Sunday Notes and Links – January 31, 2016

What I Used

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe against a Nockco Fodderstack XL
Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip in front. A Retro 51 rollerball in a Fodderstack XL was my shirt pocket carry all week.

My favorite fountain pen and ink combination of the past week was the Sailor Regency Stripe with an extra fine nib and Sailor Jentle Black ink in a cartridge. I didn’t use my pens too much this past week but this was in my pocket every day.

I did write a couple pens dry, my Franklin-Christoph Model 20 along with the Conway Stewart Marlborough Vintage and the Bronze Age got a refill of the same ink.

What Others Are (or Aren’t) Using

Matthew, of Nib and Ink, tells us why the Lamy 2000 is his EDC Pen.

Jinnie, of Three Staples, shares the planners and journals she’s using this year.

Todd, at That One Pen, tells us what he doesn’t like.

Bob at My Pen Needs Ink tells us what pens he loves to use.

(No) Website Spotlight

Sunday came around before I could pick a website for this week, so there’s no website in the spotlight this week. InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month) starts tomorrow. Here are a couple links if you’re interested – A Fool With a Pen has 10 Suggestions and there’s a five page thread on FPGeeks which includes potential correspondence.

I plan to catch up with post card responses to those who entered my last giveaway, I’m way behind. If you want to send me a post card or letter you can send it to

Ray Newbery
PO Box 176
East Berlin, CT 06023
United States

I can’t promise a full letter but will add you to my postcard list and will get one out eventually.

Pen Shows & Other News

The next U.S. pen show is the Los Angeles International Pen Show on Feb 11 – 14.

My knowledge of European Pen shows is limited but the next one I know of is in Paris on Feb. 20th, called the Rendez-vous Of Collectors. If you know of one before then feel free to mention it in the comments.

Much of the fountain pen community was all abuzz about the just announced Visconti Homo Sapien Dark Age. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to justify my recent Bronze Age purchase, but while nice, I still prefer either the Bronze or Steel Age pens. I used to really want dark pens, black with rhodium or similar trim, but the novelty seemed to wear off quickly. Now, I may change my mind if I see one in real life.

The Pen Addict podcast has launched the Kickstarter for the live Pen Addict at the Atlanta Pen show, now branded RelayCon Atlanta: The Pen Addict Live. Rewards include notebooks and a video of the live show.

Classic Fountain Pens tweeted that Pelikan Pen Prices are about to go up.

Ink & Pen Notes: Franklin-Christoph Model 20 with GvFC Moss Green

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 with a medium stub nib and GvFC Moss Green ink bottle

I’ve yet to decide what I really think about the Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta with its stub nib. It’s a nice little pen that has a vintage vibe. There’s a lot to like about this pen but this is the second time there’s been excessive ink in the cap and this kind of ruins it for me. This time there was a potential cause, although other pens subjected to the same events survived fine. The pen did bounce around in my computer bag for a couple of days (well protected in a Nockco Sinclair, but it would have been jostled around) which could explain some of the splatter. The two other pens sharing the case were just fine, although with considerably thinner nibs. I’ll have to ink it again and handle it with kid gloves to see if it leaks or splatters with normal use. I said the same thing last time and then promptly forgot when I inked up the pen.

This time around I picked Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green as the ink for the pen. The Model 20 is the vintage green finish so this was a bit of color matching. I inked it up back on December 4th, so it lasted nearly 8 weeks. This is a rather long time for a pen that isn’t stingy with ink which meant I wasn’t using it much. It had some intense competition from other pens I had inked up whenever I was looking for a fountain pen to write with so there were very few long writing sessions.

The converter was down to less than 1/4 full, plus whatever was in the feed when I decided to carry it around in order to give it more attention. Unfortunately after a couple days of travel more ink made it into the cap than down on paper.

The GvFC Moss Green ink was easily flushed from the pen, and the cap, without and residual staining. The cartridge/converter fountain pen was flushed with just a few squirts of the bulb syringe through the feed.

This Model 20 has the Mike Masuyama medium stub nib (steel nib) which is quit nice. I like thin nibs for my everyday writers but like using a stub nib for longer writing sessions. Considering the source it should come a no surprise that the ink flow was smooth and I didn’t have any hard starts or skipping.

The pictures don’t include any nib closeups because I had cleaned the pen before I realized I didn’t get pictures. You can see nib closeups in an earlier ink & pen notes.

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 with M. Stub nib and GvFC Moss Green Ink

Sunday Notes and Links – January 24, 2016

What I Used

Photo of the Edison Menlo Pump Filler with Athena Sepia Ink

My favorite fountain pen and ink combination of the past week was the Edison Menlo Pump Filler with an extra fine nib and filled with Athena Sepia ink. I’ll still claim the Visconti Homo Sapien as my favorite, but if I’m honest I did use the Menlo more this past week. The ink makes all the difference. It flows nicely, even with the thin nib.

I did write two pens dry last week, the Sheaffer Balance and the Pilot Vanishing Point. With 11 fountain pens still inked up I had no need to replace these.

The Pen Addict reviewed the Bic Cristal Ballpoint Pen which brought on waves of nostalgia. I remember buying 12 packs of these before the school year (many, many years ago and technically my parents bought them). I think they also contributed to my hatred of blue ink since they were always blue. I used one this past Friday when I paid the bill to get my car out of the shop. (Not something to connect good memories with the pen.)

What Others Are Using

Tim at Nib Creep shares his tale of woe when a working Parker 50 turned into a non-working Parker 50. How to Ruin a Vintage Pen in Less Than 2 Hours.

InCoWriMo is coming up in February. Paul at Gorgeous Ink shows us the postcards he will be using. I’ve never participated in InCoWriMo but I may copy Paul’s idea to use postcards. I still haven’t replied to all the entries for my giveaway. At the very least I’ll use February to get caught up. As it turns out I bought some of the same postcards as Paul when my first selection of postcards turned out to be fountain pen hostile.

Eivind at The Ink Smudge tells us about his ink rotation and shares his January load out.

John from Pensive wrote about the Pilot 82G that he’s been using for the last six months.

Website Spotlight

Pens! Paper! Pencils! is in the spotlight today. My favorite feature of the site has nothing to do with fountain pens, it’s the sketches that Ian does and posts on a regular basis.

Ian gives his fountain pen ink reviews a unique spin by including an inkling and often include a video of him making the inkling. Naturally there are fountain pen reviews too. His stationery interest extend beyond fountain pens so you’ll find non-fountain pen reviews to. As much as I’d like to, I can’t say these non-fountain pen reviews are a waste of time since they do contribute to my favorite feature.

Ian also writes about some general pen related topics. This week it was about Pilot’s UK Pricing, which sparked some good debate both in the comments and on Twitter.

Pen Shows & Other News

The pens show season kicked off in the US with the Philadelphia Pen Show this weekend. Snow kept at least a couple vendors away, while others successfully traveled great distances to be there. If your stuck in snowy Philadelphia enjoy the pens and the company of pen people. If you’re stuck in snow somewhere else I recommend you follow the advice of former Buffalo Mayor Jimmy Griffin, given during the especially harsh (even for Buffalo) blizzard of ’85, “Stay inside, grab a six-pack and watch a good football game.”

The European pen shows kicked off today with the Southwest Pen Show in the UK.

The next U.S. pen show is the Los Angeles International Pen Show on Feb 11 – 14.

My knowledge of European Pen shows is limited but the next one I know of is in Paris on Feb. 20th, called the Rendez-vous Of Collectors. If you know of one before then feel free to mention it in the comments.

Is this the most expensive fountain pen ever (excluding jewel encrusted specimens)? A Vanishing Point competitor? Fountain Pen + Watch Guts = $105,000 CEO Switchblade. No mention of the filling system. Is it your new Grail Pen?

With the revised format for my Sunday post there’s far fewer links than I had last year. If you still want to get your link fix I’d recommend these sites which publish regular link posts. There are other sites that post links, but I think of the fist two as the ones with both a regular schedule and a large number and variety of links in each post.

On Fountain PensSunday Inklings every other Sunday.

The Well-Appointed Desk publishes Link Love every Wednesday.

Gorgeous Ink and Gentleman Stationer both have started doing more curated Sunday Link posts on a regular basis. The Penman Post has also pen regularly posting a small listing of links since the new year began, they appear on Saturday,

Lastly, thanks to automation, most of what I read gets pushed out to Fountain Pen Links as a link, so if you want a firehose of links it’s there.

Ink & Pen Notes: Sheaffer Balance Oversize with Montblanc Racing Green

Sheaffer Balance Oversize c. 1935 Marine Green with a stub nib and Montblanc Racing Green

The second fountain pen to go dry on me this week is my vintage Sheaffer Balance Oversize (c.1935) in a gorgeous marine green with a custom stub nib and Montblanc Racing Green ink. Montblanc Racing Green used to be on of my Favorite 5 Inks although it was dropped from the latest list. The ink’s appeal to me grows and diminishes over time but I do still like the ink. I find the more time between uses and the more I like it. Maybe I’m just trying to psychologically prepare myself for when I run out of this discontinued ink or make it last longer.

I inked it up back on December 27th so it lasted just over three weeks. The nib isn’t thin and I did use this pen more than a little, but I suspect I only got a partial fill from this lever filler.

Thin nibs are my preference for everyday writers and this nib isn’t thin. I do like stub nibs and this is a nice one, but it’s not a pen I use everyday or when I want to write quickly. I mainly use it at night when I’m writing to relax. It’s not a factory stub, but it was stubbed before it joined my accumulation.

The fountain pen and ink performed well right up until it went dry. There was some nice variation between the horizontal and vertical strokes but there’s not really a lot of shading from the Montblanc Racing Green.

Cleaning a lever filler is never quick and easy, but as far as lever fillers go this as quick to clean up. It was less than 10 minutes of tedium to remove all traces of the Montblanc Green.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize will be returned to storage since I have plenty of other pens inked up. The pen is fun to use and looks great, but it’s not a daily writer.

Fountain Pens Worth Replacing

With all the favorite pens lists from myself and others I decided to look at pens I really value. Not if they are a good value from a financial perspective, fountain pens that I value so much that I would replace with an exact copy it if I lost it. I’m not going to list all my pens, just my favorites and any others that make the cut into the replaceable category. If they aren’t listed here then they aren’t replaceable.

The question is simple: Would I replace the pen exactly as I got it for the same price that I paid? Fountain pen prices change, inflation happens and pens become unavailable. For simplicity I ignore all that. I also assume I only lost that one pen, it’s replacement competes with what I already own and every other fountain pen I could buy. So here goes:

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ink Bottle

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age: Hell yes, I’d sell a ~kidney~ as many pens as necessary to quickly replace the pen. I’d also pay full list price and any price increase if it was necessary.

Franklin-Christoph Model 66

Franklin-Christoph Model 66: Yes, in a heartbeat. I have the basic black model with an extra fine nib. F-C has since released additional acrylics including Antique Glass (aka the Coke bottle pen) which was all the rage this year. Not for me, I’d stick with basic black. The pen is a workhorse and a fixture on my desk.

Sheaffer Balance Aspen with Sheaffer Skrip Gray Ink Bottle

Sheaffer Balance Aspen LE: Yes, if I could. Availability would be a problem since mine was mint. But if I could I would. I have two other Balance IIs with similar nibs which would ease the pain of this loss and keep me from wanting to spend more than what I did pay, or to buy one that’s less than mint. Neither of those other Balance IIs would be automatically replaced if I lost one of them, I like the Aspen just a little more.

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)

Pilot Vanishing Points: Mostly yes. I’ll deal with these as a group. I would replace both my XXXF and left oblique nib units if they were lost or damaged. I’d also replace the Cherry Bamboo barrel (which is birchwood, not bamboo) if it was lost. I like the Maplewood but it was a Limited Edition and has a LE price. It was released before the Bamboo models so while I’d want to replace it I’d pick a less expensive variant with a wood barrel.

Edison Huron Grande Extra Fine Nib and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE ink

Edison Huron Grande: Yes. This was a custom pen (Edison Signature Series) and I’d be tempted to replace it with different material. But after consideration I really like the red, white and blue flecks. It’s a nice contrast to my other desk pen, the F-C Model 66 in formal black. Plus it has a slight translucence so I can see the ink level.

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LE

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe: Yes. This was a tough decision because it’s an expensive pen. I had a Sailor extra fine nib installed when I purchased the pen. This isn’t a factory option so replacement wouldn’t necessarily be easy. The nib would be a key in the pen replacement. It’s a fairly stiff nib that writes great and works well with the pen in my hand. This is one of the thinnest nibs that I have in a pen that I find suitable for very, very long writing sessions.

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann extra fine nib with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sample

Pelikan M805 Stresemann: Yes. This is a past member of my favorite 5 list. The nib got it kicked off the list. Even so, the M800/M805 size is perfect for me. I would check the secondary market and try to avoid paying the same price but eventually I would give in and replace it at the same price. As for the nib – I plan to have it slimmed down at a pen show in 2016. It’s not a bad nib so I think the best course of action is to have a discussion about it rather than send it off with instructions. Any replacement would probably get the same treatment. Another M805 design wouldn’t be a suitable replacement, this is it.

Edison Menlo Punp Filler with Montblanc Toffee Brown bottle

Edison Menlo: Yes. This was another tough choice. I have to admit, if I actually lost his pen I may prove to be a liar and not replace it. It’s a Edison Signature Line pen with a unique filling system which means it’s pricey. But I like the large ink capacity and it’s a good size for my hand. So it made the list. Like the Huron Grande it’s a custom pen and I could change the acrylic. I’m more likely to do it with this pen but I do really like the cinnamon acrylic and would probably keep it.

Lamy 2000: No. I got this at a significant discount but did need to have the nib tuned. Even so, I still spent less than typical retail. I have a tendency to rotate this pen when writing (more than other pens) and this nib has a very small sweet spot. Sometimes I’m “in the zone” and it’s a great writing experience. Other times I find myself fighting with the pen. It’s those fights that would keep me from replacing the pen. I have too many other choices. I listed this one because it started off as a “yes” but then I realized that while I might replace it at the same low price that I originally paid, I wouldn’t go looking for it and I might skip the deal if I had my eyes on another pen or no money in the pen budget.

Pilot Custom 823: No. This is one of my favorite five modern fountain pens yet I wouldn’t replace it if I lost it. The pen is comfortable and I love the way it writes. But it’s expensive and I now have comparable pens that I find more aesthetically pleasing. I would consider a model with a different color and trim, if it existed.

History

I’ve only lost one fountain pen that I tried replacing. It was a Bexley Submariner (not the Grande) in a speckled orange acrylic that I lost years ago. I spent some time looking for a replacement because I really liked that pen but it was out of production by then. At the time I had far fewer fountain pens and wouldn’t buy one today if it became available (unless the price was right and a wave of nostalgia washed over me). I also misplaced (for a couple years) a yellow Lamy Safari. Since I had other Safaris I didn’t consider replacing it.

Wrapping Up

I was a bit surprised that I only came up with eight or nine fountain pens (depending whether or not the second VP nib unit counts as it’s own pen) that I would replace out of the 150 or so in my accumulation. I’m not sure what it means. Bad choices? Maybe, in some cases yes, but mostly I think not.

I hate repeating myself or doing things a second time, so buying the exact pen a second time goes against the grain. My tendency is to change things up, even just a little. So from that point of view finding as many as 8 surprised me a bit. I guess I’ve come up with my next favorites list or my core group of fountain pens. If I’m willing, even eager, to buy the exact same thing all over again I must like it.