It’s amazing how one fountain pen turns into two, then three, and before you know it there is a whole collection of them. I’ve known fountain pen enthusiasts that will buy one of any pen, if it is blue. But at the end of the day, beyond the inexplicable adoration we heap upon these things, they are tools for writing. And what do I use?
I have quite a few pens. Most of them are cheap. Some of them are pretty nice (and not cheap). Some of the less-cheap ones haven’t really lasted under real-world use. But one pen has really endured and stood out as my most consistent everyday pen.
The TWSBI 580AL.
I bought mine years ago, when they first came out. There were horror stories about the cap snapping. That didn’t happen to me with this pen, in spite of almost daily use for years. Actually this did happen with two other pens: a TWSBI Vac 700 (since replaced by the Vac 700R in TWSBI’s product lineup) and a Pilot Custom 823.
The Pilot pen had, until the cap snapped, been my favorite of my everyday pens. All that time I was worried about hurting the nib when really the cap was what was ultimately going to fail. I bought this pen from an overseas seller to get it in a color (clear) that was not available in the US. If anyone knows a reputable source for replacement parts, please do let me know!
So my daily use of the TWSBI 580AL intensified. I used it at my desk, and I’d clip it to my shirt anytime I was leaving my desk. And it’s never failed.
One of the things I really love about it is the massive quantity of ink it will hold. While a typical converter pen might let me write notes at work for a couple of days before refilling, the TWSBI lets me go a couple of weeks.
Most of the time I’m using iron gall ink in it. I know many of you are freaking out right now reading that. “But won’t it ruin the pen?” After many years of daily use, rinsing every 2-3 weeks before refilling, I can say it’s not at all been a problem.
I’ve often advocated that people spend less than $25 on their first fountain pen. But I’m second-guessing my position on this: in that price range, corners will be cut. Either the pen may be made from a heavy brass that causes fatigue, or it will use a converter fill system that is higher maintenance and more fidgety. Or it might be made from a cheaper grade of plastic that just doesn’t hold up under the strain of daily writing.
What I’m getting at is this: if you have the means, and you’d like to get into fountain pens, spending a little more to get a TWSBI 580AL will win you a first pen that could well be the last pen you’ll ever need.