Sunday Notes and Links

I spent a lot of time cleaning out pens a couple days ago. Ten pens headed back to storage so needed a good cleaning. I decided to snap a photo of my pen cleaning gear.

Photo of my pen cleaning supplies

The two white bulbs are store brand “ear syringes” picked up at my local drug store. One is cut off to provide a little bigger opening. The bigger blue bulb is still sealed up. I bought it from Goulet Pens while I still had the Ink Drop membership discount since it had a larger capacity. But so far I haven’t been frustrated enough to open it up. Then there’s two empty ink cartridges with their tops cut off. These are used when the syringe doesn’t fit well over the feed. There’s an international and Lamy cartridge in the photo. Oh yea, the paper towels aren’t shown, lots of paper towels. And lots of water.

Some of my favorite reading of the past week…

EdJelly has a hand written review of the Sailor Professional Professional Gear Imperial Black fountain pen.

Inkophile wrote about using a Platinum pen with a “chunky” nib, My Platinum pens all have thin nibs which is my preference but there are alternatives.

JetPens has a post about the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen. I picked up one of these $15 pens last year when I bought a bunch of low cost pens. I just inked it up yesterday.

It’s reviews and pens like these that keep me adding to my accumulation. Inktronics reviewed the Sheaffer Intensity Carbon Fiber Fountain Pen, and quit favorably. So far I’m managing to do it, but it’s tough to resist a carbon fiber pen for under $70.

Anderson Pens posted a review of the Philadelphia Pen Show and also talked about it on their podcast. I’m beginning to pay more attention to these as I hope to attend a show this year – Long Island, Washington D.C., or both,

Finally, some nice fountain pens.

This Week’s Ink: January 26, 2013

After a few weeks without any significant changes in my pens or inks this week saw a significant house cleaning. Ten pens were cleaned and put back in storage leaving only three pens. Of course, three isn’t enough so I inked up four more.

The four new pens all got Pilot Iroshizuku inks. I really like the Fuyu-syogun so I’m trying it in different pens and nib types. This is a departure from my habit of trying to have as many different inks as pens. The Shin-ryoku is a recent sample I ordered in my quest to find a green I like better than all the rest.

The last two pens are desk pens and not part of my daily carry, but this post is titled “This Week’s Ink”.

Photo of this week's inked pens

Links are to my review if there is one, otherwise it’s to the latest post about the pen or ink.

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black (Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun //  Platinum 3776 Century Bourgogne (Fine) – Platinum brown cartridge // Waterman Liaison Cobra (Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (Forest Green) // Conway Stewart Marlborough Vintage (Medium) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun // Pilot Metropolitan (Medium) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun // Edison Huron Grande (Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun // Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Desk Pen (Extra-Fine) – Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz

This week's ink writing samples

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.

Review: Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black

I bought the Sailor Professional Gear Imperial Black Pen back in March 2012. I only recently made it a a daily writer. I’ll get into why that is in a little bit.

Why I Bought It

I bought it because I wanted to add a “Stealth” pen to my accumulation as I’ve always liked them. I think this is one of the best looking stealth pens I’ve seen. I’m not alone. In the short time I’ve had it in public, it’s gotten more comments than any of my other pens. This pen was an impulse purchase as I pretty much decided to buy one the first time I saw pictures of it and bought it soon after.

Just look at it for the reason I bought it.

Photo of the Sailor Pro Gear IB

Where I Bought It & What I Bought

I purchased it from Classic Fountain Pens ( It’s not a custom nib but they do adjust all nibs before shipping. I asked for the 21kt gold fine nib to provide a light to medium ink flow when using light to medium pressure. I ordered a fine nib, which Sailor calls “H-F” (hard fine). Sailor nibs run on the thin side but that was what I wanted. The pen is currently selling for $472.

First Impressions

This is where the pen suffered, although through no fault of its own. I typically research a pen before buying so I know what to expect. I lapsed in this case, or just didn’t pay attention to people’s definition of “large”, and was surprised at the small size of the pen when it arrived. I’m prone to to multiply the effects of missed or exceeded expectations and I did so in this case. Since I was disappointed I put the pen aside after trying it briefly. I wasn’t so unhappy that I considered a return, but I considered it a niche pen for me rather than a daily writer.

Photo comparing pens capped
See the gallery for pen IDs and more comparisons. Click any photo for full-size view.

The reality is that while the pen is a bit shorter than the Sailor 1911 their sections are about the same size. I did some measurements of the Sailor Pro Gear.

  • The capped length of the pen is 5.0685″ (128.74 mm)
  • The uncapped length, nib included, is 4.5555″ (115.71 mm)
  • The posted length, nib included, is 5.821″ (147.85 mm)
  • At it’s widest point (the cap band) the pen is 0.6175″ (15.68 mm). With the clip it’s .6985″ (17.74 mm) across.
  • At it widest point the barrel is about .53″ (13.32 mm)
  • The section is 0.413″ (10.49 mm) wide near the nib (just above the lip that protects the nib) and it tapers to 0.452″ (11.47 mm) at the top of the section

Despite what appears to be high precision, those measurements are probably a little off as I didn’t want to scratch or otherwise damage the pen with the micrometer.

I don’t post my pen caps when writing which does make the pen about as short as I can go and still write comfortably.

Filling System

Sailor used their own proprietary cartridges and converters  The larger opening seems to help the ink flow which has always been great in my Sailor fountain pens. This pen consistently fills the converter with just two complete cycles. The first time it’s nearly full, maybe about 1/3″ of air. The second time the ink is at the top of the converter.

My only complaint is that the converter isn’t a screw-in type. But the fit does feel secure.

There’s metal inside the pen, so use as a eye dropped fill is out of the picture. But to be honest, this isn’t a pen design I’d consider using as an eye dropper fill.

How I Use It

Photo of Sailor Logo

I’ve been using the pen for both long writing sessions and intermittent note taking. It’s a light pen, weighing a reported 21.6 grams so long writing sessions aren’t tiring. Once I convinced my brain that this wasn’t a thin pen I started gripping the pen normally, which for me is a light grip with little pressure. The pen is a joy to write with and I’ve never grown tired using it. As an FYI – “long writing sessions” for me are typically 30 to 60 minutes. By then I either run out of things to write or need a break for non-pen related reasons.

I don’t post any of my pens so everything in this review is with the pen cap unposted. I find holding the pen cap in my left hand helps me concentrate for some reason although a tend to fiddle with it. The Sailor Pro Gear cap performs this function nicely. It’s light , sturdy and not slippery.

I’ve stuck with black inks and gray, it seems only appropriate for this pen.

The Review

The pen was nicely presented in a black, clothed lined box. Like pen, the box and lining are different shades of black. A bottle of black ink and a couple black cartridges are included. A simple but effective presentation that re-enforces the feeling that this is a special pen, although it doesn’t affect how the pen writes.

The Design

The pen feels almost metal to me, although much lighter than a metal pen would be. It’s a matte black resin with a “satinised” finish. The nib and accents are titanium ion plated and Classic Fountain Pens calls the plating “smoky” which I think is a appropriate word to use.

Others have called it a “large” pen which I disagree with, although I don’t consider it small either. But I’ve already discussed the size and my initial reaction to it.

The pen just has the look and feel of one where a lot of consideration was put into the design. The pen is nice and smooth. The polished finish has a metallic feel to me, or maybe aluminum. But like I said, it doesn’t have the weight. Despite the look, I don’t find the pen to be slippery at all. Even the internal threads and metal inside the pen where the barrel screws on are smokey black so the stealth illusion isn’t broken when opening the pen. The only break in the illusion is the top of the converter, which is still the standard silver.

The pen has been in and out of my pen case almost daily for several weeks and used several hours most days. The finish still looks as good as the day I got it. Granted, it’s still a short time in the grand scheme, but I don’t get the impression this pen or its finish is fragile. I don’t abuse my pens, but I don’t pamper them either.

Writing With The Pen

Nib close-up photo
Fine Nib

The ink flow in this pen is great. I didn’t have any problems with either the cartridges or any inks in the converter. No hard starts or skips. The first ink was a cartridge and by the time I closed up the pen and grabbed a piece of paper the nib was ready to write. Well, there was one very minor hiccup I’ll mention when I talk about the inks I used. The line put down is thin but consistent. While the orderly side of my brain would prefer the standard international size, I gladly suppress it when using this pen.

The feel of the 21kt gold nib is smooth. I din’t get any feedback on Rhodia paper, the pen just glides across it leaving the ink behind. I can say the same for other fountain pen friendly paper such as my Black & Red notebook. On slightly rougher paper, such as my Doane pads I can hear the nib as it writes on the paper although I’d hesitate to call it feedback. There’s just a hint of the pen telling me “yea, there is paper here”. It’s not an annoying noise or “singing”, just the sound of nib touching paper. My definition of feedback is resistance, even if its slight, and I don’t feel resistance on anything but the roughest paper. I don’t ever feel the nib biting into paper.

Photo of writing sample

If I hold the very end of the pen and just lay the nib on the paper at a 45 degree angle, so it’s just under its own weight, then drag it across the paper I get an unbroken line which is pretty good in my opinion since it works on any paper I’ve tried. Other pens might do this on Rhodia paper, but fall down with less friendly papers.

Cleaning The Pen

The pen is easy to clean. Now I only used black inks which are generally easy to clean but the pen is free of ink after a couple flushes with the ear syringe. A complete cleaning takes less than two minutes. Other fountain pens may be as easy, but I don’t think it gets easier than this.

Despite the slick appearance I’ve never come close to dropping the pen while cleaning it (unlike my experience with some other pens) and it doesn’t feel slippery. While the black does to attract dust it’s only noticeable in photo closeups and not during use.

Odds & Ends

Once I got past my reaction to the smaller than expected pen I couldn’t put it down. To be honest, I only inked it up at first because I liked the looks. Then I forced myself to use it for a day once I decided to review it. Now I reach for it because I want to use it. This pen will be in the rotation as a standard with black or gray ink.

The pen fits nicely in my shirt pocket. The clip slides over the material easily but holds the pen solidly in the pocket. I like the way the Sailor logo appears right side up when I look down at it in my pocket.

The only thing going against it as a pocket pen is that it takes two full rotations to uncap it. For pens I carry in my shirt pocket I prefer they uncap a little quicker (assuming its not a VP). But this is a nit-pick that others probably wouldn’t share.

Inks Used

Like I mentioned previously, this pen demands black ink. Except for one ink they all performed about the same in the pen. A nice dark line with an even flow and no hard starts, skipping or hesitation.

Sailor Jentle Black cartridge and bottle – The cartridges were unlabeled but I think it’s safe to assume they were Jentle Black like the bottled ink. In any event, they performed the same as the bottle. The flow was good and I would say it was more on the medium end of the “light to medium” ink flow I like and had the nib adjusted for. Drying time was about 8 second on Doane paper and just a bit longer on Rhodia.

J. Herbin Perle Noir – I’d say this was just a little wetter than the Sailor black ink, but not by much and I’d still call the flow medium Drying time was just a bit longer than the Sailor ink.

Irosjizuku Fuyu-syogun ink bottle
Current favorite ink for Sailor Pro Gear IB

Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun (Light Cool Gray) – OK, so gray isn’t black but I wanted to try an Iroshizuku ink and this was the closest to black I could get my hands on. I’d also say the ink has a bluish tint to it. This is the one ink that gave me any sort of problem. I think it was isolated but I did have one hard start while taking notes on Doane paper. This was during several days of use so I think it was just an isolated incident. Maybe some oil from my hand got on the paper. The flow of this ink was on the lighter side. This was the fastest drying ink I used in this pen, taking under 5 seconds on all the paper I used, including Rhodia. It’s great for note taking since it dries so quickly. I can be careless and still stay smudge free. I’ve since been able to get Take-sumi Bamboo Charcoal which should be a blacker ink. But I’m going to wait until the Fuyu-syogun is used up. Of all the inks used in the Pro gear, this is my favorite and I didn’t even know I liked gray.

Aurora Black – I used this last year when I first had the pen so I don’t have specific notes anymore. I remember it to be on the wetter side than the Sailor ink and I smudged it occasionally which leads me to believe it was slower drying than the other inks with this pen.

Wrapping Up

Despite my early disappointment I’ve come to my senses and have grown to appreciate using this pen. It’s been a daily writer for the past three weeks and has never let me down. I look forward to using it. Plus I still think it’s a great looking pen.

I expect it will be in my Weekly Ink for a long time to come. Eventually I’ll pick another pen as my daily writer, but that’s only because I like variation.

Click on any photo to open the gallery view.

Sunday Notes and Links

No “This Week’s Ink” this weekend and an abbreviated Notes & Links. A couple pens went dry but haven’t been re-inked or replaced. On Friday a water pipe broke in an apartment above me and I’ve been mopping and drying since then. Luckily I worked from home of Friday and was able to move all the electronics out of the way of the water. One thing that dig get swamped was my empty box storage closet which included the fountain pen empties. Guess I have an answer to the question of whether I should keep the old boxes, at least for some of them.

I’m almost done with the Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black review. I just need to proof read it and get some photos. Hopefully the sun will still be out later today and I can get some photos.

Now for the links.

Most of you probably already read these sites, but I decided to list the sites I’ve spent the most time reading lately. This isn’t comprehensive, just the sites I been visiting lately, and I hope to put together a more complete list in the future. The link is just to the most recent article I liked, be sure to look around.

Inkdependence recently had a review of Noodler’s Antietam which got added to my want list. It’s similar to two colors I like.

The PenAddict has a website with reviews and weekly links (in addition to his podcast). I wouldn’t be surprised in 100% of you already visit the site. Brad was nice enough to link to several of my posts over time and sent a ton of traffic here (Thanks Brad!). Saturday’s links included one to a review of Noodler’s Lexington Grey. I’ve always liked black inks but have only recently begun to appreciate grey as more than watered down black. Another ink for my want list.

Looking for more to read? Inkophile publishes links to interesting articles nearly every week.

Inktronics is another regular for me. I linked to a pen review last week, but he also does notebook reviews such as the Palomino Luxury Notebook.

Ed Jelly has great hand written reviews. His latest is Diamine Majestic Purple. I don’t have a need for another purple, but I still read and enjoyed the review. Ed just started writing stationary reviews for FPGeeks (congrats Ed!). His first in on the Clairefontaine Classic Side Wirebound Notebook.