Friday, January 1, 2021


It's been rather quiet here on The Pencilcase Blog, as I've been taking a few weeks off during our university's winter break, to recoup from a rather hectic and strange year (to put it mildly). Yet I decided to come out of my winter hibernation early, to close 2020 definitively with a recap of my favorite products of the year. 

Despite 2020 being terrible in many ways, it surprisingly was not that bad in terms of new pen releases. Many of the bigger (and smaller) brands were plagued by factory shutdowns and supply chain issues, and yet there was still a great deal of exciting, and often innovative products that I really enjoyed getting acquainted with. Just so you know: I've decided to draw the arbitrary line for this list to products I've actually reviewed during the year, even if those products themselves weren't technically released in 2020. 


I had been eyeing Eboya for a very long time, ever since I first saw their pens in person at Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery. These minimal, Japanese Ebonite pens have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The perfectly polished ebonite finishes are impossible to capture in photos, but in real life the quality is hard to miss. With Eboya's launch of four 10th anniversary ebonite finishes, I saw my opportunity to add an Eboya to my collection. It's really a thing of beauty. The writing experience isn't quite what you may expect from a Japanese pen, as they're just stock 14k gold Bock nibs, but there's just an inexplicable appeal to these pens... If you've seen or used one in person, chances are you'll know what I mean!

Full review  |  Buy it here: Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery


The Italian Tibaldi was a new discovery for me this year. That is, Tibaldi in its' latest, rebranded form. With a history that spans over a century, Tibaldi went through quite a few iterations to arrive where they're at today. The rebranded Tibaldi creates mid-tier products (quite the opposite of the extremely high-end limited editions they used to make since the beginning of the 21st century!) with a modern, professional appeal. The vintage styling on a lot of the new Tibaldi pens is impeccably executed, taking strong design cues from early-day Tibaldi models - especially the N.60 does this particularly well. The N.60 is a large, very comfortable writer, and just like all Tibaldi pens, comes with an ebonite feed - the return of several brands back to the (often superior) ebonite feeds being a particularly positive trend of the most recent years!

Full review  |  Buy it here: Appelboom


I didn't review the new 2020 version of the Leonardo Momento Zero Grande this year, despite it easily being my favorite pen throughout 2020 (safe to say my collection of them expanded quite a bit over the course of the year, hehe!), hence why it didn't make this year's list. 2020 Marked a big year for Leonardo, and among the many products they released (like the beautiful - if not rather expensive - Cuspide), the pen that maybe surprised me the most was the Leonardo Furore Grande: A close companion to the Momento Zero, but in the cigar-shaped Furore style. While the Momento Zero's shape holds my personal preference, the Furore Grande made me look into the Furore's more streamlined design more (and I may or may not have added a regular Furore to my collection as well).

Full review  |  Buy it here: Casa Della Stilografica


The FPR Himalaya is the cheapest pen on this list, proving you don't need to spend top dollar to have a fun writing experience. The Fountain Pen Revolution Himalaya - specifically the one outfitted with the Ultra Flex nib - is an Indian-made pen with a modified steel flex nib. It's temperamental and far from perfect in many ways. But the flex performance - while certainly finicky - outperforms several modern flex pens many times the price! Its' finicky nature may even be part of the fun, as the FPR Himalaya's ebonite feed provides an excellent low-stakes starting point to experiment with heat-setting - a useful skill to learn, now that, as mentioned earlier, ebonite feeds are becoming more and more prevalent again!


My year-end list wouldn't be complete without a few metal pens. And this year I've enjoyed three, from three very different but equally passionate brands. The first one on the list is the Schon DSGN Pocket six (or P6). An incredibly tiny metal fountain pen, fitted with a  large #6 nib. Even the base version of the P6 is cool in itself, but when Ian (who manages to extremely passionately convey his craft on social media, be sure to follow him there!) showed off his machined, faceted versions of the P6 in brass and copper, I knew I had to get one. This is by far the most expensive  'machined metal pen' I've ever purchased, but it's also the most incredible. The precise, semi-random faceted pattern is a product of months of engineering, experimenting, and perfecting, and it came out FAN-TAS-TIC!

Full review  |  Buy it here: Schon DSGN


Another 'machined metal pen'  that made it on my list, comes from Irish designer Ben Walsh, who kicked off his new brand Gravitas Pens this year despite not reaching his funding goal on Kickstarter in September. Ben didn't let that setback stop him from pushing through and getting Gravitas off the ground. I've had the pleasure of reviewing two pre-production prototypes of the Gravitas Fountain pen and Twist ballpoint, and I was thoroughly impressed with the incredibly thoughtful design, and clean looks. I'm looking forward to trying out the production version of the Gravitas FP in bronze, which is currently making its way to me from Ireland, and IF it manages to even just come anywhere close to the prototypes I tried, I think it'll receive a spot among my favorite metal pens.

Full review  |  Buy it here: Gravitas Pens


Unlike the young and upcoming Gravitas brand, Karas Pen Co. is of course one of the big, established players in the industry. Yet after many years, Karas still managed to impress me in 2020 with the updated - and much-improved - Ink V2 fountain pen. Features like the 'Sta-Fast' sealed cap, more comfortable block threads and section design, improved machining quality, and individually QC'ed Bock nibs, showcase Karas' continued effort to improve on their products. I've found Karas Pen Co. pens to always err a bit more on the expensive side. But the extra level of care, especially the nib testing (each Karas fountain pen comes with a handwritten test card), offers a major added value and justifies the slightly higher price point of Karas pens, at least IMHO.


2020 Was also the year I discovered the Esterbrook Estie, and not too long after: the Estie Sparkle! The Estie itself was nice, a very solid allrounder of a pen, but the Estie Sparkle (especially in the Oversized size) managed to really captivate me. Even though I never thought I'd like a sparkly pen, it's not hard to see how this diamondcast resin would be able to change my opinion. Particularly this Garnet red colorway manages to both be subtle and dark enough for my taste, yet still catch the eye with a brilliant shimmer. The Estie oversized is a solid, very large pen. Its large size may prevent it from being the most practical in use, but it does offer a great, uncluttered canvas for the Diamondcast material to shine sparkle. Yes, this pen is a stark contrast to my usual preference - it's also very expensive - and yet it still clicked with me straight away.

Full review  |  Buy it here: La Couronne Du Comte


I've reviewed quite a few Otto Hutt pens in the past year (four, to be precise), and they've all been consistently high-quality - something I already knew to expect from my first encounter with the brand a couple years ago, when I reviewed the Design 04. Of all of them, I came away most impressed from the Design 03: it perfectly embodies Otto Hutt's effort towards a more modern, design-oriented brand, which obviously resonates with my personal preference. The contrast between how slender and nimble the 03 looks, versus how solid and hefty it feels in the hand, manages to surprise me each and every time I pick it up. Furthermore, Otto Hutt's nibs are consistently top-notch. The Design 03 is an easy recommendation if you haven't yet tried an Otto Hutt!


I'm always on the lookout for good ways to store, carry, and protect my pens, and the Absolute Breton Pen Display Box was a first for me in terms of trying out pen boxes. Where I've always leaned towards pen pouches and cases for their portability, they almost never offer a way to proudly display all the beautiful pens inside, pen boxes are the complete opposite of that trade-off, but I'm happy I finally gave them a go. Not only is the Breton Pen Display Box beautifully made by hand (in Spain), it's also a very functional, modern, and not-too-large option that can still comfortably hold 11 large pens and display them on your desk or cupboard. For a premium, handmade product, completely finished in leather, it's also not too outrageously expensive (relatively speaking, of course).
And with that, let's leave the dumpster fire that was 2020, behind. Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all a warm, happy, and - most of all - healthy 2021! Thanks, also, for the continued readership - you're awesome!

The start of the new year is also the perfect time to thank my fantastic sponsors for their continued support. These sponsors help keep this blog going, graciously providing products and making it possible to keep creating new content and hosting giveaways. Go give them a follow on social media, browse their webshops, and don't forget to use the discount codes that some of them provide if you decide to make a purchase! 
Disclaimer: Some of these products were provided for review, however, this didn't impact this article. The above list is based solely on which reviewed products I used and enjoyed most throughout the year. There are no affiliate links in this post.


  1. Well thanks a lot... After reading this, I immediately went out and purchased one, due to arrive Monday per DHL. So excited but not what I need! Thanks for the review and for the awareness of this and can't wait to see what arrives on Monday. Happy New Year

    1. Haha Sorry! Hope you're enjoying your new acquisition in the meantime, and - a bit late - a happe New Year to you, too!