Stay tuned for official release dates.
To see my preview of the Fountain K, check out my previous post.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Threaded nib holders start at $75. Contact Shawn directly to make arrangements.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Its a beautiful nib on the end of a beautiful pen. I had to work up the courage to actually ink this gem up.
I decided to use the Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine ink which is a similar shade of green to the ridges on the Nakaya.
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.
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?
(Thought you’d be amused to see my big, dumb cat attempting to “help” me write my review.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Atlanta, I mentioned I’d never tried an Edison pen and when I returned home, my pal Kasey (AKA Punkey) had kindly sent me his Edison Nouveau Premiere to try out. This particular model is the limited edition Macassar Ebonite model that was sold through Goulet Pens in 2013. The coloring reminds me of wood grain in warm coffee and cream swirls. What was most surprising was how light the material was. The ebonite feels different from plastic, both lighter and more rigid. It also has a slightly matte appearance, not a glossy sheen. It made the pen feel warmer.
The stock F nib is two-toned and looks good with the pen and the coordinating gold-tone clip. Its a good quality nib and the writing experience was smooth and comfortable albeit a bit wet and wide for me. I would have preferred an EF nib but borrowers can’t be too picky.
Unposted, the Ebonite Premiere weighs just 12gms. That’s lighter than a plastic Kaweco but its a full-sized pen. Even posted, the Premiere is 19gms. Pretty impressive. For me, it was more comfrtable to write witht he pen unposted and its measures 5.125″ unposted. Posted its a whopping 7″ long and a wee bit top heavy.
I was highly impressed with my whole experience with the Edison Nouveau Premiere. The lightweight ebonite material made a larger pen comfortable, even in my little tiny hands. The craftmanship is impeccable and I am definitely going to be in the market for my own Premiere. Maybe that gorgeous lilac acrylic version currently available at Goulet? I found Mary’s review of last year’s Cherry Blossom edition and the pen is equally lightweight in acrylic. Sweet!
Big thanks to Kasey for letting me try this pen.
I took a lot of ribbing from readers after I reviewed the Pilot Varsity awhile back. I had a particularly bad experience so when I spied the newly repackaged Pilot Varsity ($3), I decided it was as good a reason as any to give the Varsity another try.
The new pen design is the same shape as the original pen but features a black, grey and silver diamond pattern on the barrel and a small yellow “Varsity” logo on one side. The clip is a little larger and bulbous and too plasticky but the pen is comfortable in the hand and the cap is easily postable. The nib is labelled as a medium and its definitely equivalent of a European medium nib.
I’ve been writing with this pen on and off for over a month and I’m quite pleased with its performance. It writes smoothly and starts as soon as I remove the cap. There are no hard starts or need for priming. The nib is wider than I generally prefer for an everyday writer but its a pleasing medium nib with some nice line variation and requires the lightest of touches to put ink on the page. Even writing upside down, sideways and just grabbing the pen to quickly write down a number presented no problems for me.
This is one of the best values in fountain pens. While the Platinum Preppy is available in a much finer nib and refillable, the Varsity will put a smile on anyone’s face. “Three dollars for this?!?! What a good deal!” I’m willing to admit that my previous experience with the Varsity might have been a fluke, one bad apple in the bunch. If you had a bad experience with a Varsity, I recommend you give it another shot. At $3, quality control is probably not a top priority but it also means it won’t break the bank to buy two.
When I saw the new Lamy Safari in Neon Lime (the 2015 Special Edition Color) (19.50 €) I knew immediately that I’d have to have one. The color is just too perfect not to own it. The color is such a bright yellow green its practically highlighter yellow.
The Lamy is one of the longest pens in my collection but because its made of plastic, its very lightweight. I think it would be a comfortable pen for most writers, tiny to extra large hands. It can be used posted but it makes the pen extremely long. If that’s comfortable go for it but I prefer to use it unposted.
I attempted to use the Neon Lime ink but quickly discovered that it is more useful as a highlighter ink than a writing ink.
I got the Neon Lime Safari with a Medium nib which is one of the only nib sizes from Lamy I had not tried yet. I had a little bit of an issue with a rough spot on the nib so I ran it across some micro mesh to smooth it out and then it seemed good to go. I tried to keep my fingers on the grip section as the grooves indicated but, as a lefty, it ends up being a little awkward to get the proper angle and goo ink flow upside down that way. Once I cocked the pen slightly, I was able to get more consistent ink flow with the medium nib. If I write with my hand below the line I’m writing (mirroring most right handed writers) I got much darker ink and flow.
I stand by my recommendation that lefties don’t start their fountain pen adventures with a Lamy Safari since the grip section can make it more challenging to find the best nib angle for our often-unique writing angles. A pen with a smooth grip section will work better as an introductory pen for a left-handed writer like a Pilot Metropolitan or the higher-priced Lamy Studio.
The great thing about the Lamy line is how easy it is to swap out the nibs. I pulled the 1.1mm nib out of my Lamy Studio and tried it in the Neon Lime. Surprisingly, I had an easier time getting the ink on the paper with the wider nib and I found the line variation more interesting.
Overall, the Lamy is a great introductory fountain pen with easy-to-swap nibs and the Neon Lime color is bright, fun color. My only caveat to recommending the Lamy Safari is, for a left-handed writer, the molded grip section can introduce some challenges if you are an overwriter (you hook your hand above the line you are writing). That said, the Lamy Safari line is quite reasonably priced so if you haven’t tried one yet, its certainly won’t break the bank. Its a classic design in a bold new color.
Have I ever told you’all how much I love getting questions about pens, paper and the like? This week, I have two awesome questions.
Beth, the reference librarian asked:
I have a new TWSBI 580 with a custom ground nib (pen was purchased with that nib) and at the same time I purchased a second nib (the whole nib unit) also custom ground – I really like both nibs. One nib is obviously in the TWSBI, which is a nice pen, but I would love to put what I call the “back-up” nib in a different pen, preferably one under $100. that uses a cartridge/converter system. I read about nib-swapping all the time but am not sure just which nibs are compatible with which pens. I don’t think the 580 nib unit will fit the TWSBI mini, but if it did I would go with that. (even though the same filling system.) I am nervous about pulling the nib out of the screw-on unit until I know what I am doing. Am I making sense here? Any advice would be most appreciated!
With a little elbow grease I was able to pull the nib out of my TWSBI Mini. The nib is a size 5 (according to the smarter-than-me folks over in the Pen Addict Slack Channel). The only cheap pen I could find that had a size 5 nib was a Pilot Metropolitan. Pilot nibs have a little flange and a groove nicked out to get them to grip the feed that the TWSBI nib does not have. But… the nib does fit into the feed of a Pilot Metropolitan albeit very loosely. I assume this method would also work in other Pilot pens like the Prera or Plumix. So it is possible to use the TWSBI nib in other pens with a little luck but its not the best fit. If I find any other pens that take size 5 nibs with a cartridge/converter system.
As for switching the nibs between a Mini and a 580, that should just require untwisting the nib unit and sliding the grip section off to expose the nib/feed unit. Then they could easily be swapped between the Mini and the 580.
The second question actually appeared in the Pen Addict Slack Channel.I’m sorry I don’t remember who asked but here’s my results!
A member of the group asked if the Esterbrook 9128 fine flex nib was more or less flexible than the Noodler’s Ahab/Creaper.
The Esterbrook 9128 nib is not super flexible but, for a steel nib, it gets some decent variety and it does not railroad like the Noodler’s nibs do. The 9128 is very smooth and easy to get going while the Noodler’s flex nibs require some adjusting in the feed to get the flow going. So, its a bit of the apples-to-oranges comparison since a Noodler’s flex pen is readily available for about $20 and a vintage Esterbrook with a 9128 flex nib is considerably more expensive ($75 and up). If you’re looking for a flexible nib, a vintage fountain pen with a 14K nib will probably be much more flexible or you might want to consider a Desiderata nib holder.
Back in November, I saw the new Sport N Clip style clip from Kaweco and thought that it would be perfect with my well-loved Kaweco Sport Guilloch 1935 pen. I ordered the clip and, somehow, in between the time I ordered the clip and it arriving, I lost my Guilloch 1930 (see comments for explanation of naming incosistencies). I looked high and low thinking I might have left it in a pocket but after a month of searching I had to admit it was gone for good. Luckily, Fontoplumo still had the pen in stock and my darling husband worked with Frank to get me a replacement in time for Christmas.
What makes this pen particularly special is the geometric lines engraved into the plastic. Its a technique called guilloché that has been used for centuries to create decorative patterns into metal, wood and other materials. The way that the engraving was done on this pen is very reminiscent of art deco designs hence the “1935” name. The engraving is on the cap and on the back half of the barrel though with regular use, I wore most of the guilloché off the body of my previous pen. I was not gentle with the previous Guilloch 1930 though. It spent most of its life in my pocket or tossed in my purse so it held up well despite the abuse.
This one, though, I think will get a slightly nicer treatment. Maybe a nice carrying case this time?
The addition of the curved, retro clip only adds to the overall vintage look of this pen, I think.
Writing with the new Guilloch are consistent with the previous model. I got this one with the F nib rather than the EF nib because I don’t notice a huge difference between the two on the Kaweco line.
If you’ve got a soft spot for a truly vintage looking pen with all the modern conveniences of a cartridge-filler, this is a pen to add to your collection. The price is reasonable and the stocks are limited.
The Kaweco Sport Guilloch 1935 is still available through Fontoplumo for 22,95 € (about $26US).
PS: The Private Reserve Sherwood Forest ink cartridge I used was kindly sent to me by the fine folks at Lanier Pens.
I’m hard pressed to call this a review since my love for the Kaweco Sport has already been fairly well documented but, I thought I’d share with you the latest edition of the Kaweco Sport Classic in dark brown (17,95€), which is a limited edition color. So far, I think Fontoplumo is the only place that has these in stock but, fear not, they ship fast and reliably!
Like all the other standard Sport Classic pens, the dark brown edition is plastic and is available with gold hardware only but, if there was ever a color meant to be accented with gold, it would be the deep, rich, chocolate brown of this edition of the Kaweco Sport. It reminds me of a gold, foil-wrapped chocolate heart… which makes me think, this edition of the Kaweco Sport would make a great Valentine’s Day gift.
Compared with my black Kaweco Guilooch 1935, there is a visible color difference. The Kaweco Sport in Brown is also sporting (pun!) the classic clip where the Guilloch is decked out with the new Sport N Clip. I like the utilitarion look of the Kaweco Sport Classics with the clips for the most part. They just look “dressed” like a man with a tie on.
I’ve had mixed feelings about the Kaweco Sport medium nib but this one worked particularly well for me. It has a crisp angle that felt almost mini-stub-like.
To keep with the theme of this chocolate-y pen, I filled it with a Private Reserve Chocolate cartridge (kind regards to Lanier Pens for sending it to me) and it was a very good match. I think I’ll write some Valentine’s Day cards with this combination.
The fine folks over at MassDrop sent me a Lanier Classic Elite fountain pen around Christmas but somehow, the package got lost in the mail. So Lanier had to actually make me a new pen. It arrived last week and I wasn’t entirely sure what I would be getting. When I unwrapped the plain white paperboard shipper box, I was quite surprised to find a beautiful wooden box inside. The box has a satiny red stain and a small divot carved into it to open it.
Nestled inside, on a grooved cut out, was the Lanier Classic Elite hand-turned wood fountain pen. The model I received is made from yellow box elder wood and has a smooth, glossy, almost marble-like finish.
The cap can be threaded onto the end of the pen for those who prefer to post their caps. Posted, the Lanier Classic Elite measures 6.5″ long. Unposted, its a pleasing 4.75″ long which is perfectly comfortable for my small hands. Closed and capped the pen is 5.375″.
I had anticipated that a wood pen with metal inner barrel and hardware would be really heavy but it was actually incredibly well-weighted and comfortable. The pen, posted and filled, weighs 34g. Unposted but filled with a standard cartridge converter, it weighs 20g.
The Lanier Classic Elite is trimmed in a combination of 24K gold plating and gun metal. The clip is in the gunmetal and tight but springy and wide enough to fit on most notebook covers.
The nib is also plated in gold. The nib looks like a standard Schmidt nib in medium which is a very good quality nib. The nib is on the smaller side (same size as the nibs in Kaweco Sport line, 7mm wide at the widest point) but the size works with the overall dimensions of the pen.
I filled the pen with Private Reserve Ultra Black Quick Dry ink using my Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 pad. As soon as I inked up the pen, it was ready to go. There was little to no priming needed. The nib has a bit of softness to it which gives my writing some nice line variation. The ink is dark, dark, dark so I wasn’t able to see a lot of shading but the softness of the nib made it a pleasure to write with.
The grip is incredibly comfortable. So much so, that I sort of forgot to think about it while I was writing.
This is definitely a pen I can see myself using regularly. Its elegant with great details and excellent craftsmanship. I was pleasantly surprised with the whole pen experience and my first experience with a wood-turned pen.
There are seven days left in the MassDrop campaign and the more people who commit to a purchase, the lower the price will be. Right now, each pen is $124.99 but prices could dip as low as $99.99 if at least 30 people commit to a purchase. This MassDrop is limited to 75 pens since each one is handcrafted.
I bought myself a little green Christmas present in the form of the TWSBI Diamond 580 in Christmas green color ($50). The body of the pen, where the ink reservoir is, is still transparent but the cap and piston end are a lovely green color. It’s not a kelly green which I thought it might be but rather has just a hint of blue making it very unique color — like tender blue spruce maybe. The color tickles me.
I’ve owned a Diamond 540 and the 580 is pretty much identical in size, shape and weight. Since I gave my 580 away awhile ago, I can’t do a side-by-side, but to the naked eye, there is no distinct design difference. I think they just improved the materials to eliminate the cracking issue in the early 540 line.
The 580 shipped in the same cardboard outer box and clear plastic inner box that my 540 and TWSBI Mini arrived in. I like the packaging. Its pleasing to look at without feeling too over-the-top.
I ordered the 580 with an F nib and it has ended up being smoother than my previous EF nibs. I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it wrote and didn’t feel all that much broader than the EF.
The 580 in green is another fine product from TWSBI. If you’ve been considering adding a TWSBI to your collection, the 580 is a great option and is available in a lot of color configurations.
Whenever someone mentions a cursory curiosity in fountain pens, I recommend trying a Platinum Preppy. Personally, I find the nib to be fine enough on the Platinum Preppy not to scare away a new user accustomed to rollerballs, ballpoints and the occasional gel pen. And at $4, its the financial commitment equivalent of a venti mocha at Starbucks. But now, there’s another option: the Platinum Preppy 02 EF, an even finer version.
For me, the Preppy 02 is a good entry into the world of needle fine Japanese fountain pens. And its cost is a more like a venti peppermint mocha with an extra shot ($5). So, still… not a huge financial commitment.
With the introduction of the Preppy 02 EF, Platinum is re-branding the whole Preppy line. Instead of having tinted nibs to match the ink colors, all the Preppies will have silver tone nibs and the ink colors will be indicated by the design details on the pen. I preferred the aesthetic looks of the old Preppy design but I’m willing to overlook the aethetics for a $5 EF Japanese nib. Because, let’s be honest, Platinum decided to use the mass market disposable pen approach to the graphics on the new Preppy line. I’d rather the clear plastic show the inner workings than mucking up the whole pen with silvery printed graphics. But that’s just me.
If you’ve not tried the original Preppy, its a fully plastic pen with a Platinum fountain pen cartridge. Some people do modify these pens to be eyedropper pens though I don’t know if the new design will support this (I haven’t looked for holes in the plastic that would inhibit this use). Its a fairly lightweight pen with a cap that will post to give a bit more weight to the pen. The clip is also plastic but its pretty sturdy for being plastic and looks similar in construction to the original Preppy.
In writing tests, this pen performed exceptionally well. I used the stock cartridge that shipped with the pen and started writing. It is a tiny bit scratchy — not rough in writing but I could hear the sound of my writing on the paper as a “scritch, scritch” which I suspect is a result of how fine the nib is. But I really like it. I’m a little ashamed to like writing with a $5 pen so much when I have a cupboard full of much more expensive pens. But this is a good pen to try if you’re curious about an ultra-fine Japanese nib. It won’t be for everyone but at $5, its worth taking it for a test drive.
I purchased mine from Goulet Pens but other retailers are starting to stock the Preppy 02 EF so you have options. In the meantime, if you preferred the look of the original Preppy pens, go grab them now because all the Preppy line will be replaced with the silvery painted versions soon. I suspect the markers and highlighters will also get the updated look. Ugh.
I recently purchased the new Super5 0.5mm stub nib fountain pen in black on a whim. I have some 0.6mm stub nibs pens from Nemosine and my beloved Esterbrook Falcon is about that width as well so I was looking forward to trying another pen with this diminutive stub. My handwriting is small and being left-handed, any stubs larger than a 1.1mm don’t always make proper contact with the paper for me or cause all my letters to fill in so finding that sweet spot in the stub category is pretty limited. And since the Super5 is just $27.95, how could I not give it a try?
Super5 is a relatively new entry into the fountain pen, at least in the US. From the photos on Goulet Pens, the pens look kind of plastic-y but in reality, the pen feel surprisingly sturdy. ON the scale, filled and capped it weighs 24g and 19g uncapped. That’s right between a Lamy AL-Star (22g) and the Lamy Studio (28g) so its a pretty solid pen. It turns out the grip area is metal which gives it solid weighting to the tip. The body and cap are plastic but the clip is also metal. So overall, its not as low-budget as I might have expected.
The clip seems solid and the pen snaps closed tightly with a click. The overall shape is a long tapered bullet which in not unappealing but the plain black with a big logo on the side doesn’t make it my favorite pens to look at. Then again, a Pilot G-2 is a great writer and is an ugly pen. So, looks can be deceiving.
In writing, I had no issues with this pen at all. I loaded the blue ink cartridge that shipped with the pen (a standard European short cartridge in blue) and started writing. It wrote smoothly with the lightest of touch in all the wonky angles that this lefty uses.
I miswrote that its a 0.6… Super5 = 0.5mm, at least for now. It sort of reminds me of a medium sized nib without the iridium tip roundy-ness. I get a nice mix of thick and thin stokes rather than an overall roundness in a regular medium nib.
If you’re looking for a new kind of nib at a reasonable price, this is not a pen to be overlooked. Its performance is excellent even if its overall aesthetics wouldn’t win a beauty contest.
Our fine friends over at Fontoplumo just posted the opportunity to pre-order the new Lamy AL-Star in the special 2015 Copper Orange color. There is also a special copper orange ink cartridge set available. The fountain pen is 26,90 € (about $32.50US) and the ink cartridges are a pack of 5 for 1,95 € (about $2.30US). The copper orange is also available in rollerball and ballpoint pen versions.
The Lamy limited edition Safaris and Al-Stars are quite popular and reasonably priced. This is a great way to get a good pen in a novel, new color. While I am not a fan of the molded grip for left-handed writers, many folks love these pens — both right- and left-handed.
You can pre-order today and receive your pen and/or ink in February. I placed a pre-orer with Fontoplumo last year for the Kaweco Sport Skyline edition in Mint and it arrived several weeks earlier than I expected so Frank ships out as soon as products are available, even internationally.
There have been a lot of sturdy little boxes that entered my life in the past couple of weeks. Let’s just say that the Pen Addict Podcast Annual Gift Guide episode was hell on my wallet.
Inside the simple paper sleeve with the big P logo on it was a clear window box so that I could marvel at my new Pilot Custom 74 fountain pen before I could even touch it. I purchased the clear demonstrator model with the fine nib during one of Pen Chalet’s epic discount sales.
The packaging was sturdy without being ostentacious which seems appropriate for a pen like this.
Because most of the pen is plastic, its quite light overall. Its just 15gms filled and uncapped and 24gms posted and filled. I found the pen comfortable to use unposted at 5″ long. With the cap posted, the pen is almost 6.5″ long which is a little unwieldy for me. Its not a particularly wide body so I think its a good option for people with smaller hands or looking for a pen comparable in diameter to a Sharpie marker. The Custom 74 might be a smidge wider than a Sharpie but you get the idea.
The pen feels quite sturdy but I wonder if the demonstrator clear is not as pricey looking as it could be. When my husband saw it, he said “You paid how much? It looks like a $20 pen!” I think Mike’s blue one looks a little fancier than the clear. I did explain that really what I paid for was the 14K nib but it would be nice if it actually looked like a higher tier pen. That said, let’s talk about the performance.
I immediately filled the pen with Kaweco Paradise Blue using the CON-70 converter that shipped with the pen. Its an unusual cartridge converter that somewhere between a vacuum mechanism and a push-button system. I’ve never had a converter like it. To see it in action, check out Brian Goulet’s video on filling a CON-70.
There is lovely etched filigree on the nib and it looks very fine indeed. The nib alone looks like a million bucks.
After a less-than-stellar experience with the Pelikan M205 with the gold nib that Mike loaned me, I was a little concerned that the gold nib on the Pilot would be equally underwhelming. Boy, was I in for a surprise!
On my standard Rhodia test paper, it writes like buttah. I felt so relieved! The Paradise Blue ink shaded nicely even with the narrow fine nib. And it is fine, but because there is a little spring in the nib, I get a little line variation too. I am definitely starting to understand why this is such a popular pen.
This sample above was written in my standard, over-handed left-handed writing method. Looks good but I wanted to try to flex this a little bit which required trying a more “under handed” method… and by that, I mean I needed to change my writing position and work from below the line I’m writing on.
I was able to get some pleasing shading with just a little bit of pressure. I did not flex a lot since this is not really a flex nib pen per se and I didn’t want to break the tines. Overall, the ink color is darker for me when writing from below the line but the smoothness was the same. With a darker ink, I think I wouldn’t notice much color difference between overwriting and underwriting.
I’ve been loving this pen. I’ve used it all week on office paper, in my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, on Rhodia paper and pretty much anything else that passed in front of me this week. The fine nib even held its line cleanly on cheap office paper which was awesome. Its a great introduction to 14K nib modern pens and has restored my faith in 14K nibs for sure.
The Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen is one of my favorite tools. With the introduction of the Skyline series this year featuring silver hardware, its rocketed to the top of a lot of lists for good quality, reasonably priced fountain pens.
Of the Kaweco Sport Skyline fountain pens, the black model is the most classic of the three colors currently available.
The logo on the cap, the end cap and the nib are all silver tone but all maintain the looks of the classic Sport line.
I got the fine nib model and it features the same scroll work etching on the nib that is on other models of Sport fountain pen. It really is a lovely nib, especially at the price.
In writing, the Kaweco Sport Skyline in Black performed as expected. Ink went down easily from the first fill and the nib is smooth. Since its a steel nib, its not the most flexible nib in the world but for everyday writing, its a great option.
I received the Skyline in black within days of losing my Guilloche 1930 model Sport. While not the same pen, the Skyline in black did fill a gap in my heart.
If you’ve never tried a Kaweco Sport fountain pen, the Skyline series is a great place to start. Prices for the Skyline series start at about $25 with the EF nib selling for a few dollars more.
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.
Inside this large paper board box is a reasonably priced fountain pen treasure.
After removing the outer shipper, there is a matching leatherette box of epic size… the suspense and tension builds.
Opening the spring-loaded lid reveals a white satin bed that reminds me of a coffin but contains a beautiful Conklin Duragraph fountain pen in the Cracked Ice finish. Tossed into the coffin is a plastic baggie with two standard international cartridges filled with blue ink.
Once I disposed of the coffin box, I finally get to see the Duragraph in the cracked ice finish in all its glory. It reminds me of tumbled stones with glossy black caps and silver hardware. So pretty!
I got the fine nib with the expectation that Conklin uses the European nib sizing. The nib looks pretty fine! Engraved on the nib is “Conklin Toledo USA” and a tiny “F” on the side of the nib. Its a stainless steel nib and it does not have much flex to it.
I was able to get a two-tone fine nib which are currently out of stock at Goulet Pens. There is a black fine nib available or a two-tone medium. The 1.1mm italic stub option is available in silver tone.
The cap will post on the end of the pen but it makes it very long — 7 inches!
Upon opening the pen, I discovered that a standard cartridge converter was included with the pen. Pretty impressive for a pen that cost a mere $44. I filled it with some Kaweco Caramel Brown ink which I thought might look coordinated with the exterior of the pen.
When I put the nib to paper I was totally blown away. Its a smooth, fine writer — finer than most European/USA nibs and there is a sharpness to the nib that gives it a slight italic quality, even at this fine nib size.
Capped and filled, the Duragraph weighs a substantial 26gms. Uncapped, it is just 15gms which is just slightly heavier than a posted Kaweco Sport. For me, pens under 20g,s are the most comfortable so the Duragraph is definitely in the sweet spot and being 5 inches unposted makes it long enough to be useable for me.
The Duragraph is definitely one of the best pen surprises of 2014. The price point is perfect for a gift, the nib sings and the looks are top notch. This is a pen that you should definitely add to your wish list and maybe even pick up one for a friend or family member. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
I’ve had a couple stumper questions sent to The Desk that I’ve tried researching but some are outside my field of knowledge so I thought I’d ask you, my dear readers if you could help solve these fine folks’ problems.
… i was given a sheaffer lifetime 14k nib pen it has the twist bottom that you fill up by pushing in, my quandry, problem, irks me to death situation is this, I can’t get it to write, if i give it a little flick ink splatters over the paper, but the darn thing will not write, any suggestions?
My first instinct is to ask if the pen has been cleaned and flushed to be sure there isn’t any dried flecks of ink but as I have no first hand experience with the Sheaffer Lifetime pens, maybe one of our readers has better advice? You could also search on Fountain Pen Network or post your question there.
I cannot, for the LIFE of me, find a calendar/planner where the weekly pages start on Sunday. I do not know why all calendars/planners have monthly calendars in S-S (which is the way it should be), but then turn the weekly into a M-S. Am I the only one on this planet who likes to match my planning materials? Is my brain set up shifted one day to the right…or is it left? I truly have not found any explanation as to why this occurs (other than putting the work week together and the weekEND at the END)….and maybe if I did, I could conform. (NO!) Would you happen to know in all of your calendar/planning travels of such an item? My (un)organized life depends on it.
I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to find a solution for Deborah and I’m left truly stumped. I emailed her and recommended that she contact Plannerisms, THE site for all things planner-related in hopes that she might have a recommendation.
The first option I found was from Filofax, which offers a refill for their binder planners that starts the week-on-two-pages layout on Sunday. A 2015 set of refills is $11.03 but you would need to purchase a binder to put the pages into.
Levenger has Circa Weekly Agenda pages that start with Sunday available for 2015 in either Junior (A5-ish) or Letter (not quite A4) size ($29-$34). There are also Since these sheets are pre-punched for the Circa ring system, you would also need to purchase a cover and rings set of some sort. There are lots of options on the Levenger site from simple plastic covers to fancy leather folios. Also, there are a couple other formats available for the Circa system with a Sunday start, do a search on their site for “sunday start” to find them all.
There are some DIY options as well. These require a bit more work on your part as you’ll have to trim them out and either glue them into a book or punch them to fit into a binder or other format. DIY solutions do give lots of options for customizing and adding your own personal touches though.
One option is from Passion Planner with a “start on Sunday” option in A4 and A5 sizes. Passion Planner PDF pages are undated so you can start today by either pasting a spread into an existing notebook or using the sheets in a binder. Passion Planner started as a Kickstarter project and also has some bound books available but they aren’t shipping until January as the first order has already sold out.
Marcy Penner of Hello Forever has made a PDF printable planner ($15) that starts on Sunday and is absolutely lovely. Its available in the yellow and turquoise colors or a simple and clean grey and black version. The PDF pages are designed to fit two planner sizes: 3.75 and 6.75 sized planner binders. There is a lot of options with her system and its customizable with add-ons and various extras. Check out her full detailed post for more information.
If any of you fine folks know of a planner that starts on SUNDAY, please leave a note in the comments. There aren’t too many options out there!
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