Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 25, 2018

The three newly inked pensAnother week has come to a close. This one teased us with a taste of spring. The temperature reached into the 60’s for a couple of days, allowing for open windows, fresh air, and sitting on the patio to write. Then the trifecta of rain, sleet, and snow arrived the next day.

My fountain pen usage increased this past week considerably, at least when compared to recent weeks. Both remaining Sheaffer Balance II pens were written dry early in the week. Since then my fountain pen usage was split between my Kaweco Brass Sport (extra fine nib and Kaweco black ink), and the Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche (XXXF nib and Pilot Red Ink). Both use ink cartridges.

I did ink up three new pens on Saturday. This year I’ve been picking three pens around a theme, although this time I cheated and picked three pens, then I looked for a theme. All I came up with was “favorites.” That was easier to sell as a theme than the more honest “Pens and inks I want to use right now.”

The Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age, newly returned from having its bent extra fine nib repaired, with Montblanc “The Beatles” ink. I’m hoping the purple still pops with the extra fine nib.

The Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (medium nib) was filled with Athena Sepia. This breaks with my tradition of only using new inks with this pen. While the ink is new to the pen, I’ve used it enough to make it a favorite.

The Montblanc Meisterstück Ultra Black LeGrand, with its oblique medium nib, was filled with the only ink its ever known, Montblanc Bordeaux.

Last week I mentioned the complete failure of my paper planner attempt this year. I’ve gone to the opposite size extreme and pulled out a Doane Large Idea Book, and have been using that as a planner/desk notebook. I still use an index card every night to plan out the next day. It’s too soon to really know, but this seems to be working. I do any “planning” right in with my daily notes. This is similar to what I did (although in a steno sized Diane notebook) several years ago, so I have high hopes. Cleaning and re-arranging my desk did free up the space needed for the over-sized notebook.


Recap: LA Pen Show – The Well-Appointed Desk

Removing One Notebook – The Ink Smudge


Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 18, 2018

Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green on a mirrorWell now, it’s been a while since I’ve posted here. The month is half over, and this is the first post in February. I avoided every saying these Trail Logs were weekly or always on Sunday, But that was to allow me some flexibility with limited time. I expected to put up at least one post a week. I never expected to go silent, but I did. Hopefully, I’ll be more active, but no promises. As it is, I had a rare case of insomnia Friday night (technically Saturday morning as I write this), so I decided I might as well get up and do something. I poured some bourbon and started writing this.

The good news is that a couple of pens were written dry this past week, despite my limited fountain pen use. The Jade Green Sheaffer Balance II with Sheaffer Emerald Green was the first to go dry. It was less than a month, and the other two Balance IIs are still going strong, which proves to me that I have an affinity for green.

The Lamy 2000, with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE, also went dry. It’s a great pen with one of my favorite inks, and a Mike Masuyama tuned nib. So, I can’t fathom why it took me over six months to write it dry.

My fountain pen and stationery usage have been abysmal in February. I’ve been using pens for notes and checklists but not much more. I think the draft of this article is the first “sit down to write” fountain pen usage of the month. (The Sheaffer Balance II Aspen with Sheaffer Gray ink.)

I haven’t journaled at all this month. I suspect this contributed to my insomnia since I find it a relaxing way to end the day. By doing it at night, it also contributes to a routine that leads to sleep. So I’ll get back to it tonight.

I’ve completely stopped using the Hobonichi Weeks. After a couple of months, it still hadn’t become a habit. I gravitated to using an index card to plan the next day. That’s not great either, but it is a habit. I liked the Weeks because it was easy to carry around. I did carry it about, but I can’t remember the last time I used it out of the house.


The “Dream Pen” by Wancher has been getting a lot of attention in the fountain pen community. It’s the type of Kickstarter Project that causes me concern.

First, their Kickstarter page says “Most Funded Fountain Pen.” It’s not. There are still two weeks left, and the exchange rate may fluctuate, but the Visionnaire was over $320,000 while the Dream Pen is still well under $300,000 (although there’s still about ten days left). The pens don’t compare, but the statement is wrong as it stands today.

The Urushi versions start at $385 which is more than I’m personally comfortable with on Kickstarter. (The pen is priced in Yen so that the conversion rate may cause price changes.) This project was pretty much a non-starter for me, even if I was in the market for an Urushi pen because it’s above my comfort level. (The basic ebonite pens are less expensive, but it’s the Urushi and Maki-e that make this project attractive.)

It seems that late Kickstarter delivery is the rule, rather than the exception. One of the reasons that the price is above my comfort level is I expect this project to be a victim of success and miss the delivery deadlines.

There are a few things that argue against late delivery on this project. They are an established company, so selling pens isn’t new to them. They also limit the total number of harder to make Maki-e and Urushi pens. This does imply that they thought about ways to avoid being too successful.

There were numerous reviews on pen blogs as the Kickstarter launched. This could mean a well-run company. But I always take a skeptical (if not outright negative) view when companies want my money. This smacks of an orchestrated marketing campaign, which in my experience often has little to do with reality. Were the review pens given extra care or inspection before being sent out? Will the production pens be given the same care?

I don’t have the answers, and the pens will probably be fine, if not great. If I were in the market for an Urushi or Maki-e pen, I’d wait, and see what the final results are, even if it means both waiting and paying more. For me, it’s too much money for too many unknowns.

One of the reasons I’m always hesitant on Kickstarter is the late deliveries. I’m still waiting on my Hippo Notebook (July 2017 delivery date). There’s no maleficence, and many have been delivered. The options I picked have had a bunch of production issues. I made the mistake of adding the paper unlocked with a stretch goal. So, it seems to have had less QC. New KS rule for me, never pick a stretch goal that’s added to the project after it began.

The Pen Addict 2018 RelayCon Kickstarter is still going on with over two weeks still left. They’ve broken their stretch goal and will include a trip to the Toronto Pen Show, along with the Atlanta Pen Show. Kickstarter doesn’t necessarily work well in explaining this type of project. The delivery dates are spread through the year (since some rewards are videos done at the pen shows at different times of the year). They will deliver the videos and cases throughout the year. I think historically the videos are 1 to 2 weeks after the show. While I’d never guarantee a KS meets their delivery deadline, this isn’t their first rodeo, and I’m pretty confident that the deadlines will be met.


How To Photograph A Fountain Pen: Light (Part 1) // Fountain Pen Love

Inner Tube System // Crónicas Estilográficas

My Crown jewels // Scottie’s Fountain Pen Doodle

My Humble Art Supplies // The Finer Point

Personalised Stationery Notebook // Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Philadelphia Pen Show Recap // On Fountain Pens

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 28, 2018

This week’s big fountain pen news for me was the return of my Visconti Homo Sapien with its bent nib now straightened out. (I sent it to Dan Smith/The Nibsmith) I’ve yet to ink up the pen, although the nib seems fine. It’s taken all my willpower to keep from inking it up, but I want to use my Sheaffers a bit more, and once inked the Visconti will monopolize my fountain pen use.


I enjoy using the Sheaffer Balance IIs, but it hasn’t been a smooth road. I’ve had to prime the Sheaffer Gray ink in the Balance II Aspen a couple of times. It’s been lining to the converter. The Jade Green Balance II also had to be primed once, but it’s been mostly fine. All three Balance IIs are a joy to use when the ink flows.

I fell out of the habit of using my Hobonichi Weeks. The was partly because I didn’t have much need to use it, and somewhat because I fell back to my old habit of using an index card. I’m hoping to get back on the Weeks train this coming week.


Karst Stone Paper 2018 Planner Review – My Pen Needs Ink – This is the first stone paper review that I recall giving good marks to fountain pen usage.

My Workhorse Pens: Montblanc 146 — The Gentleman Stationer

Pen & Ink Pairing: Jan ’18 – Hand Over That Pen

Travel: TY Lee of Taiwan — Alt. Haven

Views of Life Behind the Shop – Wonder Pens – Life Behind a Stationery Shop

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 21, 2018

Two fountain pens were written dry this past week. As expected, the Sailor King of Pen went dry soon after Sunday’s Trail Log went up. I resisted the urge to refill it with the gorgeous Montblanc Psychedelic Purple ink. The Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver went dry on Friday. I liked the Montblanc Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Encre du Desert ink although the name is far too long. Montblanc just calls it “Brown” on the back of the box. Me? I had to create a Text Expander snippet. I like brown inks, so while I do like this well-behaved ink, there’s nothing about it that rises above all other browns (except the price).

The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with its extra fine nib has proven perfect for my Hobonichi Techo and other places where a really fine line is ideal. So rather than retiring it to change up the theme, it’s in my pen holder for continued use. It will be used regularly, but only for short, specific purposes. So, it will most likely be around awhile.

I picked a new theme and inked up three more fountain pens. The theme is simply “Sheaffer” for both pen and ink. I have more Sheaffers than any other brand in my accumulation, so there was a lot to choose from. I decided to drill into the theme and picked my three Sheaffer Balance II fountain pens and my three old-stock Sheaffer inks.

The Aspen Balance II is filled with Sheaffer Gray. The Crimson Glow Balance II got Sheaffer Peacock Blue while the Jade Green Balance II is matched with Sheaffer Emerald Green. The Emerald green is the oldest of the inks and dates from the 1980s while the Grey and Peacock Blue inks date from the 1990s or early 2000s.

I do lack nib variation, with nothing wider than a fine nib. But I enjoy the Sheaffer nibs which makes up for it.

Three Balance IIs and some Sheaffer old-stock ink


An Anecdote Of Two Pens – Hand Over That Pen // Great story!

A peek at the office pen cup. | Fountain pen blog // I always like seeing what others use in day-in and day-out.

Fountain Pen Review: Wing Sung 618 Demonstrator – The Well-Appointed Desk // When this review showed up in my feed the first photo I saw was with the Lamy style box so I thought “Lamy Safari knockoff”. Ana mentions it’s a Parker 51 copy which was harder for me to see. The clip and hooded nib are Parker-like but it reminds me more of a TWSBI, An interesting inexpensive pen.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 14, 2018

I had mixed success with fountain pen and stationery related activities this past week. I didn’t write any fountain pens dry, although one is close. My favorite pen & ink combo, by a wide margin, was the Sailor King of Pen with Montblanc “The Beatles” Psychedelic Purple ink. The medium nib does an excellent job of showing off the purple ink. It’s nearly dry and won’t last another week which will present me with a problem. My plan was to ink only a couple pens at a time (excluding purpose-inked pens), so I could cycle through them quickly and have a nice mix of pens and inks. But I want to reload and keep this combination going. The KOP is one of my most comfortable pens, and I like the bright purple ink. I’ll have to decide soon.

Sailor King of Pen Pro Gear and Montblanc "The Beatles" ink bottle

Another success has been my Hobonichi Weeks paper planner. I’ve been using it consistently, and I’ve been happy with it. It’s easy enough to carry with me all the time, at least in winter with accommodatingly large coat pockets.

My other Hobonichi, the Techo, has been a failure. While I started off using it as a morning journal it always felt like a made-up reason to justify the purchase. This week I missed a couple of mornings and didn’t miss it. I’ll keep it as a log book of sorts and maybe find a use for it.

One of the reasons I have such a hard time finding a use for the Tech is because I do use a Nanami Seven Seas Writer as a journal. This has developed into a nightly habit, so while I did skip it one night this week I missed it enough to write in it the next morning. That was the nail in the Hobonichi coffin. If there’s journal type stuff I want to write in the morning, I’ll simply use the Seven Seas Writer.


Inside One of America’s Last Pencil Factories – The New York Times – Some good photography.

Pens of the moment – paperinkplan – I always like seeing what other people use day-to-day.

The New Year diary. | Fountain pen blog – The part I found most interesting is the use of a single fountain pen with this diary, for the entire year. This is something I couldn’t do. I’d either run out of ink or not have the pen handy when I wanted it. And even if I didn’t have those problems, I would spend the year in fear that I would.

The Bullet Journal-Workshop (Pt. 6): Moving from A5 to A6 and combining a Weekly Planner – Scrively – note taking & writing (Video)

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – January 7, 2018

Even though Monday was a holiday it feels like it was a long, long week. I know this is New England and the current weather isn’t unusual. But, it’s early in the season and this string of below freezing days and night is getting to me. Rumor has it we’ll get above freezing on Monday just before some snow returns.

I did use my fountain pens more than what’s been typical. I like having just three pens inked up to pick from when I want to do some writing. I didn’t empty any fountain pens, but I did finish off a notebook. It’s a large (8.5” x 11”) Staples Sugarcane Paper wire bound notebook. I started it in July 2014 and used it on & off for the first draft of posts for this blog, along with other writing. The last page was the draft of this post. Like most notebooks that don’t have work-related notes, it will head in the trash bin now that it’s served its purpose.

Staples Sugarcane Notebook and three pens

The thin paper was challenging at times since I like to use both sides of the paper and wouldn’t pick pens/ink based on what I wanted to use, not which would work best. I’m fairly tolerant of show-through, but I was often distracted when writing on the back side to the paper. Even more so, it was hard to see the lines.

I didn’t see any of these when I was at Staples in December, but I do have one that I picked up on sale months (years?) ago.


Benu Pens Briolette | Fountain Pen Review – The Pen Habit

Great Pen Stores: My Visit to Vanness Pens – The Gentleman Stationer

How I got into Fountain Pens: Jinhao to Montblanc – On Fountain Pens

Crónicas Estilográficas: Madrid 2017 (II)

The wrap-ups continued in the new year…

2017 Cheers and Tears from the Well-Appointed Desk

2017 Pen Wrap Up from Hand Over That Pen

Pen, nib and ink rotations 2017 from Analog(ue) Obsesses which also has the Pelikan Class Photo 2018 — Analog(ue) Obsessed

Currently Inked – January 2018

I put off inking up any additional fountain pens in December and was down to two inked pens as the month drew to a close. Last year I kept my pens inked until I wrote them dry, which would often be months. (There were a couple of early dismissals for poor performance.)

This year I’m going to try changing that up a bit, starting now. I’ll ink some pens for specific tasks and keep them inked until they run dry or stop serving their purpose. Then I’ll pick three pens around a theme and ink them up with ink also picked around a theme. I’ll still haven’t decided how often I’ll replace the themed pens. I expect to flush them before they go dry, but I think two weeks will be a little quick, and a month is more likely.

Currently Inked January 2018 capped pens

Currently Inked January 2018 uncapped pens

Currently Inked January 2018 writing samples

So, first is the purpose inked pens:

The Pilot Vanishing Point Guilloche was loaded with an XXXF nib and a Pilot red ink cartridge for use in my Hobonichi Weeks Planner. The thin nib is ideal for the thin paper, and since the thin line uses little ink, it’s relatively quick drying. My Hobonichi cover has a pen loop built in. While I don’t typically like pen loops built into notebooks and considered cutting this one off, I’m now using it.

The Lamy 2000 is the one inked pen carried over from 2017 will serve as my desk pen until it goes dry. That’s “desk pen” as in the pen that’s always sitting in the pen stand on my desk that’s ready to use. I wanted a desk pen as in the style of pen, but I put my Esterbrook inkwells someplace for safekeeping they are so safe I couldn’t find them. My goal is to find them before the Lamy 2000 goes dry.

I shined up the Kaweco Brass Sport with its extra fine nib and loaded it with a Kaweco Black cartridge. I like patina, but when I pulled it out of the case it seemed to have crossed the line between patina and grunge, so the decision was a spur of the moment decision. It will travel as my pocket pen. Based on my history carrying a Kaweco Sport the pen won’t get much use.

My theme for the three inked for fun fountain pens is “Sailor,” and the theme for the ink is “Montblanc.” True, those are brands which may stretch the definition of “theme” but calling them themes gives me more flexibility in the future.

The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe with its extra fine nib got Montblanc Albert Einstein ink. I was concerned that the ink wouldn’t be dark enough for the thin nib, but it’s fine.

The Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen got one of my newest inks, Montblanc “The Beatles” Psychedelic Purple. The KOP has become a favorite for my new inks and especially for my bright new inks.

It’s been over 18 months since I inked up the Sailor 1911 Sterling Silver fountain pen. Like the Kaweco it also needed polishing, but it was much easier to polish than the brass. I inked it up with another new ink (although released some months ago). Montblanc Antoine de Saint-Exupery Encre du Desert is one of the longer ink names. The back of the ink box solves that problem by just calling it “brown.”

The themed pens will provide a nice mix of nibs and ink color.