This Just In: Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe

Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe outer boxThe Sailor Professional Gear Regency Stripe has the distinction of being on my wanted pens longer than any other fountain pen. It was just about three years ago, sometime in July 2012, when I first saw pictures of the pen. I never bought the pen for various reasons (but mostly because of the price), but I also didn’t delete the pen from the list.

I recently saw the pen in Brad’s (The Pen Addict) June carry post. Then, while catching up on Anderson Pen’s podcasts, Brian showed the pen and mentioned that Sailor was discontinuing the Regency Stripe. Yikes! It was getting some attention and it was discontinued.

The pen seemed to be still in stock at the usual places but it wasn’t on Sailor’s website. It was time to make a decision on the Regency Stripe. Obviously I decided to buy it.

I already have a Sailor fine nib in my Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black pen and really like it but I didn’t want another fine nib. I wanted to go even slimmer and get an extra fine nib. Unfortunately the extra fine nib isn’t offered with the Regency Stripe and a fine is the thinnest offering. This meant finding one second-hand to save money was impossible. I could buy a wider nib and have Mike Masuyama grind it to an extra fine which would be close to a Sailor nib (Mike worked for Sailor). I did find one recent sale for a price where this would make sense, but nothing was available and that one sold pen was the only sale that I found when looking through past sales. So I gave in to my fear of missing out and decided to buy a new one now.

I ordered the pen from Classic Fountain Pens (John Mottishaw) so I could get it with a official Sailor extra fine nib at no additional cost or hassle. So while the pen is expensive, at least I got exactly what I wanted without any hassle.

Every time I hear about a Sailor Professional Gear (or Pro Gear) gear pen my initial reaction is to think of a big pen and a piston filler. Whenever I see a picture I also think it’s a big pen at first, unless the photo includes something to provide scale. But the brain synapses quickly trigger the memory that this is more of a normal sized pen and it’s not a piston filler (only the Realo variants are piston fillers. The proportions make it look big but the pen is a little short which creates the illusion.

This pen is heavier than most Sailor pens which seems to have contributed to its demise. The pen is made of resin but has barley corn engraved metal stripes on the barrel which add to the weight. The pen is 35 grams (all weights and measures in this post are from the CFP website) which gives it some nice heft, although it’s no where near the weight of a KarasKustoms Ink. I don’t post my pens so it’s not 35 grams when I use it, but since the cap is all resin (except for the clip) most of that 35 grams is in the barrels. (The battery in my scale is dead so I can’t weigh it myself.)

The section width is .41 inches which is a good size for me. It’s shorter than many of my pens, especially the ones I use for long writing sessions. But it is long enough for me to use comfortably without posting the cap which is my preference.

For my first ink I picked a favorite – Rohrer & Klinger Blau-Schwarz LE. A dignified ink for a dignified fountain pen. I’ve had the pen less than 24 hours and only used it to write a few pages but the ink flow is great (as expected with this ink). It’s a nice very thin line that’s true to the nib size. Flow is good so it’s easy to see and read.

I didn’t expect the extra fine nib to be so smooth. Not because I have a low opinion of Sailor nibs but because it’s so thin and nibs so thin are never buttery smooth. While this one isn’t buttery smooth there’s just a touch of feedback (which I really like) on Doane paper. There’s no feedback to speak of on Tomoe River Paper. John Mottishaw would have tuned the nib before shipping the pen so I can’t say whether this is due to his tuning or due to Sailor’s nib factory.

I’ve had the Sailor Professional gear Regency Stripe less than 24 hours but it appears to have been worth the three year wait. I haven’t had the pen long enough to know if it was worth the price and I’m less certain about that.

Photo Gallery

 

This Just In: Retro 51 Tornado Popper Lift-Off

Retro 51 Popper Lift-OffI’ve been able to resist the recent Retro 51 Tornado special editions, until I saw the Retro 51 Tornado Popper Lift-Off. As soon as I saw it I headed to Goldspot and ordered it. It looks like I wasn’t the only one since the virtual shelves seem to already be empty since there were only 500 made. Luckily pricing wasn’t based on demand so the pen was only $35 which is in line with other Poppers and a couple bucks less than the recent Sport themed Poppers that are still available.

Mine arrived Monday and is number 460. While the pen is undamaged, Goldspot shipped it in a padded envelope,  not a box. The Retro 51 tube was a bit crushed near the top. Not a huge deal for me since I don’t keep the packaging but something to keep in mind if you order a Retro 51 from Goldspot.

There’s not much to say about this that the pictures don’t say. It uses my favorite Rollerball refills so there’s that.

Retro 51 Lift-Off Number 460Retro 51 Lift-Off

 

 

This Just In: Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo and Left Oblique Nib

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo on my Roterfaden TaschenbegleiterWhile not the only reason, I’ve been selling off my accumulation to fund some new purchases. While I like the metal Pilot Vanishing Points the metal feels cold and impersonal. This really became apparent to me the more I used the Maple Wood Vanishing Point. So when Pilot released two more models made of wood the only question was which one I would add to my accumulation first.

The two new models are Cherry Bamboo and Black Bamboo, both have rhodium trim. Both finishes called out to me. My last addition was a dark pen, the Stresemann, so this time I decided to go with a little color and picked the Cherry Bamboo. Besides, I do like red and black together and while mostly red this does have black in it.

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo closeup

Cherry Bamboo closeup

Despite the Bamboo name the pens are made of Birch Wood. While several sites say it’s Bamboo, enough say they’re made of birch wood that I’m convinced it’s birch wood. While it could be the varnish on the Retro 51 and the dye on the VP, my Bamboo Retro 51 feels and looks a lot smoother with less wood grain than the VP.

The pen is pricey and it’s not for everyone. But it is for me and since I sold enough of my accumulation to pay for the pen I went ahead and took the plunge.

I have plenty of VP factory nibs. I sold most of my VPs as empty barrels and have five nibs for two pens, so I ordered the pen from Classic Fountain Pens. This way I could have John Mottishaw grind the factory medium nib to a left oblique. More on the nib later.

The pen is even better looking in real life than in pictures. I’m really glad I picked the Cherry Bamboo. It arrived in a Russian Nesting Doll of boxes. The outer white cardboard sleeve covered a heavy cardboard black box. Inside that was a hinged presentation box for the pen, also black. Removing the presentation box revealed the paperwork and an ink cartridge. The pen sat in a bed of thin cloth and the Pilot name is embossed on the cushioned cover. Nice, but not overboard.

While I’ve been selling off my metal Vanishing Points barrels I’ve been keeping many of the nibs. I’ve been considering getting one of the medium nibs ground to a left oblique or stub. The left oblique fits the way I hold the pen perfectly, at least my Esterbrook left obliques do. The little rotation it needs is the way I want to hold the pen normally and one reason I have a harder time with italic or even stubs.

I was slightly concerned that the clip might prevent me from holding the pen comfortably with the right angle for the nib. Because of this I had intended to have one of my medium nibs ground at a future pen show so I could test it while it was ground.

Ordering the VP without a nib wasn’t an option and another factory nib was unneeded. I spent some time comparing my Esterbrook left oblique with the way I held the Vanishing Point. I was confident it would work for me and I went for the left oblique ground by John Mottishaw.

Pilot Vanishing Point Left Oblique NibI was extremely happy when the pen arrived. The left oblique, which is about 15° in this case, seems perfect for the Vanishing Point. The clip, which can bother some people, and the nib combine to give me a near perfect writing experience.

Since I naturally grip the pen correctly for the nib I can use this pen for notes since I don’t really need to concentrate on my writing. Still, this nib is more for sit down, longer form writing sessions such as the draft to this article.

I inked it up with the included blue cartridge rather than waste the cartridge. I like Pilot ink and I usually use cartridges in the VPs, although blue is rarely my color of choice. But why waste a cartridge. I’ll probably use the converter with this nib so I can pick inks that appreciate the left oblique nib.

The nib isn’t very wide (not a complaint, it’s my preference) so the line variation is subtle. But it’s noticeable and I like it.

I’m glad to have another wood Vanishing Point and I’m very happy to have the Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo in my accumulation.

Not Crying Over Spilled Ink Thanks to eBay

Two bottles of Sheaffer Emerald Green

Two bottles of Sheaffer Emerald Green

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I flushed out my Platinum Plaisir and needed another fountain pen with green ink. I decided to return my new(ish) (to me) Jade Green Sheaffer Balance II to the rotation. It did so well with Sheaffer Emerald Green as it’s first ink I wanted to use the same ink. I wrote about the pen and ink here.

I only have a small 12ml bottle of the ink so I filled the converter with a syring since the nib is too big to fit in the bottle. Well, as bad luck and clumsiness would have it, the syringe caught the edge of the bottle and I nocked it over.

Spilled Sheaffer Emerald Green

The good new is all the ink was on my ink towel, a little soaked through to the desk but it was quickly wiped up. The bad news is I lost over half my remaining supply.

After satisfying myself that the ink was as nice as I remember I headed to eBay. I managed to find a couple bottles, caliming to be mint and unopened, at a reasonable price. So naturally I place the order.

The ink arrived Thursday and the bottles certainly appeared unopened and the ink inside seems fines, although I won’t open the bottles until I need the ink. Based on the packaging and my research the ink seems to be from the 1980s which makes it the oldest ink I have. Previously the Sheaffer red label bottles were my oldest inks.

As the ink I like goes out of production I’ve begun to use eBay for ink more and more. I picked up a bottle of Montblanc Bordeaux not too long ago. eBay is always a risk when buying things so I’ve developed my own rules for eBay ink purchases. I should point out I’ve only bought older, no longer manufactered inks.

  1. I have a maximum price of $25/bottle which includes the shipping to my door. This doesn’t mean I’ll spend $25 no matter what, but anything above $25 eliminates it from consideration. I set this price because even a seller with the best intentions can sell a bad bottle of ink, especially if it looks good but is unopened. If I had opened this ink and it was bad I would not have returned it. Externally the ink seemed fine and as described. If the seller had opened it to check the ink I would not have bought it (see rule #2). So I’m prepared to eat the cost if the ink happened to be bad. Plus I don’t actually open the bottle until I’m ready to use it.
  2. The bottle must be unopened. In the case of Emerald Green most listings were for opened bottles.
  3. Good pictures. While it’s impossible to tell the ink quality from a photo if the ink is sealed it just makes me feel better about the listing. Plus, it does confirm it is the correct ink. I see a lot of current Montblanc Reds that are listed as Montblanc Bordeaux.
  4. Plus the usual eBay considerations such as a good rating for the seller.

This particular seller still has a couple 2-bottle sets still available. I’m hoping they go soon so I don’t buy them. I do feel compelled to say that while I’m happy with my experience this is the only transaction I’ve had with the seller so you’re on your own if there’s an issue.

Do you buy ink on eBay? If so, what’s your experience been?

This Just In: A Couple Sheaffer Balance IIs

Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green and Crimson GlowBrowsing the Classic Fountain Pens (nibs.com) website is both enjoyable and dangerous. The danger rose up a bit me when I was browsing about two weeks ago. There were several newly listed NOS and pre-owned post–1950 Sheaffer pens listed. Several of them caught my eye and despite my plans to enjoy the pens I already have I couldn’t stay away and after an internal struggle I broke down and ordered two of them. They arrived Monday of last week.

Sheaffer Balance II Crimson Glow on a mirror

Both pens were manufactured around the turn of the century when Sheaffer still made fountain pens in the USA. While this makes the pens sound old both pens were introduced in 1998 which does make the modern and not vintage. Like my Sheaffer Balance Aspen these have the reputation of being prone to cracks. While called “Balance” when they were released and thus the official name they are often referred to as “Balance II” because they were based on the vintage Balances.

Both pens are in mint condition. The Jade Green Balance could be NOS as it arrived with a box, papers, converter and a couple cartridges. The cartridges appear to have suffered some evaporation. The converters are the more modern piston type and not the older style aerometric converters. The Crimson Glow model Balance had only the converter but appeared mint.

Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green on a mirror

For their first ink I had no choice and used Sheaffer ink from the same era and possibly the same factory. The Sheaffer Glow got Sheaffer Skrip Peacock Blue while the Jade Green Balance was filled with Sheaffer Emerald Green. The Emerald Green was sold as calligraphy ink in 12ml bottles. Since I had several enjoyable pens inked I only gave each about half a fill.

I really like the 18K gold feather-touch nibs. I’ve said it before, while I don’t like gold trim or nibs I really like the Sheaffer nib despite the gold color in the nib. The find the two-tone nibs to be classy and reminiscent of the vintage nibs. Both are the same, medium nibs but on the thin side which is to my liking. They are comparable to my Sheaffer Balance Aspen nib which is a little wide for note taking but I really enjoy when doing regular writing.

I’ve used the pens since April 6th and have enjoyed them quit a bit. The pens fit well in my hand and the flow is good. There were occasional skips on the first stroke when I uncapped the pen but other than that they were skip free until the ink got low. Skipping returned when the ink was low, by which I mean there wasn’t any ink in the converter but there was still some in the feed. I could get about half a page after the skipping started. My Aspen does well right to the last drop but that pen was tuned by Mike Masuyama.

Despite their reputation as fragile I’m not as protective of these as I am with my Aspen. I have clipped them in my pocket to carry out and about. I also clipped them in my Nocko Lockout pen case although I’ve avoided letting that case bounce around my computer bag.

I really love the marbled acrylic that these are made of. There’s a nice depth to it. Classic Fountain Pens did have all four models in the marbleized acrylic from this line of pens but now they’re all gone, which is a good thing as I’d be tempted to return for the the remaining two.

I’m happy with both of these Sheaffer Balance IIs and glad to add them to my accumulation.

This Just In: Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite

Pelikan M805 Stresemann with MB Bordeaux ink bottleThis really isn’t “just in”, I’ve had it for over a week. A glorious week! But as that statement indicates, I haven’t had the pen long enough to give a objective review. This fountain pen still has that new pen glow which is blinding me to any faults. You’ve been warned, if you buy this pen based upon what I write don’t blame me if you find faults in your pen.

I don’t really have grail pens. I’m more impulsive than contemplative and patient. Plus, the Stresemann is a new pen and part of Pelikan’s regular M800 line of pens so it wouldn’t be hard to find. All it would take is money, which can’t be ignored but it’s obtainable. Despite these two points this pen is as close to a grail pen as I’ll get, I just didn’t know it.

I’ve spent time researching Pelikan M800 and M1000 fountain pens. This was typically done at pen shows where I found that the M800 was more my type of pen so I focused on that model. While I do think gold trim and nibs look OK in some pen designs I decided I wanted silver trim for this pen. In the world of Pelikan model numbers this meant a M805 where the “5” meant silver (or rhodium) trim. I didn’t really like the looks of the current models. Too much gold and the colors were nice enough (the green more than others) but not great. Even the models with chrome trim had gold in the nib design. For a pen of this price I wanted perfection. So while I didn’t have a specific pen in mind, I kept looking at pen shows and the usual used pen markets to see if an older pen caught my attention. None did.

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann Anthracite nib and cap jewelThen Pelikan announced the Stresemann and I knew it was my pen. Still, I waited a week or so since I was hesitant to buy based on only pictures which would naturally make the pen look great. But I eventually placed a pre-order with Classic Fountain Pens (John Mottishaw) for one with an extra fine nib. I considered a custom stub nib but decided to go with the extra fine as a nib I would use in any situation.

The pen arrived the same day as the Long Island Pen Show. I left the show without a pen (in part because the Streseman was my pen budget for the year) but it was still a great pen day. The nib is tuned before shipment so I can’t speak to the out-of-the-box performance of the nib for factory fresh pens but my experience with Pelikan has always been good. I asked for a medium ink flow when using a light touch. This is a little wetter than I would have asked for a year ago.

The pen arrived in a faux leather pouch in a heavy cardboard box. A nice presentation without going overboard. The pen barrel had a couple of smudges on it, something like silicone grease of manufacturing residue. This could have been due to handling when tuning the nib or from the factory. I was able to wipe these off with a microfiber cloth and medium pressure but no solvents needed.

I picked my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux, for its first fill. It’s a piston filler and holds a lot of ink so I’m still on my first fill. The extra fine nib is wider than many of my other extra fines but in line with my other modern western extra fines. I am glad I didn’t pick a fine nib. See the photos for a comparison with my Sheaffer Snorkel extra fine which I had inked up.

Performance has been great but not perfect. After being stored nib up overnight the first stroke was noticeably drier than normal, although not a true skip. The pen has also skipped occasionally when I’m writing fast or at strange angle such as when taking notes on slicker paper. I haven’t had any problems at all when sitting at my desk and writing normally and with proper form.

The ink does splash drops on the nib. Some may not like this but personally I love it and it enhances the pen for me. There’s no ink inside the cap so it isn’t splashing ink around.

I absolutely love the look of this pen. Black or gray pens with rhodium (or any chrome) trim are a favorite of mine. The black and gray stripes vary their looks depending on how the light hits them. Since the black stripes are also translucent the ink level can be checked so the design is both functional and decorative. It’s not a demonstrator, just translucent enough to see the ink level.

I’ve been using the pen every day since I got it and it’s been my main pen each day. It will be awhile (one or two months minimum) before I do a full review but the main difference between this and other M80X pens are cosmetic as far as I can tell. That new pen aura has me calling the Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresseman Anthracite my favorite pen. It may or may not keep that title after extended use, but it’s certainly a keeper and for me it is worth the price.

Gallery

This Just In: Nexus Minimal Fountain Pen (Kickstarter)

Nexus Minimal fountain pen with packaging

[Updated Feb 26th – see below]

I received my Kickstarter Nexus Minimal fountain pen today. I pledged at the early bird level (the lowest) and didn’t order any of the accessories, not even a converter. I was concerned about the quality of the project but I did want to support a fountain pen. By “concerned about the quality of the project” I mainly mean that their delivery date (Nov 2014) was far to aggressive considering they wouldn’t get the money until mid-September. Plus, I felt if they were successful and reached their stretch goals (they did) they would have a project that was complicated to complete with so many options.  So while it arrived several months late it wasn’t unexpected or unusual for Kickstarter.

They shipped it with the cartridge in the pen (not loaded, just in the barrel). My cartridge leaked in the pen so I had to clean it out and will let the barrel dry for a couple days so that there isn’t any moisture trapped in there. This isn’t the first pen I received with the cartridge stored in the barrel, but usually the top of the cartridge (the hard part) is near the feed, in other words it’s usually shipped upside down. Maybe the cold affected it (I’ve avoided ordering ink because it’s been so cold for so long) but there weren’t any signs of ice so it may have been punctured when being jostled in transit.

I picked the Matt Black version which doesn’t feel like cold aluminum and has a bit of a soft feel to it. The pen feels nice in my hand although I’ve yet to actually write with it. I like the feel of the material. It feels lighter than I expected although I then weighed it and found it’s 22 grams which is close to their pre-production spec of 24 grams. And I don’t trust my scale enough to say they’re wrong.

They used Bock nibs and the nib is stamped with the Bock name. I usually don’t judge a nib until I write with it, but since I couldn’t write with it yet I took a look with a loupe. The tines are just slightly misaligned. I did see one commenter complain about skipping. I don’t think they did any nib alignments so they’re at the mercy of Bock’s mass production quality control.

With the exchange rate at the time, foreign exchange fees, and shipping this fountain pen was less than $40. For that price this seems like a very nice pen, although I have to qualify that by saying I won’t be inking it up for a couple more days. Unfortunately those of you who picked the Titanium pen are still waiting for them to work out the manufacturing process.

[Feb 26th Update] I inked up the pen today before lunch. It wasn’t problem free but I haven’t heard of anyone else having similar problems and it’s not something that would go unnoticed.

Since the pen shipped with a Diamine ink cartridge, but mine was broken, I wanted to pick a Diamine ink to start with and I had a box of Diamine Prussian Blue ink cartridges. So I popped one in and set the pen nib down to allow the ink to reach the nib. A couple minutes later, when I checked the pen, I found that the cartridge had completely emptied into the cap. It appeared the ink had flowed through the feed, not leaked around the side. I inked another pen with a Diamine Prussian Blue cartridge at the same time. That one didn’t have the same problem and in fact the ink took about 10 minutes to even reach the tip of the nib.

I checked back and I found that this Prussian Blue cartridge did the same thing in another pen, but in that case I blamed the pen and put it aside for review (which I’ve yet to do) because I had just taken it apart for a thorough cleaning. Interestingly, but meaningless, that was a Faber-Castell Basic which this pen reminds me of.

But back on this pen – I unscrewed the nib unit and there wasn’t any trace of ink around the threads, further leading me to figure the ink flowed right through the nib. So with the nib unit still removed I inserted a Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire ink cartridge and waited for the ink to flow. No signs of leaking and the ink took over 5 minutes to reach the nib. It’s been a couple of hours and there’s no sign of ink in the cap, although the pen has only been nib down when I’m writing. It’s either flat on my desk or nib up in my pen stand.

I haven’t  done a lot of writing with the Nexus Minimal fountain pen but my first impression are:

The nib isn’t the smoothest but it is smooth enough. I’ve certainly paid more for a pen with a worse nib. There’s some tooth on courser paper. I haven’t had any skipping on Doane Paper except when I first uncap the pen. The first stroke sometimes skips if it’s a upstroke. This doesn’t happen every time. I have the same hard starts but I also had some skipping on the slicker Rhodia paper (No. 16 Dotpad). This is typically an upstroke when starting a new word and when I was taking notes where I write a bit fast. As I mentioned the tines are slightly misaligned which may contribute to the skipping. In my case, on the upstroke the leading tine is higher than the trailing tine. The tines don’t seem that much out of alignment, but if I used Rhodia or other slick paper most of the time the skipping would be annoying enough for me to align the tines and smooth the nib sooner rather than later. With slower, deliberate writing I have less skips on even Rhodia paper. And I really do need to slow down whenever I expect other people to read my writing. But on Doane the hard starts aren’t frequent enough for me to make changes. At least not yet.

Also, I did not order the converter but a standard sized Schmidt converter fits just fine so no reason why other converters won’t fit. Standard international long cartridges also fit fine, at least the Pelikans I have do.