Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9788 Flexible Medium

Esterbrook #9788 nibNext up in my Esterbrook nib list is the Esterbrook #9788 Flexible Medium nib. Like all 9xxx series nibs it’s one of the nibs Esterbrook called a “Master DuraCrome Nib.” It’s osmiridium tipped. Osmiridium is what Esterbrook called the tipping material although it’s probably mostly iridium. At that time osmiridium wasn’t clearly defined and was an alloy of different metals. Iridium was one of those materials although there wasn’t any standard for the mix of metals.

Esterbrook promoted the pen as being for “shaded writing”, at least on nib charts from the 1950s. The box I have is labeled both “Flexible Medium” and “Shaded Writing.”

There is some flex in the nib, as the name implies. I’m not proficient at using flexible nibs so I’m not the best judge, so take this for what it’s worth. It’s a steel nib so there’s not a great deal of flex. The tines do spread with pressure and variation in line width is possible. Ink flow is excellent and I didn’t have any problems when flexing the nib. I also found the nib enjoyable to use normally (no flex). I’d pick it over the #9668 that I have. There’s slightly more ink flow and I like the line better. Of course, I may say the opposite with a wetter, more free flowing ink.

My particular nib has the final feed design and the Esterbrook name and nib number are engraved the length of the nib. Aesthetically I prefer this lengthwise engraving over engraving across the nib.

My particular nib was an eBay purchase and was new-old-stock (NOS) and arrived with the box. Prices seemed to have spiked since I got my nib. I found current eBay buy it now prices of $75. Anderson Pens prices the nib at $45 but it’s out of stock.

As I also said with the #9688 nib, the #9788 is a very nice medium. I’d pick the #9788 over the #9688 if price wasn’t considered. With the Esterbrook #9788 currently selling for five times the #9688 I’d be hard pressed to justify it’s purchase unless my skills with flex nibs dramatically improve. I’d also think skilled flex writers could do better with some other vintage flex pen for about the same money. So my Esterbrook #9788 Flexible Medium is a keeper, but not one I’d replace if it’s lost or damaged.

This is the last of my Esterbrook nibs, so the last nib notes. At least until I find some more. You can find all the, nibs and links to their nib notes on my Esterbrook Nibs accumulation page.

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Review: Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona

Pelikan Piazza Navona posted on mirrorThe Pelikan Piazza Navona is one of Pelikan’s City Series Pens. Back around 2004 these pens caught my interest and I eventually added three of them to my accumulation. My tastes do change from time to time but the Piazza Navona is my current favorite.

I originally bought this pen with a factory broad nib. Since broad nibs don’t appeal to me these days I had Mike Masuyama stub the nib at the 2013 DC pen show. It seems sacrilegious to take the tipping all the way down to a fine or extra fine so I stuck with a stub to add a little character.

The Piazza Navona was built by the Roman emperor Domitian in 86 AD. The color of the pen is taken from the tan colored marble of a central fountain (Fountain of the Four Rivers) built in 1651 by Lorenzo Bernini.

The Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona was the Pelikan City Series pen released in 2005. This pen extended the series to include a “most famous places” theme rather than a city. The City Series pens were all limited editions. They weren’t numbered or promoted as limited, but once the manufacturing run was sold out that was it.

Why I got It

The pen is gorgeous and I liked the Pelikan nib from my first City Edition. At the time I enjoyed broad nibs although I wasn’t using them as a daily driver. Plus, the pen was reasonably priced.

What I Got

Pelikan Piazza Navona penI lost the box and enclosures when a broken pipe flooded a storage closet. But if memory serves it was a simple clamshell box that included a pamphlet about the inspiration for the pen.

The fountain pen is a translucent resin. This gives the pen the appearance of depth in the design and does give it a marbled look. The design is beautifully subtle. There’s no ink window but the translucence allows me to see the ink level. The nib is 18 kt. gold with rhodium plating. The broad nib was smooth out of the box. I bought the pen from Fountain Pen Hospital which doesn’t tune the nibs prior to shipping, so I received it as shipped by Pelikan.

The pen has gold trim which works well with the brown resin. The nib is two-tone gold and silver with substantial engraving. I prefer a simpler nib design but I’ve gotten used to this and never considered it gaudy.

The fountain pen is a piston converter. The piston knob, along with the section are glossy black. I’ve gotten used to this but would have preferred the piston knob match the tan resin.

Like all my Pelikans the piston is smooth and easily pulls in a lot of ink. One stroke completely fills the ink chamber. The nib can be unscrewed for cleaning or to replace with a different nib.

The Pelikan logo is on the cap jewel and is more tan than gold, which looks good. The clip is the traditional Pelikan beak shape. The gold cap band has “PELIKAN SOUVERAN GERMANY” engraved on it.

The cap is more translucent than the barrel and the resin feels thinner. The cap does feel fragile but it has held up well over the years. I don’t post my fountain pens so I can’t say if the resin would hold up with repeated posting, but the cap band would provide support.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.2445″ (133.21 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.8610″ (123.46 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.0640″ (154.02 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.5450″ (13.84 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.39″ (9.90 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.4165″ (10.57 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3985″ (10.12 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.5480″ (13.92 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4935″ (12.53 mm)
  • Weight: 16 grams
  • Weight (body only): 10 grams

Writing with the Pen

Pelikan Piazza Navona nibWhile the pen came to me with a broad nib that was smooth out of the box, it was both wide and boring so I had stopped using it.

Even though I hold the pen wrong for a traditional stub I had Mike Masuyama stub the nib at the 2013 Washington DC Pen Show. Because of the way I hold the pen I get thin down strokes and wide cross strokes with the stub, the opposite of what’s expected. But it works for me, I still get some nice variation.

The cap can be removed with less than one full rotation, I’d estimate a 315° turn. Even though I can remove the cap quickly, making it ideal for note taking, the nib is too wide for me to use this pen for general note taking. I typically use the Piazza Navona for longer, sit down writing sessions, such as the first draft of this review. The pen is great for these longer sessions. The pen is light and yet a good size for my hand. It’s long enough to be used unposted.

The piston filler hold enough ink for me to get through many long writing sessions. According to Pelikan the M600 line holds 1.75 ml of ink, which is over twice the ink of a short international cartridge. This is more than I would have guessed so I did some more searching and found a 1.37ml capacity listed at Pelikan’s Perch which is closer to my estimate.

The nib is smooth and the feed easily keeps up, even with fast writing. This was true even before the nib grind. I did ask for the nib to be tuned on the dry side. While I’ve become more open to wetter nibs that’s mainly for thinner nibs. I’m very happy with the way this nib writes. The original Pelikan broad nib was definitely wetter.

The threads are just above the section, which isn’t very big, so my fingers do rest on the threads. They aren’t sharp and don’t bother me at all.

The cap does post securely. Since the cap is so light the pen does remain well balanced when posted. Still, I use the pen unposted.

Inks Used

I’ve long forgotten what inks were used before 2013. But I don’t recall any problem inks.

Mike Masuyama filled the pen with an unknown blue-black for testing (I’m sure he knew the brand, but I didn’t ask). The ink wrote well and I didn’t have a reason to flush the ink.

R&K Scabiosa also spent some time in the pen. Since it’s an iron gall ink I gave the pen a short fill. The ink always seemed like it was about to skip but it never actually skipped. The pen and ink didn’t combine for a joyful writing experience. It wasn’t bad enough to flush the ink, but it won’t be back in the pen.

Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown proved to be the perfect ink for this pen. The ink is sometimes thin on the paper but this was only apparent on Doane Paper. The blue grid lines would sometimes show through the writing, giving the appearance of skipping. But it was only the appearance. On non-grid paper the ink looks great. The same thinness that allows the grid to show through gives it some very nice shading. Plus, the ink color matches the pen.

Pelikan Piazza Navona cap jewel

Cleaning the Pen

Like any piston filler the pen is cleaned by cycling clean water through the pen. It’s tedious to work the piston for continuous fills and flushes, but it’s not hard. The nib can be unscrewed and removed to make cleaning easier although I prefer to avoid disassembly, even when it’s easy. There’s less chance of accidents this way.

Wrapping Up

The Pelikan Piazza Navona is one of my favorite pens based on looks. It’s also perfectly sized for my hand. Getting a broad nib ended up being a mistake for me. Getting it stubbed gives it some character and I enjoy using it. It’s not a nib I can use as a daily carry, but it’s great for sitting down and doing some long form writing (long compared to notes and marking up documents). So based on this the Pelikan M620 Piazza Navona Cities Edition is a keeper.

Additional Reading

I was surprised by the lack of reviews of this pen. David at JustPelikans.com (JustDaveyB.com) until recently has all the Cities Series pens and inks up the Piazza Navona often. So more photos and writing samples here.

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium

Esterbrook #9668 nibI’m getting near the end of the quest through my accumulation of Esterbrook nibs. It’s time for the Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium Nib.

Like all 9xxx series nibs it’s osmiridium tipped. Nib charts from the 1950s list the nib as being for “general writing.” It’s a basic, middle of the road nib that’s not very exciting. This one has “Esterbook” and “9668” engraved the length of the nib, with Esterbrook on top of the nib number. It’s a nice clean design which I like.

My particular nib was in a batch of nibs I bought on eBay, I didn’t have a box but did appear to be in mint condition. The nib is a nice smooth writer that puts down a wide medium line. It helps that the nib is wider than the fines so it doesn’t dig into the paper fibers. There’s good flow and no hint of skipping. While it does have “firm” in the name it doesn’t feel as nail-like as the fine nibs. I’m becoming more accepting of medium nibs and this one has a nice feel to it.

It’s a basic nib that was probably pretty popular in its time. But it is a Master DuraCrome which were more expensive, so it isn’t a bargain basement nib these days. An eBay search finds one with a $15 BIN price. Anderson Pens lists it for $20 although it is out of stock.

It’s a nice medium nib. That’s not exactly a raving endorsement from me since I prefer fines and extra fines. Despite that it’s a nice writing nib and I may find myself inking it up in the future as medium nibs seem to be growing on me. The Esterbrook #9668 Firm Medium is a keeper.

Additional Reading

9668 Nib Sample Writing – The Esterbrook Forum – The Fountain Pen Network

I didn’t notice until posting the photos that I refer the the nib as a firm fine in the writing sample. I had fine on the brain. The nib is a firm medium.

Review: Sheaffer Crest (Modern)

Sheaffer CrestI picked up this Nova Red Sheaffer Crest in late June from Anderson Pens. It’s always dangerous watching (or listening to) their podcast and following them on twitter. I forget which hooked me, podcast or twitter, but they announced some new-old-stock (NOS) Sheaffers so I went to their site to take a look. The Crest was one of two pens that caught my eye and were traded for a reasonable amount of money. The pen was even more beautiful than the photos led me to believe. I’ve had this pen inked up ever since I got it.

Why I Got It

The pen looked great in the picture. Add to that the fact that it’s a Sheaffer with a 18K gold triumph style extra fine nib.

What I Got

A NOS pen that came in the original box with a couple black Sheaffer cartridges. No converter was included. The pen takes the Sheaffer vacuum converter, not the piston converter [Updated: Carlos added in the comments that he uses the piston converter with his Crests]. I already had a couple vacuum converters but I ordered a couple more in case I want to ink up all four of my vacuum only Sheaffers at once.

The Crest name dates back to the 1930’s but this pen is Sheaffer’s reboot of the name done in the 90’s. The Nova Red pens were produced between 1996 and 1998. The Laque finish is composed of 23 layers of laque over hand decoration. All this is over a brass cap and barrel. The pen is absolutely gorgeous and the finish has a nice depth to it. The clip is 23 kt. gold plated and has the iconic Sheaffer white dot. The iconic conical Triumph style nib is 18 kt. gold and it’s a two tone nib with palladium plating. The nib does not have the upturned bend at the end of the nib which the vintage Triumph nibs have.

The cap is a screw on cap that takes just over one full revolution to loosen or tighten. The gold trim works in this case and complements the red/black finish of the pen. I generally don’t like gold trim but it often works with red and brown pens. My grip does touch the threads a bit but they aren’t sharp and they don’t bother me. But the threads are metal so if you tend to grip the pen further from the nib and are sensitive to threads they may bother you.

The cap does post securely although I don’t use this pen posted.

There’s a metal collar around the spike that the converter slides over. This gives me a nice feeling of security by preventing snapping off the spike if I’m careless.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.6110″ (142.52 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 4.9275″ (125.16 mm)
  • Length Posted: 6.5″ (165.1 mm)
  • Section Length: 0.6590″ (16.73 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.3340″ (8.48 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below threads): 0.3785″ (9.61 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.3620″ (9.19 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.4485″ (11.38 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4485″ (11.38 mm)
  • Weight (w/vacuum converter): 0.9 oz. (26 g)
  • Weight (body only – w/vacuum converter): 0.6 oz. (18 g)

Writing With The Pen

Sheaffer Crest uncapped on a pen standThe pen uses either Sheaffer cartridges or a vacuum converter. I’ve only used the pen with a vacuum converter. Filling the pen is easy enough. Dip the nib in ink then press and release the metal bar on the vacuum converter. Leave the pen in the ink for an additional 10 to 20 seconds to give the sac time the fill. The sac is visible behind the pressure bar so you can see how much ink is in there. The sac itself is translucent enough to be able the see the ink level. Although it’s not visible the entire length of the converter, when the ink is low you can invert the pen to check the level.

Thanks to the brass barrel the pen is heavy for its size, especially when compared to the plastic Snorkels.

The pen is thinner than I would normally buy these days but that wasn’t enough to keep me from buying the pen. That’s the only negative about the pen and it’s a subjective one. Maybe it’s because I love the pen so much, but the thinness hasn’t bothered me. The nib is very smooth and the ink flows easily with a light touch. I don’t find myself subconsciously gripping the pen tightly as I do other thin pen. It helps that the weight of the pen gives it a substantial feel without being heavy enough to make my hand tired.

The pen holds a surprising amount of ink in the nib and feed. Even when the converter appeared empty the pen wrote for a couple days which included more than 3 full pages of writing.

The nib is everything I like about Sheaffer nibs. Aesthetically I usually don’t like two-tone nibs but I make an exception for Sheaffer. I always admire the nib just a bit when I uncap the pen. But this nib has more than looks going for it. The extra fine nib wrote great out of the box. It puts down a consistent, thin line. While it depends on the ink of course, I’d consider the nib flow to be about a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10. There’s never any hint of skipping and the line never begins to thin out. I haven’t had any problems with the thin nib catching on the fibers of the paper. Despite being 18 kt gold the nib is very firm thanks to the conical shape.

As I’ve already mentioned, the slimness of the pen hasn’t bothered me and I’ve written contuously for over an hour without feeling fatigued. I’ve also used the pen all day, with several extended sessions during the day, without getting fatigued.

Inks Used

Sheaffer Red bottleI’ve only used two inks and I’ve kept it in the family.

Sheaffer Red seems to be the perfect ink for this pen so it was the ink that got used the most. The bright red ink color is well suited for the pen. The only downside to the ink is that red is not a color that can be used in many cases. I’m lucky in that I can use any color I want for most of my writing so I can use this for some long form writing. The ink was problem free.

Sheaffer Peacock Blue was another ink that seemed like it should be used with this pen. The ink was probably made about the same time as the pen, although maybe a couple years later. Again, flow was excellent with no false starts or signs of skipping.

Cleaning The Pen

I always wrote the pen dry so there was never any excess ink to flush out. I removed the vacuum converter and gave feed a couple flushes with the bulb syringe followed by a couple “thermometer shakes” (mercury thermometer, not digital) into a tissue and the pen was good to go. I was always re-inking the pen so there was never a need for me to remove every last trace of ink. But I did one time and that took a bit longer before there was no trace of ink in the tissue.

I cleaned the vacuum converter separately which was relatively easy when I planned to refill. But it’s a bit more tedious to remove all traces of ink. I use a syringe to gently squirt water into the sac and then shake it to make sure the ink is off the sac in all the places I can’t see. I’m probably a bit more paranoid than I need to be when I put the converters into storage.

Wrapping Up

Not only is this Sheaffer Crest a keeper, it’s been inked up since I got it. It’s become one of my favorite fountain pens. I’ve noticed several Nova Red Sheaffer Crests on eBay for over twice what I paid. If I was to loose this pen I’d probably be willing to pay that to replace it, if I had to. I like it that much.

Additional Reading

Modern Sheaffer Crest discussion on FPN

PenHero.com article about the modern Sheaffer Crest. This article provided most of the historical information I included in this review.

SheafferTarga.com has a brief history and a Sheaffer Crest reference list.

Carlos Cal Brandão commented below and added a link to his Sheaffer Crest post. There’s some beautiful photos of the various models there so I added the link here.

Despite all the writing I did with the pen I never grabbed a writing sample photo so I included the recent Sheaffer Red writing sample photo which included this pen.

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9556 Firm Fine

Esterbrook 9556 Firm Fine nib Next on my Esterbrook nib parade is the Esterbrook #9556 Firm Fine nib. It’s very similar to last week’s #9555 shorthand nib. The #9556 feels just slightly less smooth, although it is still very smooth. I really have to use the nibs together to notice. The difference is so minor it could be a manufacturing variation or age and the nibs could be intended to be duplicates. Although, logically the Gregg certified shorthand nib would be expected to be smoother out of the box since it’s intended to be used for shorthand. (Both nibs came to me as mint.)

The nib has “Esterbrook 9556” engraved the length of the nib on two lines which is a clean design that I like a lot. The ink flow from the nib is very good. Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun can be hard to read if the ink is thin plus it’s a fairly dry writing ink. The nib puts down a nice consistent, dark, even line even when writing fast.

Like all 9xxx nibs it’s Osmiridium tipped. So, in all likelihood the nib will outlast me.

My particular nib was an eBay purchase of a half dozen nibs giving it a nice low price. A recent search shows single nibs on eBay for $23 (BIN). It’s out of stock at Anderson Pens but they list it for $15.00.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – any nib called “Firm Fine” is OK in my book. Esterbrook also labelled this nib for “general writing” and “fine writing.” But whatever it’s called, I like the Esterbrook #9556 Firm Fine a lot and will keep the pen inked up so I can continue to enjoy the nib.

Additional Reading

Esterbrook A101 w/9556 Nib – Fountain Pen Reviews – The Fountain Pen Network

Review: Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise

Omas 360 Vintage LE uncapped on a mirrorIt has taken me a long time to write this review and it’s been a frustrating process. But eight different inks later and I think I’m ready to review the Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise.

If I was to list the thing’s I don’t want in a fountain pen they would include:
1. Blue
2. A colored demonstrator (I do like clear)
3. A flex nib (I don’t actually dislike flex, but its benefits are lost on me.)
4. A Wet Writer

So how would I describe the Omas 360 Vintage LE? It’s a blue demonstrator with a semi-flex nib that’s a wet writer. Four for four, yet it came home with me from the 2013 Washington D.C. Pen Show.

While there should be a rule against including the word “Vintage” in a pen name, in this case it makes some sense. The Omas 360 Vintage LE is based upon an older (although not really vintage) Omas pen design.

Why I Got It

Every time I walked past the Fountain Pen Hospital table at the show this pen yelled out my name and called me over. Each time I stopped to look at it, it won me over a little more. Finally, after not seeing the red version of the pen and getting a price nearly 50% off list I made it my last pen purchase of the show.

It was a medium nib and I was 99.9% sure I’d have to grind the nib down to at least a fine. A medium nib was the only choice so I considered getting it ground to a fine on Sunday. I decided against that because this pen has personality and I wanted to get to know it before I made changes.

The pen is gorgeous, even if it is blue. The piston is clearly visible but with a pattern that makes it look very cool. The piston travels smoothly and the piston knob’s triangular shape makes it easy to turn. The silver trim complements the color nicely and the silver 18K nib is huge.

I never would have bought this pen without seeing it. No picture I’ve seen does it justice.

What I Got

Omas 360 Vintage LE box contents

The pen came in a beautiful presentation box. The box is lined with a microfiber material and includes a bottle of Omas Turquoise ink. The pen is in a pen sleeve that’s the same material as the box lining. It gives the impression of elegance and quality. This is a limited edition and my pen is number 190 out of 360.

The pen itself is a large triangular shaped piston filler with a 18K gold nib. The material is blue cotton resin. Usually I consider these “… resin” names as fancy name intended to make plastic sound classy. This is not plastic (well, maybe technically on the chemical level it is, I’m no chemist). The material has beautiful depth and translucence. The pen feels rock solid and the material does not feel like plastic. The build quality is top notch.

The piston is smooth but the travel distance seems to be longer than it needs to be, reducing the ink capacity. I read elsewhere that it holds 1.2 ml. of ink. I didn’t measure, but it seems about right. The piston filling system makes it easy to get a full load of ink.

The pen has a solid black inner cap with prongs that extend down to grip the pen when it’s capped. This is downright annoying and borderline ugly. It hides that beautiful nib when it’s capped which is a crime. This is the biggest negative for the pen.

The triangular section could be a problem for some, but it fits my grip perfectly. My fingers all rest against the flat sides. It’s also a big pen, which I find more comfortable.

The medium nib was far to wet for me, and being a medium it put down far too much ink for my tastes. I decided to have Mike Masuyama grind it to a fine but left it as a wet writer with flex. This review is based upon the fine nib.

The Numbers

  • Length Capped: 5.9090″ (150.09 mm)
  • Length Uncapped: 5.2090″ (132.31 mm)
  • Length Posted: 7″ (177.8 mm)
  • Section Length: 1.0480″ (26.61 mm)
  • Section Diameter (near nib): 0.4655″ (11.82 mm)
  • Section Diameter (below step): 0.5320″ (13.51 mm)
  • Section Diameter (mid-section): 0.5115″ (12.99 mm)
  • Cap Diameter: 0.6620″ (16.82 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.5955″ (15.12 mm)
  • Weight: 0.9 oz. (26 g) (with ink)
  • Weight (body only): 0.6 oz. (16 g) (with ink)

Writing with the Pen

Closeup of the inked Omas 360 Vintage LE nibThis section is based entirely on using the Omas 360 Vintage LE after Mike Masuyama ground the nib to a fine. The medium was just to much ink for my tastes.

This is a very frustrating pen to use unless it has the right ink and paper combination. I’ve used eight different inks in the pen. A couple were great on all the paper I use while a few preferred fountain pen friendly paper such as Rhodia. A couple inks were flushed since they were universally annoying. (See the section about ink used.)

The pen is light, even when posted. It’s a large pen so I don’t even consider posting. But the cap does post securely. The clip slides easily over shirt pockets or other materials. The pen is a little big for me to carry in a shirt pocket. Even if it is secure I find it annoyingly big for my shirt pocket.

As I said, ink varies greatly in this pen. The best inks are quickly emptied when writing with this pen. A full load of Pelikan Blue-Black was used up with less than two days of writing which is unheard of for me.

Because the nib is so wet I’ve found that ink splatters in cap are inevitable, especially when I carry the pen in my bag. They’re small, but they are there. Also, because of the inner cap I have to be a little careful capping the pen, if I try to cap it at an angle the nib may catch on the inner cap or the prongs that extend down to grip the pen.

One way to avoid splatters was to store the pen nib up overnight. Almost every nib would be dry the next morning, the other inks wouldn’t last another night. So there was no ink to splatter when the pen bounced around. The ink quickly reaches the nib when the pen is put nib down for writing, but it is bone dry at first and the delay is noticeable. If I store it flat on my desk the nib stays ready for 5 days, longer with some inks. (Then there are some inks which were so bad I flushed them, but the previous applies to most inks.)

Omas 360 Vintage LE uncapped on a mirorFlex nibs are lost on me so I can’t compare it to other flex nibs. I had a Namiki Falcon at one time but eventually sold it because I didn’t like the flex nib. Other reviewers call it semi-flex but say it doesn’t compare to vintage flex. For me, its a very nice springy 18K nib that’s a joy to use as long as the ink and paper are chosen well.

Because the pen is both wet and finicky I can’t use it as my daily driver even though it’s a fine nib. I do a lot of notes and document markups which just doesn’t suit this pen. The nib also dries out quickly during uncapped pauses in writing.

The big triangle section is very comfortable for me and I can write all day without any fatigue.

I found smooth paper, such as Rhodia, to be best suited for the widest variety of inks with this pen. Most (but not all) inks had minor skipping issues on Doane Paper writing pads and Doane Jotters, both of which I frequently use. These same inks also provided too much feedback for my tastes on these papers. Some inks wrote just fine on the Doane Paper and any other paper I used.

Inks Used

Omas 360 Vintage LE uncapped on a pen standOf all the inks I used, Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black was the only one that was perfect for this fountain pen. I used it on a wide variety of paper without a problem. Even though Pelikan inks are considered dry inks I found the ink to have a wet flow from the pen and put down a consistent line. I typically prefer a dry writing ink but I put that bias aside for this pen because it writes so much better with a wettish ink. So it’s not that Pelikan Blue-Black is a dry writer that makes be like it. It’s that it puts down a wet line but keeps the ink under control.

De Atramentis Sherlock Holmes (Night Blue) and Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt Blue were both as good as the Pelikan Blue-Black. I just didn’t use them on enough paper to call them perfect, but I expect them to both perform well. They were the second and third inks that wrote smoothly on Doane Paper and any other paper I tried. The list stopped at three.)

The above three inks also had the best (longest) evaporation times, both when the pen was stored and when there was an uncapped pause in writing.

The remaining inks were all less than perfect with the pen. Some further from perfect than others.

Omas Turquoise, which came with the pen, and Sheaffer Peacock Blue wrote fine on smooth papers such as Rhodia but had minor skipping and some heavy feedback on Doane Paper (heavy = more than I would like). As I felt the feedback increasing I knew a skip was in the near future. It was surprising how closely these inks performed to each other. It must be a turquoise thing. Neither was bad or annoying enough to be flushed before I wrote the pen dry.

My favorite ink, R & K Blau-Schwarz LE didn’t fair so well with this pen. It frequently had trouble keeping the ink wet, even when stored for only a couple hours. Plus it was harder to get going once the nib became dry. This was so annoying that I flushed the ink before it was used up.

R & K Scabiosa, an iron gall ink, performed the same as R & K Blau-Schwarz and it was also flushed.

I loaded up Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite but never got to use it. When I pulled the pen out a couple days later all the ink had evaporated. Since I had a run of temperamental inks I only gave the pen half a fill. I was so shocked by this that when I notice the empty pen I jumped up to look for where the ink had leaked. Still, this does seem bizarre to me and I’ll try the ink again when I get a chance.

Cleaning the Pen

It’s a piston filler so cleaning can be a bit tedious but so far all the inks were quickly flushed from the pen. I haven’t tried, but it doesn’t appear that either the nib or piston can be easily removed for cleaning.

Wrapping Up

Despite the four reasons I should hate the Omas 360 Vintage LE, and despite its finicky taste in ink, this pen is a keeper. Not only does it look stunning, but it’s also damn comfortable to write with. It’s not a pen I can use in every situation, but even after this review I’m keeping it inked up and I’ll be writing with it frequently.

Some people may not find the triangle section comfortable. That, and the price, are the only reasons not to get this pen. The black inner cap is a negative, but not a reason to skip this pen. I was lucky and saw the Omas 360 Vintage LE Turquoise in person and discounted enough to be within my pen show budget.

Additional Reading

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Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9555 Fine Gregg Shorthand Nib

photo of the Esterbrook #9555 nibI missed last weeks Esterbrook nib notes, but I’m picking back up up this week with a very nice fine nib. The Esterbrook #9555 Fine nib is listed in a 1955 nib chart as being for “Fine Writing” and includes shorthand marks. It’s listed in a 1959 nib chart as being for shorthand, no mention of fine writing and it’s not listed as a fine nib, just “shorthand”. Although it is listed between an extra fine and a fine nib.

The nib is 9xxx series “Master Duracrome Point” nib that is tipped with Osmiridium. Esterbrook called it Osmiridium which is an alloy of osmium and iridium. At the time the make-up of Osmiridium wasn’t clearly defined and it may have been more iridium than anything else. The nib has “Esterbrook 9555″ engraved lengthwise on the nib which looks sharp and is a style I like.

My particular nib came with a pen and was in mint condition without any signs of use. I see the nib on eBay for just over $20 (buy it now). Anderson Pens lists it at $12 but doesn’t have it in stock so the price may change if they get some.

As I found when I researched the #1555 nib, Gregg Publishing licensed the name for pens (and nibs) that met their standards. Thin and firm nibs were preferred for shorthand because they allowed for quicker writing. But it looks like there were additional requirements beyond just a firm fine nib.

Like the #1555, this nib meets those requirements and is very smooth. I can see that it would perform very well with quick writing and frequent direction changes. The nib puts down a nice crisp, solid line with a good amount of ink. Even though Fuyu-syogun is on the dry flowing side, there’s very good flow from this nib.

I like the Esterbrook #9555 Fine nib a lot. It’s a relatively low cost 9xxx series Esterbrook nib which makes it even easier to like. I’ll be keeping this Esterbrook inked up and I’ll use it until it runs dry.

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