Sunday Notes and Links

Esterbrook #407 inkwell viewed from the topThis week’s favorite pen was the Esterbrook Dip-less which I Reviewed on Monday. I finished cleaning a #407 inkwell and dumped in a bottle of Sheaffer Red to match to pen.

I did a lot of writing this past week and emptied several pens. In a break from past habits I’ve been switching inks but not pens.

Some links of interest…

A couple 2014 DC Pen Show recaps:

The Commonwealth Pen Show is coming to Somerville, MA, (near Boston). It’s not the same place or organizer as last year’s New England Pen Show. I missed DC but it looks like I’ll be able to make this show since it’s a relatively short drive and hotel parking is free. It Sunday Sept. 28th only.

I enjoy seeing what other people pick as favorites or what they have currently inked:

2014 LE Glenmont Group Buy! – Edison Pen Company // The Edison Group by for this year is open. Both pens are beautiful although I’m trying to have enough willpower to pass this year. I have to hold out until Sept. 5th.

UPDATE: Seven Seas “Writers” Notebook – THE PENVENTORY // I started using one of these a couple of weeks ago and I’m liking it

Kaweco Elite – Pen Review – My Pen Needs Ink

Matching (XIV) – Crónicas Estilográficas

[Guest Post] The Platinum 3776 Century Nice Limited Edition Fountain Pen Review –

Paper Review – Leuchtturm Large Hard Cover, Lined – Fountain Pen Physicist

The Pen Addict Podcast Is Back! — The Pen Addict // A new episode will be released Monday

Lamy Scala – Thepencilcaseblog

review: pilot 78g – ink between the teeth

Pen Review: Franklin-Christoph 02 Intrinsic – The Pen Habit

Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration Pad review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Muji High Quality Easy-Open Notebook Review — Modern Stationer

Staples Gold Series Legal Pad – Pen Pursuit

Schweizer Handmade Fountain Pen – Hey there! SBREBrown // Stephen Brown, of YouTube fame finally has his own website.

Waterman Emerald Green Patrician – My Antique Pens

A Notebook review (Tomoe -row starts today!) – Ecclectitbits

Pilot Bung Box [thé] Capless –

2 things I don’t like about Diamine Syrah – Peninkcillin

Review: Diamine Rustic Brown — Alt. Haven

J. Herbin Verte Réséda Ink Review — The Pen Addict

Noodler’s Midnight Blue Review – The Pen Enthusiast

Inktronics Blog Reviews Diamine Ancient Copper Fountain Pen Ink – Inktronics

Noodler’s La Reine Mauve – Stationary Journey

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Swabbing 10 Year Old Ink

My ink drawer, two ink drawers actually, are overflowing and it was time to clear out some ink. What better place to start than with my oldest ink bottles to see if they’re still good. That would be Private Reserve and Noodler’s inks. Much of my stock of these inks dates back to 2003 and 2004. I actually dated some of the bottles and I made a note of when I got the bottle if I knew the date. Some of the Private Reserve ink is recent enough to be in the newer bottles, namely the two Fast Dry inks and Cadillac Green.

I ended up doing a swab of each ink on a Maruman Mnemosyne Word Card and then doing a writing sample on both Doane Writing Pad paper and Rhodia Dotpad paper. I used my Esterbrook Dip-Less #7550 Firm Extra Fine nib for the writing sample. It was a great excuse to use the pen.

I tried to be consistent with the swabs. A cotton swab was used and the top line on the card was a single pass with the new dipped swab. The larger ink area is just the ink painted onto the card with the swab. The writing on the card is with a glass dip pen.

Most of the ink held up well over the years. There wasn’t any mold. A couple of the colors definitely changed for the worse. Private Reserve Copper Burst and Orange Crush now share a similar washed out yellowish brown color. Fiesta Red seems to have a little little more pink than I remember and when compared to swabs I find online. The rest of the inks seems to have held up well. The inks were stored in a dark drawer at room temperature which didn’t always include air conditioning in the summer.

Private Reserve was my first bottled ink brand after Waterman and I liked the choice of colors and I really haven’t had any interest in the brand for years. So, since most of the ink is still good I now need to figure out what I want to do with it.

Review: Esterbrook Dip-Less Pen and #7550 Firm Extra Fine Nib

Esterbrook Dip-Less_pieces-on-mirrorThis pen changed my life. Well, not really. But I was surprised at how much I’ve loved using this pen. I bought the pen over a year ago and it sat unused until about two weeks ago. I’ve used it just about every day since then.

This nib review is a little different than my previous Esterbrook nib notes. That’s because this nib is different. Unlike the previous Esterbrook nibs this one is for an early Esterbrook Dip-Less pen. Since I’ve only got one nib for the pen this will be a combined nib and pen review, even though the nib is interchangeable. (Technically, any of my Esterbrook nibs will fit, but I’ve only got one nib that’s specifically for this pen.)

I purchased the pen on eBay about a year ago. It came with the #7550 Firm Extra Fine nib. The pen box was in very good shape and included the original instructions. It was listed as New Old Stock (NOS) and I liked the color so I made a bid and was surprised when I won the auction. I obviously wasn’t too excited because the pen sat for a year.

Thanks to modern marketing, when I read “Dip-less” my first thought was that the pen didn’t need dipping. Was it just a marketing name for a fountain pen? Obviously that’s not the case. “Dip-less” means it can be dipped less often since, unlike early dip pens, this one includes a feed. My only other dip pen was my glass dip pen, so I can’t really compare this one to other dip pens. What I can say is that the feed holds a surprisingly large amount of ink. Sometimes it seems like it can go on forever.

What I Got

Esterbrook Dip-Less with nib installedThis nib is unlike my previously reviewed Esterbrook nibs. It doesn’t screw into the pen. A lever is used to unlock the feed and slide it, and the nib, out. The nib and feed are two pieces. A nib swap just replaces the metal nib, the same feed is used. The feed is designed so that the nib slides into the right place. There a small ridge where the back of the nib butts into place. The nib and feed then slide easily into the pen. It’s hard to insert the nib incorrectly.

The pen also takes the regular Esterbrook screw in nibs (Renew-points), such as the ones that are also used in the Esterbrook J pens. Other than screwing a nib in to make sure it fits I haven’t used one of the screw in nibs. The #7550 nib will only work in this pen (among the Esterbrooks I own) and I love the extra fine line it puts down so I’m not looking to swap it.

The pen barrel is engraved “Esterbrook PAT.PEND. MADE IN U.S.A. DIP-LESS UNIVERSAL”. The black taper can be unscrewed and replaced. I’ve also seen clear and red tapers. The “Universal” means the pen can take either the original two piece nib (such as the #7550) or it can take one of the screw in nibs.

Esterbrook Dip-Less feed - openI’m still not used to removing the nib. The nib (and feed) are a little hard to slide out and I’m afraid I’ll break the lever, or the plastic around the feed. From what I’ve read this wasn’t uncommon (the breaking that is). While removing the nib and feed allow a thorough washing, it’s not necessary and it doesn’t take much longer to clean the feed while in the pen. I’ve been cleaning it a lot lately since I’ve been using dozens of inks with it and I haven’t had to take it apart.

The #7550 is another manifold nib, intended for carbon copies. This seems like a good choice for a desk pen that would be for public use. At a bank counter for example.

The nib is Osmiridium coated which would provide added durability and smoothness. My particular nib was NOS and was in good shape. There is some feedback from the nib, but this is expected from an extra fine nib. I would say this nib is near the top, if not on the top, of the smoothness list for my Esterbrook extra fine nibs.

Esterbrook #7550 Firm Extra Fine nib topMost 7xxx nibs had the Sunburst pattern. Mine doesn’t. It’s has he imprinting vertically along the nib and boxed in by three lines. I didn’t know it at the time but this nib is considered rare. I was thinking the sunburst pattern would be more desirable until I read this article by Brian Anderson.

Based upon the instructions that were included with the pen it was intended for use with the No. 407 inkwell (or at least one that looked like it). The instructions lists nine 5xxx series nibs as designed for the pen (The #5442 is not listed). The instructions also say Renew-points in the 2xxx and 3xxx series can be used. Since there’s no mention of 7xxx series nibs this would seem to indicate that my #7550 nib, the pen and the instructions were not originally packaged together. But some research (mainly reading Paul Hoban’s “The Fountain Pens of Esterbrook) makes it clear that the 7xxx series nibs were available when the instructions were printed and they were intended for Dip-less pens. The 7xxx series nibs are in the c.1939 catalog. The 3xxx series nibs were introduced around 1938 and phased out around 1944 which would put the instructions in that date range. The 7xxx series nibs are the Osmiridium tipped versions of the 5xxx series nibs, although there are only four 7xxx series nibs. I would have expected any instructions to mention the 7xxx series nibs since they were available at the time, especially if the nib was sold with the pen. The nib obviously works in the pen. I was just curious, not concerned.

The Numbers

  • Length: 6.3815″ (162.09 mm)
  • Diameter (near nib): 0.39″ (9.90 mm)
  • Barrel Diameter: 0.4185″ (10.63 mm)
  • Weight: 0.2 oz. (6 g)

Writing with the Pen

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

Esterbrook Dip-less in an empty #407 inkwell

I do have a couple Esterbrook #407 inkwells but I didn’t start cleaning them up until I learned how much I liked this pen and that I wanted it on my desk.I used the cleanest parts from both to get a working inkwell. I just filled the inkwell with Sheaffer red as I was getting ready to publish this post. (I also have a 447 “hockey puck” inkwell and the pen does not fit as snugly as it does in the #407.) The 407s hold a lot of ink – a full 50ml bottle of Sheaffer Red fit with room to spare. Because I just filled the inkwell last night all my writing has been done bottle dipping. This results in a coating of ink on the top of the nib. While it looks nice, it could result in errant ink drops so I wipe the ink off on the edge of the bottle. This takes a little longer but using the pen was very enjoyable. The inkwell to solves most of this problem although there’s a little ink on top of the nib.

Despite getting the pen over a year ago this is the first time I’ve dipped it in ink. And I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. I used the nib when I swabbed/tested my Private Reserve and Noodler’s inks and the writing samples are in the Gallery. There weren’t any problems, although the inks are very old and a couple of the colors obviously haven’t aged well. That’s not the fault of the pen. I’ve been on an ink sampling tear thanks in part to this pen and have used it with several dozen inks. Some inks work better than others, just like in a fountain pen, but in general they all worked great.

I don’t know why I expected writing with the pen to suck, but since it was actually pleasant I’ve probably over re-acted on the positive side. It’s rather fun to see how much the pen can write with one dip. (A lot.)

For my first extended writing session (the draft of this review) I picked Montblanc Bordeaux as the ink. It seemed appropriate and was a perfect match. Using a dip pen is a different writing experience. Some of the enjoyment was obviously because it was different, but I’ve continued to enjoy the pen.

If I held the pen in the bottle for a little longer than a quick dip it would take up enough ink so that I could write about 3/4 of a page, including some pauses. I made it through the first draft (a couple lines over two pages) with four dips and the fourth was close to the end but there just wasn’t enough ink without that fourth dip.

Wrapping Up

Unfortunately dip pens aren’t as convenient to use, for obvious reasons. Still, the Esterbrook Dip-less with the #7550 Firm Extra Fine nib is a pleasure to use so I’ll find reasons to use it while at my desk. I started cleaning up the inkwells and plan on putting the Esterbrook Dip-less in a prominent spot on my desk.

Additional Reading

About the Dip-Less pens at

About the desk sets at

Sunday Notes and Links

Sheaffer Crest on Doane PaperMy favorite pen & ink during the past week was my Sheaffer Crest with a extra fine nib and filled with Sheaffer Red ink. The extra fine nib puts down such a thin line that it went another day (with about six pages of notes) after the converter looked empty. Between the color and the nib I forget all about it being a thin pen. A couple pens also went dry and I’ve resisted the urge to ink up replacements. So I’m down to eight inked pens which is low for me. What’s left has plenty of ink so I’ve been resisting the urge to ink up more pens.

Some articles of interest from around the web…

The Washington DC pen show is finishing up today. I wasn’t able to attend so I’m living vicariously through these posts along with Twitter and Instagram:

Pennaquod : Pen Blog Searcher // New Pen Blog Searcher from Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils!

A Visit to The Crayola Experience — Modern Stationer

Kaweco Sport Skyline in Mint Review – All Things Stationery

Comparison of 73 Bottled Fountain Pen Inks – THE UNROYAL WARRANT

Review: Noodler’s Ahab with Goulet Pens 1.1mm Italic Stub Nib – The Well-Appointed Desk // It was hard to select one post from all that Ana put up this past week. Be sure to browse other recent posts, or even non-recent posts.

Monteverde Invincia Stealth Fountain Pen Review –

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen Review — The Pen Addict

Pen Review: Lamy 2000 with Minuskin Custom Stub — The Gentleman Stationer

Get on a Flight Attendant’s Good Side By Giving Them a Pen – Lifehacker

Montegrappa Miya Carbon Fountain Pen Review – FPGeeks

Review: @PilotPenUSA Knight Fountain Pen – Medium – Gourmet Pens

Two brothers (and a gatecrasher) – And All Other Tasks

Hey Pilot, You’re So Fine: Pilot 78G + Fine Nib – THE PENVENTORY

Notebook Addict of the Week: Emadam – Notebook Stories

Clairefontaine GraF it 90g sketchbook review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

How I do chromatography for the blog. – Inkdependence!

Jolly Good: The Retro 51 Tornado Touch – From the Pen Cup

J. Herbin Sealing Wax Bundle Review – Pen Paper Ink Letter

The five pens in your daily carry – Fountain Pen Physicist

Goutlet Pens is closing out the Kaweco AL Sport. Looks like they weren’t popular. I love all 3 of mine. The Closeout price is a pretty good $64.00. Goulet Pens closeout page Different finishes, but I reviewed mine here and here

Ink Reviews

Multiple ink reviews from several sites this week and I picked only one. So be sure to browse the sites.

Fountain Pen Ink Review: Montegrappa Bordeaux – Pen Paper Ink Letter

Sailor Kobe Inks Tamon Purple – Write to Me Often

Sailor Jentle Apricot – inklode

Ink Review – Private Reserve Shoreline Gold – Fountain Pen Physicist

Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Ina Ho — Alt. Haven

J. Herbin Lie de The – Inkdependence!

Ink Review: Iroshizuku Asagao — seize the dave

Noodler’s Socrates – Ink Review – Stationary Journey

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown

GvFC Hazelnut brown bottleGraf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) Hazelnut Brown is priced and bottled as a luxury ink. It’s a nice heavy bottle and I love the look. Even though a bottle doesn’t do anything for the ink, fancy bottles are all the rage among luxury ink makers. The ink is definitely in the luxury price category, but it’s a 75 ml bottle which helps the price per milliliter a bit. According to Faber-Castell this ink is light fast, which means the color holds up with extended exposure to light, although this is something I haven’t tested.

The ink flow is good, although it’s not a wet ink. I like dryish nibs and this ink suffers a bit for this. As an example, my Pelikan 620 Piazza Novone’s broad nib was ground to a stub by Mike Masuyama at the 2013 Washington DC pen show. I had him tune it to be on the dry side. The ink is good in this nib, with good shading. But it’s obvious that the ink would be better with more ink on the nib. Plus, the line tended to thin out if I write fast.

GvFC Hazelnut brown has a nice, deep brown color that has a hint of red to it. Despite my comments above, the ink flows well in any pen that hasn’t been tuned to be on the dry side. The Piazza Novone was the only pen I used that had anything less than perfect performance.

The ink can’t be called waterproof. There was some trace of what I wrote after the water test an extended soaking would wash it away.

Dry time was pretty good, especially with extra fine nibs, But the drying time goes up considerably with wider and wetter nibs. While the colors aren’t close, Montblanc Toffee Brown is my current brown ink of choice and the GvFC Hazelnut Brown takes about twice as long to dry with everything except extra fine nibs.

Feathering was non-existent on any of the papers I used. It’s a dark ink so there was some show through on thin papers but there wasn’t any bleed through.

This is a nice brown ink that will get as much use as my current favorite brown – Montblanc Toffee Brown. I like the color and the shading. If I didn’t value dry time so much Graf von Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown could have topped Toffee Brown as my favorite brown. I like the ink and will be keeping the bottle.

Additional Reading

Reviewed at The Pen Habit

Reviewed on FPN

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #9461 Rigid Fine

Esterbrook 9461 Rigid Fine This week’s Esterbrook nib is the Esterbrook #9461 Rigid Fine nib. The nib is also called a Manifold Fine and is the fine version of the #9460 medium nib.

Like every 9xxx series Master DuroChrome nib the 9461 is tipped with an allow Esterbrook called Osmiridium. The nib, at least the one I have, has “Esterbrook” and “9461” engraved the length of the nib. I like this engraving style. It’s nice and simple, yet distinctive.

My particular nib is smooth, especially on paper that is also smooth. There is a little feedback which would be expected from a fine nib. The nib was intended to be used to make carbon copies so I would expect this nib to last a long, long time with regular usage, The nib also does a great impression of a nail for the same reason.

I wasn’t surprised to find I liked this nib. There isn’t a Esterbrook fine or extra fine nib that I don’t like, although specific nibs may not have aged well. In this case, my particular nib has aged well.


Sunday Notes and Links

My favorite pen and ink from the past weekMy favorite fountain pen & ink combo this week came as a shock to me. It was the Omas 360 Vintage (Vintage in name only) with Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black ink. This pen has been temperamental since I got it and has always been flushed in frustration. I’ve even had the nib worked on. It’s a new pen with this ink. Were my first three ink choices the only three this pen won’t like? Is this the only ink the pen likes? The pen will be reviewed eventually but I’ll need to use it some more so it’ll be a month or so.

The Washington D.C. pen show is this week, Thursday through Sunday. I’m not able to go, even though it will no doubt be a good time, with a lot of vendors who skipped last year when I was there. Definitely worth the trip if you can make it. The Facebook page seems to have more information that the website.

Some Links of Interest

Review: @Retro1951 Tornado Lincoln EXT Fountain Pen – Medium @JetPens – Gourmet Pens

Cheaper – Crónicas Estilográficas

Edison LEA Double Feature! 2012 Pearl & 2013 Morgan –

Take a look inside the Pilot Vanishing Point – FPGeeks

Traveling With Pens: A Case Study (or a study of a basket case?!) – From the Pen Cup

Lamy Accent Al (2014) – kmpn

My First Aurora: Ipsilon Quadra Sterling Silver — The Gentleman Stationer

Pen Review: Sheaffer Imperial 330 – The Pen Habit

4622 – Crónicas Estilográficas

Review: Noodler’s Neponset Fountain Pen – Music Nib – Gourmet Pens

Giveaway Test Drive a Quo Vadis – Visual – Quo Vadis Blog

Kaweco AL Sport Review — Modern Stationer

Waterman 94 – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

The Matina (sketch) – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Its a Bird, Its a Plane, Its a Falcon – Pen Pursuit

Etranger di Costarica Memo Book Review — The Pen Addict

Tomoe River Handcrafted Letterpress Notebooks from JustWrite – Pentorium

Field Notes Centipede! Blackbird Tar Field Notes Notebook Review – THE UNROYAL WARRANT

Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Review – My Pen Needs Ink

Ink Reviews

Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses (original formula) ink review Peninkcillin

Kaweco Palm Green ink review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Private Reserve’s American Blue ~ Inkdependence!

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa| fountain pens, inks, and more – inklode

Diamine Red Dragon Fountain Pen Ink – Inktronics

Ink Review – Organics Studio Gregor Mendel – Fountain Pen Physicist