My fountain pen usage continues to be what I consider average for me. I keep trying to get back into the journaling habit but continue to fail. Actually, I’ve fallen out of several habits lately, but that’s a different story.
No pens went dry the past two weeks, and there was one new arrival which was immediately inked up. My most used pen was the Fisher of Pens Hermes, although I did try to give the other seven inked pens a chance.
The new fountain pen is the Esterbrook Estie with the optional MV adapter for Esterbrook nibs. The pen arrived Thursday afternoon, so I haven’t had much time with it. My first impressions are mixed. I’ll try to pull my thoughts together for a This Just In post later in the week.
My fondness for thin nibs is not a secret. But, there was a long period where I was actively anti-medium. For example, if I wanted a different nib for the sake of variety, I’d go for a broad nib over a medium, even though a medium would be closer to my preference.
I have no doubt that this cost me money. Most of these broad nibs were rarely used and were sold or ground into something else (usually thinner). I continued this anti-medium bias, picking a broad nib for variety even though I knew I wouldn’t use it enough.
My first fountain pens were medium nibs because that was the only option I saw on the shelves, and I didn’t know any better. After discovering, and falling in love with thin nibs, I began to view medium nibs as a compromise that was forced upon me, and I resented them. One feature of a compromise is that it has something everyone can hate, so anti-medium became even more ingrained than it should have.
In late 2015 my anti-medium attitude began to dissipate. I bought the Cherry Bamboo Vanishing Point with a medium nib, although I did have it ground to a left oblique. Not a dull compromise medium, but a medium none the less. And I liked the nib. Later that year I picked up boring medium nib on a Franklin-Christoph Model 20 and liked it. I did consider a broad, or another style nib, but I finally accepted I wouldn’t use something wider than a medium.
The in 2016 all my bias melted away. I purchased seven pens with nibs, of which five were mediums, and a sixth was a medium oblique. This was the year I also bought the Sailor King of Pen, which has a medium as the thinness nib option. I knew the Sailor bespoke nibs would be lost on me and not worth the price (to me). The KOP and medium nib are now among my favorites and is nearly always inked.
In 2017 I bought my Visconti Brunelleschi, a pen similar in size, and with the same nib, as my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age. I didn’t want the same extra fine nib. This typically where I would have gone with a broad nib. By now I realized I wouldn’t use a broad nib enough to justify the cost of the pen. So I picked a medium nib.
While thin nibs are still my preference for everyday use, if I had held onto my anti-medium bias, I wouldn’t have had a several of my favorite pens: the Aurora Optima, Visconti Brunelleschi, Sailor KOP. Plus, I would have been less willing to chance an oblique medium.
TWSBI’s latest pen is called the Go which enters the sub-$20 category. I’m not a huge fan of TWSBI pens in general. I can see why people like them, but for me the quality issues I’ve experienced outweigh any cost savings. Plus, I’m not a fan of translucent pens unless they are clear. The TWSBI Go intrigued me enough to give TWSBI another go (sorry).
I had money in the PayPal account, and I haven’t bought any fountain pens this year. So, I bought two of them. I got the Smoke version with an extra fine nib. I picked a broad nob for the Sapphire model. Neither the sapphire color (a blue) or the broad nib are typical choices for me, so I put them both in the same pen. I’ll probably use it for testing new inks. While I have filled both fountain pens, I’ve only really used the extra fine TWSBI Go.
The TWSBI Go is a sub-$20 piston filler fountain pen that seems well made, although it is plastic. TWSBI has a reputation of making pens with a tendency to crack or leak. Their more recent pens have seemed to have fewer complaints (although it’s possible I just haven’t paid attention). This pen design seems to limit the opportunity for problems, although it is plastic (except for the spring and nib) and I can’t speak to durability. The nib is removable for cleaning or swapping, although I haven’t done it. I would expect frequent disassembly to eventually cause breaks or leaks. I haven’t removed the nib, and don’t plan to, so I can’t speak to how hard or easy this is.
There’s no clip, but a small roll stop is molded into to clip. The roll stop is also designed to allow a lanyard to be threaded through it. I guess a lanyard could be a thing, but not for me. It’s a small roll stop, so if the pen has any momentum it won’t stop the roll.
It is a chunky pen, which does appeal to me. The pen does post, although it’s long enough for me to comfortably use unposted. The cap is very light, so posting doesn’t affect the balance. I don’t post the pen unless I need a place to store the cap. Speaking of the cap, it’s a pressure fit cap which snaps firmly into place. There isn’t any cap band so cracking may eventually occur.
The spring is visible through the pen body which gives it a steampunk look. At first I was thinking this is more like a vacuum filler, but it is a piston. Rather than screwing the piston up to suck in ink, the spring raises the piston for us. So spring-loaded piston filler is an accurate description in my opinion. Filling the pen is simple. Unscrew the body to expose the piston. Immerse the nib in ink, push the piston down and then release it. While simple, I’m not sure it’s significantly easier than a screw piston. One-handed operation seems possible, although it’s risky. While the filling system is far from revolutionary, I do like different filling systems, and find this a fun addition to my accumulation.
The TWSBI Go stops short of being a pen I want to use. The extra fine Go shared my pen case with a Fisher of Pens Hermès and I always pick the Hermès over the Go unless I want a second color of ink. That said, both the extra fine and broad nibs are smooth writers and the pens written well. I still have concerns about the durability, although more because of past experience than any obvious issues. The TWSBI Go is an inexpensive pen, and if it cracks after a year of heavy use and abuse, I’d consider it money well spent and buy another.
The Kickstarter Tallulah pen case is a two-pen zipper case with a clay exterior, black trim, and a bright Sunshine Yellow interior. This colorway is unique to this Kickstarter campaign. When I first saw the photos, I thought rust for color. I had read clay as the color before seeing the picture I would have expected a deep grey color. On the other hand, the color is a lot like terra cotta. So, the color name is appropriate. I was deep in my terra cotta phase when the campaign started. I’m not entirely over that obsession, so I like the color.
Inside, the case has two pen slots on the left, and a business card sized pocket on the right. It can lay flat when open. The exterior of the case is 6.25″ x 2.5″. Nock says it’s 0.75″ thick, although that can vary since it’s a cloth case. My largest pen, an Edison Huron Grande, doesn’t fit due to its length. All my other pens do fit, the longer ones being a Franklin-Christoph Model 66 and a Fisher of Pens Hermes. The side pocket fits business cards or Nock Co. Petite Index Cards.
I’ve been carrying the Nock Co Lanier in my daily travels. It’s a light, easy to carry briefcase. The Tallulah is an excellent match to the Lanier. I like that the case is nice and thin, while still providing excellent protection for the pens. I’ve been carrying a TWSBI Go along with my Fisher of Pens Hermès. The Hermès is a long pen. While it is snug, it fits comfortably without pressing against the case. I also carry a couple of business cards, and a few Nock Co Petite Index Cards although I yet to use either of them.
I’m a fan of Nock Co. Cases. This is the first one I’ve owned that had a hitch. It’s minor, and a side-effect of being a small case with a quality zipper, rather than a real defect. The corners are tight. When opening, the zipper gets tight at the final corner. It’s not snagging the material, but the material that protects the pens from the metal zipper isn’t rounded at that corner. There’s a little extra material, and it’s bunched up just enough to press against the zipper. I’m developing the muscle memory to pull the zipper out a bit when it reaches that corner.
I’ve been using the Tallulah for a couple of weeks and have enjoyed it. I’ve developed an affinity for carrying three pens, so the two-pen Tallulah caused me some angst in the beginning. My pens aren’t thin enough to carry a third pen. It’s a cloth case, so I’m sure I could get a third pen to fit, especially since I’ve never used a business or index card from the case. But I forced myself to stick with two pens, and I’ve become accustomed to two pens. I’ve yet to regret not having that third pen. (Part of this is because I often have my Fodderstack XL with me, and that has a third fountain pen along with a rollerball.) Adding a third pen to the Tallulah would go against my favorite feature: It’s a thin case that provides excellent protection for the pens.
My fountain pen usage was sporadic these past two weeks, although I did write one fountain pen dry. My Karas Kustoms Ink ran out of Montblanc Petite Prince Red Fox ink. It was inked up back on June 13th and spent most of its time in my Fodderstack XL as my pocket carry.
Three new products arrived over the past two weeks. I’d gone all year without buying a new fountain pen, and had money in my PayPal account, so I gave in and ordered two TWSBI Go fountain pens. The Smoke version with an extra fine nib. The Sapphire version with a broad nib. Broad nibs aren’t my typical choice, but I figure this inexpensive pen can be used for ink testing and experimentation, so I picked the broad nib.
Also arriving was my Pen Addict RelayCon 2018 Nock Co. Tallulah pen case. I’ve been using it since it came on the Tuesday after Labor Day.
I’ll write about the pens and the case in the next few days.
Finally getting my first new fountain pens in 2018 started the ball rolling. There was still money in the PayPal account when I read about a new Esterbrook Estie pen (the first since Kenro bought the company). The Estie is pretty much what I wanted in a new Esterbrook pen (except the price), so I ignored my rule that pens have to spend some time on my wishlist, and immediately pre-ordered one. I knew that no matter how long I considered it, it would remain at the top of my wishlist. I’m not sure what the market will be for this pen. I’m buying it because I have about three dozen Esterbrook nibs, while the vintage Esterbrook pens are too thin and light for me to write with for anything more than a quick note. I’ve been using the Esterbrook nibs in my custom Newton Eastman; now I can use two at one time. The pen does appear a bit pricey, especially considering that several vintage Esterbrooks can be purchased for the same amount of money, a single Esterbrook often can be less than the cost of the adapter itself. Anderson Pens has a video about the pen, and is taking pre-orders, while Goulet Pens has more of the technical details.