Always Inked

With over a dozen pens inked as the year began I considered joining those that made resolutions to have fewer pens inked at one time. But I stopped making resolutions long ago and there’s no sense making one I know I’m going to break. Instead I’ll concentrate on why they’re inked and not worry about the number. At least until I start flushing unused ink down the drain or having to unclog pens.

My last “Always Inked” post contained just two pens, both desk pens. I make sure to write with each inked pen at least once a week and if it’s hard to get going I flush it out. So one of those desk pens was put on the shelf late last year after several hard starts. But now there’s four always inked pens.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Desk Pen is still always inked with Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz. The eye dropper conversion holds a lot of ink and holds the #2 spot in my Favorite 5 modern pens list. It’s been refilled but it hasn’t been flushed out since August and it writes great every time I pick it up. I admit it would be a good idea to clean it out by now. Maybe the next time it needs a refill.

Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz
Franklin-Christoph Model 66 with R&K Blau-Schwarz

The other three always inked pens are all Kaweco Sport fountain pens. While good writers they are always inked because of their size. The AL Sport is always in my pants pocket (unless I’m writing with it) and I’ve been using up the Kaweco Blue cartridges in it.

The red Kaweco AC Sport has Kaweco red ink in it and the Kaweco Classic Sport has a Kaweco green cartridge. These pens fit perfectly on the ends of my six pen case, making it an eight pen case. This gives me two distinct and bright colors for marking up documents at work or when I need to make a note stand out. This relieved me of the stress of having to pick two pens with thin nibs for a couple of bright colors. They aren’t pens I use a lot (well, frequently but for only a short time) but they haven’t had any starting or clogging issue after two months

Three Kaweco Sports
AL Sport/AC Sport/Classic Sport


This Week’s Favorite

Sheaffer Custom Legacy and R&K Salix ink

It was time to flush out the Sheaffer Custom Legacy with R&K Salix today. The pen went dry just as I hit the two week limit I have for Iron Gall inks. This is the pen I kept reaching for this past week and it was a clear favorite.

The ink is a little slow to dry so I had a couple smudges in my work notes, but nothing too bad. Once dry the iron gall based ink is water proof.

The extra fine nib does resemble a nail but it is smooth and problem free. It puts down a consistent line with a light touch. The inlaid nib retains ink so it’s slow to evaporate, allowing longer pauses while writing. A trait I value when taking notes at work.

The pen has an aerometric (squeeze) converter which held enough ink for a week of light use and a second week of heavier use.

As I look to thin my accumulation I’m evaluating each pen I use to determine if it’s a keeper or not. This is a clear keeper based on both looks and performance.

Writing sample of the pen and ink
Writing Sample

My Sheaffer Accumulation

I was shocked when I recently noticed my Sheaffer accumulation had grown to 19 pens, both modern and vintage. I bought my first Sheaffer fountain pen back in 2004. Two of them actually, a Sheaffer Legacy II and a Sheaffer Legacy Heritage, both purchased from the clearance section at Levenger.

I didn’t really like the pens. The touchdown converter on the Legacy II confused me at the time. I also didn’t like the nibs but in retrospect that was because they were wetter and wider than I was accustomed to. So the pens ended up getting neglected as did the brand. I used both pens recently and the experience was much better. They were the exact same pens so it was me that changed.

At my first pen show in March 2013 I saw some vintage Sheaffer Balances but I didn’t buy my first vintage Sheaffer until May. Since then my accumulation of Sheaffers has reached what I should start calling a collection. Although it still lacks focus beyond Sheaffer.

There’s a lot about Sheaffers I really shouldn’t like. I like a good old fashioned nib that can be seen in all it’s glory. I don’t like inlaid nibs or even conical nibs nearly as much. Except on Sheaffers. Maybe it’s because Sheaffer is synonymous with inlaid and conical (Triumph) nibs. It helps a lot that these nibs are great to write with. I’m also not a fan of two-tone nibs yet they seem to fit in on these classic pens.

So here’s the current collection (Click the photos for full size):

Six Sheaffer vintage pens
Six Sheaffers – 3 Balance Full Size, a Balance Junior and 2 Balance Oversize
Another six vintage Sheaffers
Six Sheaffers – Craftsman Tip-Dip, 2 PFM I, a Snorkel, a Triumph and a Triumph Sentinel Deluxe

I liked the vintage Sheaffers so much I started adding some modern ones.

Seven modern Sheaffers
Six modern Sheaffers: Balance Aspen, Custom Legacy, Intensity, Legacy Heritage, Legacy I, Legacy I, and a still boxed VFM

Three of my favorite pens are Sheaffers:

My favorite Sheaffers
3 Favorites: Balance Aspen – Balance Oversize – Balance Junior

The Sheaffer Balance Aspen is a modern pen based on the classic design. The pen is beautiful. Despite being a thin nib guy I really love the medium nib on this. If I can fix the skipping problem it will make the favorite 5 modern pens. The green Sheaffer Balance Oversize is my #2 favorite vintage pen. The custom stub nib is just a little wide for my personal preference as a daily writer but great when I do use it. That ugly, discolored (it started as Pearl & Black) Junior is my favorite vintage pen. When posted the pen is comfortable in my hand and the custom fine stub is great.

My first vintage pen was an Esterbrook, soon followed by a Parker Vacumatic. But Sheaffer did sneak up on me and claimed the top spot as my favorite vintage pen brand. The modern Sheaffers are rather good too.

Nib Notes: Esterbrook #1314 Flexible Stub

Esterbrook 1314 nib to nib

I’ve been accumulating Esterbrook nibs since discovering them early last year. There’s some I’ve never used and I want to remedy that this year. After spending some time debating which nib to use I decided to just start with the lowest number and work my way up. So I’ll begin with the Esterbrook #1314 Flexible Stub.

The Esterbrook #1314 is one of the least common nibs making it it the second most expensive Esterbrook nib. Since it had the word “flexible” in the name, and flex nibs are lost on me I wasn’t actively looking for one. When browsing eBay  I cam across a lot of nibs, which included two 1314s and a couple other nibs I didn’t have. I ended up winning the auction for less than $6 per nib. This also gave me a chance to compare two similar nibs – did age affect them differently?

The 1314 is a “Dura-Crome” nib which means the steel was rolled over to form the nib and there’s no tipping material. Esterbrook stubs are also what’s referred to as left-oblique or left-footed oblique nibs. I’ve seen this nib described as being for “social use and manuscript writing“.

Esterbrook #1314 side view

For swappable nibs, and because I can have multiple nibs with the same grind I use my own inventory numbers. In the this article along with the writing samples and pictures you’ll see the number E005 and E006 referenced. This is just my assigned number to keep them straight and doesn’t mean anything beyond that.

To my untrained eye the nibs look nearly alike. The E006 nib seems a little rougher on the bottom of the nib where the steel is rolled over. This might be the roughness I’m having with the nib since holding it at a higher angle results in it being smoother.

Flex writing is a skill I don’t have, even in a small dose so I’m not a good tester of flex. But this is a steel nib and while pressing down does spread the tines and vary line width it takes a lot of pressure. I would get fatigued pretty quickly. The rougher E006 nib also catches more on the paper when I apply pressure to flex.

The E005 nib came with the box and if I remember right was billed as “NOS” and it looks like it it could be. The other nib also appears in good condition without any staining but looks a little more worn on the threads,

Using the same ink in both pens would have provided a good comparison, but would have been boring. So I picked two different Iroshizuku inks.


The E005 nib was pretty forgiving when used on courser paper, including some cotton fiber paper. At least when used as a standard stub, not attempting any flex. This nib was fun to use as a plain old stub, without trying any flex writing. It’s a wider nib that I’m used to so it’s not something I’d use for something like note taking at work or other places where I usually write fast and small. I can see myself using it with a brighter ink, such as the Yu-yake for more casual writing.

The E006 nib was more problematic on rougher paper and I didn’t even attempt trying it on the cotton fiber paper. If this specific nib was my only copy I probably wouldn’t use it that mush. Only when I was using a nice smooth paper and when I was willing to write slower. That smooth paper and slow writing wouldn’t be for flex, it would be to avoid biting into the paper when used as a regular stub. I typically use a light touch but this nib likes and even lighter touch than is typical for me.

It’s not that the E006 nib was terrible. If it’s all I had I might blame my inexperience and write slower, since slower writing tends to keep me more focused and concentrating on using the nib consistently. But it’s also more fatiguing. Having the better performing nib let’s me know it’s not me, it’s the nib,

Writing Sample

Double-click to get full size photo. Paper is a Maruman Septcouleur wire bound notebook which is a smooth paper.

Esterbrook #1314 Writing Sample

Photos are with the pen inked up.

Sunday Notes and Links

The New Year’s Day grab bags were sent out Saturday. I was happy with the way things turned out. WordPress put the scheduled post up on time and the winners were subscribers to the blog (at least I assume they are since the entries came in so fast. Plus I was able to remove the form before a fifth entry came in and I had to tell someone they lost.

As for the TWSBI 540 (and siblings) vs. the Lamy Safari (and siblings) poll the TWSBI 540 and “both” tied for popularity with 16 votes each. The Lamy Safari had 7 votes.

While Connecticut winter can get cold I’ve never had frozen ink until now, maybe I was lucky or didn’t order ink in winter. This week some ink stayed in the mailbox overnight. I wasn’t even thinking about freezing when I opened it about an hour after bringing it in, but there was still some frozen ink in there. So I asked about it on the FPGeeks forum. Assuming the bottle didn’t break the consensus was to keep it unopened until it thawed and then it should be OK. And to pay better attention to the weather forecast.

The record colds that froze my ink was also fodder for the press. The local paper offered this along with other advice for dealing with the cold.

Some advice for dealing with the cold

Translation: It’s time for me to move to Florida.

Most of these sites had multiple articles that I found to be interesting reads, so be sure to browse the sites.

A new pen blog, The Daily Carry, kicks off with An Accidental Review of the Nock Co. Brasstown

I use card stock cut to fit baseball card protectorsheets in a three ring binder for my swabs. But I like this idea from the pen addict. I may try the same concept for nib writing samples.

Camlin No:47 Piston Filler Fountain Pen at Write To Me Often

Kaweco ART Sport Fountain Pen – Alabaster Finish at The Clicky Post which also brings news that these hard to find (at least in the US) pens may be going away

The Pilot Kakuno gets a photo post at KMPN and a review at My Pen Needs Ink

2013 The Pen year in Review – Anderson Pens. It was a good year, based on vintage pens acquired.

Ultramarine Sheaffer Intensity Fountain Pen is reviewed at Inkdependance

TWSBI Vac 700 reviewed at That One Pen

Lamy Pur Fountain Pen at No Pen Intended

Simply Red: A Review of the Franklin-Christoph M27 SE at A Fool With A Pen

Fountain Pens and Inks, Part 2 at DannyBoy Writes

Pen Review: Namiki (Pilot) Falcon Acrylic at The Pen Habit

Ink P0rn: Beautiful ink bottles at These Beautiful Pens

Tale of a Vandal Notebook User: Going Indie, Part 3 #Chronodex at Peaceable Writer. I somehow missed this when it came through my feed but luckily The Pen Addict caught it.

Ink Reviews

Diamine Eau de Nil at Pens! Paper! Pencil!

Pelikan Edelstein Topaz at The Pen Habit

Diamine Ancient Copper at The Unroyal Warrant

Diamine Ancient Copper at Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Diamine Registrar’s Ink at