Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – February 18, 2018

Sheaffer Balance II Jade Green on a mirror

Well 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.

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