Six Month Review: Favorite Pens from the First Half of 2018

Every year my family and I take a break around Memorial Day to go on vacation and forget about work for a week or two. In the past, I’ve tried to keep up with the blog in some form or fashion, (1) because I enjoy doing this, and (2) I have a hard time just “letting things sit”, even for as little time as a week. This year, though, I’m doing things a bit differently, writing out some content a couple weeks ahead of time so that you’ll have something to read, and I’ll have some actual time off, from both “real work” and from pens.

First up is my annual “Six Month” recap, where I give you my top five products that I reviewed or acquired during the first six months of the year. The Faggionato Pens are easily my favorite discovery so far, though once I get my hands on a Kanilea Hanauma Bay they will likely have competition. So without further ado, I give you the list.  

Disclaimer: The following contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. It’s how I support the blog and keep the lights on around here. That said, whether or not I chose to include a specific pen on this list in the first place is a choice separate and apart from which retailer I choose to link to.  No sponsor or affiliate had any input into the pens included on this list, which reflects my own personal opinion.      

Faggionato PKS/Petrarque. Two pens that are “in the queue” for a formal review. The smaller Petrarque first caught my eye during my March visit to Papier Plume in New Orleans. I picked up a second Faggionato, the larger PKS model, at the Atlanta Pen Show a month later. I love the streamlined shape of these pens, especially the section, which makes them very comfortable writers. Faggionato pens are available in a wide range of unique acrylics and celluloid derivatives.

Lamy Studio Racing Green and Piano Black Special Editions. I’m partial to the Lamy Studio, especially the 14k nib version, and this year’s special releases were excellent, easily trumping the Safari and AL-Star special editions, in my book. The Racing Green is now difficult to find, but the Piano Black is still available, featuring Lamy’s bouncy 14kt nib. Initial impressions of the Racing Green here.

Moonman M2 Eyedropper. Rarely do you find this combination of quality and value. I’ve personally never had a nib this good, at least out of the box, on a fountain pen this inexpensive. Note that this pen is eyedropper only, so if you don’t want to deal with the potential mess, take a pass. Full review here.

Wing Sung 618 (Piston Filler) and 601 (Vacumatic Filler). I promise I’ll quit pushing these pens once mine finally crap out on me. But seriously, six months in, these bargain-basement piston fillers / vacumatics have become everyday workhorses for me. I don’t worry about losing them or breaking them at work, and while some nibs write better than others, they hold a ton of ink and I’ve paid five times as much for less reliable fountain pens. Initial thoughts here.

Montegrappa Monte-Grappa. Montegrappa seems to have simplified things with their releases this year, opting for vintage-inspired offerings like the Monte-Grappa. This pen comes with your choice of stainless or 14k nibs, and both versions feature a high-end ratcheting piston filler that holds a lot of ink. Montegrappa also recently switched to JoWo nibs, which in my opinion has vastly improved the writing experience. Look for a full review on the blog soon.

“Honorable Mention”

Kanilea Pen Company Hanauma Bay. Ok, this one’s cheating a little bit, because I’ve never seen it in person, much less bought it, but given Kanilea’s track record, and the fact that I own two of them already, I’m pretty confident that I’m going to love this one once I get the chance to have the pen in-hand. Surefire buy at some point this year, so it’s on here, but I can’t technically put it on the list yet. My review of the Kanilea Mauna Kea here.

I can’t wait for the second half of 2018 and seeing which of these pens end up making my “best of” 2018 post. Will the Kanilea top the Faggionatos? Will the Wing Sungs and the Moonman last a full year of heavy use? Stay tuned.