Tag: fountain pen

Pen Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black Fountain Pen

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

Once again, my dear friend Kasey was kind enough to loan me a pen. This time, it was his beloved Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black. I laughed when I pulled it out of the box because it is the absolute antithesis of the only other Sailor pen in my life right now. Where the Sailor Imperial Black is matte black finish with ruthenium trim, my Sailor Pink Love Pro Gear Slim is ridiculously vivid pink with metallic sparkles embedded in the material. So, I’ve spent the last few weeks putting Imperial Black and Pink Love next to each other in a strange “opposites attract” sort of way. And to be honest, its totally true.

Fountain Pen WeightsFrom a purely technical standpoint, I was delighted to have an opportunity to try out a full-sized Pro Gear and discover that it is not nearly as large or heavy as I anticipated. Compared with the Slim model, its really only about a half an inch longer and only slightly wider. Weight-wise, the Pro Gear is only 4 grams heavier at 24 gms than the Slim which weighed in at 20 gms, capped and filled with the converter. Compared to a Lamy AL-Star, which is a bit longer than the Pro Gear, the weights and width are quite comparable so really, the Pro Gear is a a fairly light but solid feeling tool. I’d almost describe it as compact. Especially with the Imperial Black since all the design elements are understated making the pen feel very clean and functional but at the same time very classic and elegant.

Within minutes of putting the pen to paper, I started researching how much it was going to cost me to get my own Imperial Black. Seriously. Fo the record, there are not many of these beauties left in the wild. Anderson Pens still has some in stock with a broad nib for $472.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

Part of the expense of this Imperial Black is that this particular model of Pro Gear came with the 21K nib instead of the more common 14K nib. Wow. This particular pen has the medium nib. And as is common with Sailor pens, the medium nib is actually quite fine and actually a bit crisp so the line has a lot of character. Its not often that I get excited about a medium nib, but this one is quite something. There’s nothing “medium” about it.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black and Sailor Pro Gear Slim Pink Love

When I put it next to the music nib on the Pro Gear Slim Pink Love, the Imperial Black looks slim, delicate and all business. The Pink Love looks a little bulbous. It does show the vast range of nib size differences within the Sailor line though.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

In writing, the medium nib 21K is absolutely buttery. It was conducive to writing at any angle and as a left-handed writer this is a big deal. I could write over-handed, under-handed, or side-writing with the lightest of touches and the nib glides on the paper. The medium nib handled my small handwriting with no issues, I seldom had the counters of my letters fill in even using 6mm guide sheets.

I really was blown away by this pen and am seriously considering purchasing, if not an Imperial Black Pro Gear, than at least a Pro Gear, in the near future. It is a beautiful writing tool and the Sailor medium nib should be renamed something more poetic. Maybe the “majestic” nib. That’s what that “M” really stands for.

Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


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

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Pen Review: Edison Collier LE 2015 with Custom Architect Nib

Edison Collier LE 2015

As a nice comparison to the stock Edison Nouveau Premiere that I took for a test drive yesterday, it seemed appropriate to show you the Edison Collier with the custom architect nib ground by Dan Smith over at Nibsmith. The pen started its life with a broad nib and was then customized.

I’m amused I didn’t figure out it was an architect grind until Kasey told me. I kept thinking… “This doesn’t look like a broad nib. Its much too crisp.” Well, duh. It wrote beautifully, if a bit too broadly, for my small writing but the grind is very well done.

Edison Collier LE 2015 Writing Sample

Physically, the Collier is very different from the Nouveau Premiere pen. The barrel is wider and the overall shape is more cigar shaped with a wider, rounder appearance overall. IT balances the size of the nib much better than the Nouveau Premiere. Its also a deep mahogany swirl with black to the candy-color of the water lily Nouveau Premiere.

The nib is two-toned gold and silver and the clip is gold compared to the all-silver hardware of the Premiere. These two pens couldn’t be more different than apples to steaks.

Weight-wise, the Collier is a good 10 grams heavier at 28 grams, capped and filled with the converter, but its well-weighted and comfortable so even in my small hands, I didn’t notice the additional weight. I actually had to put it on a scale to verify that it was heavier than the Premiere.

Edison Collier LE 2015

Overall, the broad architect grind on this crunchy cigar-shaped and deep, richly colored pen is totally appropriate. I would probably name this pen El Comandante if I owned it and write with it while drinking mojitos and listening to salsa music.

This is another pen that’s convinced me to take a good long look at Edison Pens. While I wouldn’t normally have gravitated towards the Collier because its a larger pen, the lightweight acrylic resin kept it from feeling like I was trying to steer a ship, and the variety of colors that Edison uses is really amazing– from subtle browns, as shown with this Collier, to the candy bright with the Nouveau Premiere Water Lily.

Again, since this particular Edison Collier was a limited edition model from 2015, it is no longer available but other color options are available on the Goulet Pens site for $149 or you could check directly with the Edison Pens site to see what they have in stock or for a custom order.


This pen was loaned to me by Kasey, AKA Punkey, as a way to try out pens I might not otherwise purchase or be able to afford. Thank you very much. This is another reason why the pen community is so awesome!

Pen Review: Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The Edison Premiere Nouveau Water Lily is the Spring 2016 Limited Edition($149) for Goulet Pens and my first Edison fountain pen. Its one of the shapes in the Edison line-up that has always appealed to me so I was excited to have the opportunity to get this particular model. The long slender shape with bullet ends seemed like a very vintage shape but the colors of the acrylic resin material are pretty modern. The vivid pearlescent cerulean blue and pink swirls (AKA “clown vomit”) were an added bonus. I couldn’t resist filling the pen with an equally eye-popping Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu pink ink either. In for a penny…

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The body has a lightly etched branding and the name of the pen and the limited edition information but is otherwise unbranded on the outside. The nib has the Edison light bulb logo etched on it as well as the stock swirls and the nib size.

The pen features all silver hardware and nib and I got an EF nib which ended up working really well with my miniature handwriting. In general, the overall look of the pen is clean and simple letting the colors of the acrylic resin steal the show. My only complaint about the pen is that the nib seems a little large for the slenderness of the the pen body. It seems a little disproportionate but that might just me. I’m used to vintage pens with smaller nibs overall.

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Writing with the pen is quite comfortable and the pen shipped with a cartridge converter that had a generous capacity. The overall length of the pen did not require posting the cap and the pen was nicely balanced without the cap being posted. The cap can be posted if you choose to and its light enough not to throw off the balance.

The pen weighs 18gms capped and filled and is 6 inches long. Uncapped, it’s 5 inches and posted, its 6.75″.It weighs 11gms uncapped and filled.

Fountain Pen Weights

I’m sad to say that the Water Lily edition is sold out already but Goulet Pens does a special edition Edison every quarter so a summer edition should be released soon. I kick myself for missing some of the previous editions now so I won’t make that mistake again.


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.

When Good Repairs Happen to Good Pens

lady sheaffer gold

I wanted to do a follow-up to what happened to my Parker Duofold in Atlanta. I wanted to share a GOOD repair story that happened at the Chicago Pen Show. I bought a low-priced Lady Sheaffer Skripsert on Thursday night on a vendor’s table only to discover that there was a crack in the nib plastic a couple days later. Now, I didn’t look closely enough when I purchased it to discover the crack so I know this was my fault.

I mentioned the crack to someone at the show on Sunday and was told that Ron Zorn at Main Street Pens was the man to see and that he might have parts to fix a Lady Sheaffer Skripsert. Later, he happened to come by the Vanness table while I was working and I mentioned my broken Lady Sheaffer and he told me to come by he table right then. I followed him into the ballroom and was able to watch him disassemble the complicated assembly of the partially hooded nib from the cracked housing. He had a spare housing and even had new-old-stock nibs and housings so I purchased a spare fine nib as well as having him replace the housing for the original nib.

lady sheaffer gold fine nib

He did the work quickly and talked me through the procedure. He even told me he had a lot of additional  parts for Lady Sheaffers and that if I had any others that needed repairs to let him know.

lady sheaffer gold

I thought it was interesting to see that the dolphin nose angle of the nib is less severe on the X-Fine nib than on the medium nib. They are both 14K nibs and very smooth.

I thought it would be good to share a repair story with a happy ending.

lady sheaffer gold fine nib writing sample

When I got back to Kansas City, I put a turquoise Sheaffer cartridge in it and was actually quite pleased with the color of the ink. I noticed a little bit a a red halo to it which was a pleasant surprise. I plan to use up the ink and then refill the cartridges because finding a converter to fit the Lady Sheaffers is kind of a challenging. The X-Fine writes beautifully and I love it!

the lady sheaffer brigade

The “new” gold Lady Sheaffer Skripsert came with a little carrying case but I thought I’d show the whole collection together — two Lady Sheaffer Skripserts and the Sheaffer Imperial plus the extra nib unit. Now to find some of those exotic Lady Sheaffer beauties in blue and red!

Pen Review: Sailor Fude de Mannen Fountain Pens

Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens

A couple of days before I left for the Atlanta Pen Show, the amazing Joey Feldman sent me two Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens to try. I had been wanting to try these fountain pens for ages since many artists and calligraphers had raved about them but I had had a hard time finding anyone who had them in stock. Along came Joey with a couple he wasn’t using and voila! I’m flush with the funky nib wunderkinds.

Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens

The big deal about the Fude de Mannen fountain pens are the bent angle nibs that look like the nibs are broken but they are purposely bent to allow for brush-like ink flow from a fountain pen nib. This allows from very expressive line quality for calligraphy and drawing depending on the angle at which the nib is aligned with the paper. The more parallel the nib is aligned with the paper, the more ink will be applied to the paper; the steeper the angle, the finer the line.

Sailor Fude de Mannen 40º nib

The first one is the Sailor DE 40º Brush Style Calligraphy Fountain Pen. JetPens lists it for $16.50 and says its navy blue but it is so dark that I thought it was black. The trim is gold toned and it is a particularly long pen. The body is a lightweight plastic though so the length is not particularly noticeable once I started using it though I didn’t post the cap as it requires a bit of force to post it and makes the pen ridiculously long and a little back-heavy. The 40º pen does not have a clip but there is a roll-stop bit of plastic on the cap to keep the pen from rolling away.

Sailor Fude De Mannen 55º nib

The smaller pen is the Sailor Profit 55º Fude de Mannen Fountain Pen. I was only able to find it on Amazon for $21.66. Its a shorter pen, more traditional in length and the cap posts much more easily and the weight is more evenly distributed when the cap is posted. The Profit also writes with a much broader stroke overall which looks much more dramatic. When angled just right, the 55º is pretty much a firehose of ink which can be a lot of fun. Angled at a steeper angel, it cam be used more like a traditional broad nib.

Both pens use the Sailor cartridges or the Sailor converter.

I found the 40º pen to be a little bit scratchier on paper compared to the Profit 55º. I don’t know if it was the angle of the nibs or the specific nibs themselves. It could have just been a fluke of the pen I have but the Profit 55º skated like butter on the paper where there was a little more resistance with the 40º, for whatever reason. I might buy another one just to see if it was this specific pen that was a little rough or a difference between the two product lines. Either way, at around $20 per pen, I can hardly complain about quality control since the overall pen is very well done and the nibs are very unique and almost impossible to get in any other configuration without going into the hundreds-of-dollars price points.

Sailor Fude De Mannen writing drawing samples

I had a lot of fun drawing and trying out different lettering styles with these pens and I will definitely continue to experiment with these. Since the price points on these pens are so reasonable as well, I might even try using some permanent inks so that I can add some watercolor and marker to the drawings as well. Then I really have an excuse to buy another one and just label one “carbon ink” and one “water soluble”. If you like trying out different types of tools and $20 won’t break your bank, I definitely recommend picking one or both of these up. The scale you prefer to work will determine whether the 40º or the 55º will be more to your taste. If you work in sketchbooks smaller than A4, then I would recommend the 40º if you work A4 (US Letter or larger) than the 55º is probably a better option or if you like to work in big, bold shapes and patterns.

Review: Ranga Modified Fountain Pen

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The Ranga Acrylic Fountain Pen is a very different kind of pen for me to review and to describe so I apologize in advance if this is a little strange. First of all, this pen came to me pre-modified by the fabulous Leigh Reyes. She has provided detailed instructions on her web site along with a video on how to make this modification for yourself, I was just lucky enough to get a hands-on demonstration and prepared pen.

So, to give you more details, the Ranga acrylic fountain pens come with a standard steel fountain pen nib with an ebonite feed that is friction fit and an eyedropper filling mechanism. The reason this is such a good candidate for modification for a flex dip nib is because of the ebonite feed which will allow better flow and can be manipulated to increase flow.

If you can’t tell yet, this is not a beginner’s fountain pen or project. If you averse to having inky fingers for get annoyed if your pen chokes up on you this is NOT a pen for you. However, if you are tired of dip pen dipping, then this can be your new best friend. Because, with some patience and tweaking, the Ranga can hum along beautifully.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

I included the above image to show that there was a lot of trials on scratch paper and nib cleaning. I’m serious when I say this is a tweaker’s pen. But look how cool this is! If you do a lot a lettering with flex dip nib, anything that makes writing a few more lines without dipping is a bonus so you know what I’m so excited about.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The pen is about 5.5″ long capped. The cap will post making the pen almost 7″ from the tip of the flex nib to the end of the cap. Filled with ink it is pretty light, only 20 gms but the Ranga Acrylic is a little wider at the grip section in the hand than a lot of nib holders which tend to be very narrow which is really nice.

Fountain Pen Weights

Ranga Acrylics are available on Amazon with free shipping which seems to be the best option if you live in the US. If you live in the Phillipines, Pengrafik stocks the Ranga Acrylics. Peyton Street Pens in the US stocks some Ranga pens fitted with vintage nibs that may offer some flex as an alternative to using dip nibs.

I purchased a Desiderata Daedalus pen in Chicago that I will review in the next week or so. It works on a similar principle in that it holds a Zebra G nib but is comes prepared to accept the Zebra G nib without the tinkering required to make the Ranga work with a flex nib but it still requires some preparation.

Finally, here’s a little Instagram video I did (handheld!) and managed to misspell Ranga in the process but you can see the flex in action. I’ve since purchased a tripod so hopefully my videos will improve.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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

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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!

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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!

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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!