This Just In: TWSBI Classic

I just received my TWSBI Classic today and wanted to post my early impressions. Really early, I’ve only had the pen a couple hours.

In the interest of time the photos are from my phone and it’s a picture of my article draft written with the pen. I usually don’t inflict my writing on you, especially since sometimes the words in my head appear differently on paper.

It’s a thinner TWSBI than usual, there’s a comparison photo in the gallery. So here’s the initial impressions and a camera phone gallery (double-click the photos for full size).

For some reason I want to call this the “Mini”, a pen I do not have. Hopefully I caught the only slip.

While I say the ink is Diamine Ancient Copper. It’s not. That was my plan but I picked up Diamine Oxblood instead. Long day, didn’t notice until the post went up and I was proofing it.

Write-up of first impressions

Diamine Oxblood ink. Not Diamine Ancient Copper like it claims to be,


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Recent Arrivals

Last week was a good week for acquisitions, and they arrived this week.

Esterbrook 8440 nibFirst up is yet another Esterbrook 8440 nib. The base is stained with red ink but the gold is in better condition than the other 8440 nib I have. No doubt the staining kept the price down.

Then my Parker Vacumatic collection grew by one with the addition of a 1944 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Major in Golden Pearl (aka Brown Striped). The transparency is very good and it has an XXF nib.

1944 Parker Blue Diamond Vacumatic Kajor

The bargain of the bunch was a batch of 6 Esterbrook nibs. Three were the common #1550, but the three nibs below are new to me. The first two are the uncommon #1314 flexible fine nibs. One was in the original box and seems either unused or lightly used. The third nib is a 2314-M Relief medium Stub which is new to me although I like my other Relief Stubs. I usually avoid flex nibs since they’re lost on me but I have this need to collect every Esterbrook nib and this deal was too good to pass up..

3 Esterbrook nibs

I haven’t inked any of these up yet, but that’s what weekends are for.

This Just In: Parker Vacumatic Maxima

Photo of the Parker Vacumatic  Maxima Silver PearlMy latest acquisition is another vintage pen and new fountain pen territory for me. The Vacumatics caught my eye at the Long Island pen show, especially the ones I later learned were the “pearl” colors. I didn’t get one in LI because didn’t know much about them (and onsite research was overwhelming) and I didn’t find one that was just right.

I was especially drawn to the wear pattern and the amber tint that some of them had. It was only this week that I learned from the Pen Addict podcast that the amber tinting is shunned by Vacumatic collectors, or if not shunned, it lowers the value to a collector.

I was browsing eBay last Sunday when I came across this pen, a 1942 Parker Vacumatic Maxima. It was perfect. A silver Pearl finish with nickel (not gold) trim and a fine nib. It didn’t seem to have any amber tinting from the pictures or description. While I didn’t know the meaning behind the tinting at the time, I knew I didn’t want it with this particular pen since it would clash with the silver and black.

The downside was that the pen would be pricey (IMO) and I would be buying it sight unseen. The seller had a good rep as a seller and fountain pen restorer so I took a risk.

Photo of the Parker Vacumatic  Maxima Silver Pearl

The pen arrived today and it’s every bit as nice as I hoped it would be. If I look closely, in the right light, I can see some amber tinting in the clear areas. But it doesn’t show in normal light or distance and the view of the ink is excellent. I love the way the silver striping has worn away from use. Too bad it’s not my use that created the wear pattern.

For its first ink I picked Montblanc Bordeaux, which is my favorite. I’ll probably stick with Bordeaux until I run out then decide whether I should switch to Montblanc Burgundy or something completely different. The ink just seems right for the pen. I was a little leery of going with a red ink but Bordeaux has always treated me well.

I’ve only had the pen for a couple hours and I’m still on the “new pen” high (new to me at least) but this pen seems destined to be one of my favorites, if not my favorite.

Photo of the Parker Vacumatic  Maxima Silver Pearl

This Just In: Esterbrook J Copper

Photo - copper Esterbrook J

Actually, this arrived at the end of March but I just inked it up this past weekend. It’s a copper Esterbrook J with a #9461 rigid fine nib.

It’s my second vintage pen and second Esterbrook. It’s a eBay purchase I added to my accumulation because I/m I sucker for copper or bronze and I could add another hard fine nib.

The paperwork (the pen came with the original box & literature) refers to the nib as “rigid, fine” but I’ve also seen it described as a “manifold” nib. It’s designed to be extra strong for uses such as carbon paper. I figure it will also last longer with a light writer or be suitable for a non-fountain pen user to try.


Ink and Nibs

Photo of today's deliveryI just received my latest shipment from Goulet Pens, ink and nibs. It may have been rash but I decided that the TWSBI Vac 700 would make a good pen for testing inks. Rash because I’m not sure how much its quirks will annoy me, although those quirks affect it more as a daily carry than a pen that stays home. Plus, I’m just curious on how it will write with different nibs. The pen is comfortable to write with and the nibs are easy to change. Add ease of cleaning to this and it does seem like a good pen for ink testing. So I ordered some nibs giving me the extra fine that came with the pen plus a fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm stub. The only one I ignored was the 1.5mm stub.

I also ordered a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (Forest Green). I went through my sample and decided it was a green I wanted around, and in a pen, all the time.

Since I was ordering I picked a few more samples (why not?) – Sailor Jentle Epinard, Sailor Jentle Grenade and Pelikan Brown.

The first ink for review in the TWSBI Vac 700 won’t be one of the new ones, instead I’ll be doing J. Herbin Lie de The’. An ink I wrote notes on awhile back but I need to revisit since I I think it’s better than I made it out to be.

Time to clean out some nibs and get them ready for ink.

First Impressions: TWSBI Vac 700

TWSBI Vac700 cappedEarlier this week Mike left a comment asking what I thought ove the Vac 700. I hadn’t used it very much at the time but generally liked it. I’ve been using it as my primary work pen for the last couple of days. While I haven’t changed my generally favorable impression I now have more questions and concerns which made me realize that I won’t be able to do a complete review anytime soon. Too many questions.

My pen is the clear demonstrator model with a extra fine nib. The Vac 700 line has been sold with nibs from Bock and Jowo. My pen has a Jowo nib and based on what I read the switch to Jowo was complete before the Demonstrator was released so they all have Jowo nibs.

First the good – the pen is very comfortable to write with. It’s plastic but feels solidly built. There’s a slight taper to the pen which is nice. The extra fine nib is a smooth writer (more on this later). I haven’t had any false starts or skipping. My thumb and fingers do brush against the threads but they aren’t sharp and it doesn’t bother me,

The primary reason I bought the pen was the Vacuum filling system. I’m not a fan of cartridge/convertor demonstrator pens but I am a sucker for pens where I can watch the ink slosh around inside. None of my other pens are vacuum fillers. No regrets here.

Now for the questions and concerns.

I knowingly committed the sin of using a brand new ink (for me) in a brand new pen. While flow is consistant it is a dry writer. I’ve yet to try the ink in another extra fine nib, but the ink is consistently wetter in the fine and wider nibs I’ve used. Not an ink I’d call dry. My gut is that this is a dry nib but I’ll have to try another ink to know for sure.

The vacuum filling system is easy to use as far as filling the pen goes. It easily fills to about 1.5mm. Goulet Pens has a video on how to get a complete fill, about 2 ml. although getting a complete fill might be messy. The real complications arose when writing with the pen.

The pen has a shut off valve with the filling system. When closed the pen still has several pages of ink left in the feed, at least with the EF nib. I’ve gone about two and a half pages without a noticeable difference in the ink flow. For longer writing sessions the filler nob is turned to lift the plunger and open the seal. And that’s where my questions begin.

I left the seal open during the day of taking notes but would cap the pen. I did notice some ink drops inside the cap. I can’t really say if they appeared from carrying to and from work, with the seal closed, or while it was unsealed during the day. But I didn’t notice them until the end of the workday. I also wonder what would happen if I forget to seal it up and put it in my pocket or pen case. Will ink leak into the cap or out the now loose filler cap?

TWSBI Vac 700 cappedCall it careless, but one time when I was opening the seal I slipped and moved the plunger a little too much, forcing a large drop of ink onto my desk.

It’s an expensive ink, Diamine Strauss, in there now so I’ll be emptying most of what’s left back into the bottle. I’ll fill it with water a jostle it around a bit with the seal and filler cap open to see if any leaks out. Then I’ll fill it with a ink I already know. I usually end up with Waterman Florida Blue after committing the new ink/new pen sin, but I really want a nice red or green ink sloshing around in there.

Lastly, I like that TWSBI makes pens that anybody (meaning me) can take apart and service. They include some silicone grease, a couple extra o-rings and a wrench to help disassemble the pen. Although I’ve yet to take apart this pen.

There are replacement nibs available so if the extra fine nib is still too dry with other inks I can always swap it out if I like the pen. I’m just wondering if the vacuum filling system makes the pen too high maintenance for someone who’s likely to forget to seal it back up before putting it in my pocket or carelessly squirt ink on the desk. Eventually I’ll get answers to these questions and write a more complete review. But at this point I consider it well worth the $80. The real expense is getting to know the pen.

This Just In: Edison Huron Grande

Technically this is a pen I bought last year so I haven’t bought a new pen this year, but my Edison Pen Huron Grande arrived today. This is my sixth Edison Pen, but the first in their Signature Line. I’d been eyeing various Signature Line pens for awhile but decided to pull the trigger when the Spencerian pen was cancelled. I’d already spent the money on it, no sense putting it back in the bank.

I got the Huron Grande in Red/White/Blue Flecked acrylic with a 1.1mm cursive italic nib. I also ordered an extra fine nib and a pen rest.

Photo of the Edison Huron Grande

Why I Bought It

This is unlike my other pens. It’s the largest pen I have when capped although it’s not the largest pen in my hand when I’m writing. It’s only my second clipless pen, although I’m warming up to clipless designs.

I wanted something different and also bright. This pen fits the bill.

I was considering a couple different designs and this pen was completely different than the other Signature line pens I was considering. In the email exchanges with Brian at Edison none of the questions pertained to this pen. But it was the one I was most sure that I would like. The other designs may get picked in the future, but that would be after visiting a pen show where I can see most of the material choices and pens in real life. Plus, they were more along the lines of my existing pens.

I debated getting a gold nib but eventually decided against it. I’ve been happy with the steel nibs and decided the extra $100 would be wasted on me. I went with the single tone nib. Despite my desire for a bright pen, I didn’t think the two tone would look right and I do like the plain looking nib.

Since it’s clipless and prone to rolling I ordered a pen pillow too.

First Impressions

I love it! I didn’t realize it from the pictures but there’s some slight translucence to the material. Despite the large size the pen is light. The cap can’t be posted which isn’t a problem since I never post the cap.

The pen came with a converter and some extra silicon grease. I did specify eye dropper fill so the threads were already treated with silicon so this is extra (which I used when I swapped nibs).

I wrote briefly with the italic nib, using Apache Sunset. It wrote well but I need to improve my italic skills, so I swapped in the extra fine nib and will use as a daily writer for awhile.

I don’t have a pen case that can handle the pen, at least not one I can throw in my bag as a daily carry. Either the pen is too tall or the .675″ cap diameter is too big. So for now this pen is a home body. This wasn’t a surprise and I’m still debating whether or not I even want to bring it with me on the days I head into the office. It’s not a pen easily carried around while working so might not get a lot of use there.

The pen is extremely comfortable for me to write with. I’ve had the pen less than 6 hours, so have only written a couple pages but I’m extremely happy. And of course, I’m biased towards liking a pen I put so much thought into.

First Ink

Technically, the first ink was Apache Sunset with the Italic nib. But that was barely enough ink to saturate the feed. After swapping for the extra fine nib I filled it with Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun (Light Cool Gray). Actually, the converter is only about 1/3 fill so I can try different inks. Eventually I’ll use it as an eye dropper fill.

I think my ink choice got more complicated once I saw the translucence. I’m not sure how much the ink color will be visible or enhance the pen color. It could be interesting.