You can spend $100 on a fountain pen that will last you a lifetime, but those fancier pens come with hidden costs: new nibs, rare ink colors, writing notebooks, and customized ink converters.
Hidden costs? Rare ink colors and writing notebooks? What’s this guy talking about? And how are “writing notebooks” exclusive to $100+ pens? Doesn’t anyone with any sort of pen need a “writing notebook’? Pen community, go forth and comment at will at the bizzaro intro. The pen choices are relatively sound, until the Parker, IMHO. I would have put the TWSBI Eco, though it might have required some of those “rare ink colors” he so disdained, in that last slot. And, for the record, the Parker requires one of those customized ink converters.
I had heard that there were Chinese vendors selling an assortment of knock-off versions of Sailor and TWSBI fountain pens on Ebay. In the name of science, and to quell my curiosity, I decided to buy a couple to see how similar, or different, they really were. I purchased the Delike New Moon fountain pens in pink and blue (one of each from two different sellers for about $15 each) that were knock-off versions of the Sailor ProGear Slim. One featured an EF nib and one had the nib altered slightly to be a F nib by bending the end up in a fude style.
While we as fountain pen consumers immediately recognize these as knock-offs, nowhere in the listings did the sellers say they were Sailor pens or hint to that. However, the similarity in looks is unfortunate in that it could confuse a newer fountain pen shopper into thinking they were getting a deal on a Sailor. So, I wanted to point out very quickly the differences and similarities and why you might want to try these pens or want to avoid them altogether.
I purchased the pastel pink and sky blue colors with silver hardware because I did not have Sailor ProGear Slim pens in these colors. So, yeah for fun colors.
At first glance, the Delike New Moon and Sailor ProGear Slim are very similar. Width and length are just about identical. The New Moon has the metal hardware all the way to the base of the cap but that’s the most distinguishing difference at first glance.
Right out the the gate, I could tell these pens were not as well constructed as Sailor ProGear pens. The material was definitely more plasticky than resin. I could smell the off-gassing for starters. There is no end cap jewel.
On the clip, the end is more squared off. The Sailor clip has a rounded end. The band around the cap on the Sailor pen is engraved “Founded 1911” and the Delike says “Delike”. The Sailor ProGear has an extra band around the cap as well.
The threads on the cap are closer together and there are more threads on the Sailor. There is also another metal band on the Sailor.
Looking at the nibs, the Sailor is stamped with the anchor, “1911” and “14K” or “18K” respectively depending on your model and the decorative filigree. The Delike is considerably simpler with the globe, the Delike name and the size of the nib.
The Writing Experience:
I don’t have the exact same nibs on the ProGear Slims that are on the New Moon pens but I’m also comparing gold nibs to steel nibs so it’s pretty much an unfair comparison all the way around.
I do have to say that an EF/XF gold Sailor nib is WAY smoother than a Chinese steel nib and worth every freakin’ penny. I was asked at the D.C. Pen Show which pen was my favorite and I said the Sailor ProGear Slim Purple Lamé with the XF/EF nib and I stand by my statement here. This pen writes like butter. My Pink Love with the music nib is my second favorite so messing around with these knock-offs is humoring myself really.
They are cute and they sort of look like the real thing but they will never satisfy like the real thing. It’s like offering someone a Pepsi when they really want a Coke or a sugar-free snack when they really want sugar-laden. Close but no quite.
From the perspective of a pen for a new fountain pen user, I’m more comfortable loaning these out at a Fountain Pen Day event or at a Letter Writing Social where people may have little-to-no fountain pen experience where I might be less inclined to let my beloved Sailors loose. I’d also be willing to just give these away if someone fell in love with them as they are inexpensive, take standard European cartridges and came with converters. I also like that I could swap the caps and make my own goofball pens.
These pens also make great opportunities to learn nib adjustment and other tweaking or pen alterations.
Have you purchased any of the knock-off Chinese pens for experimentation? What’s your opinion? I waited a long time to buy any of these because I know a lot of people have very strong opinions about these pens. I just wanted to see if it was worth the wait. I don’t think I’d buy anymore if these but I definitely think it was a good learning opportunity.
I found a new pen to love. A few weeks ago at knit night, Ana handed me a pen and told me to take it for a spin.The pen was a Muji, an aluminum round fountain pen ($15) from the Japanese company, Muji.
The pen is a super-slim, rounded aluminum pen with a textured grip, and a stainless steel nib.It has a snap cap that posts in sort of unique way; the edges of the cap are super thin and fit into a thin channel hollowed out at the end of the pen. Mine is a fine nib and is marked “Iridium Point.” (Editor’s Note: Pretty sure that’s a Schmidt nib)
The Muji comes with cartridges, and I decided to go ahead and use them. I skipped the black cartridge that came with the pen, and played what Ana calls “cartridge roulette” – I dug into a canister of cartridges that she had sent me and emerged with one that I believe is Kaweco Palm Green ($2.10 for 6 cartridges).
I loved everything about this pen.The pen is modern looking, slim and sleek at 20gms, but also has a surprisingly nice weight in my hand. The cartridge took almost no time to fill the pen, and it wrote immediately without problems.I spent a little time testing it on a Pebble Paper Design notebook (review forthcoming) and had no problems with it at all. My lines were clean; the ink didn’t bleed or feather.
There isn’t a lot more to say about this pen, but it’s the one I reach for every time I go into my pen case. It’s fun and I feel like I found the perfect ink color to match.
The Muji fountain pen was previously reviewed here on the blog. If you’d like to read that review, you can see it here.
Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.
I was planning to give these “quirky edition” Col-o-rings away at the D.C. Pen Show but I never found the perfect opportunity so I decided that the best way to do it was to offer them here on the blog. I have two (2) of these quirky editions available. The only difference is the covers which are misprints but I thought they were pretty cool so I thought you all might like them. The books include the same 100 sheets of 100lb/160gsm as a regular Col-o-ring.
THE RULES: Leave a comment below and tell me what your favorite ink color is or the first color you will swatch.
FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Wednesday, August 16, 2017. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Thursday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your REAL 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 7 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 addresses only please.
I always forget to make a big deal about Left Hander’s Day because is lands solidly in between the DC Pen Show and the SF Pen Show, back-to-school season, fall TV preview issues of EW and 100º heat. So, lefties raise your ink and graphite smudged hands with pride!
JetPens posted an article with tools for lefties. The recommendations for rollerball, gel and pencils are all pretty solid so if you’re trying to choose between brands of everyday pens, this guide might help you select a brand less likely to smudge. However, I don’t agree with all their recommendations. I don’t agree with the Pelikano for left-handers but I do like the Pilot Custom 912 with Waverly nib.
I also don’t agree with the Speedball calligraphy set. The Pilot Elabo fountain pen is the same as the Pilot Falcon. It gives some line variation but I’m inclined to recommend a regular set of pointed dip nibs to a lefty and not a specialty set of left-handed nibs. If you decide you’re going to do blackletter, then you might need the Speedball set for lefties but that’s a pretty specific style.
I’m a lefty too and I know a lot of other lefties who would agree with me that it’s easier to use as many standard tools as possible as it makes it easier to find replacement tools later.
Sunday is Letter Writing Club
If you live within trekking distance of Lawrence, KS, Wonder Fair is hosting its 33rd Letter Writing Club on Sunday, August 13th from 2:00pm – 4:00pm at Decade on 920 Delaware Street. For more information, visit Wonder Fair.
BENU Pen Supreme Collection
BENU Pens has launched an Indiegogo campaign to launch their newest line of acrylic resin pens. There are four new colorways, three of which look like galactic star clusters. Early pricing starts at $98 – $180 with free shipping for a single pen, either rollerball or fountain pen. I have never used a BENU pen but Azizah over at Gourmet Pens will be reviewing one shortly so I look forward to seeing what she has to say because I think they look amazing!
Last year was my first DC Pen Show. Previously, it had been held at the same location for many years, bet this year its been moved to a new location.
While I am by no means a seasoned pen show attendee, I’ve attended enough shows to feel a certain rhythm. Suffice to say, the 2017 DC Pen Show was unusual on many levels.
By way of Penthusiast Oscar, our good friend Alexander decided it was time to update the coloring book pages. I am honored to have my very own page, complete with floating Col-o-ring! I can’t ait to see what wild color combinations folks can come up with for my hair. Brad and Myke also got their own awesome pages too. All of them should be available online very soon. Thank you so much for making us feel goofy and sharing your talents, Alexander. We are lucky to have someone so amazing in our community.
I helped Oscar and his merry band of helpers build Pay It Forward kits for the table. We worked for several hours and people came to visit us throughout the evening, It was one of the few chances I had to talk to Rachel and Brian Goulet who brought ink and other donations for the Pay It Forward table along with meeting lots of friends, new and old.
I ended the evening hanging out with the amazing Squishyink and Inkaday. We talked pens and ink and they figured out a way to get me to buy a pen before the pen show even started. Impressive ladies, indeed!
One of the major upsets to the show was the change of venues. This altered how the show was organized. Tables were not assigned until Friday morning instead of Thursday night. Some vendors were assigned awkward locations which caused a long delay Friday morning. Things were settled by opening a new room, but that added several hours. Many vendors with larger fixtures, multiple tables or elaborate set-ups had to hustle to make up for lost time. It was well past noon before most were ready to sell. Needless to say, the lost time for attendees and vendors left many frustrated.
At a lull on Friday, the guys called me over to the Nock Co table, which was right next to the Vanness table. I wasn’t sure if something serious had happened but they both looked very straight-faced. A friend of the podcast (who chose to remain anonymous) gave Brad and Myke the #003 Pen Addict edition Retro 51 and asked that they give it to me. Brad handed ito me and I completely lost it, tears welled up in my eyes. What did I do to deserve such kindness? How did I luck into such an amazing community? I send my thanks out into the world to my anonymous benefactor. I will cherish this gift forever.
Saturday had a more traditional pen show vibe. Sales were brisk and tables were filled with happy shoppers. I helped with the Vanness Pen Shop table again and sold ink, pens and paper as fast as I could count change and get the credit card machine to accommodate us. Wifi was iffy and the corner where our tables were located was HOT!
The evening event would change the rhythm of the day as it was Susan Wirth’s Memorial Service. The absence of such a constant and recognizable figure at the show was noticeable, but the evening would bring it into sharp focus. Many people spoke and shared stories about Susan and her impact, not only the community but, also on their life.
I don’t think I’ve made it clear how welcome Susan made me feel in the pen show community from the day I met her. She and John and Deborah Basel and her whole band of “Associates” have warmly welcomed me into the community in a way that is hard to explain. They have fed me grand doses of pen knowledge and history and always been cheerleaders for the new collectors and pen show attendees.
There were many tears and chuckles as stories were told about Susan’s impact– both the kindness and the shenanigans. She will never be forgotten by those whose lives she touched. Keep telling those stories and keep using the pens she found for you.
After the memorial, it was a bit of an awkward transition to go from mourning to partying. I fumbled through it and found myself at the Kenro event with Jake Weidmann at Top Golf. With the hand-eye coordination of a Muppet, I spent the evening photographing the others swinging form. Once I returned to the hotel, I was physically and emotionally wrung out and went straight to bed.
For the final day of the show, the Vanness crew was back behind the table for one more day of sales. Sundays are generally a little slower than Saturdays so we can talk to folks a bit more and even have a few minutes here and there to dash out from behind the table to make our own purchases or say hi to friends.
Sunday was my first chance to make it in to the ballroom. I’d heard rumors that Mike Masuyama, Jim and Scott from Franklin-Christoph were lined up as the nib grinding alley but I finally got to see it for myself. Dan Smith was just off to one side too. It was amazing to see them altogether. Maybe next year we really can have “Grind Alley” or “Grinder’s Corner” ?
I did have a chance to meet the new Lamy distributors and they were very positive that things were going to improve. They were confident that next year’s limited edition inks were not going to be as scarce as Petrol was this year and the EF nib void has been cleared up already. So, three cheers for the new Lamy distributor already!
As the day wound down we had to prepare to pack everything back into the van, crossing our fingers that we were packing less than we brought. A team of Slack regulars volunteered to help load the van (thank you!) and then we all sat at the bar eating, drinking and hanging out looking at pens.
My experience with pen shows are always very different from the average attendee because I spend most of my time viewing them from behind a table. I get to see smiling faces who made their first or umpteenth pen purchase. I meet new people and see friends. I, however, seldom get to experience signing up for a slot with Masuyama for a new nib grind, browsing trays of vintage parts or shopping Sarj’s one-man pen show so I don’t know how this year’s DC Pen Show stacked up against other years from an attendee standpoint.
It took me a long time to pull together my thoughts and write what I hope is a fairly cohesive wrap-up of the show. While the show was a bit chaotic and I can’t guarantee it won’t be just as crazy next year, the DC Show is truly epic and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from coming to it.
If you have limited time to devote, Sunday might be your best option though as all the kinks have been worked out by then. Of course, a lot of the stock is picked over by Sunday but there’s a bit more space to move. Just know that vendors do start to pack up so you need to shop fast.