Posted by Lois Ho on
I think most pen enthusiasts have a Pen Zero – the pen that started it all. I have a few Pen Zero’s – mainly because my hobby stopped and restarted and escalated to different levels based on different Pen Zero triggers.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with pens and stationery. Even from a very young age, I wanted a fountain pen badly. I remember in primary school staring at the limited selection of fountain pens at Myer (our local, large department store). Back then, the selection was full of Waterman, Parker and Sheaffer pens and I remember what I wanted most for my birthday was a Waterman Audace fountain pen – it came in different colours and at the time, I thought it was SO pretty! (Keep in mind I was still in primary school at the time!)
Pen Zero Mark I
Finally, when I graduated from Primary School and for my 12th birthday, I was given a fountain pen as a present. This is Pen Zero Mark I – a Papermate Fountain Pen. I was so excited albeit a little disappointed because the nib was hooded – it wasn’t as pretty as the nibs I’d seen at the department store. All the same, I was so happy with it. I recall that it was a very wet writer and much wider than I expected. It was very special to me and I wouldn’t take it to school because it was much too precious. I used only Parker Black Quink ink in it from a big bottle which lasted forever. Sadly, through the years, I don’t have this pen anymore, but it was a good writer and I was happy to finally have a fountain pen in my possession.
Image from Amazon
Pen Zero Mark II
Fast forward some years, the fountain pen hobby was on hold for about 12-13 years. I was at University and gel pens and rollerballs were my stationery staple. I worked in a laboratory, with a blue papered Collins lab book and hoarded Uniball Vision Eyes and Vision Exact rollerballs and had no ambition for higher end pens (pens at university were “permanently borrowed” quite often) until about the time I was close to graduation. I wanted to get something to commemorate finishing my degree and I was looking at fountain pens to do just that. I was browsing the Waterman selection at the time and the Serenite and Carene caught my eye. When I submitted my thesis, my (now) husband surprised me with a Waterman Serenite. It was probably the most expensive singular item that I owned at the time and I loved this pen.
Now, sadly, anyone who has ever tried a Waterman Serenite straight out of the box will know that this pen is not a fabulous writer – it is SUPER dry. But this started the search for other fountain pens that wrote better than the Serenite and I started to explore lower cost options like the Pilot Metropolitans, Prera's, Kaweco's and TWSBIs. I finally received a TWSBI 540 which I loved and the hobby settled a bit – a beautiful pen to look at, it wasn’t too expensive and wrote really well. I was happy.
Pen Zero Mark III
Then, as I was studying my Masters degree (and procrastinating), I saw this ad:
Image from Iguana Sell
O my goodness. Red is my absolute favourite colour and I was sad that the marbled red fountain pen was no longer popular so when I saw this ad I was smitten. For weeks of studying I couldn’t think of anything else. I finally jumped on it when I saw this pen on eBay from Germany for a good price. This became Pen Zero Mark III which introduced me to higher end, gold nibs, most of which I accumulated after purchasing this pen.
Pen Zero Mark IV
I was pretty happy with my pen collection, I had amassed your standard off the shelf pens, like the Pilot Custom 74, Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000. But then I read about custom pens. For a while, I thought, eh, they’re plastic cylinders, what’s the big deal? I managed to resist for a long time, until I saw Leigh Reyes’ post on her custom Shinobi. I’d seen Shinobi’s before this post, but I didn’t really "get it" until I saw hers. It was just so elegant and slender. I knew I had to have something similar and got in touch with Shawn. What did you say? I can have it in anything that I wanted? So as you can guess, I took the plunge - I opted for an Eastman rather than a Shinobi (it doesn’t have the edge that the Shinobi does), I wanted it as minimalist as possible and one of these days, I’m going to purchase a clear feed and nib sleeve for it. Minimalist I got and it’s still one of my favourites.
Pen Zero Mark V
I had seen the reviews of Nakayas come out and noticed a trend of bloggers going down the Urushi route. I was intrigued but couldn’t justify spending that much money on a pen at the time. I had a few in my wishlist, but it wasn’t until I saw this documentary on how Nakayas were produced that I ordered my first one.
Another interesting, higher quality and shorter video can be found here.
This pen started my obsession with Japanese Urushi and Maki-E pens.
At the time of writing, I am pretty happy with my collection and I have settled down on purchasing pens now. I still own all of my Pen Zero's (except the Papermate) and they are still my favourites for different reasons. But I am hoping that Pen Zero Mark V will be the last Pen Zero for me.