Tools of the Trade

My father managed an office supply warehouse for about thirty years, and growing up I never found myself wanting for a pen, pad of paper, or staples.

I still have a penchant for hoarding – yes, “hoarding” is a strong term, but it feels appropriate at this moment – office supplies to this day. As a self-professed fountain pen nerd, I have (along with my collection of pens) several notebooks of varying size and paper quality, and numerous bottles of ink. In fact, I have two types of black ink. Two. I suppose this is the part where I tell you that one of those inks is a little blacker than the other.

Finding fountain pen friendly paper can be a challenge because there are so may variables at play. Weight of the paper (GSM, of Grams per Square Meter), pen being used, nib size and flex, ink type, etc. The same ink will most likely perform differently in two different pens/nibs/paper. And it’s possible to have two bottles of the same ink, but those bottlings may have slightly different properties due to production methods (purposeful or accidental or uncontrollable).

I’m lucky to have quite a few great pens, and I rotate through my collection so that they all get a turn (otherwise, why have them?). That said, there are three that are my go-to pens and are most always in my portable pen case as part of my EDC bag.


They are (from top to bottom):

The Edison has a lot going for it: made in Ohio, nib that’s as smooth as butter, and it was a gift from my wife. That last one is the best part.

The Lamy 2000 is the IDEAL fountain pen for someone looking for a pure writing experience that is based upon function rather than form. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that one of my writing heroes has called the Lamy 2000 a “great for novel writing“.

The Jihao 159 is a surprise pen. It’s the least expensive fountain pen I’ve ever purchased (I paid less than $10 and had free shipping), and it’s surprisingly good. To be fair, I did replace the nib (which is the heart and soul of a fountain pen), but the size, shape, and weight of this thing all work well for me.

As far as inks go, I tend to use the Noodler’s brand. Nathan Tardif makes some really interesting inks and I have more bottles of his work than any other brand. My favorite Noodler’s flavors are:

  • Heart of Darkness
  • Black
  • Q’Ternity
  • Nikita
  • Legal Lapis
  • 54th Massachusetts

I prefer fast drying inks, so the H.O.D., Q’Ternity, and 54th Mass. see a lot of action. Other inks that I’ve used and will buy again are:

  • Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu Gaki
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Kon Peki
  • Sailor Jentle Four Seasons Oku-Yama

I mentioned paper earlier and I’ve whittled my preferences down over the past couple of years to:

I won’t go into a lot of detail about the paper, because your mileage will vary from mine, so I can’t speak in absolutes. I can say that there’s a good deal of production variation with Field Notes, so one notebook might be great with a fountain pen while the next one will be utter shit. Overall, though, the Field Notes brand is top-notch. The Seven Seas Writer notebook is my favorite because the paper quality is awesome and you get a lot of pages (480). For general, everyday carry for the office, the Leuchtturm 1917 is my preference. Good quality and they hold up well over time.

That’s about it for the pens, inks, and papers that I like to use. But there is one more thing. My Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter (loosely translated as: red thread pocket companion) is one stellar piece of kit. It holds my Seven Seas notebooks as well as anything else I want to toss in its direction. I have the A5 size and love it. It’s in my bag no matter where I’m headed.


Quick note on the links I’ve included above: I’ve tried to link to the product manufacturers where possible. I’ll leave it to you to Google a retailer for anything you might want to check out. I prefer to give my business to for my pen and ink needs. I get the Seven Seas notebooks firectly from Nanami, and you can get a Roterfaden from a retailer based in the U.S. (without ordering one from Germany, which is what I did).

So that’s it for today. Just wanted to put out something here since it has been a while since my last post. That and it’ll be a little while until I get another post up due to the upcoming holiday break.

Until then – laters!


*** Here’s a preview of what I might chat about next time – I’ve been exercising my musical muscles a bit…



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