Pilot Vanishing Point – Blue Carbonesque – Fine 18K nib
In the words of the late soul singer Sam Cooke, “it’s been a long time coming.” Both the updating of this website and a fountain pen review. For my first review, what better pen than my daily driver. A Pilot Vanishing Point (VP) Blue Carbonesque with a fine rhodium-plated 18kt gold nib. If you’re a fountain pen user, you’re probably familiar with the VP. This pen has been around for just over 50 years. Having been introduced in 1964 to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics. The VP is often mentioned as a contender for an everyday pen in the $100-$200 price range. The other commonly recommended pen is the Lamy 2000; which does not feature a retractable nib.
What makes this pen unique, is the retractable nib, similar to a clickable ballpoint. Of course anyone interested in a VP considers ballpoint pens an enemy. Ballpoints, the pens you purchase one dozen to a box. Ballpoints, lost, stolen, dropped, chewed on, or destroyed, no need to worry, you’re not losing out on a fine writing experience. Ballpoints work, they’re cheap, and they’re convenient, but back to what were here for, the VP. The VP nib is small, yet it provides a smooth pressure free writing experience. The sweet spot for writing is more generous than other fountain pens that I own. It has been problem free with the typical writing angles. Pilot makes nib in two different materials, gold (also with rhodium plating) and alloy. I have both nibs, the gold nib is the more common and also the more expensive of the two. To get the alloy nib it generally has to be ordered from Japan.
As I alluded to before, the pen has a retractable nib. The pen has three basic parts, the front section (nib side and clip side), the back side (clicker side), and the nib section (uses cartridge or converter). Since the nib is its own separate section, you can easily swap it out. Nibs are available in extra fine, fine, medium, and bold. Medium and bold nibs tend to be fairly similar in size. With the medium nib being wide than is typical for a Japanese medium nib. My preferred size for daily writing is the fine nib, it’s also the size used for review.
When the pen first arrived the nib wrote well but slightly on the dry side. It was perfect for wetter writing inks like Iroshizuku (Pilot) and Diamine. Both are great inks, but not the inks I wanted in my daily driver. I wanted something a little more permanent. Something that could resist the possibility of water spillage. Especially since this pen is used for my daily journal. Queue-up Noodlers Black ink, it’s bulletproof (resist most things) and is readily available in the US. After a few quick flushes the converter (CON-50) had Noodlers Black. Using my go to Rhodia pad, it wrote a little on the dry side. I tried a couple of other Noodlers ink that are waterproof. Noodlers Liberty’s Elysium wrote good and wet, but wasn’t a good pairing for my Leuchtturm1917 journal. Next I tried Noodlers Green Marine, performance was similarly dry like Noodlers Black, but it didn’t work well enough in my journal, deal breaker there. What to do, what to do? Well, back to Noodlers Black after a nib adjustment. (Warning you may not want to try this at home without a little experience.) Increasing the flow for a wetter nib is fairly easy to do, but a bit more difficult to undo. I applied a little pressure on the underside of the nib to spread the tines, then flossed the nib with a brass sheet (doubled over). The result was a wet nib that worked perfectly with Noodlers Black ink. Now my VP is just the right combo for my daily usage needs.
How much do I like this pen? Well I have a few VP bodies and a few more VP nib units. Once again the nib unit is easy to swap, it’s also customizable. A couple of the more interesting nibs are a Binder (Nibmeister Richard Binder) architect nib (aka Hebrew Arabic nib) and a Binder Cursive Italic. As Richard retires from fountain pens these nibs will be a little harder to find. Maybe I’ll do a review of these nibs in the future.
One complain I’ve heard is with the clip placement. The clip is located on the nib end, when gripping the pen you are putting the clip between your thumb and index finger. For me this hasn’t been any issue. If anything I tend to keep this pen at a proper angle due to the clip placement.
The VP is available in numerous body styles, Raden (abalone shell), wood, and multiple color options. The pen accepts cartridges or can be filled via bottle using the CON-20 or CON-50 converter; ink capacity varies. The clickable design makes it excellent for note taking, and you don’t have to worry about losing a cap. Bottom line, the Pilot Vanishing point is an excellent fountain pen for everyday use.