Let’s do the twist! Pelikan Twist old and new.

Chubby Checker has been crooning in my brain since the Pelikan Hub. Why? Because Endless Pens was generous enough to send our hub some “new old stock” of Pelikan Twist fountain pens from the 1980s. Since I was lucky enough to get one of them, I figured why not order the newer Pelikan Twist ($20) and do a little side by side comparison? Here goes nothin’!

The “old school” Twist and the “new Coke” Twist are quite different in aesthetics! The older Twist is brightly colored (it came in a variety of hues), whereas the new Twists tend to have slightly more muted colorways. But the really big difference is the pen body!

Whereas the older version is a round barrel and cap with a slightly tapered section, the new Twist is all angles. I have to say that on aesthetics, the new Twist wins for me. Despite its slightly less vibrant colors, those angles are so appealing! It also has a slightly reduced tapered section.

Both models are plastic barreled. In the case of the older Twist the pen comes in weighing a cool 10g; the newer pen weighs 21g coming in closer to a Lamy Safari or TWSBI Eco. Both pens feature snap caps that are postable. The older version has a clip; the newer version has an angled body to keep it from rolling away so they haven’t added a clip. They’re relatively close in length, with the newer TWSBI running about 1/4″ longer.

There is some difference in the nibs. Both are steel and marked with a single bird. The nib on the older version is slightly smaller than the newer one. The older nib is unmarked, whereas the newer nib is a medium (no options on it as far as I can tell).

Both take international cartridges. The older pen came with a long one, and the newer one came with two short ones.

So let’s get down to the details. Which one do I like better? Going into this, I was convinced that I was going to be a fan of the new Twist. As I said before the aesthetics made it much more appealing to me. It’s fun, it’s cool, it’s so different (reminds me a bit of the fun shapes of the BENU pens).

But the writing experience was definitely the deciding vote for me, and I just didn’t care for the newer Twist. In the older Twist I had assumed that the nib was a medium, but it was actually a crisp writer and wrote more like a western fine nib. Pelikan nibs are somewhat known for being wet writers, and this wasn’t at all. The smaller girth of the pen was super easy to hold in my hand with zero fatigue.

The newer Twist was simply harder for me. While I don’t hate the triangular grip as much as I hate the Lamy Safari’s angled grip, it just wasn’t comfortable in my hand. I think the pen might just be too big for me (do remember that I have super special tiny hands so it might be a me thing.) The thing I disliked the most was the nib. While it wrote softly with no friction, it was kind of all over the place. It felt much more like writing with a Pelikan medium firehose.

This was a superfun comparison, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be using that old Twist a lot!

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided free of charge by Endless Pens. Please see the About page for more details.

Product Review (and Giveaway): Endless Companion Pen Pouches

Product Review (and Giveaway): Endless Companion Pen Pouches

Endless, known for its notebooks, has added a new line of leather pen cases called the Companion Pen Pouch. These full-grain leather cases are available in three sizes: 2-Pen, 3-Pen and 5-Pen that range in prices from $40 to $50 depending on size.

Shown here are the 2-pen and 3-pen pouches

The Companion pen pouches all ship in sturdy boxes. The largest, 5-pen size includes a pocket notebook that fits into the slot on one side of the case. All cases include elastic loops that have a pull tab that makes it possible to adjust how wide or narrow the loops are to accommodate a wide array of pens.

The zippers are metal and slide smoothly. The leather is smooth but will show scratches but can be rubbed out with your fingers or you can just let it get rough and worn with age.

The 2-Pen Companion

There are minor feature differences in each design. The 2-Pen Companion has no pockets on one side but there is an elastic loop in the spine area designed to hold one extra ink cartridge but I found that it would also hold my Traveler’s bullet pen that I use for ink testing.

Inside the 3-Pen Companion

The 3-pen Companion includes a secretary pocket with three business card slots. It also has the loop along the spine for a cartridge.

This close-up image above shows that I was able to put two very slender pens (sometimes the most difficult to keep in a pen case with elastics) as well as a big, chonky BENU Skull & Roses pen and they are all snug and safe.

The 5-Pen Companion

The largest case is the 5-Pen Companion and, being the largest, its easier to see how imperfections or scratches will show on the leather but its still lovely.

Once again, I made an effort to fill the case with pens that are of widely different widths. It took a few minutes to pull the elastic snug on all the pens so once you have it set up, you will want to remember which slot the skinny pens goes into versus where the wider pens are placed. So, for me, the Pilot Cavalier will always need to be on the outside and the Carolina Pen Co. (pale pink) will need to go closest to the spine. The 5-pen Companion also has the loop along the spine for a cartridge but could be used for a slim pencil or other tool as well.

The 5-pen Companion includes the small Storyboard cahier with dot grid and Endless’s Regalia paper.

The design of these cases are excellent, the materials and the functionality. They are a bit longer than what I need as my pens tend to be on the smallish side but I do think these cases will accommodate most pens in your collection. I think the Platinum Desk Pen was a bit too long for it but that’s on the outside edges of sizes.

So, now, its your turn. All three of these cases are up for giveaway. One case per winner, three winners chosen. Please read the “how to enter” below. If you don’t play by the rules, your entry will be disqualified. US only. (Giveaway for cases only. No pens or accessories are included.)

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and indicate which style Pen Companion you like best. Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person. Winners will be randomly selected and we will be giving away all three styles (so there will be THREE winners).

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on October 6, 2023. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Luxury Brands USA for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Top Ten Notebooks

Top Ten Notebooks

This Top Ten list has been updated in Sept. 2023 and divided into a couple categories now to better differentiate between types of options.

There are hundreds of notebooks on the market and everyone has a preference on size and format but when people are just dipping their toe into the world of higher end stationery, there are really just a handful of products that get recommended over and over again. Partially, these are the products that are the most ubiquitous because they are available in the widest array of sizes and formats, solve a very specific problem or are the most exquisite.

  1. Stalogy Stalogy has moved to the top of my list as my favorite notebook. First and foremost, it’s available in both A5 and B6 sizes which are my favorite notebook configurations as well as in blank and the palest grid lines I’ve ever seen so there are printed grids but only just barely. The paper, which seems Tomoe-esque, has great color fidelity and is similar weight making large 360+ page notebooks the same thickness as a standard 100+ page notebook. For a daily journal or planner, it is my gold standard. (starting at $11.50 on Jet Pens)
  2. Midori MD (preferably MD Cotton but the regular and Light are excellent too, so technically this is 2, 3, and 4): Midori MD is probably my personal favorite everyday writing paper and it’s probably the least discussed in the pen community. There are three grades of MD paper and I think they are all awesome. There is MD (smoothest), MD Light (second favorite and a rival to Tomoe River IMHO) and (my personal favorite, it’s toothy) MD Cotton. Midori MD has minimal branding, comes with a plain cream cardstock cover, and available in lined, grid or blank. (starting at $6.75 on JetPens)
  3. Nakabayashi Yu-Sari I promised that the Yu-Sari was going to move into my top ten favorite notebooks and it has. It is an all-around good performer with minimal show through and bleed through. Its a thicker paper than the Tomoe River and Stalogy papers for those who want to use both sides of the paper without show through and it is extremely reasonably priced. (starting at $14.40, available at Gentleman Stationer)

Honorable Mentions:

Paperblanks: These notebooks have exquisite covers and some styles are now available with 100gsm or 120gsm paper (review here). The best way to guarantee that you get a Paperblanks notebook with the superios paper is to order directly from their web site. (starting at about $16 via Paperblanks)

Kokuyo Perpanep: This line of simple, grey notebooks is available in three paper types (previously reviewed here): textured Zarazara paper (lightly toothy), Sarasara (balanced smoothness) and Tsurutsuru (super slick, smooth paper). Each paper style is available in either 4mm dot grid, steno style or 5mm graph. The only size available is A5. The paper variety offers something for just about every writers preference but the choice of line rulings and no blank option or other sizes drops the Perpanep line into honorable mention territory. ($14.25 on JetPens)

Loose paper and/or available in bound notebooks from various makers:

  1. Tomoe River 68gsm
  2. Sanzen Tomoe River 52gsm
  3. Cosmo Air Light (discontinued)

All three of these papers are sold and rebound into notebooks by various companies and makers. The Sanzen Tomoe River is what is now available in the Hobonichi Techo planners. The 68gsm Tomoe River has some of the great color fidelity with slightly improved dry times over the 52gsm. Odyssey Notebooks uses the 68gsm Tomoe and Cosmo Air Light in their notebooks.

Cosmo Air Light can still be found from makers on Etsy but it will soon be a rare bird indeed. It’s powdery texture and unique color properties has made it a favorite at Desk HQ for some time.

Sketchbook, Drawing and Heavyweight Papers:

  1. Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook: While many won’t agree that a sketchbook is a notebook, I couldn’t complete a list of my favorite/most recommended/best notebooks without including the Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook which I probably recommend at least once a week. If not the Alpha, then one of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks. The hardest part for many in picking out a sketchbook and specifically picking out a Stillman & Birn sketchbook is working through their complex naming system.  The Epsilon is the toothier of the two 150gsm sketchbook options. Even I have goofed on occasion and purchased the Alpha by mistake as it is described as being medium grain and cold press. It’s not quite as toothy as the Epsilon which I’ve discovered I like better. YMMV. That said, overall, I have not been disappointed by the overall quality of any of the S&B sketchbooks I’ve used. For day-to-day sketching I do not need the heavier 270gsm paper in their other sketchbooks. (available from JetPens and your local art supply stores)
  2. Col-o-ring: I know it appears self-serving to mention Col-o-ring here but when I look at the notebooks and paper products I use on a daily basis, the Col-o-ring, Col-o-dex  and Col-o-ring Oversize figure heavily into my rotation. I suppose I wouldn’t have made them if I wasn’t going to use them. While the Col-o-ring and Col-o-dex serve specific purposes of inventorying my ink collection, the Oversize is used for everything from comparing various inks to drawing and doodling to just writing notes and testing pens. When we originally made the Oversize, I wasn’t sure how much I would actually use it but it turns out it gets used as much or more than a lot of other notebooks in the house. Partially, it gets used because I’m so familiar with the paper so I know how pens and ink are going to behave but also because its a really convenient size. (available in our shop or through your favorite online retailer)

Previously in the Top 10:

  1. Rhodia ($2-$25.95 on JetPens)
  2. Leuchtturm1917 ($12.95-$27.95 on JetPens)
  3. Baron Fig Confidant (Available directly from Baron Fig or from your favorite online retailer)
  4. Field Notes (Subscriptions via Field Notes but past limited editions can be found at Wonder Fair)
  5. Traveler’s Notebook : Traveler’s Notebook was the first leather cover notebook option that allowed for a variety of smaller, cahier-style, staple-bound notebooks to be added. As such, TNs can have different paper depending on where or what refill notebook is added into the cover. The overall experience of the TN will be entirely based on which inserts you choose so trying different ones will be key to whether the TN is the best notebook for you.  (starter kits $41-46.50 on JetPens)
  6. Musubi : Musubi is more about the gorgeous binding and materials used to create the notebook. As Musubi has begun introducing different paper options, the specific papers will influence where the notebooks fall in my list. I love how beautiful and unique the notebooks are but the paper stock can make or break my overall experience. (purchase directly from musu.bi)

From our previous Top Ten list, the Rhodia and Luechtturm 1917 both represent some of the most accessible decent notebooks available. Over time, I’ve found the slick surface of the Rhodia and the oft-very-yellow paper color to be off-putting. If you can get one of their white papers (often called “Ice”), the experience is good, especially if you prefer top-bound pads. The Leuchtturm 1917 is the option for someone who is liess likely to reach for a fountain pen as their first-choice writing tool. The paper is better than Moelskine but the quality is not as good as it may have been in the past and this inconsistency is why its been bumped off the list. Both the Baron Fig and Field Notes are popular but for superior fountain pen experience, there are other, better options.

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this post were provided free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: SHITT (Should I Try This?)

Link Love: SHITT (Should I Try This?)

This week’s title is borrowed from Austin Kleon who wrote a short post about SHITT (Should I Try This?). He claims that SHITT is a close cousin to FOMO and describes it as a condition that may plague many of us — the inclination to see or hear about someone else’s method for accomplishing a task and then thinking to yourself “Should I try this?” I think every time we think we need to try a new type of fountain pen nib, journal-writing technique or planner layout (to name just a few) we are falling victim to the SHITT condundrum. What kind of SHITT have you gotten caught into recently?

Post(s) of the Week:

Pelikan Hub Recaps:




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

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Pelikan Hub Recap and GIVEAWAY

Last Friday, September 22, Ana and I attended the Pelikan Hub here in Kansas City.

If you’re not familiar with Pelikan Hubs, where have you been? Just kidding. The Pelikan Hubs are held in September and are basically a fun pen party “hosted” by Pelikan. Pelikan sends boxes of goodies out to different cities (each of which has a hubmaster or host) so that on the same Friday evening in September pen lovers worldwide can celebrate their love of fountain pens.

Pelikan Hub Kansas City 2023

And the Kansas City Hub didn’t disappoint. It was organized by our local pen club and hosted in Crown Center outside of Pen Place, our local fountain pen store. There was wine, cheese, a selection of desserts (including an oversized gummy bear in remembrance of the Chicago pen show gummy snake courtesy of our friend Andrew). There was a table where participants could bring items in search of loving homes. And there were prizes for a raffle!

But more than anything there was lots of good pen conversation with other pen people. New faces, old friends, pen friends visiting from out of town (Andrew Coon!), and just a great time.

The Gummy Bear of 2023
Ana, me and Andrew Coon!
Tony & Ana

One of the other fun things is the Endless Pens donated new/old stock of Pelikan Twists from the 1980s – enough that almost everyone took one home. I wondered how it compared to the new Twists so I ordered one and I’ll compare them in next week’s post.

But let’s get to the real reason you’re here: THE GIVEAWAY! One of the fun parts about the Pelikan Hubs is that Pelikan usually gives each registered attendee a bottle of the Pelikan Edelstein ink of the year. For 2023, that’s Rose Quartz. Sometimes they send extra paper or postcards, and sometimes the hubmaster or an affiliated pen shop donate other things for the goodie bags. And we had extra goodie bags so we’ve got one for one lucky reader!

You are entering the giveaway to win:

  • A bottle of the Pelikan Edelstein Rose Quartz
  • A pad of Pelikan Paper
  • A Pelikan Postcard
  • A set of fountain pen notecards

TO ENTER: Leave a comment below and let us know what your favorite Pelikan is! If you don’t have one, which one would you buy if money were no object? Play along and type in something. It makes reading through entries more interesting for me, okay? One entry per person.

If you have never entered a giveaway or commented on the site before, your comment must be manually approved by our highly-trained staff of monkeys before it will appear on the site. Our monkeys are underpaid and under-caffeinated so don’t stress if your comment does not appear right away. Give the monkeys some time.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Thursday, September 28, 2022. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Friday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your actual email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 5 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US and APO/AFO only, sorry.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this giveaway were provided to us free of charge by Pelikan and Pen Place. Please see the About page for more details.

Notebook Reviews: 3 Disappointments and 1 Surprise

Notebook Reviews: 3 Disappointments and 1 Surprise

This was not the review I thought I’d be writing today. I purchased an array of notebooks over the past few weeks — at the San Francisco Pen Show and via Yoseka Stationery  — and I was quite excited about them. All four of the notebooks I purchased (or were given for review) were well-made and came from Asia, known for their attention to detail and high quality paper stock. I really thought they were all going to be stellar performers but when I started testing them, the majority fell flat for me. I did PUSH the usability of these notebooks beyond regular daily use so keep that in mind as you proceed with this review.

Top row: Musubi Rasa 83 A5 and Life Kleid B6. Bottom row: Book Note 360 B6 and Nakabayashi Yu-Sari A5

The four notebooks in this review are:

Like I said in my intro, I think my expectation may have been high for these notebooks, maybe unreasonably so. With the price points varying from just under $15 to almost $30, one might think that my preferences would fall along price lines — the more expensive, the better the performance but that was not the case.

When looking at the overall construction and binding of the books, all featured stitched Smyth-style binding with multiple signatures of paper stitched together and then taped with bookbinders tape or wrapped with board-supported book cloth covers. The Book Note 360º and Musubi both are completely wrapped in book cloth with board underneath to create a sturdy, flexible cover. The Yu-Sari and Life Kleid books both have book tape spines and cardstock covers but the Life Kleid has a plastic overwrap that can be left on the notebook to protect it or removed.

From top to bottom,Yu-Sari, Musubi, Life Kleid and Book Note 360º

Both the Book Note 360º and Musubi have rounded corners while the Yu-Sari and Life Kleid have squared corners. I don’t know if these aesthetic decisions will be make or break for you, they certainly weren’t for me but its intersting to see the similarities and differences.

The Book Note 360º and Musubi Rasa 83 are the most similar in all aesthetic details but the Musubi is actually less expensive (minus shipping costs) than the Book Note 360º and its a smaller notebook. Even the paper texture on both books is more similar to each other than the Life Kleid and Yu-Sari — the paper in both books has a slight powdery texture to the hand. Under a pen, it is ever-so-slightly toothy creating a bit of friction, slowing down the writing process.

The Life Kleid and Yu-Sari are also more similar to each other with square corners and black-tapped spines. Even the paper is more similar being very smooth — more like Rhodia paper with an almost slick surface that will keep pens skating along the surface.

The only aspect where the similarities change is in paper color. The Book Note 360º and Life Kleid both feature a creamy, ivory paper color while the Musubi and Yu-Sari both feature more of a natural white paper color. The Musubi paper is the brightest white of all four books.

Now is the point in the review where the proverbial wheels come off the wagon. The writing tests. Which, in all honesty, is the most important part of any notebook.

My first ding is the Book Note 360º which performed fine overall except that there was a good deal of show through to the back side of the page. For the price, only getting to use one side of the paper effectively is not ideal.

From the front side, the paper looks just fine and will be a good writing paper. It does not handle copious amounts of ink well so don’t reserve this notebook for ink testing or swatching purposes.

Clearly, the Book Note 360º on the left had some issues with show through and occasional dots of bleed through, especially when compared ot the Life Kleid on the right.
The horror that is the back side of the Book Note 360º on the left and the Life Kleid on the right, which behaved much better.

The paper used in the book is OK Fools which I’ve tested in the Yamamoto Paper Sampler in the past but it always feels different when I start using paper in a notebook that just testing a couple full-sized sheets. There is also very visible laid lies and watermarks. This may be a bug or a feature depending on your personal preference. I am okay with it but is definitely something to be aware of.

Laid lines and watermark on the Book Note 360º paper.

Notebook grievance #2 is the Life Kleid Noble Note Section notebook. I was all keen to have a full notebook of the teeny tiny 2mm grid lines. What I didn’t realize is that the printing technique used to get the grid on the paper, resists most ink. This is a huge “nope!” for me. Overall, the Life Kleid was more tolerant of fountain pen ink than markers or brush pens but what a strange reaction!

Life Kleid ink resistance

On the plus side, there was no show through or bleed through on the Life Kleid paper, even when copious amounts of ink were thrown down so it did redeem itself a bit when used with a folded nib pen for ink experimentations.

On close inspections, slight ink resistance on the edges of the letterforms but overall, the Life Kleid did not resist the fountain pen ink as much as it did the markers in the writing tests.

This is the notebook grievance that is hardest to talk about. The Musubi Rasa 83 did not meet my expectations. Even after reading the lengthy explanation on the Musubi site about he paper choices and the trade-offs that had to be made in order to find a paper that would dry relatively quickly while keeping many of the properties required by fountain pen users. However, there was a mention in the description that the original paper has been modified to improve dry times and resist hand oils but in doing so, I found that the line weights of my pens was significantly altered. My Japanese fine and extra fine nibs performed more like medium nibs, and so on. I buy extra fine and needle point nibs because I like an extremely fine line and a paper which increases my line width willy-nilly is not acceptable.

This is a close-up of the Rasa 83 with the Nakabayashi Yu-Sari directly below it. I used the same pens with the same inks to test both of these notebooks on the same day. The line widths should be identical but you can see how much broader the Sailor Fine nib (in purple ink) looks on the Musubi Rasa 83 than on the Nakabayashi. The same goes for every other pen shown on these pages.
The bask view of regular pen test writing samples on Musubi Rasa 83 on the left and Yu-Sari on the right.

I don’t normally use lined paper but the 7mm line width on the Musubi Rasa 83 is good with a pale, extra fine line printed on the sheets. But the issue with lined or grid papers, like the Life Kleid is the printed lines or grids can have unexpected results depending on the type of ink chosen to write on the paper. When I attempted to use a folded nib on the lined Rasa 83 paper, weird things happened.

The back side of Musubi Rasa 83 on the left and Yu-Sari on the right.
all four papers showing ink test using a folded nib
Top, left to right, Yu-Sari and Book Note 306º. Bottom, Life Kleid and Musubi.

So, those were the three disappointments for me: the Musubi Rasa 83, the Book Note 360º and the Life Kleid. They all have things that recommend themselves depending on how you use your notebooks. I use my notebooks for everything and I ask a lot of the paper contained within them. Some of the issues I ran into specifically had to do with the pre-printed lines so I recommend that if ink resistance is something you don’t like, I recommend purchasing blank notebooks and using guidesheets behind your page to help keep you straight.

I plan on purchasing a Life Noble Note in blank because the paper is really good, with no bleed through or show through. It was really the grid lines that made the Life Kleid a no-go for me. I will also pick up a blank Rasa 83 from Musubi in blank as well since I am hoping that without the lines, the paper might perform better. Though the widening of the line widths might still be an issue so I’m on the fence about investing in any more of this specific paper from Musubi.

The one notebook that was the pleasant surprise was the Nakabayashi Yu-Sari notebook. It was the least expensive of the four and performed the best across a variety of writing tools and techniques from extra fine nibs to folded nibs that I use for ink testing. This is the second time that a Nakabayashi notebook surprised me. The first time as the Nakabayashi Logical Prime Notebooks. They are such unassuming notebooks with simple paper covers and a small gold foil logo on the cover. I just didn’t expect the Yu-Sari to be the runaway winner in this batch of notebooks. I expected it to be a solid option but not necessarily the notebook I would most likely recommend to others.  I tested the blank version of the notebook so it had the unfair advantage of not having any pre-printed lines or grids that might resist my fountain pen ink or markers. The Logical Prime notebooks I tested earlier were pre-printed with grid lines and I did not notice any ink resistance like I saw with the Life Kleid and Musubi Rasa 83 so I feel fairly confident in moving the Nakabayashi notebooks into my Top 5 list at this point.

Have you tried any of these notebooks? If so, what are your favorite features or not? I’d love to hear how these notebooks perform for you.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the items included in this review were provided free of charge by Musubi for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.