which pens to keep or sell. While I wouldn’t say it’s an organised system, there is an approach that I use and I’ll share it in today’s post.

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Vale Omas

So, sadly, it has happened. Word came through last night from one unofficial source, then another, and then Luca Baglione, Omas’ sales manager, posted this and I think that’s about as official as we’re going to get. After 90 years in business, it seems that Omas has begun laying off staff and the transition to bankruptcy. In today’s post, we’ll look at the brand’s final years and try to figure out what was going on and what ultimately brought them down.

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