My daily-carry bag contains many pencils, both colored and graphite. To prevent broken points and inadvertent stabs, I keep them and myself protected with pencil caps. Although I’ve tried some fancy ones made of leather or metal, my favorites are inexpensive, lightweight, colorful plastic ones. Kutsuwa makes several, including round ones with roll-prevention nobbies (12/$2.25) and triangular ones with bonus sparkles (12/$2.50).
The round set includes four transparent pastel colors. Tiny nobs near the base keep the caps from rolling off your desk (or down the sidewalk).
The triangular set is a candy palette of six glittery colors.
Both sets come with name labels so that you can identify your caps.
Although the triangular caps are designed for triangular pencils, they also fit onto standard-barrel pencils. All caps fit securely on the standard barrels I tried. The triangular ones feel a bit more snug than the round. Unfortunately, neither style fits on slightly larger barrels such as many Caran d’Ache pencils.
Interestingly, I learned about minute barrel-size differences among some pencils I thought were the same size by capping them. In the photos below, I pushed each cap down as far as it would go. While the triangular caps fit about the same on all the pencils shown, the round caps indicated that the two Staedtler pencils (blue Mars Lumograph and striped black/red Tradition) are a hair narrower than the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and Blackwing, as I was able to push the caps down further.
I like having both styles on hand so I can use the one that fits a particular pencil best.
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Notegeist for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
You may or may not have heard about the changes coming to Tomoe River Paper (I won’t go into depth on it here). The change is, in my world, like saying goodbye to an era where good fountain pen paper was easy(ish) to find and the choice of paper was clear.
Now that the era is closing, it is time to go back to earlier days in fountain pens when the hunt for great paper is on again. Back to debates about what “Good for Fountain Pens” means when shopping for that next notebook and the excitement of finding a new type that makes your fountain pen feel great on the page and your ink look amazing.
I’ve started on such a hunt and today have two notebooks to present. The smaller of the two is the Tsubame Note University Notebook H60S – A5 7mm Lined ($4.50 for 60 sheets) and the larger is the MDS University Notebook, B5 ($7.50 for 40 sheets). Both notebooks were sent to me by Alex of ShigureInks.com. Alex carries several amazing varieties of paper in his store (not to mention a plethora of ink) and at amazing prices. Thank you, Alex, for sending these for review.
Both the Tsubame and the MDS notebooks use Fools Paper, each at 80 – 85 gsm for the paper weight. The Tsubame paper feels slightly thicker than the MDS and is a bit brighter white as well. Both have the same binding type – a thick card stock cover, stitched signatures, and black binding tape stamped with a gold identifier.
First, the MDS University Notebook, B5. The cover has very little printed on it with plenty of room for labeling or ornamentation. Personally, I recommend stickers from Well-Appointed Desk, but I may be biased there.
The binding is stitched and allows the notebook to lay nearly flat (with a bit of pressure required when first used). This notebook is blank and has no markings at all.
I started out with Sailor Manyo Yamabuki in a Pilot VP with a medium nib. The paper feels luxurious, not super smooth but not much feedback either.
The MDS notebook has 40 sheets which translates into 80 pages (when numbered front and back).
I tried to show inks with various properties – Sailor Ha Ha and 143 for shading and mulit-color, Montblanc Psychedelic Purple, Pent Ebizome, and Sailor Irori for sheen, Taccia Sabimidori for color, and three different non-fountain pens to see if they bled.
Sailor Ha Ha had a slight bit of feathering which can be expected with so much ink coming from the Fude nib. Sailor Irori had quite a bit of feathering at first (I had also just filled the pen) which calmed down by the end of the line. Ebizome and Irori each showed sheen on the edges of the letters and Psychedelic Purple showed no sheen. The metallic gel pen looks amazing!
Below is the back side of the same page – no ink bled to the following page. I realized after I uploaded these photos that the watermark is very visible here.
Each ink spotted on the back side of the page except for fine and extra fine nibs. I was pleasantly shocked that the gel pen and the brush pen didn’t go through at all.
An index page is included in the front of the notebook for quick reference.
Below I used Tono & Lims “A Smile is a Sword” ink with a medium Franklin-Christoph SIG nib. Writing on the paper felt like writing on Rhodia. A very pleasant experience.
Folding the unused pages back was a bit tougher with the Tsubame than with the MDS, most likely due to the increase in pages.
I tried MANY inks.
I did see some feathering occasionally, especially with wetter inks and most inks ghosted through the page. However, I did not see any spotting or bleed through on the opposite side.
I enjoyed this foray into paper hunting once again. If I had to choose one of the above notebooks, I would pick the Tsubame notebook – I like the A5 size better, the paper seems to take a wide variety of inks without a problem and the paper feels slightly nicer. It pains me to say that I even enjoyed the ruled lines. But blank is still best. Always. Except this once.
DISCLAIMER: The items in this review were provided free for the purpose of reviewing. Otherwise I am one of the unpaid monkeys that Ana talks about occasionally except for Col-o-rings which she provides to me because she knows that I can’t resist. Please see the About page for more details.
We have really, really good news and really sad news this week.
So we will start with the good news. This week, the new edition of the Field Notes Colors Edition was released and we (I mean my husband, Skylab Letterpress and myself) were actively involved in creating. And we had to keep quiet about it for months. Skylab was asked to be involved in the United States of Letterpress just as the COVID-19 pandemic was shutting down the country. It presented some challenges in the production processes. Normally, a large print project would be a “all hands on deck” event with every pressman and -woman in the shop, along with interns and friends pitching in to help. But social distancing made this very difficult. So Bob spent everyday in the month of July in the shop with me, and a couple friends taking turns helping in the shop in shifts.
There are nine amazing covers created by letterpress printers across the country. Each cover is printed on a different colored paper stock with the Field Notes logo litho printed in grey then letterpress printed in process blue and rubine red by each letterpress shop. Skylab printed every slipsheet in every edition of the United States of Letterpress edition in black and light brown.
For full details about the project, watch the Field Notes 12-minute video. I even got a shout-out in the credits for filming the Skylab footage! (Look at what a goof ball my husband is up there in that photo!)
In the sad news, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg passed away last week. Not only was she an inspiration to women everywhere, she was a lefty and was spotted using a Blackwing. My friend Elizabeth Baddeley illustrated the book I Dissent and even got to meet RBG. Though I never got to meet RBG, she still left an idelible mark on me and on so many others. The hope now is that there is not a rush to try to replace her in the Court but I’m sure every effort will be made to further political agendas. It just saddens me that the urgency to fill the vacancy will overshadow the loss of her legacy.
We all need each other. Please support our sponsors and affiliates. They help keep this blog going. Without them, we would not have products to review or a server to house our content. Your patronage of their shops, services and products will let them know you appreciate their support of the pen community. Without them, and without you, we could not continue to do what we do. Thank you!
Last week I did a roundup of ink for your ears, so this week let’s focus on your eyes! As before, this list is by no means exhaustive. If I’ve missed someone important please let us know and we’ll update the post to reflect that! Otherwise, grab some pens and a notebook, a tasty beverage and dive right in!
Figboot on Pens: David offers extensively researched reviews on pens including fun trivia and occasional giveaways. He also does interviews with pen makers, retail store owners and fountain pen aficionados…even Neil DeGrasse Tyson!
Gourmet Pens: Azizah explores delectable pens and associated addictions on her YouTube channel. Fountain pens, inks, notebooks, paper, and more! If I’m allowed a personal favorite, it’s Azizah’s video from 3 years ago showing how she plays with new fountain pen inks. Yes the video features Ana’s Col-o-Ring, but I learned so much!
Inkdependence: We mentioned Mike briefly last week for his Friday pen chats, but Mike has tons of great reviews of the products we all love to use. Pens, inks and bags are where it’s at for Mike!
The Pen Habit: Although Matt retired from reviewing approximately 2 years ago, his archives are chock full of great reviews of pens, journals and ink. There’s still lots to watch and catch up on!
Pens and Tea: Join Kerry as she talks about her two favorite loves: fountain pens and tea! New uploads every Friday.
Peter Draws: Peter doesn’t so much review pens as he uses them to doodle some amazing drawings. Whether it’s glass dip nibs, fountain pens, brush pens or fine liners, you’ll be amazed at what he creates!
Sbrebrown: Stephen’s channel is full of pen and ink reviews, writing samples as well as live streams. He also includes simple tuning and troubleshooting tricks!
Waski the Squirrel: Join Jason as he explores is love of fountain pens and North Dakota life! New episodes every Thursday.
Edited to add these suggestions from our readers:
Inky Rocks: Alesa produces videos about fountain pens, stationery and Japan. She posts every Friday night, Tokyo time!
Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway this week. Congrats to the winner of our Formal Dept Notebook Case Giveaway! It was fun to imagine all the ways people would put the case to use. Now for an opportunity to GO somewhere besides the couch!
Esterbrook has released another amazing color for the Estie: The Maraschino and it’s selling out faster than cocktails by the pitcher at happy hour.
The Maraschino is available in both the silver palladium trim and gold tone trim with coordinating nibs in both the regular and oversize. The retail price for the regular size is $156 and the oversized is $200. Both models accept the vintage Esterbook nib adapter ($39).
We have reviewed the Estie Lilac Slim, Estie Honeycomb, Estie Blueberry, and Estie Tortoise with Gold Trim so going into a great deal of detail about the shape and overall handling of the pen at this point seems redundant. Discussing the color and material, however, seems entirely appropriate.
Wowsa! This material is GORGEOUS! It is a beautiful crushed ice red ranging in color from a deep reddish-burgundy to a pinky-almost-white.
Of course, I had to mix a drink with this pen and YES, I speared a maraschino cherry with the nib. There is no length I will not go for a good photo. Pen flush will definitely be needed. I do recommend using Luxardo cherries in your cocktails.
I’ve been carrying the Platinum Procyon around for almost an entire week trying to figure out what to make of it. Let’s start from the beginning, which is well before the Procyon showed up in my mailbox. Pre-Procyon, my experience with Platinum was limited to my Platinum Preppies ($4 pen) and my Platinum 3776s (nearly $200 to over $400 pen depending on the model).
That’s a HUGE gap in the middle. And I’ll be honest; I went into inking up the Procyon for the first time with a healthy dose of skepticism that anything in that gap would prove to be worth the price point. The question at the top of my mind all week has been, “What about this pen justifies a $50 price tag for a pen with a ‘$5 Preppy nib’?” My assumption about the nib proved to be slightly incorrect in the end, but the basic premise remained.
When I first started blogging about stationery, I would draw the items I was reviewing almost every time. Sometimes I would post it, and sometimes I would not- but I remembered this week why I was so fond of the practice. Sometimes everyday use and the review writing samples aren’t enough. Sometimes I need to sit with something for a while and mull it over. So while I typically leave the drawing and sketching to the professionals we have around here- today, you will have to accept a B team sketch.
The Procyon isn’t the only pen that falls in the gap between the Preppy and 3776 in the Platinum line- and so for comparison sake, I inked up a 05M Preppy, a Medium Prefounte, a Medium Procyon, and a Medium 3776 going into the start of my week. (Note: I purposely left the Platinum Desk Pen out of this review and out of my rotation this week. Technically it’s a Platinum pen with a price point that fits the premise, but it’s a bit of an outlier in its design, purpose, and availability. The Platinum Plaisir is also absent because I do not currently own one.)
As soon as I had everything inked, it became immediately evident that some of my assumptions about the Procyon were a little off-base. The nib looks similar to the Preppy nib, but it is not identical.
The physical size of the nib is larger (around the size and shape of Lamy safari nib). Interestingly, the M nib writes a much thinner line than its 05M Preppy counterpart- putting it directly in step with the higher portion of Platinum’s line.
As others have mentioned, you can unscrew the entire nib unit and section from the Procyon and screw it into a 3776- and vise versa! The same is true of the Prefounte and the Preppy- this pair’s sections are also interchangeable. That presents some interesting options. In particular, switching a 3776 section into the Procyon would allow you to carry an excellent gold Platinum nib around in a metal aluminum body. There’s a certain appeal to this for me- I’m not afraid to carry my 3776 pens by any stretch of the imagination. Still, the metal body makes the pen feel inherently more durable and gives some variation to my otherwise almost entirely resin-bodied 3776 collection.
That brings us to what I believe the Platinum gets right about the Procyon. The matte aluminum body of this pen is killer- full stop. The combination of the feel of the matte finish and the color of the aluminum makes for a surprisingly quality and enjoyable pen all around. The section of the pen is plastic instead of metal, and some may think this cheapens the look of the pen, but it’s not that different from a 3776 section, and I like the look of the transparent accent. The shape of this pen is also a significant selling point. Hands down, I prefer it to anything else in the Platinum line, including the 3776. Call me crazy- but the tapered body, clean lines, and subtly raised finials speak my language.
The nib is nothing ornate or beautifully decorated, but it’s an excellent writer. Spending most of my week writing with these pens has reminded me just how good steel nibs can be. I do think the increased size of the Procyon nib puts it a touch above the Preppy and Prefounte in terms of writing experience.
There are a few things I’m not crazy about with the Procyon. The clip design isn’t offensive by any means, and I’ve seen much worse on many, many pens- but it’s still not my favorite. The metal threads are fine for me, but I could see them being a problem for anyone with larger hands or a grip that lends to sit back farther away from the nib of the pen. For me, the section is just large enough for the threads to stay out of the way during writing.
And that brings us back to the big question. With pros and cons considered, does the pen live up to the $53 price tag? It’s a tricky question for a couple of reasons. Overall, I think this segment of the pen market is very, very difficult to get right. In almost all cases, I would prefer pens equal or less than the price of a TWSBI Eco or above $100. You can get some excellent quality gold-nibbed pens around that $100 range, and I think that’s what makes the $50-$100 range an incredibly difficult sell. That being said- there are some things that I believe Platinum gets right about playing in this range- the first of which is utilizing material and a finish that sets the pen apart from the rest of the line. I think I would honestly prefer carrying a 3776 nib in this pen body than a basic black 3776 body any day of the week. The nib is also just different enough from the lower end pens to distinguish it as a higher-price point pen.
The question of worth is always going to be a personal one. If you are starting from nothing, would you rather have this pen ($53) or a TWSBI Eco ($33.50) and a Kaweco Sport combo ($24.50)? That’s a battle I’m not sure this pen wins for me. But there is also a world where I theoretically already have several 3776s and would prefer to add this pen to my collection over and above another 3776 that’s just a different color from the ones I already own. I’m not sure how both of those statements can be true simultaneously, but for me, that’s where I land with this pen for today. It may take me a little more time to settle my final opinion about the worth proposition of this pen, but I am happy to see companies attempt new things at this price point.