Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 26, 2020

Photo of my latest arrival

Sheaffer Balance Oversize Grey Marble c.1935

I’ve been using my newest fountain pen almost exclusively since it arrived last weekend. I inked it up with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE that I like a lot. It’s well behaved and easy to clean, so I have no qualms about using it in a vintage vacuum filler that will be tedious to clean without a friendly ink. I wanted to go with a older (can’t really say vintage, although in ink years they are) Sheaffer ink, but my two favorites were already in pens. So far I’m loving the pen. I hope to get better photos soon.


Sometimes A Rollerball Beats A Fountain Pen | An Inkophile’s Blog

A letter from the Retro51 Team | The Retro 51 Blog // via The Well-Appointed Desk // Big news. This happens to be the first place I saw it. The official post is here

A Place to Buy Ink! – The Well-Appointed Desk

2020 Philadelphia Pen Show Recap — The Gentleman Stationer

From the Desk of Martin Luther King Jr. – The Well-Appointed Desk

Sunday Rambling – Goodwriterspens’s Blog


Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 19, 2020

Photo of you currently inked pens.

Well now, things are changing again. I moved into a new apartment last weekend. Technically, I signed the lease and I now eat and sleep there. But “moved in” is a bit of a stretch. Furniture will be arriving tomorrow and next weekend so things are still hectic. The one piece of furniture that did arrive is the least needed but a welcome arrival, a new writing desk. It’s one I’ve seen on various furniture store websites, all called something different and sells for a wide range of prices. It’s nothing special, but I like the look. I’ll provide more info once I’ve used it a bit, and pictures once the clutter is cleaned up. Being the most convenient flat surface it’s become cluttered. The photo above shows my currently inked pens in the desk.

I inked up some more pens this week. The following pens join the Brass Sport (not shown), Regency Stripe (in the Fodderstack XL along with a Retro 51 rollerball), and Pilot Custom 823 (on the Seed case):

From left to right in the Dudek Pen stand:

  1. Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green with Sheaffer Emerald Green (Yellow box).
  2. Sheaffer Balance II Crimson Glow with Monteverde Napa Burgundy.
  3. Sheaffer Balance II Aspen with Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey.
    All three of the Balance II pens have Sheaffer’s lovely 18kt gold Feathertouch nib which writes closer to a fine than a western medium.
  4. Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen with a 21kt medium nib and Sheaffer Peacock Blue (Yellow box) ink.
  5. Fisher of Pens Hermes with a fine nib and my favorite ink, Montblanc Bordeaux.

Yes, the Kaweco Brass Sport missed another photo. Despite being in my jeans pocket I always forget to include it, and I’m too lazy to take another photo when I realize it’s missing.

A new pen arrived for me on Saturday, although I’ve yet to ink it up. This one is a new to me vintage Sheaffer which replaces nothing, just a welcome addition. I’m still deciding on the ink. It’s seems fitting that an old Sheaffer should get one of my older Sheaffer inks to inaugurate it. My top two ink choices are already in use, so I’m still debating. With this purchase I’ve already equaled last years new pen count, although last year it was swap to replace my Esterbrook Estie with a look I preferred but which wasn’t available at launch. More after I’ve inked and used the pen a bit.


Esterbrook Nib Numbers and Writing Samples – Fountain Pen Love // via The Pen Addict

Peoples Journal Project // I received this as a marketing email, while not for me it sounds interesting and I figured I’d share it.

Taking Advantage Of What’s On Hand | An Inkophile’s Blog

Happy New Year! // Travels 2019-2020 – Weirdoforest Pens

Stamps, Scientific Charts, and Hand-Drawn Maps Occupy Every Inch of Travel Notebooks by José Naranja | Colossal via The Cramped

Crónicas Estilográficas: War (I) // also check out his two more recent posts.

My 2019 Retrospective — The Gentleman Stationer

How this Japanese method of saving money changed my life—and made me richer – The Cramped // Another reason to use our pens. Check out both links if you’re interested.

The Downside of the Handwritten Novel — The Pen Addict // While not the same, I find my blog posts and other writings are better in the end if they start out of paper.

Does Platignum Deserve Its Bad Reputation? – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Just Right: The Theme System Journal | From the Pen Cup // I decided the try this journal and it arrived this past week. It’s still in the shrink wrap.

2020 Planner Set-Up. — The Finer Point

Pen Show Prep 2020 and My One-Pen Challenge — The Gentleman Stationer

Scenes from the 2020 Philadelphia Pen Show — The Gentleman Stationer

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 5, 2020

FireworksHappy New Year, everyone! Not too much to say here as the year-end hustle & bustle kept my pen usage down. The Pilot Vanishing Point did go dry, although I didn’t re-ink it. There’s a lot of ink on the nib is I want to give the pen a thorough cleaning in case there’s a lot of dried ink around the trapdoor. So I’m down to three inked pens:

  1. Kaweco Brass Sport with an EF nib and Kaweco Red ink (cartridge)
  2. Pilot Custom 823 with a Fine nib and Pilot Black ink
  3. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with an EF nib and Sailor Kilwa-Guro Pigmented Back ink cartridge

The Kaweco Brass Sport is finally getting some use now that the Vanishing Point isn’t in my pocket.

I moved into a new office as the year began, which will allow me to get some desk pens back into rotation. They should get a lot of use (relative t recent history) since I’ll spend a lot of time in the office. I’m waiting to settle in before I start inking up some pens, but that should be soon.

Some housekeeping: I’m going to try moving this site to a self-hosted server (currently, it’s on There may be some outages or weirdness as things move over. If it ends up being more effort than I’m willing to put in, then it will stay here, and the ads will return. I do not promise no ads if the site moves, but I’ll have more control over them if I do decide to have some on the site.


Starting From Scratch | From the Pen Cup

The Fate of Office Depot — Original Content Books // via The Pen Addict.

My 2019 in Review — TooManyPelikans

2019: some of my fountain pen highlights. | Fountain pen blog

Crónicas Estilográficas: Tokyo Pen Trends 2019

Planner Update: Out with the Old, In with the New – The Well-Appointed Desk

Penventory 2020: Reassessing My Pen Collection — The Pen Addict

Shellacking the Section/Barrel Joint – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Crónicas Estilográficas: Retractable 2020

Looped Square: 2019 In Review


Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – December 22, 2019

Cheers! - Happy holiday

Happy holidays. Break out the new planner and use those new pens. Although for the record, I’ve learned paper planners aren’t for me and 2019 was the year of no new pens and that won’t change in the the remaining days. Although 2020 may make up for that.

It’s been another long delay since the last Trail Log, so it’s a safe bet that this will be the last of the year. (When I drafted this it was a bet, now it’s a certainty) I wrote my Sheaffer Triumph Sentinel Deluxe (c1942-1948) dry a few weeks ago. The vac-filler was a bit tedious to clean, as are most vac-fillers, so I considered re-inking it. I really like the nib (14k Fine) on the pen, but find the pen just a tad on the thin & light side for my comfort, so I ended up thoroughly cleaning it.

So as the year nears its end I’m left with four inked pens. The Kaweco Brass Sport which travels in my jeans pocket loaded with a Kaweco red cartridge. The Pilot Vanishing point with a XXXF nib and a Pilot black cartridge travels in my shirt pocket. The Pilot Custome 823, also with Pilot Black ink, but a fine nib travel in my NockCo Seed A5 case and is used exclusively in the Seven Seas Writer which is also in the same case. The fourth pen is my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with a Sailor Kilwa-Guro Pigmented Back ink cartridge (I think that’s the ink, forgot to record that one).

Housekeeping – You should not see any ads on the site through the rest of December 2019 and the first week of January. If you see ads then let me know. They may or may not return. I’m on a WordPress plan that lets me block ads. I will certainly cancel it before the trial period expires but may move it to a self-hosted site which gives me absolute control, and sole responsibility. (It’s currently on


Scriptus 2019, Part II: Bringing Your Kids to the Pen Show – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

THE MANILA PEN SHOW 2019 | Personal Geographic

Crónicas Estilográficas: Madrid Pen Show 2019

Brand Profile: Taking a Look at Moonman’s Emergence and Current Direction — The Gentleman Stationer

Sunday Ramblin’ – Goodwriterspens’s Blog

Pelikan And Luigi Colani: A Collaboration « The Pelikan’s Perch

My Analogue System for 2020 – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Review: Shibui 5-Pen Case in Saddle Brown Leather | Rants of The Archer

Using hoarded notebooks. — The Finer Point

News: Edelstein Ink of the Year 2020 – Moonstone « The Pelikan’s Perch

Updates Before the New Year | Peaceable Writer

Crónicas Estilográficas: Japanese Skylines

Thoughts on Purchasing Expensive Pens (or Any Luxury Item) — The Gentleman Stationer

Off-topic but highly seasonal: The secret history of Santa interceptions // via The Loop

Off-topic and scary: Opinion | Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy – The New York Times

The Flip-Side: So Much For Global Selling

Stylized US mapA couple of weeks ago, Anthony, of UK Fountain Pens, wrote about his problems with international buying. The article struck a nerve with me, although from the flip-side: international selling. There is a distinct difference – I’m in the US, not the UK.

Being in the United States, I have it pretty good with buying internationally. I can purchase fountain pens without any added customs duties or fees. I’ve never paid any added taxes/duties, and delivery is usually pretty quick. (Any fountain pen under $800 is duty-free, or at least it was a couple of years ago when I checked, and I never get a surcharge from USPS.) While it can vary, shipping charges from established overseas retailers are very reasonable.

But selling is a different story, and I had to cut back, and then eliminate, the pens I’m willing to ship internationally. In my last batch of pens, I decided that if I was selling the pen for $200 or more, I would offer it internationally. Although now I don’t think even that would be worth my aggravation.

One annoyance is the drastic increase in shipping costs over the last few years. While USPS is still the lowest cost option by far, I can’t help but feel buyer’s think I’m profiting by the shipping charge that I quote, despite the charge being at cost and actually below cost once PayPal fees are added on. Most international buyers decide not to buy once they see the shipping cost. Since the pens I sell aren’t expensive, shipping is a significant piece of the total buyer cost. PayPal charges their fees on shipping, and fees are often higher for many countries. So I make less on international sales unless I add a surcharge to cover the additional fees, which means I can no longer say “international shipping is at cost.” Plus, PayPal hates calling out charges tied to their fees. I could probably still truthfully say “at cost”, but proving it would be difficult since I can’t point the buyer to the USPS website. In addition, calculating all that is a time-consuming PITA. Since the pens I sell on this site are priced low (IMO), there’s not a lot of wiggle room to absorb fees. I price them low because sales through this site are typically smooth and problem-free and I figure the buyer will use the pen.

While shipping costs are a significant annoyance, my main gripe is with the USPS international depot in New York, which processes all of my international mail. When I lived in Middletown, CT, more than one package would come to me via Middletown, NY, adding a couple of days to the transit. This, despite the correct zip code being on the package, and in one case being of significantly larger size than the city and state.

Outgoing mail enters the depot, and if it’s a basic first class package only seems to come out when it’s number is picked by a random number generator. I’ve had outgoing parcels sit there for two or three weeks. USPS will not research the package since it’s the basic rate, and there’s no tracking insurance. They also sought to prove the stereotype that Americans are geographically challenged by sending a Germany bound pen to Canada. Canada was in no hurry to send it back, and that delivery took so long it dropped off tracking, but it did eventually arrive.

The solution to the outgoing mail problems is to ship using at least Priority Mail with insurance and tracking. This adds significantly to the cost, but at least USPS will look for a missing/delayed package within a relatively short time-frame. I had a box magically leave the international depot the day after I filed an insurance claim. While not perfect, insured/tracked packages usually travel problem-free.

As for the buyer accepting responsibility for lost/missing packages, I have a couple of problems with this. One, I’d have to use PayPal F&F or another service that provides no buyer protection. If I were a buyer, I wouldn’t want to do this. Two, my experience says there’s a good chance that any untracked/uninsured package will cause a lot of angst as it works its way through USPS. And, despite the warnings, the buyer would still blame me.

So I’ve decided not to sell internationally. Since I’ve never had a problem once the pen leaves the US, I can’t exclude specific “problem” countries. The problem country is my own, so international isn’t worth the aggravation.