Tag: fountain pen

Vintage Fountain Pens: Lady Sheaffer Skripsert and Sheaffer Imperial

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

One of the pens I was hoping to find at the Atlanta Pen Show was a vintage Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. A friend of mine showed me hers and I fell in love with it so I knew it was definitely a pen style I wanted to keep my eye out for.

The story behind the Lady Sheaffer Skripserts were that they were pens (and pencils) designed specifically for ladies in decorative patterns and posh finishes as fashion accessories from the late 50s into the 70s. They were available with either steel or gold nibs and some of the designs included raised, jeweled bands around the middle of the pen for an even more glamorous look.

 photo skripserts_penworld-1.jpg

This ad for the Lady Sheaffer, lovingly known to collectors as “the shopping list” was published in Pen World magazine in 1994 and posted to the Fountain Pen Network Forum in a thread titled “Ladies in Tulle!” back in 2008.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial

Well,I totally lucked out because I found a vendor who had several different models to choose from including a very rare Christmas patterned one with holly berries on the cap (not to my taste but in retrospect, its incredibly rare!). I had a hard time picking just one of the many designs and he made me a deal on two different models, both with 14K nibs.

From what I understand, the later the Lady Sheaffer was produced, the more likely the ends are to be flat instead of rounded. So my guess is that the two I purchased are probably late 60s or early 70s.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Nibs

Once I got home and could start doing more detailed research, I was able to determine that the black pen with gold “tulle” is definitely a Lady Sheaffer. The nib is referred to as a Stylpoint nib as it partially hooded. There’s also a bit of a flip up at the end of the nib which if you didn’t know that was how the nibs were designed might make you think the nib had been sprung. But its not. They were designed that way.

Upon further study, the gold pen with black diamond pattern is actually a Sheaffer Imperial Sovereign rather than a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. The inlay nib should have been the givaway but I did not know enough about the long history of the Skripsert line to know all the nib variation so I took a chance because it was beautiful. I ended up with a great pen regardless.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert Sticker

The Lady Sheaffer Skripsert was NOS (new old stock), complete with its original sticker, so really how could I pass it up?

Sheaffer Imperial Band

And the Sheaffer Imperial was hallmarked on the barrel with a crown and “14K G.F. Sheaffer U.S.A.” So I think the barrel and cap are gold plated as well as the nib. Swank!

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial widths

What should have also been the give away that Imperial was a different beast is that the barrel is a bit wider than the Lady Sheaffer. They are the same length but the Lady Sheaffer is a little bit more tapered overall for a slightly more diminutive silhouette. Its not good or bad but it shows that doing your homework prior to a show is important. I ended up with a happy surprise and learning more about vintage Sheaffers in general but more research would have made me better informed overall.

Sheaffer Lady Skripsert & Imperial Writing Samples

Both the Lady Sheaffer and the Imperial wrote beautifully. The Lady Sheaffer had a medium nib which wrote pretty wet and its flip up angle took a bit of getting used to. I had heard the flip was designed to enable writing at more angles but could not find any information on the internet to corroborate that so I’m not sure. If you know why the Stylpoint nibs were designed with a flip, please leave a note in the comments. I theorize that it is a bit like the Fude de Mannen Japanese nibs that allow for a wider range of stroke widths at a wider range of angle but again, I don’t have any proof nor have I used the pen long enough to prove my theory.

The Imperial has a fine nib that is perfect! It writes beautifully and as soon as I get cartridges or converters for these two pens, I have a feeling that they will end up in regular rotation. They are both comfortable in my hand, lovely to look and and beautiful writers. How can you beat that?

In the end, I’m pleased with my vintage Sheaffer purchases but I would have been happier with myself if I’d been better informed before I got to the show. But knowledge comes with time and asking the right questions.

For more information about Lady Sheaffer Skripserts:

When Bad Repairs Happen To Good Pens

Parker Duofold

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week trying to decide the best way to talk about what was the saddest part of my Atlanta Pen Show experience. I mentioned to a vendor that I had a beloved vintage Parker Duofold vac filler but that the vacuum-filler didn’t work and he said “Oh, there’s a guy here who specializes in fixes those. You should take it over and have him look at it.”

I was very excited at the possibility of getting my pen in full working order so I hopped over to the repairman and he seemed fairly convinced that for a reasonable fee and a couple of hours he could get my pen in working order. I left him my pen and my phone number and headed off to lunch.

This is where things went sideways and I should have probably talked to people with more experience getting pens repaired to know what questions to ask and what outcomes I could expect.

Parker Duofold

I dropped off my pen around noon and did not hear back from the repairman by 4pm. I started to get concerned but didn’t want to pester him. I know how busy tables can get and the potential to get backed up but I also knew that the show floor closed up at 5pm and if he was not going to get time to work on my pen, I wanted to be retrieve before 5pm and either bring it back next year or make arrangements for shipping.

When I got to his table, he informed me that the prior owner of the pen must have epoxied the vac into the end of the pen and, as a result, when he attempted to remove it, the barrel of the pen melted and warped. In other words, my pen was returned to me more damaged than when I left it with him and I only received a cursory apology and a “these things sometimes happen”.  I was not charged for the mishap but I was not compensated in anyway for the damage either.

As one of my first vintage fountain pens and a thrift store score at that, I have a lot of sentimental attachment to the pen. Yes, most of my love is a result of the pen having a beautiful, slightly flexible gold nib but still!

Parker Duofold nib

So, from my cautionary tale, I want to provide some advice to anyone seeking pen repairs, nib tuning or other manipulations from someone, either at a pen show or online:

  • Be sure to ask is there a possibility that the pen might sustain additional damage?
  • If so, whose responsibility is it? (Go into the transaction knowing ahead of time if the repairman is not held responsible for someone else’s janky repair work like epoxy so you are not taken by surprise like I was)
  • Does the repairman have spare parts on site should the pen need to be modified due to breakage or damage? At a show, he might not have all his spare parts but might be able to take the pen back to his shop and finish repairs and mail the pen back to you.
  • Get good cost estimates up front. If the repairman want payment up front, verify what refund policy he has should he be unable to complete the repairs.

In the end, it can’t hurt to ask all the questions and if a repairman (or person) is unwilling to answer them, feel free to share my experience as the reason you’re asking. Not that you distrust them but you know that bad things have happened to good pens.

Parker Duofold

Review: Jinhao Fountain Pens

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

I received these two little lemon-lime treats from a Desk reader to try out and I’ve been delighted to take them for a test drive. They are the Jinhao 886 “bullet” fountain pens. They are small well-weighted, metal enamel fountain pens at a budget price. They kind of remind me of jelly beans. It looks like they can be purchased through Amazon for about $7.99 a piece with Prime Shipping though the bright yellow color isn’t shown. Alternately you can find the Jinhao for even less on Ebay if you’re willing to brave it.

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

The nib is labelled “18K GP” but I don’t think it means what they think it means. Not for the prices. Maybe the nib is gold plate but that’s not really why someone is going to buy a Jinhao 886. Its a stiff, steel medium nib and not purchased for its “poshness”.

Jinhao 886 fountain pens

The pens are just 5″ long capped and 5.5″ posted. And the caps do post nicely without adversely affecting the weighting. The whole pen weighs 21 gsm capped and filled which is pretty weighty for the little guys. Compact and solid.

Fountain Pen Weights

As for the nibs, stiff. Stiff, stiff, stiff. And a solid medium nib. Which is a perfectly acceptable size and feeling but I have been using so many fine and extra fine and slightly softer nibs that the Jinhao 886 was noticeable nail-like. But I suspect these pens were specifically designed for students and kids so a sturdy nib is probably quite up to the task of grade schoolers learning to write.

But I was really quite charmed by the pens overall. They feel nice in the hand, wrote pretty well right out of the package. I had to do a little light sanding on one nib on a nail buffer but it was cursory at best. And the size and shape is quite nice for we of small hands. Kids and ladies of dainty hands might quite enjoy having one of these pens in their collection. And at the price, there’s no reason not to try them out if the opportunity presents itself.

These would make good pens for experimentation as well. If you are looking to learn to do a little nib grinding, this would be a good pen to test that out. Or want to have a pen with some less-than-well-behaved ink (like Emerald of Chivor or bulletproofs or such), filling a Jinhao 886 would be a good way to have you pen and use it too without concerns about damaging a more expensive, rare or collectible pen. Consider a “play” pen.


Big thanks to MJ for sending these little bon bons!

Dark Lilac (Lamy) Festival Time

1931: A bevy of princesses serve Alice LaFetra (right), the 1931 Lilac Queen. The tradition of selecting a queen and court began a year earlier. — Courtesy Lombard Historical Society / Handout, Sept. 16, 2014 (via Chicago Tribune)

I grew up in a Chicago suburb known for its lilac festival so I was tickled by the Dark Lilac Lamy Safari offered this spring as part of its limited edition color series. I remember the whole town ends up smelling like lilacs by the end of April which I always liked. Its goofy and quaint and I’m glad to see that they still have the festival and crown a Lilac Queen, even a Little Lilac Queen. Some things never change. The new Dark Lilac Lamy Safari will forever remind me of the Lilac Festival so its release date is perfectly timed.

Frank over at Fontoplumo has generously offered readers of The Well-Appointed Desk the chance to win one limited edition Lamy Dark Lilac Safari fountain pen plus a pack of matching Dark Lilac fountain pen ink. The winner may select nib size (EF, F, M or B).

The Dark Lilac Safari series also includes a rollerball and ballpoint pen. Just so you know.

TO ENTER: Please leave a comment below and tell me what event signals the arrival of Spring for you. Oh, and READ THE FINE PRINT!


FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Wednesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your 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 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Parcel is shipped directly from Fontoplumo by standard first class post. If insurance or other delivery is request, winner will be required to pay for additional shipping charges. Winner is responsible for any VAT, taxes or import fees. This giveaway is open to all readers.

 

OMAS: Last Hurrah

Goldspot Pens is hosting a last hurrah for OMAS pens. They’ll be adding new OMAS pens to their shop all this week – some are rare pieces that haven’t been in production for years. There’s also a rafflecopter giveaway to win an OMAS Milady ballpoint pen. Also, there is a free gift with purchase of $150 or more with promo code (OMASPARTY good through4/15/2016) for a bottle of OMAS violet ink. Check out their blog post for more details and check in with the shop for new OMAS items. Say farewell to OMAS with a new pen.

Ask The Desk: The One Pen, Jotter Hacks & A5 Notebook

rp_askthedesk_hdr211111-1-1.png

Portia asks:

If you could only use one fountain pen, what would it be? I’ve never had one before, but I also don’t need another expensive hobby/collection, so I’d like to stick to just one purchase. I really like a smooth feel to my writing (so gels and ballpoints over felt tips!) if that matters.

Okay, here’s my answer but please leave your answer in the comments!

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

I’d have to say if I had to pick just one fountain pen that had a comparable experience to a gel pen, I’d probably pick a Pilot Metropolitan/Retro Pop with a F nib. They are super smooth writers and the fine nib is comparable to the 0.5mm or finer gel tips depending on the paper stock and ink. The M nib is closer to an 0.5-0.7mm gel tip, if you prefer a wider point.

You can get a converter for them which will give you an unending array of ink options as well. The Metropolitan/Retro Pop is not an expensive pen either so you won’t have invested too much into a new hobby and can put extra funds towards inks instead.

David asks:

I’m looking for a good A5 sized notebook/journal just for note taking and doodling. Nothing too serious :-). Just random thoughts and ideas as they come to me. I tend to write with ballpoints and pencils as I’m terrible at loosing pens so don’t usually buy anything more expensive than that. Which brings me to my question. Do you know if there are any decent A5 journals out there that come with pen loops/holders on them? Is this very common? Or do most people think this kind of thing is a bit intrusive which is why you tend not to see it so much.

The solution to your pen loop problem is the Leuchtturm adhesive pen loop. Depending on your locale, Bureau Direct, Cult Pens and Goulet Pens all stock this genius little add-on. I adhere one into the back of my notebooks and they work brilliantly. I’ve yet to try to remove one and they have not fallen off either so the adhesive seems good.

Leuchtturm Pen Loop

This opens up your options for an A5 notebook to a wider variety based on whether you prefer soft or hardcover books, lined, graph or blank paper. Actually, Leuchtturm1917 makes wonderful A5 sized notebooks in softcover and hardcover with lined, graph, dot grid or blank paper with numbered pages and an index. The paper is good quality and they pack a lot of sheets into each book. Most people consider them to be a step up, quality-wise from a Moleskine and the Leuchtturm1917 books are genuinely A5 sized. I reviewed the neon green edition here. Rhodia webnotebooks are higher quality notebooks with paper suitable for fountain pens but the books are pricier as well. If you stick to non-fountain pens, it may be more than you need. There are reviews of the Rhodia webnotebook in blank, dot grid and the Rhodiarama edition available for more details.

And last, Bill had a question about refills:

I do have a question about the Schmidt P8126 Capless Rollerball in the Parker Style refill section. Form the images I have seen of the refill it doe not seem to have the toothed cap on top like a standard Parker ballpoint refill. Do you know if the Schmidt P8126 will still work in a click pen like a Parker Jotter?

Sadly, the Schmidt P8126 will not work with the Parker Jotter. It turns out the P8126 is slightly too wide to fit into the Jotter barrel. Also, because of the flat cone shape of the refill, even boring out the barrel, the refill would not fit into the tapered end of the pen. Total pen hack fail.

But, I did find a possible alternative: The Kaweco Sport G2 Rollerball refill. It’s available in blue or black as a medium but I tested it out and its not super wide. Monteverde makes Parker-style gel refills in fine point in a variety of colors which might also be an option.

At the end of my written review of the Parker Jotter, I swapped out the regular ballpoint ink with the Monteverde gel ink fine point in blue black if you want to see how it performs. Its not a thorough review but at least its a peek. I write pretty small too.

Review: Pelikan Stola III Fountain Pen

Pelikan Stola III

The Pelikan Stola III ($36) is probably the closest competitor Pelikan has to the Pilot Metropolitan or the Lamy Safari. If you’ve been looking for a professional, upscale looking fountain pen in the sub-$50 range, The Stola III is definitely a strong contender. However, there are some plusses and minuses to consider before hitting the “buy it now” button.

For me, a big plus is the beautifully clean simple design of the Stola III. Its a matte silver pen with a gloss black clip with Pelikan’s signature “beak” design. Its a sophisticated design that is both modern and classic. The body of the pen is metal on a brass base, not plastic, so it feels sturdy. The total weight of the pen, capped with a full long cartridge is 32 gms. Uncapped and unposted with a cartrdige, it weighs 20 gms.

The finish of the pen is a fine mica metallic silver with a clear gloss finish over the metallic paint. The pen itself is metal but there is definitely layers of paint and clear gloss over it, like a nice auto or motorcycle paint finish. The end cap and clip are flat black and glossy.

Fountain Pen Weights

I’m including my weight chart which shows some other common models capped and filled.

Pelikan Stola III packaging

In general, I am not much for pen packaging. I prefer that it be protective for shipping and storage purposes but it doesn’t need to be much more than that. The packaging for the Stola III falls right into that sweet spot. There was a white outer shipper box and then the inner matte silver paperboard box that reminded me of a book. When opened, the pen was tucked under a black, satin ribbon in a flocked, recessed area and stored in a clear, cellophane tube. I removed the cellophane for photography purposes and left the paper tag that is tucked under the clip.

Pelikan Stola III packaging

Inside the pen was a long European cartridge in blue. In shipping, my cartridge ended up leaking. I suspect it was a result of the winter weather here in Kansas City which vacillated between freezing and a balmy 70 degrees fahrenheit this weekend so the seal probably split causing the leak.  I swapped it out for a Pelikan Edelstein Topaz long cartridge instead. This is actually one of the reasons to put the Stola III in the plus column. It is a sub-$50 fountain pen that takes standard European cartridges or converters. Unlike the Pilot Metropolitan that takes either Pilot cartridges or a Pilot-specific converter or the Lamy Safari which also requires proprietary converters and cartridges.

Pelikan Stola III nib

The Stola III is only available with a medium nib which is steel. It is not the same nib that comes on the M-series pens. The Stola III nib is a much stiffer steel nib, not gold. Not for $36. The advantage is that the Stola III nib is much easier to use for new fountain pen writers as the nib is more forgiving at more angles than the M-series nibs. I myself have not had the best luck with the M-series nibs because, as a left hander, my upside down writing angle causes me to push rather than pull the nib which chokes the softer tines of the M-series pens making the writing stutter and start and stop. I did not have this problem with the Stola III. The Stola III wrote smoothly and had no false starts for me.

Pelikan Stola III writing sample

I was a bit concerned that the medium nib might be too wide for my small writing but it actually wrote quite nicely and very few of my letters filled in. The medium nib allowed the Topaz ink to shade nicely and the nib was a nice balance of smooth and a little grippy on the Rhodia paper which was a perfect balance. Sometimes pens can be too smooth and I feel like I have to chase to keep up with them but the Stola III seemed to be the perfect sweet spot. On other papers, the Stola III felt even smoother and even had a little bit of a stub look and feel to it which I liked.

Pelikan Stola III writing

The longer I write with the Stola III the more I enjoy the feeling of it. I like the smooth grip section and the weight of the pen. The only other thing I discovered is that because of the way the friction cap works, the cap cannot be posted without potentially damaging the plastic inside the cap that is what makes the closure work and keeps the pen from drying out.

Pelikan Stola III snap cap detail

As you can see in the photo above the plastic edge inside the cap sits awfully high and when I tried to rest the cap on the end of the pen I could feel it rubbing on the plastic while simultaneously not making a good seal and wobbling precariously. I did not mind not posting the Stola III as the pen is 4 5/8″ (11.5cm) unposted which was long enough to comfortably write with for me but if your hands are larger it may pose an issue. If you absolutely need to be able to post your cap, then the Stola III might not be your pen of choice.

Pelikan Stola III Lamy Safari Pilot Retro Pop Metropolitan

Compared to the Lamy Safari and Pilot Metropolitan/Retro Pop, the Stola III has a similar overall length and width to the Pilot but does not taper quite as much. It definitely has a more refined, sophisticated look. I’m already thinking of it as my dressier pen where my Retro Pop and Safaris are more playful, casual pens.

Overall, the Stola III offers a lot at a low price point: good looks, metal body, standard European cartridges and converter options, nice nib and build quality. On the downside though, the pen is only available in a medium nib, only available in the silver and black model at present and the cap does not post. Hopefully, Pelikan will consider offering more color and nib size options in the future to make the Stola III more appealing to a wider audience though I think most pen enthusiasts can find a place in their hearts and in their wallets for this little gem.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Pen Chalet for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Lamy Al-Star Charged Green

Laym AL-Star Charged Green Writing Sample

The new limited edition Lamy AL-Star in Charged Green is absolutely beautiful. It clearly is THE signature color for a Lamy pen for me. I’ve always favored the AL-Stars to the Safaris as well for the beautiful luster of the the anodized aluminum as well and the price increase for the aluminum is nominal for the added good looks. If you are a green aficionado then you will want to grab one of the Lamy AL-Stars in Charged Green this year while you can. It’s really a lovely addition to any pen collection and can be had in the fountain pen, rollerball or ballpoint model. I really get a kick out of the 80s springy look of the ballpoint if only I liked ballpoint pens.

Laym AL-Star Charged Green Writing Test

I got the Charged Green model with the F nib, however, the Charged Green ink was as much of a letdown to me as last year’s Neon Lime. Sadly, both colors are too light to be used for much more than highlighting. I even swapped out the nib in the AL-Star from the F to an M to a 1.1mm in hopes that a wider nib might allow the Charged Green ink to be usable. Sadly, even when it dried, it was still too light and shaded too dramatically from super light to just-barely-legible to be usable.

n the end, I swapped out the Charged Green ink fro Diamine Meadow which was a close match to the pen and much darker so that I could use the smooth F nib.

feb2-2

Laym AL-Star Charged Green Ink Comparison

In my swab comparisons, you can see that even Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin appears darker than either the Charged Green or the Neon Lime. Lamy keeps trying to make a good lime green. Maybe next year…?

Laym AL-Star Charged Green Pen Comparison

Finally, I also included a comparison photo of the Neon Lime Safari and the Pilot Retro Pop in green so that it is clear the the the Lamy Charged Green Al-Star is definitely more of a yellow-y green. Its definitely a metallic guacamole green when compared to the other two pens.

All-in-all, I’m a big fan of the AL-Star in Charged Green but the ink is not what I’d hoped it would be. But, of course, as a fan of all things green, this pen color was made for me.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Fontoplumo for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ask The Desk: Pocket Fountain Pens

rp_askthedesk_hdr211111-1-1.png

Barry asks:

I am an absolute beginner in fountain pens, however my interest has been extremely peaked.

I currently carry a mini ballpoint pen in my front pocket. I would also like to carry a fountain pen like this as well. I have medium size hands with medium writing. I would like to move to bottle ink in the future but this is not a must in the beginning.

There are several pocketable fountain pen options but there are some trade-offs when getting a fountain pen small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. Some will be shorter overall, even posted, than a regular full-sized fountain pen making them less comfortable for a longer writing session but acceptable for note-taking. Some will not accommodate ink converters because of the smaller size and will need to be used with cartridges only. You can refill cartridges with a syringe though so there is a work-around for this issue.

rp_kaweco-skyline-1.jpg

The first brand to come to mind is Kaweco which makes the Sport line in plastic, aluminum and brass (even carbon fiber!). There are many nib options available from EF to BB and prices for the Sport line start around $25 for a plastic model and go up to $100 for the brass models. Pocket clips can be added. For larger hands, the Raw AL or Brass models might be the most comfortable because of the added weight. The plastic models are quite lightweight but I find adding the clip and posting the cap help balance the pen.

Kaweco AL-Sport RAW & Aluminum Liliput

Kaweco also makes a smaller pen called the Liliput which is quite pocketable but is not as comfortable in larger hands for writing over longer sessions. But is comparable in size to the Fisher Space Pen.

On the budget end of the spectrum, there is the Pilot Petit Mini Fountain Pen which comes in eight translucent colors with matching inks, each for $3.80 and features a fine Japanese nib. If you wanted to dip your toe into the pocket fountain pen world, this is the least expensive way to try it out. The Pilot Petit is refillable, three cartridges are $1.90.

Another great small option would be the TWSBI Mini ($50) and it is a piston filler, designed to use only bottled inks. It’s small enough to fit in a shirt pocket but the cap will post and thread to the end of the pen to give a comfortable writing length. TWSBi uses European nib sizing and the nibs come in EF, F, M, B, stub1.1, stub1.5 nib sizes so there are plenty of options to choose from. There is also the newer TWSBI Vac Mini which uses a vacuum filling mechanism which might be a bit trickier for a new fountain pen user but may be something to consider later.

The Taccia Covenant is a higher end pocket fountain pen that lengthens by hiding the body of the pen inside a cap of equal length. When posted, the pen is over 7.25″ long. It’s available in three colors with a two-tone steel nib in fine, medium or broad for $103.20.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

Franklin-Christoph has made a couple pocket fountain pens and I particularly like the Pocket 66 in Ice, eyedroppered. By sealing the threads with silicone grease, the whole barrel can be filled with ink both showing off the color and maximizing ink capacity. Prices start at $149.

I hope this gets you started on your quest for the perfect pocket fountain pen. The pocket fountain pens are some of my favorites to collect and I’m sure you’ll enjoy adding some to your collection too.

Ask The Desk: Fountain Pen on Washi Tape?

rp_askthedesk_hdr211111-1.png

Shana asks:

I recently got a fountain pen after having lost one many years ago. (A noodlers Konrad, go flex!) I’m using it often in my planner, which also has a lot of washi tape marking appointments. So far the few inks I’ve tested seem to not like washi tape as a surface to be written on. What inks work on washi tape?

Shana, I went to my planner-and-washi-tape experts, AKA my secret society of enablers, for some information. First thing I discovered is that washi is a word that gets used by a lot of tape sellers to describe a wide variety of paper tapes, some more papery than others and others more shiny. The original paper tape from Japan, MT stands for “masking tape” and actually, the term “washi” refers to a specific type of paper made in Japan. So technically, the tapes we use in our planners is paper tape or masking tape.

I asked my pals if they’d had any good experiences with tape and fountain pens and, with the differences in tape shininess, your results may vary from theirs. In field tests, all my secret society testers agreed that, while they could theoretically get some fountain pen and rollerball ink to adhere to washi tape, it tended to bead up and take way too long to dry to be useful. Most recommended that if you wanted to write on the tape itself, to use a permanent pen like Sharpie Extra Fine Permanent markers, Staedtler Lumocolor permanent markers, Stabilo Write4all permanent or American Crafts Slick Writers. The testers also suggested that ballpoint pens and gel pens do as well, but the gel pen needed a lot of drying time. One tester had some luck with 6B, 7B or 8B pencil but a pencil that soft may have the tendency to smear.

You may want to look for some plain paper stickers as an alternative to washi tape to use in your planner if you want to use them for appointment notations and write on them. Particularly Flex nibs will be a particular challenge since they lay down a lot of ink in regards to dry time as well. Quick drying inks might help like Private Reserve’s Fast-Dry line or Noodler’s Bernake series.

So, the short answer is no. Fountain pens and washi tape are not the best of friends. Best of luck in finding the perfect pairing.

InCoWriMo Stationery Package Set: Bamboo Green

incowrimo kit-4

I swore to myself this year I would skip InCoWriMo/LetterMo because I can get so overwhelmed with too many letters and not enough time. However, everywhere I turn this year, all signs are pointing to a February full of letter-writing. I cannot diverge from the path, not when people are putting all these beautiful things on my doorstep making it impossible for me not to want to write lots of letters! To start, the folks are Goulet Pens have put together fabulous color coordinated Stationery Package Sets like the Bamboo Green Kit ($84.90, reduced from $100.90 retail). In this kit is Original Crown Mill Correspondence Set with 25 edged sheets and matching lined envelopes in lime green, a bottle of color coordinated Pilot Iroshiuku ink in Chiku-Rin and a Faber-Castell Loom fountain pen in Lime.

incowrimo kit-6

I’ve  always wanted to try a Faber-Castell fountain pen and this was the perfect opportunity to do so. The barrel of the pen is shiny, silver chrome with a brush solve grip section. The cap is lime green plastic embossed with the Faber-Castell logo and has a spring-loaded, silver clip. When I’ve seen pictures of this pen the cap always looks really bulbous. In person, its not nearly as noticeable. The cap is a little bit more rounded than the smooth cylindrical barrel of the pen but the cap is not onion-headed. Its much better looking in person. Is it possible for a pen to not be as photogenic as it is pretty in person?

The body of the pen is quite weighty. The whole pen with cap weighs in at 33gms, unposted its 27gms. Comparing it to other low-priced pens, you can see that the Faber-CAstell Loom is no lightweight. Surprisingly though, when I started writing with it, the pen itself is so well-balanced, I did not notice the weight though I did use the pen unposted so it was just a little weightier than a Lamy AL-Star.

Fountain Pen Weights

The Loom is 5.125″ (13cm) long capped, just 3/8″ (1cm) shorter than a Lamy Safari and the grip on the Loom is 3cm long to the Safari’s 3.5cm grip. So they are quite comparable in size but the Loom is a much weightier pen and the nib is much silkier out of the box (comparing F nib to F nib). Both also use snap caps and the Loom snap cap is very tight.

I got the F nib and I was kind of blown away with how smooth it wrote right out of the box. It wrote immediately upon filling and had no hard starts, even after I left it uncapped for 10 minutes.

incowrimokit1-1

The Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-Rin also performed quite well even in the fine nib of the Loom. everything was readable and I got good shading out of the nib. The Loom plus the Chiku-Rin is actually a good match-up I was quite pleased with my results! I did my writing tests on my standard Rhodia Blank writing pad just so my results were consistent with all my all ink and pen tests and I was really happy with how it all turned out.

I haven’t tested everything out on the Original Crown Mill stationery yet but the paper is a nice bright white with some lovely tooth to the stock and I will be sure to do a follow-up about how the stationery performs but I’m not expecting any issues. Original Crown Mill is known for its good quality paper and it looks beautiful! The paper and envelopes came in a sturdy metallic silver box too which seems posh and old world. I miss stationery that comes in a good box and this set delivers! Lined envelopes!

Several other stationery color sets are available as well in navy, fuchsia, royal blue and dark green in a range of prices and each include a fountain pen, matching ink and a Original Crown Mill Correspondence Set if lime green isn’t your thing.

incowrimo kit-2

And the folks at Goulet Pens wanted my InCoWriMo/LetterMo to be completely decked out and totally color coordinated so they included an edelweiss wax seal ($12) and handle ($16) and two matching green wax seal wax sticks ($6 each) too. I love that the was sticks are embossed with “Atelier Gargoyle”.

incowrimo kit-3

I was a bit nervous to try the seals out on an actual letter so I thought I might practice first in case I made a complete mess.

incowrimo kit-7

I’ve never learned how to seal a letter with a wax seal so I looked for some videos on YouTube to learn how to do it. I now know why Brian Goulet was playing with blow torches on the Q&A video this week. I didn’t have anything that extreme so I practiced melting the wax using a long grill lighter which worked great until I ran out of butane. The example above was my first try and I think it turned out pretty good on my desk scratch paper. (The dust in the seal was from my second attempt with a candle and I got candle wax all over my desk. It was not the wax stick’s fault. It was a total user error)

The best thing is the wax his actually quite flexible, its not at all brittle and I think it will hold up well to the rigors of the postal service, even in the cold temperatures of a Midwest winter. I can see why Goulet chose to stock this brand. The wax melted easily, it smelled pleasing and stayed supple. And I’m impressed with the level of detail in the seal design. Wow, I’m officially a convert to wax seals. This was super easy to do. I just wish I hadn’t run out of lighter fluid.

incowrimo kit-1

So, it looks like I’m all set for February! Are you? Will you be participating in InCoWriMo/LetterMo this year?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Goulet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ask the Desk: EU EF Nibs vs. 0.5 mm gels, 3-Hole Personal Size & Planner Stamps

rp_askthedesk_hdr211111.png

Renee asked:

I was interested in getting a pen that writes with a line similar to that of a .5 mm pen. I was considering a Kaweco sport given your enthusiastic reviews. Would a European extra fine do that?

The Kaweco might give a little bit wider stroke depending on the paper and/or ink combination than a 0.5mm gel or rollerball pen. Let’s do a little experiment!

EUvs05-2

I got a bunch of my favorite 0.5mm gel pens and pens I felt wrote comparably to 0.5 like a Sharpie Pen and the Staedtler Triplus Finalizer. Then I got out a bunch of European (and American) EF and F nibs and a few Japanese, just for comparison sake, and wrote their name and then drew a slow line using a ruler to try to get as close and exact idea of their line widths. I stand by my theory that the Kaweco EF and F are almost indistinguishable and about the same width as the Pilot Metropolitan M. I’d say those are a bit wider than the 0.5mm gel pens. The Pilot Metropolitan F, TWSBI EF and Monteverde EF were closer in width to the 0.5mm. For some reason, I did not have a Lamy EF in house.  The Lamy F was wider than even the Kaweco F or the Pilot Metropolitan M so if you’re looking at a fine line from Lamy, definitely aim for the EF. But if you are dabbling in the Japanese pens, you could go as broad as a M and still get a very fine line. Good luck on your fountain pen adventures!

EUvs05-1

Steve asks:

I have a small cache of 3.75″ x 6.75″ 3-hole ruled paper. The 3-ring binder has long since died. Any ideas on where I might find a new binder?

I was unable to find any 3-ring versions of a 3.75″ x 6.75″ binder. However, I was able to find 6-ring binders. The size is the same as the Filofax Personal-sized, DayTimer (portable), DayRunner (small). Mead even makes loose leaf notebooks in this size  for about $10. The paper might need to be punched with additional holes but the current popularity of the personal sized Filofax and similar planners means that 6-ring binders and refills will continue to be available for years to come. A copy shop might be able to punch the holes for you or you could purchase a hole punch and do it yourself.

Sarah asks:

Do you have any recommendations for planner stamps? I initially wanted to use the Pilot Frixion stamps because they are self-inking and erasable, but couldn’t find a complete set from any American retailers (except on Etsy and eBay, where I’d have to pay a huge mark-up). I bought this set last week and I’m pretty happy with it, but I wonder what other people are using.

This is a fun question, Sarah! Thanks for submitting it. I have found that I really like the clear cling planner stamps from either Hero Arts, Studio Calico or Studio L2E. Since they come on small flat sheets, they are easy to store and carry. You can even pick and choose from a variety of different planner sheet sets to build your perfect set for your planner. Most clear stamp sheets come on sheets ranging in size from about  4″ x 6″ and larger with lots of word and symbol stamps on each sheet.

planner-stamps

  1. Studio Calico Stamp Set: Bullet By Hello Forever $15.99
  2. Hero Arts To Do List $15.99
  3. Hero Arts My Week $15.99
  4. Studio L2E Plan It Stamp Set $15

I keep a small acrylic block, similar to this set, in my pencil case and a small stamp pad for stamping. If you discover that you have specific stamps you use all the time, you can also just  adhere them onto something more permanently. Some are small enough to fit onto the end of  a bottle cap, old marker or dowel to make a more permanent stamp.

Happy stamping!

If you have a question for The Desk, use the “Ask The Desk” link at the top of the blog. Thanks!

New Products for 2016

There are lots of new products hitting the market for 2016 and some are already available for pre-order so I thought I’d include a few here if you wanted to squirrel away some of your holiday funds for a few of these.

Lamy Al-Star Charged Green Pens

The limited edition Lamy AL-Star color for 2016 is called Charged Green and is definitely a Well-Appointed Desk-approved color. Fontoplumo has the pen available for pre-order in all its forms and will be shipping it in early 2016. Pen Chalet has the pen listed on their site but its not available for order yet but should be available soon.

The Lamy Safari for 2016 will be Dark Lilac but is not expected to ship until mid-year. The Dark Lilac will also have a matching ink! First confirmed sighting of it came from Goldspot Pens.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Metallic Purple: Special Edition

Goulet Pens has the new limited edition Kaweco Skyline Sport in Metallic Purple. The pen is still a reasonably-priced plastic pen with pearlescent coloring in the plastic to give it the metallic look. There is also a solid deep purple Skyline Sport if you like that better. Prices are $25-$27.

Kaweco Skyline Sport in Purple

Filofax UK 2016 planner covers

Filofax UK has already unveiled some of its new planner covers for 2016 in the UK. I’m not sure if any of these will come available in the US yet but you can get them shipped over if they are covers you must have. They are currently available in Personal and Pocket sized only. I really like the Tweet Organizer — just stick a bird on it!

Pen Review: Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop (and Giveaway)

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

I can’t believer how long Pilot waited to release the brightly colored line of their Metropolitan pens known as Retro Pop. The Retro Pop line offers six fabulous colors of the brushed aluminum bodies: red, orange, lime green, turquoise, purple and grey. And the pens are available as both fountain pens and rollerballs. I had a tough time choosing just one color so I bought two: a turquoise with a medium nib and a lime green with a fine nib. I probably should have bought all six, the colors are so fabulous!

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

Each pen color has a different pattern on the band below the cap. The turquoise pen has a op art dot pattern and the lime green has a sort of marbled feathered pattern. These elements are similar to how the previous Metropolitan pens have been handled with the animal print patterns on the bands or a smooth shiny finish featured here. All the Retro Pop fountain pens ship in a black plastic case with a clear plastic lid that is ugly and I’d rather not talk about it. For a $15 pen, I would have been fine with the pen being shipped in an environmentally-friendly recyclable paperboard box instead. The box included one black cartridge and a CON-20 squeeze converter. I’m not a fan of the squeeze fillers but, in a pinch, they will do. Even upgrading to a CON-50 twist converter will only add $5.50 to the price of the pen and most Pilot pens can use the CON-50 as well so it can be shared among several pens as they circulate through your collection.

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

Both the fine and medium nibs featured on the Metropolitan pens are much finer than European and American pens as are common among most Japanese pens. But boy, are the Pilot nibs ever smooth! Pilot did not skimp even on these low priced Metropolitans regarding the nibs. They really are some of the best values available in the pen market today. They are well-weighted, smooth, the caps snap nicely to close and will post if you prefer to post them while writing.

The fine nib will give a writing experience similar to a rollerball like a Sanford Uni-ball fine, a little bit stiffer and firm. The medium nib will have a little bit softer nib experience and give more line variation. It feels like a much more expensive fountain pen. Its pretty darn magical for the price.

Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Fountain Pens

I filled my pens with the ink cartridges from the Pilot Parallel Mixable Colour cartridges in turquoise and light green which actually match the pen barrels pretty accurately and came from the assorted color set. Goulet Pens carries the Parallel Mixable Colour cartridges in single color packets or in the assorted color set.

The Retro Pop colors offer a wide enough range of colors to the previously more sedate Metropolitan options to appeal to just about anyone’s taste preferences. If you ever wanted to introduce someone to the wonderful world of fountain pens, there is no better option than the Metropolitan now. Its clean look, wide color options and easy filling (with cartridge or CON-50 upgrade) is a no-brainer introduction.

I love the Retro Pop pens so much, Goulet Pens has kindly donated one for me to give away to one lucky reader. So here’s all the details:

The Giveaway Details:

The Goulet Pens Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop giveaway package contents: A lime green Retro Pop with fine nib, a vastly superior Con-50 converter and a surprise ink sample package set. The pen and goodies will be sent directly from Goulet Pens. Thanks, Goulet Pens for making this possible!

To Enter:

Leave a comment below and tell me what the lime green color of the Retro Pop pen most reminds you of. Or tell what color you like to see added to the Retro Pop line. That’s it. Easy peasy limeade squeezy.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, December 4, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Include your “daily use” email address in the comment form (I’m the only one who will see it besides the vendor providing the prize) 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 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. US residents only please.

The New Karas Kustoms INK

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

The first improvement to the Karas Kustoms INK fountain pen is a snazzy wrap, letterpress printed right here in Kansas City by Skylab Letterpress — not that I’m biased or anything. But it is pretty spiffy, isn’t it?

CORRECTION: The premium packaging will only be included with the copper and brass models. I got a special edition because there was a sample wrap in the house thanks to the printer, AKA Skylab Letterpress, AKA my husband.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Inside is a stellar anodized INK in olive green. Pictured here with a fabulous autumn-y skein of yarn that my friend Laura picked up in Montana on a recent road trip.

The new version of the INK is available in several other colors as well, of course. These include the silver aluminum, and other anodized finishes — blue, black, brown,  green, gold, grey, orange, pink, red, and violet, as well as solid copper and solid brass, and a tumbled raw aluminum. And of course, the olive green I received.

There is also a clipless model available for an even sleeker look. The INK and the INK Clipless start at $95 with slightly higher prices for brass and copper grip sections or bodies.

This model is accented with the brass grip section and is the best looking though, in my humble opinion. You are welcome to disagree.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

What I noticed the minute I saw the INK was that the color was a dead ringer for my 1981 Vespa PK125 scooter. But I figured I had to prove it. See?

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Perfect match.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

In writing, the best part of the INK is the new Bock nib. Its super smooth and scaled to match the larger proportions of the INK very well. The whole pen feels smoother between the threads to the grip to the barrel. Overall, the whole pen feels more refined in small, meaningful ways.

Now for whatever reason, I decided to fill the INK with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. I guess I’m getting hit with a bit of the Christmas time spirit but the ink flowed smoothly and the pen wrote beautifully. When I started writing with the INK I forgot about the pen and  just focused on what I was writing– my thought and my words. And really, isn’t that what you want from a pen? A really good pen should just melt away and be an extension of your arm, right? Well, the INK did that for me to the point that I had to remind myself I was writing with it for a review. So that’s really the best kind of writing experience.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Karas Kustoms for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Finally! Kaweco Skyline Sport in Pink

Kaweco Skyline Sport in Pink with green pens

The long-awaited, new Kaweco Skyline Sport in pink (€17,95) has finally landed stateside!

Now that its here and you can see its the first (and possible the only) pink pen I own. The great thing about the Kaweco Sport series is that the prices for them are so reasonable, I don’t feel too bad about buying them in ALL the colors available.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Pink

Like previous Skyline models, the pen features silver detailing instead of the traditional gold found on the standard Sport line. Its a very lightweight pen making it great as a pocket carry but not necessarily the most comfortable tool for writing the next great novel. Though I’ve written enough letters with my assortment of plastic-barreled Kaweco to qualify as a novel at this point so its all a matter of personal preference.

Like all other Skyline and Sport models, the cap posts easily and the faceted barrel cap keep the pen from rolling off the table, even without the addition of a clip.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Pink

I got the Skyline in pink with an EF nib. I like a finer nib on my Kaweco Sport pens as they often get combined with small pocket notebooks for on-the-go writing that benefit from tiny writing and pens that don’t lay too much ink down.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Pink

I don’t normally make an effort to match my ink color to the pen barrel but I made an exception in this case. The pink Skyline screamed for some pink ink. I found that the best color match is the Platinum Cyclamen Pink ink. Its almost the exact same color as the pen body.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Pink

The Skyline in pink and I are going to have a bright colorful week. I mean, really, how can I not with a pocket full of bright pink like this pen?

Honestly, I can’t wait to see what colors Kaweco will offer the Skyline in next. I’d love a lilac and a sunny yellow one. How about you?

Video: How It’s Made: Space Pens, Colored Pencils, Fountain Pens & More

I found a great collection of pen-and-pencil-centric How Its Made videos. Some you may seen but I thought this would make for great lunchtime viewing. Enjoy!

This next video is how Aurora Fountain Pens are made:

This is the manufacturing process of Caran d’Ache colored pencils:

This next video is in Japanese subtitles with no spoken dialogue but its how Pilot makes its fountain pens so I thought it would be fun to watch even without narration. The first eight minutes is all about how the nibs are constructed which is a little slow to watch but fascinating!

Preview: Karas Kustoms Fountain K

Fountain K, Render K and INK

Karas Kustoms has recently been peppering the internet with sneak peeks of their upcoming Kickstarter pen release: The Fountain K. I was lucky enough to get a prototype of the new pen to try and share with you.

Pictured above is the Render K, the INK and the Fountain K all in aluminum. And to be honest, without taking the cap off, I can’t tell my Render K apart from the Fountain K. My husband claims he can tell that the Fountain K is ever-so-slightly lighter in weight but I am not that sensitive to the differences.

I did put all three pens on my trusty scale and here’s the weights of each pen, filled and capped:

Fountain K: 28 g
Render K: 34 g
INK: 43 g

Fountain K and INK

As someone with petite appendages, I have been thrilled with the overall weight and feel of the Fountain K compared to the INK. From the photo, you can see that the Fountain K is a more slender pen with a shorter grip section. Both the Fountain K and the INK use the same Schmidt nib size and I think it appears more balanced in the Fountain K. The nib looks beefier in the smaller pen.

NIb View

Those Schmidt nibs are really pretty and look great on the Fountain K. I tested a fine nib but since this is more of an overview of the design of the new Fountain K, its suffice to say that the pen wrote beautifully and as expected of any Schmidt nib. Check out Pennaquod to see a variety of nib widths of the Schmidt nib by searching for the “Karas Kustoms INK.”

Render K and Fontain K

The grip section on the Fountain K is the same length as the barrel on the Render K but since most people tend to grip a rollerball pen a bit closer to the tip, the grip on the Fountain K may seem shorter. I found that the threads are smooth enough that, even if my fingers ended up touching the threads, it was not bothersome at all. The threads are pretty smooth and gave a little grippiness to an otherwise silky smooth pen.

Cap Swap!

Did I mention that the threading on the Fountain K is exactly the same as the Render K? That means that you can switch out the caps to your liking.

All-in-all, I’m absolutely thrilled with the Fountain K. It is exactly what I had hoped it would be… a smaller alternative to the INK. Its beautiful, well-balanced and made in the USA. I can’t wait to see the excitement about the upcoming Kickstarter for these beauties. No official date has been set for the Kickstarter launch but I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as I hear.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Karas Kustoms for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice Fountain Pen

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to share details of the Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 Ice that I purchased at the Atlanta Pen Show. Being able to try every single Franklin-Christoph nib and pen body at the show was such a great experience and Lori from Franklin-Christoph was a great enabler too. She carried her Pocket 66 proudly all weekend, eyedropper filled with Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki which looked like a little writing lava lamp. Sold!

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

I ended up choosing the standard medium italic nib and also eyedropper filling my Pocket 66. This maximizes the ink capacity and looks super cool, especially with brighter, vivid ink colors. For these photos, I filled my Pocket 66 with Pelikan Edelstein Tourmaline, a bright fuchsia.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

The Pocket 66 Ice is clear polished acrylic but the inside of the cap and body have a frosted finish giving the pen its unique look. I like to just slosh ink around in the reservoir and watch the color.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

The Medium Italic nib is a custom ground nib by Mike Masuyama which is available directly from Franklin-Christoph and is a nominal upcharge from the standard nibs. The medium italic  glides easily across the paper! Its lovely to use.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

The pen measures 5 inches capped and 4.75″ uncapped. The cap posts easily and make the Pocket 66 5.5 inches long. The pen is lightweight at 15 gms capped and filled and 13 gms filled without the cap.

Franklin Christoph Pocket 66 Ice

Franklin-Christoph pens ship with a leather zip pouch which is one of the most useful extras I’ve ever gotten with a fountain pen.

The price for this configuration is $164.50 but a standard nib makes the pen a little less expensive and an 18K nib will increase the price but not nearly as much as other pen manufacturers. If you have a chance to try the F-C nib testing station at a pen show, I highly recommend it as a great way to find just the right nib and pen body combination for you.

Shawn Newton Esterbrook Nib Holder

Shawn Newton Custom Nib Holder

Earlier this year, I contacted Shawn Newton about making a nib holder for my large collection of Esterbrook nibs. I thought it would be a great solution for ink testing since the nib holder has no ink reservoir. This makes clean up fast and easy.

Shawn was super easy to work with and the whole transaction was organized through email. I chose the material for the pen and my order was put into the queue. He’s a single man operation so all work, whether its custom pens or nib work are handled in a first-come, first-serve order.

Shawn Newton Custom Nib Holder

I chose a light jade alumilite which is a mixed resin material. Its a cool green with threads of white which is quite reminiscent of jade stones.

The pen is just a nib holder, it has no cap, no ink reservoir… just beautiful, comfortable to hold resin body that is threaded to fit my Esterbrook nibs. The taper at the grip is very comfortable and the resin is smooth without being slippery.

Shawn Newton Custom Nib Holder

I’ve been using this nib holder for ink reviews for several months now and I actually look forward to writing ink reviews since this nib holder is so pleasant to hold and use. Since the Esterbrook nib units have feeds built into them, a dip into ink will fill the feed allowing me to write for quite awhile without having to dip again. I can often write a whole page or more without needing to dip the nib again.

With the nib unit installed the pen measures 6 inches and weighs 12 gms. The nib holder actually weighs less than a Kaweco Sport in plastic but is a full sized pen!

Shawn Newton Custom Nib Holder

For my test page I continually swapped out nibs and dipped in the ink again. As you can see the first nib I used hadn’t been cleaned so the ink came out much darker than it should have been. I bounced between various nibs as I was writing and dropped the used nibs into a glass of water to clean.

If you have wanted to experiment with the wide variety of Esterbrook nib units, a custom made nib holder is a great option. NOS and used Esterbrook nibs are available from Anderson Pens or you can scout around on Ebay.

(Photo of my pen from Shawn Newton before he shipped it to me!)

Threaded nib holders start at $75. Contact Shawn directly to make arrangements.

Tested with discontinued Sailor Jentle Apricot ink (sorry!) on Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 pad with 6mm guide sheet.

Review: Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen packaging

I was pretty flabbergasted when my friend Kasey offered to send me his Nakaya Decapod pen to try out. It was such a kind and generous gesture considering how special (and pricey) Nakaya pens are. But that didn’t stop me from accepting his offer immediately. How often does one have the chance to test a pen at home, with your own inks and papers, with the luxury of comparing it side-by-side with your own pen collection? Exactly, so I had to do it.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen Packaging

The pen arrived in a paperboard shipper box made from beautiful Japanese paper. Inside was a balsa wood box with writing on the lid in black. Once that was opened, I saw the pen wrapped in a “kimono” cloth case, ink cartridges and a cartridge converter, all laying on a red velvet mat.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Once I got the pen out of the packaging, I could truly appreciate the beauty of a Nakaya. The pen is in the now retired color Ao-Tamenuri (a blue-green urushi). This particular Decapod is known as the Cigar as it has no clip and a distinctly tapered shape like a cigar. The color of the finish is so beautiful in person and really hard to capture in a photo. The urushi is applied like layers of ceramic glaze which creates the lighter areas shown on the edges of the facets and a deeper, almost black color on the flat surfaces. Each pen is hand finished so the amount of color difference is unique to each pen. This Decapod has distinct edges with bright color difference that look almost green. The example shown on the Nibs.com site is much darker with heavier application of urushi that gives the pen a softer, rounder appearance.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

The pen was purchased through Nibs.com which allowed for the pen nib to be modified by the legendary John Mottishaw. The original Japanese Medium 14K gold nib was ground into a Cursive Italic. Since the Nakaya Medium nib is already much finer than the European or US equivalent, this made for a fine cursive italic.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Its a beautiful nib on the end of a beautiful pen. I had to work up the courage to actually ink this gem up.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

I decided to use the Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine ink which is a similar shade of green to the ridges on the Nakaya.

Nakaya Decapod Cigar Ao-tamenuri Fountain Pen

Once I had the pen inked and in my hand, I remembered fully and completely what all the fuss is about with Nakaya. Not only is the pen beautiful and unique but it is perfectly weighted in my hand. It was silky on the paper and wrote flawlessly.

On a less poetic, more technical side, the Decapod is a large, full-sized pen measuring 6 inches capped and 5.125″ uncapped. The cap does not post. The pens weighs 24 gms capped and filled with the converter and 18 gms with the cap removed. Its not a particularly heavy pen. The Lamy pens I reviewed a couple weeks ago were twice the weight! The faceted shape also helped make the Decapod one of the most comfortable pens I’ve ever used.

I tested the pen on my standard Rhodia Uni-Blank No. 18 pad with 6mm guide sheet under the blank page. Yep, that small.

This Ao-Tamenuri color is no longer available but other colors and configurations are still available if you are interested in pursuing the Nakaya dream. Decapods sell for between $650 and $750 each. Nib customization is additional, depending on the grind.

Its official, I understand what all the fuss is about regarding Nakaya pens. I know why they end up on folks’ grail lists. I think this pen is going to go on my grail list. Do you think Kasey would notice if I didn’t send it back?

Django studies the Nakaya

(Thought you’d be amused to see my big, dumb cat attempting to “help” me write my review.)

Review: Platinum Carbon Pen

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

Pardon the smudge on the Platinum Carbon Pen. I’ve been using it for several weeks for making art, particularly of the mixed media variety and managed to get a smudge of acrylic paint on it. Should you purchase one of your own and want it to look as well-loved as mine, you must also smudge a little acrylic paint on the barrel — color of your choosing. My smudge is a pale apricot color.

Okay, now let’s talk about this unusual pen. First, the Platinum Carbon Pen was designed to be a desk pen (which explains the hideously inappropriate rubbery plastic cap) AND it was specifically designed to be used with Platinum’s permanent Carbon Black ink. What appealed to me is that the nib is a “super fine” Japanese nib and known to be a good performer. Why would you want or need either of these things?

First, I’ve not been much inclined to fill my regular fountain pens with waterproof or permanent ink and I’d guess you aren’t either. I don’t want to damage my pens should the ink dry or clog in the pen. So, the fact that the Carbon Pen is designed specifically to work with the Carbon ink means the feed is a bit wider to accommodate it. Also,the pen costs a whopping $13.50. That’s cheaper than a Kaweco Sports so if it clogs to the point that its unusable, I’m not sacrificing a more expensive tool. Next, the nib is super smooth and SUPER fine. If you’re looking for a fine fine line that isn’t going anywhere… this is a good option. Now, you could always put some other inks into the Carbon Pen but I am quite liking the idea of a pen with a specific purpose — like a Sharpie Marker. I don’t need a Sharpie Marker all the time, everyday, but when you need a Sharpie Marker, not much else will do. I feel the same way about the Carbon Pen. If I’m taking notes in a meeting, I don’t need super fine permanent writing. But if I’m drawing or writing in a journal, I might want something that is permanent.  And finally, its sort of shaped like a paintbrush with a long tapered end which actually gives it nice balance and is quite comfortable in the hand. I wish the end had been rounded rather than the flat blunt end but for $13.50 I’m not going to complain too much.

The long shape doesn’t make it particularly pocketable but it fits in my Kipling 100 Pen Case with no issues so I travel with it anyway regardless of its impractical length.

The cap cannot be posted unless you want your pen to look like the guy at the party with a lampshade on his head. Your call.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

More paint smudges on the grip section. The Carbon Pen has gotten some serious usage since I got it and the great thing about it being so budget-priced is that I don’t care if its got paint on it. The nib and hardware are gold toned so despite the paint smudges, it looks very proper and dignified.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

The partially hooded nib is an interesting design choice but it makes its feel pretty stable despite its wickedly stiletto nib point.

The pen comes with one Carbon Black ink cartridge. A pack of four refill cartridges is $3.30. Some have mentioned that this is a bit high for cartridges but since the nib on the Carbon Pen is so fine, it does not use about a lot of ink. The cartridges last a long time. Alternately, you could purchase a full bottle of Carbon Ink ($25) and refill the cartridge or buy a converter ($8.25). I just bought a pack of cartridges and I’m going to see how long it will take me to go through five cartridges. I’m willing to bet it will be years before I need more.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

The nib, even though its super fine, was very smooth on the paper and has a tiny bit or spring to it. It makes it a pleasure to write with. What I loved was combining it with Sai Watercolor Brush Markers for drawing. Since the Sai Watercolor brushes are water soluble, I was able to smoosh the colors around using a water brush but the Carbon Pen lines stayed in place.

Platinum Carbon Desk FountainPen

If you have need of a super fine, permanent ink fountain pen, I can’t recommend the Carbon Pen highly enough. I love this pen so much I might buy the Desk Stand just so its handy at all times, even though the stand is more expensive than the pen… on second thought, I might just buy an extra Carbon Pen.

Review: Lamy Scala Blue Black with 14K EF Nib AND Lamy Dialog 3 with 14K F Nib

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition in presentation box

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition

I recently purchased a Lamy Scala BlueBlack fountain pen (special edition 2015) with 14K gold nib (198,00 €). The pen shipped in a presentation box with a bottle of Lamy Blue Black ink and a converter. It was to be my first experience with a gold Lamy nib.

The Scala has a stainless-steel barrel with a dark blue-black finish. Its supposed to have small inclusions in the finish to look almost like stars in the night sky but it came out too subtle. The blue is much too dark and the twinkly bits are too small to be seen well. Everyone who has seen the pen asked if it was black. That said, the finish is glossy and smooth and the chromed details look sharp and professional. I’m just bummed it isn’t more “starry night” looking.

The cap is spring loaded to make it easier to loop onto a pocket or notebook. The branding is super minimal, just the Lamy name embossed in the side of the clip.

lamy dialog 3 box

lamy dialog 3 in presentation box

lamy dialog 3

lamy dialog 3  14K gold F nib

Then Mike Dudek of the Clickypost sent me his Lamy Dialog 3 to try out which also has a 14K nib on it. Its a F nib and so I could not help but compare the two pens. So this review will be a two-for-one.

The Dialog shipped in a protective outer box but the pen was nestled into a wedge-shaped beech wood box with a lovely groove cut into where the pen rests. I don’t usually place much value on the packaging but this is a compact box that can be used to store your pen when not in use.  The oversized paperboard box for the Scala is a behemoth and will end up in the attic.

The Dialog 3 is a matte black finish over metal with matte silver clip and accents. There are painted silver lines on the barrel and the Lamy logo. When closed, the painted lines align. (I noticed, in my photos, I didn’t get the Dialog closed perfectly. Its driving me crazy!) Opening and closing the Dialog 3 actually takes two hands. One to hold the barrel and the other to twist. This made me a little sad since its not at all as convenient as a retractable with a spring button mechanism like the Pilot Capless or any disposable ballpoint. The twist mechanism is also quite snug. This is good in that it won’t accidentally come open but it means it takes some effort to open and close the pen.

I’ve been using my new Lime Lamy Safari over the past few weeks, so switching to the Scala and the Dialog 3 was a bit of a change. Both pens are very weighty.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 size comparison

The Dialog 3 measures 5.5″ closed and 6″ open. It weighs 48gms filled. Its a seriously big pen for me. Since there is no cap, there’s no way to lighten this pen. It is what it is. Its also a very wide barrel. In my munchkin hands, I felt like I was holding a My First Crayon or a broom handle.

Capped, the Scala is 5.5″. Uncapped, the pen body is 5.125″ and with the cap posted it measures a whopping 6.75″. Filled and capped, the Scala weighs 43gms. Uncapped and filled, the pen weighs a much-more manageable 25gms. The cap alone weighs 17gms! If I try to use the Scala with the cap posted, the pen becomes seriously top heavy and awkward feeling but if you have large hands, this might be a great option.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 writing samples

Initially, I thought the Scala felt like a big, heavy pen but after using the Dialog 3 for awhile, the Scala felt practically dainty. Its still a big pen and weighty compared to plastic pens like the Safari but it feels good in the hand.

Grumbling about the pen sizes aside, both of these Lamy 14K nibs wrote beautifully. I can see why people get so enthusiastic about the Lamy 2000 and its 14K nib. Both the Scala and the Dialog 3 use the same gold nibs and they are absolutely buttery. The EF nib is perfect for my writing style, it gives a little variation to my strokes without closing up most letterforms. The F nib is even smoother but my writing is too tiny to keep the counters on my letters from closing up in casual writing. As European nib sizing goes, and because the gold adds some flex and softness to these nibs, I’d recommend going down a nib size. If you generally like a medium nib, go with the F and if you generally like an F nib, go with the EF.

As a lefty, I was able to use both the EF and the F nib without any issues in my overhanded writing style as well as testing it in a more traditional under writing style. This is very exciting news for me. Other modern 14K gold nibs have not been as forgiving of the overhanded writing style.

As you can see from the writing sample, visually the EF looks a bit lighter than the F nib. I think its more a result of the line weight difference than F nib being wetter. The EF definitely shows more color variation in the ink as a result of the finer nib. They both have not given me any false starts or required much priming, even after sitting for a day or so.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 size comparison

I find that the Dialog 3 fits a pen niche I don’t specifically need filled. I’m thrilled to have had a chance to test it out and I recommend that, since its such a unique size and shape, to find a retailer that has them in stock and try one before you buy it. Its shape and retracting mechanism will be somethng you either like or don’t. I don’t think there’s a lot of middle ground with this pen.

The Scala is easier to recommend since its size and shape is more in keeping with traditional fountain pens. Its available in other colors and can be purchased with a steel nib if you’re not interested in the gold nib options, which reduces the price quite a bit.

Both pens were tested with Kaweco Midnight Blue ink on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 pad.

Big thanks to Fontoplumo for getting the Scala blueblack Special Edition with EF for me. I purchased the pen but Frank did all the hard work. Remember, if you want to place an order with Fontoplumo, new customers should use the code “WAD” and returning customers should use the code “WAD2“ to receive a 10% discount on their order. These codes will be valid through the end of 2015!

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 Fountain Pen Set in Menthol

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

While I was in Atlanta, I finally got to see the new Wahl-Eversharp fountain pens up close and personal. The whole line is such a great homage to the original pen designs. There are a lot of different variations available of the Skyline design but all the details are right. My biggest dilemma was deciding which design to buy. In the end, I decided on the Skyline 50 in menthol green ($159). I purchased the pen from the Anderson Pen table at the show and they were tickled to inform me that the pen came in a gift box with a matching toy Corvette. The gift box is 1950s-theme drive-in design with a magnetic closure. It was a nice package but I’m inclined to prefer my pens in a small, wholly-recyclable paperboard boxes. Still, the graphics are fun.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The toy Corvette is cute and now sits on my mantel as a souvenir from the Atlanta Pen Show. The pen, on the other hand, is living it up as a daily carry in my NockCo Lookout case with my other daily carry pens. The body is 50s refrigerator green plastic with silver tone accents. The Wahl-Eversharp site says the details are “palladium plating.” The cap is smooth chrome with a coordinating green plastic dome nestled under the clip which loops over the end. The cap is a signature element from the original Skyline and is beautifully recreated here. Because of all the metal, the cap is quite weighty. If you prefer a heavier pen, the cap easily posts but the pen is long enough to be used without posting… at least for me.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The tapered end reminds me of a lot of classic desk pens but the Skyline 50 is not as long and the end is a softer cigar shape. It feels lovely in the hand.

One of the unusual aspects of the pen is how the pen needs to be disassembled in order to fill the converter. The chrome ring at the end of the pen untwists to reveal the twist knob of the converter but I could not see if I was getting ink in the converter so I ended up having to untwist the pen at the nib to pull the whole nib/converter out of the pen to successfully fill the converter. It wasn’t a huge big deal, just odd. Alternately, there is the convenience of this pen taking standard cartridges so filling on-the-go would be a breeze.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib details are what sold me on this pen. Look at the engraving! Its reminiscent of the details on the top of the Empire State Chrysler Building and is just gorgeous. The only downside of the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline was that the only nib option is a medium. But I was willing to give it a whirl despite it not being my favorite nib size and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib was a little noisy on paper (especially after testing out the Edison Premiere which was silky) but it gave the writing experience a little toothiness. I didn’t feel like the pen was going to move faster than I could write. The line width of the medium nib was on the finer side of medium. There is also a little softness to the nib, its not as stiff as a lot of the steel nibs available today but I wouldn’t really call is a flex nib.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

I’m glad I purchased this pen. It is a beautiful pen, writes nicely and is such a great design. The Skyline 50 series is also available in a bright cherry red and a sky blue if minty green is too much for you. There are also more traditional Skyline designs available including the lust-worthy Skyscraper Limited Edition 100th Anniversary model with the sapphire accents and guilloche engraving.